On the death of a peace forum

By Yossi Alpher, September 6, 2012

Bitterlemons’ two e-magazines presenting Israeli and Palestinian views, published weekly for 11 years, have closed. The reasons are not disconnected from what is transpiring around us in the Middle East and globally.

We never aspired to make “virtual” peace and never presented a “bitterlemons plan” to our hundreds of thousands of readers. Rather, we sought to debate our differences and raise the level of dialogue.

Over the years, our internet and email publishing operation, based in Israel and Palestine, weathered an intifada, suicide bombings and an Israeli invasion of the PA. Throughout, we never missed an edition except for holidays. Until recently.

We are ceasing publication for reasons involving fatigue — on a number of fronts.

First, there is donor fatigue. Why, donors ask, should we continue to support a Middle East dialogue project that not only has not made peace, but cannot “prove” to our satisfaction — especially at a time of revolution and violence throughout the region — that it has indeed raised the level of civilised discussion? Why fight the Israeli right-wing campaign against European and US state funding of the project and the Palestinian campaign against “normalisation”?

These last two negative developments also reflect local fatigue. There is no peace process and no prospect of one. Informal “Track II” dialogue — Bitterlemons might be described as a “virtual” Track II — is declining.

Lastly, writers who used to favour us with ideas and articles have been begging off, deterred by the revolutionary rise of intolerant political forces in their countries or neighbourhoods.
Everything we published will remain available at bitterlemons.net.

This is an excerpt from an article on bitterlemons-international.org

Last updated: 11:27am, September 6 2012