After their failed, multimillion-dollar campaign targeting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party in the last elections, Victory 2015 (V15) activists are back in political action, as partners in a parliamentary lobby headed by the Zionist Camp (Labor), and with a new name: Darkenu (Heb: our path).
An email sent out by the newly renamed V15 group reads: “In the last elections we said ‘Vote for those who will give you hope, those who will guarantee changing the path the country is taking.’ Tens of thousands of people joined us, we felt that something was happening, that the moderate camp was waking up and victory was within reach. Then we lost.”
As the pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Hayom noted, during the last elections, V15 officials argued that their activities were legal since they did not support any particular candidate or party outright. But that’s hard to balance with their website’s referring to Netanyahu’s victory with, “Then we lost.”
But they’ve learned from their loss: for one thing they changed their odd name, which sounded like a car model, with the new, more traditional name. They’ve also decided that an Israel following a right wing government to the precipice was vying for their message of hope, which they present as: “a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, through the division into two states; social justice and civic solidarity (always a good thing to have); eradication of racism and discrimination in all their forms (also very good); and the realization of the dream of the founders of the state: Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and a democratic state for all its citizens.”
Among other things, the new organization joined the left’s struggle against the natural gas outline, which is now certain to be appealed at the Supreme Court, pushing off the date for the actual delivery of cheaper fuel.
At a Monday conference on the natural gas legislation, the V15-turned-Darkenu folks sat together with Labor chairman MK Itzhak Herzog and the party’s Secretary-General MK Yehiel Bar, as well as Meretz MKs, Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen, and Kulanu MK Roy Folkman.
According to NGO Monitor, OneVoice International, which describes itself as “an international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians, empowering them to propel their elected representatives toward the two-state solution,” was the “legal-organizational channel” for V15’s campaign to take down Netanyahu. OneVoice Israel’s Executive Director Polly Bronstein said: “We believe that it’s critical that the majority of Israelis who are concerned about the numerous security and socio-economic challenges we face have their voices heard in the next election. We need a prime minister and a government who will be responsive to the people.”
But while its influence over Israeli elections may still be considered Zionist, even if minimally so, there’s very little de facto Zionism about its September 2014 venture One Voice Palestine, with its “The Land is Ours” campaign “to encourage young Palestinians to participate in non-violent resistance to end the occupation, realize the two-state solution, and establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
In December 2014, led a Christmas event in Bethlehem at which all youth leaders “donned a specifically designed sweatshirt that encouraged tourists to speak to their communities about Palestine through acknowledging Palestinian rights of freedom and self-determination” and “keffiyehs, checkered black and white scarves that are a symbol of Palestinian nationalism and an icon of Palestinian solidarity.”
Regarding the funding for V15’s (and now Darkenu’s) mother ship, NGO Monitor reports that according to its 2013 IRS 990 form, One Voice received $1,507,124 in contributions, including $250,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, $585,945 from the California-based Skoll Foundation, and $442,110 from One Voice Europe.
In 2013 the U.S. State Department provided One Voice Israel with a grant of $233,500 (for a project to “Defray Costs for Program ‘Campaign to Support the Negotiations’ Between the Israel Government & Palestinian Authority- Building Up Public SUPPORT”) and One Voice Palestine with a grant of $115,776 (for a project to “Work to Inspire Civic Participation Through Grassroots ACTIVISM”).