The fall of the Israeli peace movement and why leftists continue to fight

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‘Peacenik’ is widely used as a slur in Israel. Here four campaigners explain their demise and why they hold on

It’s a sad-looking protest. A few dozen members of Israel’s beleaguered peace movement mill around on a road in east Jerusalem, holding signs in Arabic, English and Hebrew declaring: “Stop the occupation.” Older, well-dressed intellectual leftwingers with grey hair and round spectacles mingle with a scruffier younger crowd.

One man with a cigarette dangling in his mouth rings a cowbell. A few Israeli police look on with bored expressions. Traffic meanders by as normal. Everyone seems to know each other. Another person sitting on the side of the road gestures to a journalist. “Do I have shit on my head?” he asks, looking up for birds on power lines overhead.

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