Monday, August 27, 2007

Change of the Guard at "Peace Now"

Dror Etkes has just left "Peace Now". For most of the past decade Dror has served as the eyes of Peace Now on the West Bank settlements. He's the one who has been regularly traveling all the roads, byroads and not-really-roads to check what the settlers are building, and his reports have served all those who wish the settlements were gone. Last year he engineered the legal proceedings that led to the dismantling of the nine houses built at Amona (If I were into editing Wikipedia articles, there are some changes I'd make on this article). You can enjoy (or not) some of his handiwork here.

I've known Dror (a bit intermittently) since he was a teenager. He likes his fans and detractors alike (and there are many vehement ones in both camps) to think of him as a staunch and implacable left-winger, hardly Zionist if at all, full of scorn for national aspirations of any form. I never bought into any of that. Even at the height of the violence of the 2nd Intifada he regularly donned his body armor and helmet and set off with his Israel-license-plated jeep to see from close up what was going on. He obviously knows the terrain of the West Bank better than almost anyone, but whoever traveled with him saw also that he knew the people, and could tell equally about the identity, conditions and motivations of all the players: which Jews live in which settlements, but also which Palestinians live in which towns, which Israeli soldiers at which road block would respond how to his appearance, and so on. For a while I urged him to write a book about all this, since his perspective is unique - maybe now that he has left he'll get to it. It would be an exasperating book, no doubt, much of it misguided, but fascinating. Part of the story, you see, is that in spite of what he claims, Dror is very much a part of the Zionist Project.

Anyway, he's on vacation from public action for a while, and I have no doubt we'll notice when he returns. He's being replaced by Hagit Ofran, whom I don't know personally (tho I know various people in her world), but according to the interview with her here, she lacks some of Dror's ideological affectations.

Good luck to them both, as to all the rest of us (which will be a bit of a contradiction, but no matter).

No comments: