The Geneva Initiative’s Peace and Democracy Conference was held in Tel Aviv on 10 March 2023 in the spirit of the public’s awakening in the struggle for the future of the country. Consisting of four sessions on the opportunities presented by the crisis, Zulat President Zehava Galon addressed the session on “The Political Opportunity” and Executive Director Einat Ovadia addressed the session on “The Media Opportunity.”
Galon said: “This conference is taking place against the backdrop of yesterday’s murderous terror attack on Dizengoff Street. Proposals will again be hurled on how to deal with terrorism, band-aid solutions as long as the reality remains unchanged. Two populations live here side by side, with each other, and inside each other but with separate legal systems. The ultimate goal of this government is twofold: a regime revolution within the State of Israel and an apartheid revolution, Netanyahu’s desire to change the checks and balances between the three branches of powcer and Smotrich’s desire not only for Israel to annex the territories but for the territories to annex Israel and turn it into the State of Judea with Jewish supremacy and racial laws. This is what lies at the root of his apartheid revolution.
“Our job is to expose the big picture. When the Knesset passes a bill that re-legitimizes illegal outposts in northern Samaria in order to allow settlers to move freely in these areas, this is the apartheid revolution. When Smotrich is placed in charge of the Civil Administration, this constitutes not only de facto but de jure annexation, which is part of the overall concept of an apartheid revolution in the territories. When 400 settlers set fire to homes and their inhabitants in a horrible pogrom in Huwarah and Smotrich issues a feeble condemnation, the green light is given to some other group to raid the village and to IDF soldiers who have grown used to standing idly by during 56 years of rule over millions of Palestinians to dance with the rioters on the main street because that is the spirit blowing from the top.
“People are taking to the streets today and that’s exciting, it makes me optimistic and makes me believe that we will win. But when talking about the damage to Israeli democracy, we must understand that everything is connected. Those who want to annex the Palestinians and exclude the Arab citizens of Israel from the political game will not stop at oppression. They will crush and terrorize Israel’s watchdogs, democratic institutions, gatekeepers, media, and academia so they do not raise their heads. If we don’t want to become the North Korea of the Middle East, we must look at the entire picture and say: ‘There is no democracy with occupation.'”
Executive Director Einat Ovadia addressed the role of the opposition: “The opposition has the ability to influence the public discourse, so that the protest may continue and bring about change. It should be a compass and a conscience at a time when we have lost our path and our conscience. It must allow for a protest that is not exclusively Jewish, starting with the leader of the opposition who must stop checking whether his steps gain him political capital and thus miss the point. A leader is needed who can put the past behind him, and invite Ayman Odeh to join meetings of the opposition rather than exclude him.
“Everyone has the right to protest however they want. If I oppose the occupation, I still have a place in this protest. The next woman leader is now marching in the streets and we don’t know yet that she is our leader. If the current leadership does not legitimize protesting however people want, then we will not make a change here and boundaries will be set for us as to what is a right protest or a wrong one.”
Wacth the videos (Hebrew, no subtitles):