About - What Happened to the Israeli Peace Camp?


What happened to the Israeli Peace Camp? Is the two-state solution dead? Where is the Israeli left? Has Israeli society shifted to the right? And will the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians ever “get back on track”?

Our team at the Israel office of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung has been asked these questions in different variations countless times since we opened our office in Tel Aviv in 1998. Numerous delegations and politicians from around the world have visited us over the years, attempting to understand the complex dynamics of Israeli society and politics, as well as their implications for the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As exhilarating as the discussions with our different guests and partners have been, we could not help but notice the widening gap between the developments taking place “on the ground” and the common perception of Israeli society and politics from the “outside.” The questions posed by our guests regarding the Israeli Peace Camp and the Israeli left revealed a conceptual framework in which the Israeli political system was neatly divided between a left wing, which pushed towards an agreement with the Palestinians, and the Israeli right, which opposed it.

This outdated dichotomy has no bearing on the present reality. In the time that has passed since the launch of the peace process in the 1990s, Israeli society has changed markedly, rendering the above mentioned political framework obsolete. Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Israeli Peace Camp has departed from mainstream politics, and the Zionist left-wing parties have sunk to an all-time low. Some of the changes that have brought about these developments relate directly to the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as the collapse of the peace negotiations and the ensuing waves of violence; and some changes have nothing to do with the conflict, for example the financial crisis of 2008, the rise of Israel as a global hi-tech powerhouse, and demographic shifts such as the mass migration of Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel and the growth of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish population in the country. Other changes are tied to global and regional developments such as the US-led “War on Terror” or the “Arab Spring.”

To gain a better understanding of the key dynamics that shape the trajectory of the conflict on the Israeli side, it is thus necessary to take a broad look at Israeli society, the transformations it has gone through over the years, and how these changes have led us to the present moment. What happened to the Israeli Peace Camp, which encompassed nearly half the Jewish Israeli population in the 1990s? Where have they all gone? Does the left vs. right division of Israeli politics reflect the main political divides within Israeli society nowadays?

This special project, titled “Peacemism: What Happened to the Israeli Peace Camp?” constitutes a unique and ambitious attempt to answer these big questions by shedding light on some of the key dynamics and developments within Israeli society and especially within the Israeli left via the prism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a transformative force in Israeli society and politics. As part of this project, we invited some of the brightest minds in Israel, ranging from former generals and politicians to peace activists and academics to contribute in-depth analyses examining some of the defining developments and trends in Israeli society over the past decades and illuminate some of the societal processes and trajectories that have led to the decline of the Israeli Peace Camp and the current crisis of the Israeli left.

Project Team

Concept and Scientific Editing: Oz Aruch

Project Assistant: Catalin Dyckhoff

Language Editing: Michelle Bubis, Jessica Bonn

Design: Ido (Sany) Arazi | Studio 61

Web-Design: RSVP & R2K

Special thanks go to Steffen Hagemann and Romy Shapira for their comments, suggestions and support throughout the project.

About the Heinrich Böll Stiftung

The Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS) is an independent global public policy think-and-do-tank for green visions, with an international network of 33 offices around the world.

In cooperation with our partners, we conduct research, and organize workshops, conferences and trainings. We support advocacy, capacity and coalition building and are active in initiating public debates on issues of public policy. Building on our global network, we regularly support international cooperation by means of delegations, visitor programs, and international events that serve to enhance the exchange of ideas and networking among public policy professionals.

Our work in Israel focuses on fostering democracy, environmental sustainability, advancing gender equality as well as promoting dialogue and exchange of ideas between policy experts from Israel and Europe.

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