Peace Now
A Peace Now demonstration near the Tel Aviv District Court. Photo by Nir Keidar
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Tomer Appelbaum
Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Shaul Mofaz. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum

A number of prominent Israeli politicians and hundreds of activists from various organizations attended a left-wing conference organized by Peace Now on Friday.

The event, deemed the Israeli Left Conference, took place at the Zionist Organization of Americaconference center in central Tel Aviv. Participants discussed Israel's new Netanyahu-Mofaz unity government, as well as a number of issues on the Israeli left's agenda, including the left's response to Israel's social protests and the possible demise of the two-state solution.

Lawmakers in attendance included Amir Peretz and Daniel Ben-Simon of Labor, Zehava Gal-On, Ilan Gilon and Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz, Nino Abesadze, Shlomo Molla and Doron Avital of Kadima, and a number of others.

Speaking at a panel on how to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the October 2013 elections, former Education Minister Yuli Tamir said that, with the new unity government, “For the first time, we will  know the true face of the right.”   

“Today Netanyahu has the power to do whatever he wants to do. If he does not get things done, we will get to the elections from the clearest standpoint on what it is that the right wants to do, and what it doesn’t want to do,” she said.

The real problem, Tamir added, is not how to defeat Netanyahu, but how to stay relevant. “Yacimovich, and also Mofaz and Lapid are all competing in a race over who will get to hug [Netanyahu] first,” she said, adding, “We have no order of priorities as the left.”

MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) said that Israel's left should adopt tactics and strategies based on principles. He said that the Netanyahu coalition wanted to take Arab MKs out of the political game, because the left cannot make significant gains in the 2013 elections without creating a bloc with Arab parties.

Meanwhile, Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon said that a change of government was in Israel’s future. “I believe that the right-wing administration is coming to an end.” He said that, since 1977, “There has been a global wave that is taking down regime after regime, we saw the latest change in France,” he said.

Today’s Likud party has no chance of gaining meaningful public support, he said, because is it represents the right-wing of “Beit El and Migron.” If Israel sees a voter turnout of at least 80 percent in the 2013 elections, the left will win, Ben-Simon said.

Nitzan Horowitz said that, in order to beat Netanyahu, the left must not run away from the difficult issues. “Bibi does not run away from them,” he said.

The conference was hosted by special guest Mandy Patinkin, who starred in the film The Princess Bride, who is currently in Israel to film the second season of the Showtime series Homeland.

Patinkin compared a visit he made to the West Bank city of Hebron 30 years ago with one he made this week, saying that this week’s visit left him “very sad” and “very, very worried.” He called on conference participants to continue the fight for peace.