yearning for peace:
The example of Sderot mayor Eli Moyal
Published: 16 April 2005
Briefing Number 139
Summary: Eli Moyal, the
mayor of the rocket-battered Israeli town of Sderot, is
leading a proposed dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian
mayors. Moyal’s determination to improve relations
with Palestinian society, despite the traumatic experience
of Sderot citizens, is a tangible demonstration of how
much Israel’s people yearn for peace. This Beyond
Images Briefing summarises Moyal’s involvement,
quoting extracts from a recent media interview he gave
Sderot under attack 2003-5
In the last two years, the southern Israeli town of Sderot,
which lies adjacent to the Gaza strip, has been the target of
over 500 Qassam rocket attacks by Palestinian squads operating
from inside the Gaza Strip (see Beyond Images
Briefing 130). These rocket attacks are completely indiscriminate.
Several children have been killed. Many residents have been
wounded. The town has been turned upside down.
Dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian mayors
Against this background, it might be expected that Sderot mayor,
as representative of its citizens, would be opposed to dialogue
with Palestinian counterparts, and advocate a tough military
response. The reality is the opposite.
Sderot mayor Eli Moyal is leading a project to create a dialogue
between Israeli and Palestinian town mayors. According to a
report on Ynet News (www.ynetnews.com)
(7 April 2005), the initiative was launched by an Israeli businessman,
and is so far set to involve 25 Israeli and 25 Palestinian mayors.
The Israelis include the mayors of Beer Sheva, Ashkelon and
Kfar Sava (each the subject of Palestinian suicide bomb attacks).
The Palestinian mayors are led by the mayor of Nablus Dr Hussein
“Crossing oceans for peace…”
Moyal’s comments to a journalist about his own involvement
are particularly important:
“A ceasefire begins on the ground. Even though I’m
against Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, and still a
right-wing Likud member, I’m obligated to move forward….
I’m prepared to cross oceans and give up
every ounce of respect. I’ll leave my respect at home
for the sake of peace… Who else but me and the residents
of Sderot, who have experience suffering, know how important
a ceasefire is….”
[our italics – Beyond Images]
As at today’s date, the initiative has yet to begin in
earnest. It may bring results. It may fail. The purpose of this
Briefing is not to gaze into a crystal ball, but to highlight
the attitude of Eli Moyal. Far from rejecting dialogue he is
advocating it. Far from fuelling a so-called “cycle of
violence” or calling for revenge for the 500 attacks Sderot’s
citizens have endured, he is looking to reinforce a ceasefire.
Israelis across the political and social spectrum yearn for
peace. Government Ministers and opposition politicians debate
rival peace plans; retired Israeli army generals initiate plans
of their own; so do womens’ groups; religious groups;
grass-roots Israeli citizens groups, students, schoolchildren
and sporting stars. This reflects a society yearning for peace,
and seeking out Palestinian leaders and society ready to respond.
Eli Moyal’s project to bring mayors together is a demonstration
of this yearning. Moyal’s words should be quoted to those
who question the sincerity of Israel’s quest for peace
and for a better future.