Peace Now Worried by ‘Settlers’ Popularity
More and more Israelis are coming to see Judea and Samaria (Shomron) as important to Israel thanks to residents’ efforts to educate the public. Confirmation of their success came from none other than the left-wing Peace Now group, which recently expressed concern over a “revolution” in public perception.
At a conference for left-wing groups held recently in Tel Aviv, Peace Now handed out pamphlets warning of a change in public sentiment, and calling to fight back.
“Without us noticing, the Right is creating a real revolution in public opinion regarding the territories,” the group said. “A bloated right-wing network is working on a few fronts: tours for the media, bloggers and influential figures in Judea and Samaria, a complete takeover when it comes to explaining diplomacy in pre-army programs... “
“We are bringing the Left back to the playing field!” Peace Now declared. “Peace Now invites you to join… and be part of a front to explain the Left’s diplomatic stance.”
A previous attempt by Peace Now to counter Samaria leaders’ efforts was unsuccessful. The group tried to host its own tour of Judea and Samaria for parliamentary aides, but ended up cancelling the tour due to lack of interest.
Judea and Samaria activists were unconcerned by the latest Peace Now endeavor.
“We’re not in competition with the extreme Left,” said Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika. “It doesn’t matter what the extreme left organizations say, what matters is what believers do. We will keep on building the land of Israel… and strengthening Jewish and Zionist awareness in the country.”
The Samaria Regional Council declined to respond directly to Peace Now, but issued a general statement. “Unlike extreme-Left groups, which try to drown the state of Israel in millions of euros in funding from the European Union and anti-Israel funds, we come without money, but with heartfelt intentions,” said advisor Yossi Dagan.
“While the extreme Left primarily spreads hate of Israel and discord, we are busy teaching about the Zionist enterprise, love of Israel and building the land of Israel. Therefore, the people of Israel connect to settlement and distance themselves from the left,” he added.
The Samaria Regional Council has brought more than 50 MKs and ministers and thousands of writers, journalists and broadcasters to visit the region. In total, more than 20,000 people have visited Samaria under the council’s programs, including a tour program open to the general public under the name “Samaria – Nice to Meet You.”
The council has begun reaching out beyond Israel’s borders as well. Mesika recently became the first Israeli leader from Judea or Samaria to speak at the European Union Parliament in Brussels. His speech at the parliament was well received.