Peace Now has launched an online video campaign to raise awareness about incitement, intolerance, and hate speech directed specifically at “leftists” in Israel, most visibly on Facebook. The organization produced a two-and-a-half minute video entitled, “The writing is still on the wall,” displaying a selection of comments left on its Facebook page. Just a few examples: “Leftist whores burn already, you should all be shot in the head”; “You should all be cut up into pieces immediately!!! Israel haters”; “Traitors like you should be hanged”; “Stinking leftists, you should be put in gas chambers, you are worse than the Arabs”; “How great it would be if all the Israeli leftists were kidnapped and killed!”
According to Peace Now’s new media and campaign manager, Yaniv Shacham, the video shows only a small fraction of the comments the organization receives, which he estimates number in the hundreds of thousands. “We are talking about an epidemic,” Shacham told the +972 website. “It’s not just a few teenagers; we are talking about women and men, Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, old and young.”
Shacham stresses that such hatred for “leftists” is widespread in Israeli society and holds Israeli leaders responsible for encouraging such intolerance of differences in opinion. For example, last month, when Prime Minister Netanyahu was in the U.S. to meet with President Obama, Peace Now published a statement criticizing the latest announcement of new construction plans beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem. Without directly referring to the organization by name, Netanyahu alluded to the fact that Peace Now was acting against Israeli interests by calling the government out on new settlement plans. Netanyahu’s message was that dissent will not be tolerated, or more liberally interpreted, that those who condemn Israeli settlements publicly are traitors.
The timing of Peace Now’s launch of its new campaign coincided with the 19th anniversary of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, the most glaringly and tragic example of inter-Israeli fascist incitement and intolerance. Part of Peace Now’s campaign message is that 19 years later, the lessons of Rabin’s murder have not been learned, but if anything, the situation has gotten worse.
Journalist Sefi Rechlevsky wrote this week in an Haaretz op-ed: “The man who led the anti-Rabin demonstrations which preceded the assassination, protests at which there were slogans including ‘through blood and fire, we will drive Rabin out,’ was none other than Benjamin Netanyahu. He was elected prime minister seven months after Rabin’s murder. He is the same man of whom former Shin Bet heads Karmi Gillon and Yuval Diskin were convinced that, had it not been for his support for the wave of incitements, it’s possible that the assassination never would have occurred. But instead of being shunned by the public, he took up residence in the home and in the bed of the murdered Rabin. Even Shakespeare and the Bible don’t provide such tragic endings. Nearly two decades later, this man is, once again, still the prime minister of Israel.”