Avi Buskila, Peace Now’s new director is a different kind of leftist

Avi Buskila, Peace Now’s new director is a different kind of leftist

Avi Buskila, the new director of Peace Now, is the opposite of a stereotypical leftist leader: his parents emigrated from Morocco, he grew up in the periphery, and he served as a combat soldier in the IDF.

“The left has a hard time understanding me,” Buskila tells Yedioth Ahronoth’s weekend magazine Hamusaf Leshabat. “They want to continue doing the same things that brought nothing but failures.”

Buskila talks about the kind of posts he encounters in left-wing groups on social media. For example one person wrote: “We’ve gathered the savages and brought them to Israel, and now they are destroying us,” meaning Jews of Mizrahi descent. “After all, right-wingers equal Mizrahim, equal religious,” he says.

But Buskila says has no intention of being the “left’s pet Mizrahi.”

“I won’t apologize for serving in the IDF longer than Naftali Bennett or for living in the periphery longer than Miri Regev,” he says defiantly.

“The portrayal of the left as old and Ashkenazi is accurate. There are a lot of people in the (peace) camp who would rather see us fail than give up their control. They refuse to recognize that it’s time they retire and leave. But I have news for them—they are going to lose control and if they don’t, we’ll take it from them, both in the political parties and in organizations. The left, in many ways, failed to speak to the people. For years, it just told everyone why they are wrong.

“The left doesn’t respect the painful narrative of fear. I don’t doubt my mother’s fears. She spent most of her life in shelters under the threat of rocket fire. Speaking their language means I’m not preaching, and I’m not constantly explaining to someone why he’s wrong. It’s not about coming from Tel Aviv to tell a Netivot resident that his fears and the discrimination he feels are nonexistent bullshit. I accept what they’re telling me.”

Maya Haber’s translation of the article was published in Ynet. Continue reading.

Maya Haber
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Maya Haber was born and raised in Israel. She graduated from Tel Aviv University with a BA in History and Philosophy and went on to graduate school at the University of London and earned a PhD at the University of California Los Angeles. She has written and published on healthcare and social sciences in the post-WWII Soviet Union. Maya was the recipient of a Partners for Progressive Israel’s Study tour scholarship in November 2014. The symposium influenced her deeply and she started working for Partners for Progressive Israel as the Director of Development and Programming.

1 Comment on "Avi Buskila, Peace Now’s new director is a different kind of leftist"

  • At Last! Brachot to Avi Buskila in his new tafkid. Besides what he says in this article, the Israeli Left has for so long been blind to key realities. I understand their stuckedness insisting on previous truths at times when these were not realistic– movements that feel weak tend to do this for fear that if they adapt to changing realities yet keep faith with their key principles, they will be even more vulnerable to attack. However, the opposite happens — they lose credibility amongst reasonable people. Ignoring fear is a big one. I have been very frustrated at so many leftists in Israel insisting during the 2000-2008 period that there was a partner for peace in Arafat, just because there had been a partner for peace in the 90’s. Or ignoring and dismissing fears that the West Bank would become a launching pad for terrorism after this happened in Gaza — too bad the withdrawal of settlements from the West Bank was not done right after Gaza when it had so much support and before Hamas defeated Fatah in Gaza! But I mean after Hamas was launching daily attacks, the Israeli Left kept the same arguments as if nothing had changed. And their total deafness to the anti-Semitism in the US and European Left during that same period, to the anti-Israeli bias at the UN, etc while the Israeli Left insisted that Israel was the one to blame for isolation. That Israel has much to blame, especially in the last 8 years does not mean that it is the only one to blame, but the Israeli Left has been deaf to examining its own internalized anti-Semitism. Of course not all people in the Israeli Left thought, denied, ignored as abovementioned. I am in that camp too as are fabulous organizations (omen Wage Peace, the Maapecha Hevratit and many others, that have sensible and productive messages and actions.

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