Mission Accomplished?: Israel's "Four Mothers" and the Legacies of Successful Antiwar Movements

By Dor, Rachel Ben; Lieberfeld, Daniel | International Journal of Peace Studies, Spring-Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

Mission Accomplished?: Israel's "Four Mothers" and the Legacies of Successful Antiwar Movements


Dor, Rachel Ben, Lieberfeld, Daniel, International Journal of Peace Studies


After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.

--Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Introduction

Four Mothers--Leaving Lebanon in Peace, according to journalistic and academic sources, was a remarkably successful antiwar movement--"probably the most influential protest movement in the history of Israel," according to one observer (Shavit, 2006; see also Frucht, 2000; Sebag, 2002; Hermann, 2006; and Sela, 2007). Between 1997 and 2000, movement activists helped turn Israeli public opinion against a counterinsurgency war that Israel had been fighting in Lebanon since 1982. The group, which was the only national grassroots movement active against the war at the time, was founded by the parents of soldiers assigned to combat in Lebanon, most of them residents of collective kibbutz communities in the Galilee region in Israel's North, along the Lebanon border.

The Four Mothers name adopted the image of the Biblical matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel. Movement leaders, including this article's first co-author, used both religious and secular nationalist imagery to appeal to Jewish Israeli public opinion, which, in the course of the Four Mothers protest, shifted from less than 35 percent in favor of unilaterally ending Israel's military presence in Lebanon to more than 70 percent in favor (Arian 1997, 1999a, 1999b).

This opinion shift was attributable not only to the movement's demonstrations, lobbying, petitions, and media and public education campaigns: Increasing Israeli casualties in Lebanon, some dramatic military disasters, and the government and military's inability to articulate attainable goals and strategies for the war were also important factors. However, as the Four Mothers protest expanded into a national movement, it managed to garner considerable media and public attention to its message: that Israel's 16-year-long war in southern Lebanon had failed to protect the northern communities--the war's ostensible purpose at that stage--and had pointlessly endangered two generations of Israeli soldiers as well. As one of the movement's slogans put it, "Our husbands were fighting this war when our boys were still babies. We don't want our grandsons to still be fighting it" (Ben Dor). In 1999, in the context of national elections and antiwar trends in public opinion, Labor party leader Ehud Barak pledged to withdraw the army, if he were elected prime minister. Barak was elected prime minister and then in May 2000 ordered the soldiers' return to Israel. Four Mothers--Leaving Lebanon in Peace, as an ad hoc movement focused on ending Israel's military involvement in Lebanon, voted to dissolve itself soon afterward.

Despite widespread support for ending the war in the lead-up to the withdrawal and afterwards, and despite considerable esteem for the movement's accomplishments, even from right-wing nationalists who opposed its goals, the legacy of the Four Mothers movement, within several years, became sharply contested among the Israeli public. When war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah organization broke out in July 2006--after Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers near the border, and following the abduction of another Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Hamas organization--Israeli nationalists blamed the Four Mothers movement for having caused the war. This attribution was based on the proposition that, had the movement not caused the army's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, its ongoing presence there could have prevented Hezbollah's carrying out cross-border raids and acquiring the rockets that it fired into Israel in 2006.

The Four Mothers movement was also blamed for undermining the morale of the army and for making Israeli society less able to tolerate military casualties in war, for weakening the military's deterrent capabilities, and for inviting attacks by emboldened adversaries. Thus, Israeli withdrawal in 2000 was an act of appeasement that encouraged not only Hezbollah aggression, but also attacks on Israelis by Palestinian militants within the West Bank and Gaza in the intifada (uprising) beginning in late 2000. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mission Accomplished?: Israel's "Four Mothers" and the Legacies of Successful Antiwar Movements
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.