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The Great Debate: "My Israel" Versus "Peace Now"

Chairman of “My Israel,” Ayelet Shaked, debates Seceretary General of “Peace Now,” Yariv Oppenheimer, at Bar Ilan University.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 3/19/2012, 7:58 PM

Debate at Bar Ilan University
Debate at Bar Ilan University
"Lavi Gilad" student group

A lively debate between two opposing poles on Israel's political scene, Chairman of rightist “My Israel,” Ayelet Shaked, and Seceretary General of “Peace Now,” Yariv Oppenheimer, took place last night at Bar Ilan University.

The event, organized by Akiva Lamm and Sarai Eretz Kdosha of the “Lavi Gilad” student group, which aims to promote Zionist and nationlis ideals on campus, was attended by an overflow crowd of hundreds of people.

One of the most pressing topics of the evening was the controversial Jewish commuity of Migron, which the Supreme Court ordered destroyed by the end of March due to the unknown ownership of the land on which it was built. The government reached an agreement with the residents to move to  nearby area that is government land. 

“I am a Democrat,” announced Oppenheimer.  “Every time the Supreme Court decided to legalize outposts, I accepted the decision, despite the fact that it may not have been to my liking.”

In fact, legal experts have said that Peace Now's lawsuits force the government to investigate the status of disputed areas,which are then finally legalized for the most part, when the truth emerges. Shvut Rachel and Shilo are recent examples.

Shaked asserted that while Jewish citizens, living in the Jewish state of Israel, are being focibly evacuated from their homes, one would be hard-pressed to find Arabs who are being uprooted from theirs.  “Show me an Arab that will proclaim ‘they stole my house, they took my land. No one!” she declared.

Shaked highlighted that the “Peace Now” NGO is funded by several European governments and other foreign entities, which act as foreign agents inside of Israel, committed to monitoring, and obstructing, the Jewish development in communities over the Green Line. Many claim that these donors facilitate an anti-Israel idologoy, utilizing NGOs, like “Peace Now,” in order to bring about the destruction of the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

Openheimer responded, claiming that “My Israel” “takes” money from the Yesha Council, in order to be able to finiace its programs and activities.

Shaked noted that “My Israel” “is a completely independent body” and is composed, entirely, of volunteers.

Toward the culmination of the event, there was a question and answer session during which the members of the audience were permitted to weigh in and voice their reactions. 

One student, addressing Oppenheimer, asked why the left-leaning NGO is entitled “Peace Now” if, after decades of conflict, there is still no peace. 

Oppenheimer responded by saying, that if Israel would have seized the appropriate opportunities, there would have been peace, claiming that the failure of the peace agreement was merely due to insufficient Israeli ‘concessions.’

He said that it is imperative that the State of Israel maintain the strategically important treaties with Egypt and the ‘Palestinians.’ 

Shaked asserted that Judea and Samaria are areas that are vitally strategically areas and are crucial in ensuring the safety and security of the State of Israel. These areas “keep you safe- in Tel Aviv. That is the reality," she stated. 

Responding to a question posed by the audience regarding the issue of the refugees, Oppenheimer announced that he does not believe they pose a risk. He added that he believes that the alleged ‘demographic problem’ that would result from their return is a misconception advanced by those he called, the “right wingers.” He did not explain how that jives with Peace Now's claim that the present demographic situation makes it imperative to relinquish Judea and Samaria.

Shaked deconstructed his accusations, noting, in part, that the State of Israel does not have the capacity to absorb an infinite number of Palestinian Arabs or foreign immigrants, and that doing so would result in the elimination of the Jewish character of the State of Israel. 

As the event came to an end, the crowd began shouting at Oppenheimer, who then claimed that the driving force behind his actions is a concern for the State of Israel. 

A telling moment was when Shaked exclaimed, "Albert Einstein once defined insanity as trying something over and over again when it doesn’t work.”

“We tried the Oslo Accords – we got suicide bombers. We tried Camp David – we got the second Intifada. The disengagement from Gaza is proving to be a disaster for the south,” she said. “I'm asking – Let's rethink this.”