50 Shades of Peace at the Crossroads

Stop! A Peace Crossroads Ahead of You: The Majority Has Decided – Peace. That was the sign hung on both sides of the corner of Rothschild Boulevard, facing Habima Square, in the heart of Tel Aviv, the location of the command post of the mass social protest movement in the summer of 2011. The scene was repeated in 50 crossroads throughout the country, from the Upper Galilee in the north down to Eilat.

As we enter the fifth month of the negotiating process begun with the aid of the determined facilitation of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, we, Israelis and Palestinians, are really at the crossroads. We either move forward towards at least a framework agreement, or the process breaks down, and we plunge downward into the unknown. Signing any type of deal will require courageous and far-sighted leadership in on both sides, and the goal of Operation Crossroads was to demonstrate to the leaders, that as all public opinion polls demonstrate, between 60-70% of both the Israelis and Palestinians support a two-state solution, and they want peace (though they doubt it can be achieved now).

photo credit: Flash90

Stop! Crossroads for Peace in Front of You: The Majority Decided Peace. Sign at the corner of Rothschild Blvd.

The operation was organized under the auspices of the Peace NGO Forum, chaired by Dr. Ron Pundak, a coalition of about 60 Israeli peace and human rights organizations, together with MASAD (the Social Democratic Movement) coordinated by Naftali Raz, and the Knesset Lobby for a Solution to the Israeli-Arab Conflict chaired by MK Hilik Bar (Labor).

Report from the field

I can only report from the field in the heart of Tel Aviv. The overwhelming majority of the people who passed by said - "Kol Hakavod! (All honor to you). Thank you for being here." And most signed the petition under the headline "The Majority Has Decided Peace!" which states:

    I hereby declare that:
    I support the process of negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority that is going on now.
    I believe in the advantages of a political compromise between the nations as a first step in a regional reconciliation process on the road to a future peace.
    I expect the government of Israel to present before the people a political agreement with the Palestinian Authority in the spring of 2014.
    For my sake and for the sake of future generations I too express my support for an agreement.
photo credit: Flash90

We want peace – One million hands for peace

Only two people cursed us – "You're traitors! Undermining the security of Israel!", and "Go to hell!" Almost everyone else expressed support and signed, or said that they were too much in a hurry to sign, but of course agreed. A few said they don't sign petitions, and one cynic said "Peace? I want war." Three 12 year old bat-mitzva girls on a mission took a train on their own from the town of Tel Mond to the big city to have their picture taken with "real Tel Avivians", and were excited to sign the petition.

Prime Minister Sharett’s grandson also signed

Particularly moving was Yoram Sharett, one of the grandsons of former Prime Minister Moshe Sharett, who signed the petition together with his entire family. "I'm sure that my grandfather would sign as well" he said.

A municipal inspector came by and asked us to take down the signs because they were "interfering with the flow of traffic", which was clearly not the case. Just then a member of the Parents Circle – Families Forum, who lost a family member to violence in the conflict, passed by who also happened to be a lawyer. He told the inspector that the signs were not interfering with anything, and that he was trying to limit our right to freedom of expression. The inspector quickly backed down.

One man who signed said "Why are you doing this in Tel Aviv? Everyone here supports peace!" And for those who think there is no partner for peace, Operation Crossroads also took place at the Almog Junction in the West Bank, with the participation of 20 Palestinians, coordinated by Ali Abu-Awad of Leading Leaders for Peace. I assured him that the operation was taking place simultaneously at 50 different crossroads throughout the country.

And for those who think there is no partner for peace, Operation Crossroads also took place at the Almog Junction in the West Bank, with the participation of 20 Palestinians, coordinated by Ali Abu-Awad of Leading Leaders for Peace.

photo credit: Flash90

Ali Abu Awad together with Roby Damelin from the Bereaved Parents Circle Forum, whose son David was killed by a Palestinian sniper. They now work together to try to end the conflict

This article originally appeared at The Times of Israel: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/50-shades-of-peace-at-the-crossroads/