Hanne Eggen Røislien
Norwegian Cyber Defence Forces (CYFOR)
The Israeli peace movement has been declared dead countless times. As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to be unending and the Israeli society appears more and more consolidated on the right wing of the political spectrum, the memories of the large crowds gathering in Tel Aviv in demonstrations of peace seem long gone. Instead, the elections in 2019 re-established Likud’s Benyamin Netanyahu in power, making him Israel‘s longest-serving prime minister, snatching the title from the country’s founding father and first leader, David Ben-Gurion. With this backdrop, it is easy to approach Samy Cohen’s book as a historical reference document, describing the trajectory – and the inevitable fall – of the Israeli peace movement. Indeed, Cohen does explore and describe the development of the peace movement since the late 1970s, through a period with increasing violence in the conflict with the Palestinians, a gradual shift in Israeli politics towards the right, and the inevitable pressure this has put on the peace movement. As such, the book provides a decent overview of the peace movement’s evolution over the past few decades. But Cohen does more. He argues that the peace movement’s presence has not disappeared, but rather has transformed into a number of smaller, grassroots organisations run by everything from senior security personnel and army reservists, to doctors and diplomats. Cohen’s book, therefore, is a story of hope and motivation rather than a sober historical description. As the former, the book is highly inspirational (albeit depressing, given the current situation) and very well written. As the latter, it is interesting, but less successful. However, in this period of time, a little hope and inspiration may be what we need.