PEACE NOW (Shalom Akhshav – Israeli peace movement). Shalom Akhshav was launched in March 1978 with a letter signed by 300 men, all of them reserve officers in the Israel Defense Force, to Prime Minister Menahem Begin, appealing to him to return the territories in the West Bank and Gaza conquered in the Six-Day War, in the interests of peace, and making their slogan "Better Peace (shalom) than the wholeness (shlemut) of the Land of Israel." The movement was characterized by the fact that it was completely independent of any political party or grouping, and by the decorous manner in which it conducted its propaganda. That it responded to a widespread popular demand was evidenced by the fact that its first mass demonstration, held on April 1, 1978, in Malkhei Israel Square in Tel Aviv, was attended by numbers variously estimated at between 20,000 and 30,000. After a demonstration outside the residence of the prime minister on March 30, on his return from the United States, and also on April 21, they were received by the prime minister. Two days later, 350 professors and university lecturers issued a proclamation in support of them, to which a similar number added their names in August, and on April 26 over 3,000 lined the road from Sha'ar Hagai to Jerusalem when Begin passed it on his way to Tel Aviv. A number of similar demonstrations took place subsequently on various occasions. Peace Now enthusiastically acclaimed the Camp David Agreement in September 1978. In subsequent months they protested vigorously against every step by the government which they felt impeded the implementation of the Peace Treaty, and autonomy on the West Bank, such as the proposal to "thicken" the existing settlements there or to establish new ones. Peace Now was also in the forefront of the protest movement against the Lebanon War and was the major organizer of the mass rally in Tel Aviv in September 1982 after the Sabra and Shatilla massacre. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s it continued to press for withdrawal to Israel's pre-1967 borders and the establishment of a Palestinian state. The collapse of the Camp David summit in 2000 despite Prime Minister Ehud Barak's far-reaching concessions paralyzed the movement for a time, but it again became vocal in 2002. The main support of the Peace Now movement came from the middle classes and liberal and intellectual circles. (Louis Isaac Rabinowitz)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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