Peace Now Creates Informer Line

Peace Now's "Informer Hotline" lets people to report building freeze violations. Nationlists are responding with reports of illegal Arab building.

Hana Levi Julian , | updated: 12:40 PM

Peace Now sign posted in Samaria
Peace Now sign posted in Samaria
Israel news photo: (file)

The leftist Peace Now organization has come up with a new way to lure residents of Judea and Samaria into helping to trap friends and neighbors who might be building a porch or other carrying out other construction on their property -- encouraging them to call on a new hotline set up for the purpose. The group is inviting Israelis living in the area to use the new voice mail to report any violations of the government’s building freeze they see in their own or other Jewish communities anywhere in Judea and Samaria.

Peace Now explains on its web site, “Observing the building freeze on settlements is in Israel’s interest. Not in Obama’s. Not in the world’s. The settlements are our problem." The group’s web site also mandates the members of its movement to check all information on illegal construction that violates the freeze orders “and to submit it to the authorities that track violations.”

Attacks on the ‘Informer Hotline'
In response, Jewish residents in the region have begun building in numerous areas in Judea and Samaria while their supporters are urging people to flood the voice mail system with reports of illegal Arab construction. The anti-Jewish building voice mail system has been dubbed the “Peace Now Milshonun.” The term “milshonun” is a Hebrew slang name derived from the word “malshin”, the Hebrew word for “informer.”

Some nationalists, besides reporting on building violations carried out by Arabs in different parts of Judea and Samaria, have called and filled the voice mail machine with meaningless messages until it was unable to hold any more.

Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer was philosophical about the tactics: “There are interesting voices,” he said. “There are callers whose hobby it is to release aggression. There are also amusing incidents. There are jokes,” he added, offering one example: “One woman from Ofrah reported that she took out chickens from her freezer. That’s nice. They have a right to kid around.”

Oppenheimer said, however, that there are also callers who express the desire to break the machine or to block the voice mail, and “that I excuse less.” In addition, he said that “between the slanderous messages” are those that are legitimate reports of illegal Arab construction activity.

Oppenheimer: ‘We Needed Real Answers’
The real question is why the organization established the “Informer Hotline” when obviously the government is spending hundreds of thousands of shekels gathering its own data.

The simple answer, Oppenheimer says, has to do with the group’s ability to respond to requests for independent hard data: “Many people ask us, from both the right and the left, if there is really a freeze or not, and we are determined to be able to give a clear answer to this answer,” he said.

“We are therefore gathering information and checking out whether the construction sites in the region are those which were approved before the government’s decision or whether we are talking about violations of the government’s decision.” He estimated that in about two weeks the group will be able to coordinate its material into an organized statement “that will either confirm or deny the existence of the freeze.”

'Man of the Right'
Ultimately, Oppenheimer said, it may have been preferable for Netanyahu not to have announced a building freeze in the first place. The Peace Now director offered a litany of complaints against the Prime Minister’s handling of the matter.

“Since the announcement, Netanyahu has approved building plans, he said he would continue to build at the end of the [10-month freeze period] even if the political process will continue, and said he won’t do anything about the outposts,” Oppenheimer complained. “Some of [the outposts] were even granted approval. In addition, the new national priorities map was announced.

“At this rate, we probably would have preferred that his freeze would never have been announced to the world. Netanyahu is still a man of the right,” he said. “If anyone thinks that he has changed become a man of the left, he is wrong. If he should turn out to be otherwise, I will be the first to bless it.”

Answers for Whom, to Whom?
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) announced earlier this month that Philadelphia attorney Lee Bender filed a request with the U.S. Justice Department asking for an investigation on claims that Peace Now is acting as an unregistered agent of foreign governments. ZOA reported in its news release that the Norwegian government has supported the organization with “millions of Kroner over the past seven years – totaling, in today’s money, over $1.2 million.”

The European Union itself as an entity has donated at least NIS 451,600 ($119,000) to Peace Now, and the British government, another generous patron, has provided more than NIS 540,000 in funding for its “Settlement Watch” project. Another Scandinavian nation, Finland, is also a patron.

In October, Likud Knesset member Danny Danon announced he intends to introduce legislation to criminalize the political activities of the organization, and all others that are funded by foreign entities. MK Danon, who also chairs the World Likud Movement, made the announcement after an incident in which three Peace Now activists posed as students in order to obtain material to be used against nationalist Knesset members.