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|Topic: Uri Avnery|
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Joined: 10 March 2003
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|Posted: 18 March 2007 at 12:59am|
Joined: 17 March 2005
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|Posted: 18 March 2007 at 3:33am|
Thank you Suleyman a picture says a thousand words.
Here are some more words from Gush Shalom.
Congratulations on your new government
Gush Shalom sent telegrams to Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (Abu
Mazen) and to Prime Minister Isma’il Haniya, congratulating them for the
formation of the Palestinian Unity Government: “The creation of a
government representing all the main Palestinian factions, and which
commits itself to respect previous agreements and to open negotiations
with Israel, is an piece of good news – for Israelis as well as for
Palestinians. This government could and should be Israel’s partner for
negotiations and for peace.”
In a telegram sent to Prime Minister Olmert, Gush Shalom calls upon him
to end his policy of futile refusal and start immediate negotiations with
the new Palestinian government. “Your career is fast approaching its
ignominious end. If you still want to save something from this debacle,
Mr. Prime Minister, it is not enough to make pathetic speeches. If your
reaction to the new Palestinian government is to launch a new military
incursion and invasion into the heart of Nablus, then indeed your being
Prime Minister is unnecessary and harmful. Precisely a year ago you got
the voters' confidence, Mr. Olmert, on the strength of promising to act to
end the occupation. When you do the precise opposite, your government
has lost the last shred of justification for its continued existence.
Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson, adam@gush-
Joined: 17 March 2005
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|Posted: 24 March 2007 at 1:19pm|
INCREDIBLE! In Palestinian schoolbooks, there is no trace of the Green
Line! They do not recognize the existence of Israel even in the 1967
borders! They say that the "Zionist gangs" stole the country from the
Arabs! That's how they poison the minds of their children!
These blood-curdling revelations were published this week in Israel and
around the world. The conclusion is self-evident: the Palestinian
Authority, which is responsible for the schoolbooks, cannot be a partner
in peace negotiations.
What a shock!
Truth is, there is nothing new here. Every few years, when all the other
arguments for refusing to speak with the Palestinian leadership wear thin,
the ultimate argument pops up again: Palestinian schoolbooks call for the
destruction of Israel!
The ammunition is always provided by one of the "professional"
institutions that deal with this matter. These are foundations of the far-
right, disguised as "scientific" bodies, which are lavishly funded by
Jewish-American multi-millionaires. Teams of salaried employees apply a
fine-tooth comb to every word of the Arab media and schoolbooks, with a
pre-ordained objective: to prove that they are anti-Semitic, preach hatred
of Israel and call for the killing of Jews. In the sea of words, it is not too
difficult to find suitable quotes, while ignoring everything else.
So now it is again perfectly clear: Palestinian schoolbooks preach hatred
of Israel! They are breeding a new generation of terrorists! Therefore, of
course, there can be no question of Israel and the world ending the
blockade on the Palestinian Authority!
WELL, WHAT about our side? What do our schoolbooks look like?
Does the Green Line appear in them? Do they recognize the right of the
Palestinians to establish a state on the other side of our 1967 borders?
Do they teach love for the Palestinian people (or even the existence of the
Palestinian people), or respect for the Arabs in general, or a knowledge of
The answer to all these questions: Absolutely not!
Recently, Minister of Education Yuli Tamir came out with a bombastic
announcement saying that she intends to mark the Green Line in the
schoolbooks, from which it was removed almost 40 years ago. The Right
reacted angrily, and nothing more was heard about it.
From kindergarten to the last day of high school, the Israeli pupil does
not learn that the Arabs have any right at all to any of this land. On the
contrary, it is clear that the land belongs to us alone, that God has
personally given it to us, that we were indeed driven out by the Romans
after the destruction of our Temple in the year 70 (a myth) but that we
returned at the beginning of the Zionist movement. Since then, the Arabs
have tried again and again to annihilate us, as the Goyim have done in
every generation. In 1936, the "gangs" (the official Israeli term for the
fighters of the Arab Revolt) attacked and murdered us. And so on, up to
this very day.
When he comes out of the pedagogic mill, the Jewish-Israeli pupil
"knows" that the Arabs are a primitive people with a murderous religion
and a miserable culture. He brings this view with him when he (or she)
joins the army a few weeks later. There, it is reinforced almost
automatically. The daily humiliation of old people and women - not to
mention everybody else - at the checkpoints would not be possible
THE QUESTION is, of course, whether schoolbooks really have that much
influence on the pupils.
From earliest childhood, children absorb the atmosphere of their
surroundings. The conversations at home, the sights on television, the
happenings in the street, the opinions of classmates at school - all these
influence them far more than the written texts of the books, which in any
case are interpreted by teachers who themselves have been subject to
An Arab child sees on TV an old woman lamenting the demolition of her
home. He sees on the walls in the street the photos of the martyred
heroes, sons of his neighborhood, who have sacrificed their lives for their
people and country. He hears what has happened to his cousin who was
murdered by the evil Jews. He hears from his father that he cannot buy
meat or eggs, because the Jews are not allowing him to work and put
food on the table. At home there is no water for most of the day. Mother
tells about grandpa and grandma, who have been languishing for 60
years in a miserable refugee camp in Lebanon. He knows that his family
were driven out from their village in what became Israel and that the Jews
are living there now. The hero of his class is the boy who jumped on a
passing Israeli tank, or who dared to throw a stone from a distance of 10
meters at a soldier who was pointing a gun at him.
We once went to a Palestinian village in order to help the inhabitants
rebuild a house that had been demolished the day before by the army.
While the adults were working on finishing the roof, the local children
gathered around Rachel, my wife, showing a keen interest in her camera.
The conversation that sprung up went like this: Where are you from? From
America? No, from here. Are you messihiin (Christians)? No, Israelis.
Israelis? (General laughter.) Israelis are like this: Boom Boom Boom! (They
assume poses of shooting soldiers.) No, really, where are you from? From
Israel, we are Jews. (They exchange looks.) Why do you come here? To
help in the work. (Whispers and laughter.) One of the boys runs to his
father: This woman says that they are Jews. True, the embarrassed father
confirmed, Jews, but good Jews. The children draw back. They look
What can schoolbooks change here?
And on the Jewish Israeli side? From the earliest age, the child sees the
pictures of suicide attacks on TV, bodies scattered around, the injured
being taken away in ambulances with blood-curdling shrieks from their
sirens. He hears that the Nazis slaughtered his mother's entire family in
Poland, and in his consciousness Nazis and Arabs become one. On every
day's news he hears bad things about what the Arabs are doing, that they
want to destroy the state and throw us into the sea. He knows that the
Arabs want to kill his brother, the soldier, without any reason, just
because they are such murderers. Nothing about life in "the territories",
perhaps just a few kilometers away, reaches him. Until he is called up, the
only Arabs he meets are Israeli Arab workers doing menial work. When he
joins the army, he sees them only through gun sights, every one of them
of them a potential "terrorist".
For a change in the schoolbooks to have any value, reality on the ground
must change first.
DOES THAT mean that schoolbooks have no importance? It should not be
I remember giving a lecture in one of the kibbutzim in the late 60s. After I
explained the need for the establishment of a Palestinian state next to
Israel (a fairly revolutionary idea at the time), one of the kibbutzniks
stood up and asked: "I don't understand it! You want us to give back all
the territories that we have conquered. Territories are something real,
land, water. What shall we get in return? Abstract words like "peace"?
What shall we get tachles (Yiddish for practical things)?"
I answered that from Morocco to Iraq, there are tens of thousands of
classrooms, and in every one of them hangs a map. On all these maps,
the territory of Israel is marked "occupied Palestine" or just left blank. All
that we need is that the name Israel should appear on these thousands of
Forty years have passed, and the name "Israel" does not appear in
Palestinian schoolbooks, nor, I assume, on any school map from Morocco
to Iraq. And the name "Palestine" does not appear, of course, on any
Israeli school map. Only when the young Israeli joins the army, does he
see a map of "the territories", with its crazy puzzle of Zones A, B and C,
settlement blocs and apartheid roads.
A map is a weapon. From my childhood in Germany between the two
World Wars I remember a map that was hanging on the wall of my
classroom. On it, Germany had two borders. One (green, if I remember
correctly) was the existing border, that was imposed by the treaty of
Versailles after the (first) World War. The other, marked in glowing red,
was the border from before the war. In thousands of classrooms all over
Germany (then governed by Social-Democrats) the pupils saw every day
before their eyes the terrible injustice done to Germany, when pieces
were "torn" from her on every side. Thus was bred the generation which
filled the ranks of the Nazi war machine in World War II.
(By the way, some fifty years later I was taken on a courtesy visit to that
school. I asked the principal about that map. Within minutes, it was
brought out from the archive.)
NO, I do not make light of maps. Especially not of maps in schools.
I repeat what I said then: the aim must be that the child in Ramallah sees
before his eyes, on the wall of his classroom, a map on which the State of
Israel is marked. And that the child in Rishon-le-Zion sees before his
eyes, on the wall of his classroom, a map on which the State of Palestine
is marked. Not by compulsion, but by agreement.
That is, of course, impossible as long as Israel has no borders. How can
one mark on the map a state which, from its first day, has refused,
consciously and adamantly, to define its borders? Can we really demand
that the Palestinian ministry of education publish a map on which all the
territory of Palestine lies inside Israel?
And on the other hand, how can one mark on the map the name
"Palestine", when there is no Palestinian state? After all, even most of
those Israeli politicians who profess - at least pro forma - to support the
"two-states solution" will go to great lengths to avoid saying where the
border between the two state should run. Tzipi Livni, the Foreign
Minister, is totally opposed to the announced intention of her colleague,
Minister of Education Yuli Tamir, to mark the Green Line, lest it be seen
as a border.
Peace means a border. A border fixed by agreement. Without a border,
there can be no peace. And without peace, it is the height of chutzpa to
demand something from the other side that we totally refuse to do
Joined: 17 March 2005
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 29 March 2007 at 12:47pm|
The assembled leaders
Of the Arab countries
Peace with the Palestinians
And the entire Arab world
For generations to come.
The assembled settlers
War with the Palestinians
And the entire Arab world
For generations to come.
We must choose.
Gush Shalom ad published in Haaretz,
March 30, 2007
Joined: 17 March 2005
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 07 April 2007 at 2:10pm|
Shalom, Shin Bet
RECENTLY, THE CHIEF of the Shin Bet declared that the "Israeli Arabs", a
fifth of Israel's population, constitute a danger to the state.
He requested permission for the General Security Service to act against
anyone who aims at changing the official designation of Israel as a "Jewish
and democratic state" - even if they use nothing but completely legal
It follows that In the view of the chief of the Security Service, a central
figure in the Israeli leadership, the task of the Shin Bet (now commonly
known in Israel as Shabak) is not only to protect the state from spies and
terrorists, but also from any challenge to its ideological designation, like
the KGB in the former Soviet Union and the Stasi in communist East
Germany. (The excellent Oscar-winning movie "The Life of the Others",
now screening in Israel, shows how this worked in practice.)
ALL THIS is reminiscent of things past. Rather naively, I had thought that
they belonged to bygone days which could never return.
Two weeks ago, the Israeli tabloid Yedioth Aharonoth published an
interview with the lawyer Arieh Hadar, nicknamed Pashosh, a former chief
of the interrogation department of the Shin Bet.
Pashosh disclosed that "In the 50s, the great enemies of the Labor Party -
and therefore of Issar Harel, the chief of the security services, the Shin Bet
and the Mossad - were Uri Avnery and his weekly magazine, Haolam
Hazeh. Avnery called the Shin Bet "the Apparatus of Darkness", and Issar
was convinced that Uri Avnery would destroy the state. Avnery and his
magazine were under constant surveillance. A colleague of mine earned
himself quick promotion by recruiting an employee of Haolam Hazeh's
printing press. Every week, this employee gave him a smuggled copy of
the magazine a day before its official publication date. My colleague gave
it to Issar, who brought it every week personally to Ben-Gurion."
Pashosh added: "Issar had the Shin Bet publish a competing magazine,
disguised as privately owned. The aim was to destroy Avnery."
These revelations were not news to me. Years ago, Issar Harel himself
disclosed that he regarded me as "Enemy No. 1 of the regime". It may be
remembered that in those days, three bombs were laid in our editorial
offices and printing plant and two employees were injured. The fingers of
both my hands were broken in an (unsuccessful) attempt to kidnap me.
None of these crimes was ever solved.
In 1977, after coming to power, Menachem Begin revealed in an interview
that at the end of the 50s Issar Harel approached him and told him that
he had proposed to the Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, to put me in
"administrative detention" - arrest without trial and without time limit.
Ben-Gurion agreed, but posed a condition: that Begin, then the leader of
the opposition, agree to it too, so that it could be done quietly. Begin
demanded that Issar show him the evidence that I was a traitor,
otherwise, he said, not only would he not agree, but he would raise hell.
Issar never mentioned the matter again.
Begin did not leave it at that. He sent me his trusted lieutenant, Yaakov
Meridor, to warn me. In spite of the extreme difference of opinion
between us, which found its expression many times in Knesset debates,
Begin accepted me, it seems, as an Israeli patriot.
THE QUESTION is, of course, why Ben-Gurion and the security service
chief considered me "Enemy No. 1 of the regime".
That brings us to the subject now raised again by the Shin Bet chief.
I attacked Ben-Gurion on many subjects: the total domination of all
affairs in the country by the Labor Party (then called Mapai), the
corruption that was then starting to infect the ruling class, the
discrimination suffered by Jewish immigrants from Oriental countries, the
religious coercion, etc.
But the pivot of this struggle was the definition of Israel as a "Jewish
What is a "Jewish state"? That was never made clear. A state whose
citizens are all Jewish? A state that belongs to Jews only? The "state of the
Jewish people", which also belongs to millions of Jews who do not live
here and are citizens of the US, Argentina and France? A state ruled by
the Jewish religion? A state that expresses Jewish values (and if so, which
Furthermore - who is a Jew, in this context? After many hesitations, the
Knesset adopted the religious definition: a Jew is a person born to a
Jewish mother or who has converted to the Jewish faith, and who has not
adopted another religion. The contradiction between the definition of
Judaism as a religion and the assertion that the Jews are a nation was
solved by adopting the fiction that with us, unlike other nations, religion
and nation are one and the same.
The term "Jewish state" is nebulous. It can be interpreted in several ways.
When one adds the word "democratic", it becomes an oxymoron - if a
state belongs only to a part of its population it is not democratic, and if it
is democratic then it cannot belong to a part of its population, even if
they compose the majority.
Instructing the Security Service - our name for the secret police - to act
against those who strive by legal means to change the "Jewish state"
definition - simply means to cripple Israeli democracy. It is one of the
basic principles of democracy that everyone has the right to propagate
his views and convince people to change the laws and the constitution, as
long as only legal means are used. If he or she succeeds in convincing the
majority of the citizens, the desired change comes about.
Activating the secret police to abort this process would mean turning
Israel into a police state. Not a "democracy protecting itself", but, rather,
a state protecting itself from democracy.
I HOPE that the State of Israel remains a state with a Hebrew majority, that
the Hebrew language will remain its main language, that it will express
the modern Hebrew society and its culture and also keep alive the Jewish
tradition of generations past. (About the Arab side of the matter - see
But it must not do so by force, by way of oppression, by using the secret
police and other means of compulsion. Natural processes must be
allowed to work freely, whatever the results. We are not the only nation in
the world in this situation.
If Israel is an attractive country, natural increase will rise and many will
knock on its doors, people who desire to join our nation. The Israeli
nation - unlike the Jewish religion - can in principle absorb everyone who
wants to belong to it.
The relationship between a modern state and its citizens must be based
on one consideration only: citizenship. The state belongs to all its
citizens, and all of them must be equal before the law. That is what the
1948 Declaration of Independence promised: "The State of Israel… will
ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants
irrespective of religion, race or sex."
Some Israelis use the term "nation-state" as a pretext to oppress the Arab
minority. They think about a nation-state in the spirit of the late 19th and
early 20th century. In Poland, for example, where many of Israel's
founders were born, the state fought against large communities of its
own citizens - Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Jews and others.
The most extreme example was the Nazi state, which was based on the
idea that the individual exists only as a part of his nation, as a mere cell
in the national organism. This model drowned in blood and has been
besmirched for all eternity by the horrors of the Holocaust.
Today the model that appeals to many is the American one. The American
nation includes everybody who holds a US passport. A person who
receives American citizenship - whether Mexican, Korean, Indian or
Nigerian - at that moment joins the American nation and becomes an heir
to George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
All modern nations are moving towards this model, each according to its
own rhythm. Poland, too, now belongs to the EU, where millions of people
are moving from country to country without restrictions. In most
countries there now live millions of foreigners who are gradually being
absorbed into the national population. Their children grow up with the
local culture and the local language and study in the local schools.
Without this massive reinforcement, many Western societies could not
exist any more, as far as the economy and demography are concerned.
Will Israel, which misses no opportunity to describe itself as a Western
country, turn its back on this reality and adopt the model of Pakistan, a
state that was founded - at the same time as Israel - on an ethnic-
MY IDENTITY consists of many different layers.
I am a human being, and as a human being I am a citizen of the world,
bearing responsibility for the entire planet. I am committed to humanist
values, to the ecology of the globe, to freedom, peace and justice for all. I
hope that in the not too distant future, these values will be guaranteed by
an effective world order.
I am a member of the Israeli nation, together with all the other people
who hold an Israeli passport. Israel is my state. I want it living in peace,
secure, flourishing and respected throughout the world. I want a state in
which it is good to live, and of which I can be proud.
I am a son of the Jewish people. I am an heir to Jewish tradition, much as
Australians and Canadians are heirs to the Anglo-Saxon tradition. There
are Jewish values in which I believe, values of justice, peace and non-
violence, which are very different from the values of the settlers in Yitzhar
and Tapuah. I am close to the Jews around the world, and I am very glad
that Jews around the world feel close to Israel. That is an emotional
matter, which should not concern the state.
When the State of Israel really belongs, practically and officially, to all its
citizens, it will be much easier for the Arabs here to decide on their
status. If they choose to belong to the Israeli nation, much as Hispanics in
the US belong to the American nation, that will be fine. If they prefer the
status of a national minority, they should enjoy the rights of such a
minority in a modern state. Either way, the Arabic language and Arab
culture must be fully recognized by the state. The affinity of the Arab
citizens with the Palestinian people and the Arab world must be
considered just as legitimate as the affinity of the Hebrew citizens with
the Jewish people throughout the world.
THAT IS my view. I intend to advocate it by all the legal means at my
disposal in the democratic state that I helped to establish.
And if the Shin Bet does not like it, well, that is a pity. I just hope that
they will not put me under administrative detention because of it.
Joined: 26 January 2005
Location: United States
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 15 April 2007 at 4:54am|
Bismillah and Salaams,
We hope and pray so as well, Uri.
Al-Hamdulillah (From a Married Muslimah) La Howla Wa La Quwata Illa BiLLah - There is no Effort or Power except with Allah's Will.
Joined: 17 March 2005
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 28 April 2007 at 2:00pm|
A Hope not Lost
ON THE MORROW of Independence Day, a newspaper reported that an
Arab child had refused to stand up while the national anthem was sung.
The paper was furious. I was not. In fact, it raised a childhood experience
from the depths of my memory.
It was in Hanover, Germany, some months after Adolf Hitler had come to
power. I was a pupil in the first class of a high school that bore the name
of the last German Empress, Auguste Victoria.
The rise of the Nazis to power did not, in general, cause immediate and
dramatic changes. Life went on. But in school there was a marked change:
every few weeks there was a celebration for one or another of the many
military victories that German history is richly endowed with. On such
days, all the pupils congregated in the big hall, the "aula", the principal
made a speech full of pathos and the pupils sang patriotic songs.
On one of these occasions - I think it was in celebration of the conquest
of Belgrade from the Turks by Prince Eugen in 1717 - we assembled
again in the aula, and at the end of the ceremony two anthems were
sung: the national anthem ("Deutschland ueber Alles") and the Nazi
anthem (The Horst Wessel song). The hundreds of pupils rose to their
feet, raised their right hands in the Nazi salute and sung devotedly.
I was 9 years old, a pupil of the most junior class, and the youngest child
in the class. I was also the only Jew in school. I had no time to think. I
rose to my feet, but I did not raise my hand and did not sing. One little
boy in a sea of raised hands. I was trembling with excitement.
Nothing awful happened. But afterwards, some of my class-mates
threatened that if I did this again, they would break my bones. I was
saved from this test. A few weeks later my family fled Germany and went
to Palestine, the land of my dreams.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Arab children are now facing a similar test.
They are expected to sing an anthem that ignores their very existence
and reminds them of the defeat of their people. This week, the publisher
of Haaretz, Amos Schoken, the son of an immigrant from Germany,
proposed changing the anthem.
"Hatikva" ("The Hope") was written more than a hundred years ago. At the
time, a small Zionist community already existed in this country, but the
song reflected the point of view of the Diaspora. "As long as deep in the
heart / A Jewish soul is yearning, / And towards the edge of the East, the
orient, / An eye is looking out towards Zion…" (My literal translation.)
Since then, the situation of the Jews and of this country have changed
radically. In the country, a large and strong Hebrew society has emerged.
Why should we sing about the "edge of the East" when we are living in
True, the fact that a song has become obsolete, even ridiculous, does not
make it unfit to serve as a national anthem. The French anthem calls on
the sons of the fatherland to stand up against the bloody tyrants
(meaning Germans and others) and soak the fields with their impure
blood. The Dutch anthem speaks about the injustices committed by Spain
some 400 years ago. The British anthem prays to God to frustrate the
knavish tricks of the enemies of the monarch. So we Israelis may be
allowed not to lose our hope to be "a free people in our land" - as if we
were under occupation. (Whose, exactly? Jewish? British? Turkish?) In the
original text, by the way, the hope was "To return to the land of our
fathers, / The town where David camped." It was changed later.
No, the problem with Hatikva is not the text of the song, nor the melody,
which was swiped from Eastern Europe. The problem is that it excludes
the Arab citizens, who now constitute more than 20% of Israel's
I don't want start another discussion of whether or not Israel is a "Jewish
state" (What does that mean? That it belongs to the Jewish religion? That
the majority is Jewish?) Even somebody who wants it to be so must ask
himself: Is it wise to make every Arab citizen feel that he or she does not
belong? That this is a foreign and hostile state?
Hatikva can well remain the anthem of the Zionist movement, and Jews
can sing it in Los Angeles or Kiryiat Malachy (both "cities of the angels").
But it should not be the anthem of the state.
In World War II, Stalin decided that the then national anthem - the
Internationale - did not serve his purpose anymore. He wanted to arouse
patriotism and needed the cooperation of his capitalist allies. So he
announced a competition for the writing of a new anthem. A rousing song
was chosen, which struck such deep roots that even after the collapse of
the Soviet Union, the Russians preferred it to the old anthem of the Czars
(familiar to us from Tchaikovsky's "1812").
The time has come to discuss changing our anthem, not only for the sake
of the Arab citizens, but also for our own sake: to have an anthem that
reflects our reality. 38 years ago in the Knesset I first submitted a bill In
this spirit. It was soundly defeated. Now is the time to revive the idea.
THAT IS also true for the flag.
The blue-white flag is the banner of the Zionist movement. It took the
Jewish prayer shawl, the tallith, added the Star of David (an old Jewish
symbol, which also appears in other cultures) and created a new national
flag. It has one obvious fault: the blue and the white do not stand out
against the background of the blue sky, the white clouds and the grey
buildings. It is enough to compare it to the jolly American Stars and
Stripes, the solemn British Union Jack and the esthetic French Tricolore.
But the main fault of the flag lies in the fact that it excludes the Arab
community from the family of the state. An Arab who salutes the flag is
lying to himself when he tries to identify himself with symbols like the
tallith and the Star of David that exclude him and don't speak to him.
(The more so as many Arabs believe that the two blue stripes stand for
the Nile and the Euphrates, and that the flag hints at the Zionist ambition
to create a Jewish state according to the Biblical promise (Genesis 15, 18):
"Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt into the
great river, the river Euphrates." This is an invention, but it makes the flag
even more difficult to accept.)
The aim of a national flag is to unite. This flag disunites. It does not touch
the heartstrings of an important community in the state. It pushes them
away. And not only them. As Gideon Levy wrote this week, it has been
expropriated by the extreme Right and is connected, in the eyes of
advocates of peace and justice, with the shame of the roadblocks, the
settlements and the occupation.
Not so long ago, the Canadian state was facing a similar problem. The
national flag, based on the Union Jack, was pushing away the minority of
French-speakers. In spite of the fact that these constituted only 10% of
the population (to which could be added the offspring of mixed couples),
the majority decided, wisely, that the unity of the country was more
important than their own British sentiments. A new flag was decided
upon, a flag that has at its center a symbol every Canadian can identify
with: the maple leaf.
THE OPPOSITION to the changing of the anthem and the flag does not
emanate, of course, only from a devotion to existing symbols. It is mainly
an opposition to the changing of the Jewish identity of Israel.
The desire to preserve the "Jewish state" is strong and profound. Lately it
has been strengthened even more by the demand of Arab intellectuals,
citizens of Israel, to re-arrange the relationship between the state and the
Almost daily, new proposals pop up. This week, Otniel Shneller, a
member of the Knesset and close friend of Ehud Olmert, proposed a new
idea: to turn over to the Palestinian state, once it is set up, the Arab
villages in the Triangle, an area on the Israeli side of the Green Line, in
return for the settlement blocs on the Palestinian side, which would be
incorporated into Israel. This way the proportion of Arabs in the state will
decrease and the proportion of Jews increase.
Unlike Avigdor Liberman, who proposed something similar, this Kadima
member of the Knesset does not propose to do it by force. He professes
to a desire to achieve an agreement with the inhabitants, so that they
would retain some of their social rights in Israel even after becoming
citizens of the Palestinian state. What is important for him is only that
they - and perhaps also the Arab inhabitants of Galilee - will cease to be
citizens, so that Israel will be more "Jewish and democratic", or, rather,
"Jewish and demographic".
Shneller and Liberman - both settlers, both belonging to the extreme
Right - do not propose to give up East Jerusalem, where almost a quarter
of a million Palestinians are living. That does not worry them, because
these Arabs have never been given Israeli citizenship anyhow. When they
were annexed to Israel in 1967, they were accorded only the status of
"permanent residents". Therefore, they are not required to hoist the blue-
white flag and to sing Hatikva.
By the way, these proposals show that these two Rightists have lost hope
for the Greater Israel, and resigned themselves to a Palestinian state
alongside Israel. Otherwise their proposals would be meaningless.
HOW DO the Arab citizens of Israel react to Shneller's ideas? They just
ignore them. Up to now, not a single Arab voice has been raised in
support of this proposal, much as not a single Arab voice has been heard
in support of Liberman's ideas.
That sheds light on a fact that has escaped many: the Arab citizens of
Israel are much more connected with the state than it seems. In spite of
their suffering discrimination in practically all fields of life, they are
connected with the political, economic and social system. They have no
desire whatsoever to give up Israeli democracy, social security benefits
and the economic advantages. They certainly want to order the relations
between them and the state on a new basis, but they definitely do not
want to be separated from it.
Many years ago, an Arab member of the Knesset, Abd-al-Aziz Zuabi,
coined the phrase "my state is at war with my people". That is the
dilemma of the Arab citizen of Israel. He is a part of this state, and at the
same time belongs to the Palestinian people.
Every "Israeli Arab" is faced with this reality, and every one is looking for
an answer of his or her own. The Azmi Bishara affair (which I shall
address in the near future) symbolizes this dilemma. As long as there is
no Israeli-Palestinian peace, the dilemma will endure.
A new anthem and a new flag will not solve the problem, but they will
constitute a significant step towards a solution that both sides can live
Joined: 17 March 2005
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 22 July 2007 at 12:29pm|
I post these so that y'all can see that we are for the most part aware of
the situation in Palestine Gaza and Iraq. This is in no way an
endorsement of armed struggle. I still think that violence is the ultimate
Zohar my wife is one of the smartest people I know and when I despair
about the situation here I take comfort in her observations.
One of them is this.
"It has always been this bad. I take heart in the fact that more people are
finally noticing. This in itself is the first step towards a real change for the
America and the world are in sore need of responsible leadership. It's
Take it away Uri...
A Trap for Fools
IN A classical American western, the difference is as glaring as the midday
sun in Colorado: there are Good Guys and Bad Guys. The good ones are
the settlers, who are making the prairie bloom. The bad ones are the
Indians, who are blood-thirsty savages. The ultimate hero is the cowboy,
tough, humane, with a big revolver or two, ready to defend himself at all
George Bush, who grew up on this myth, sticks to it even now, when he is
the leader of the world's only superpower. This week he presented the
world with an up-to-date western.
In this western - or, rather, middle eastern - there are also Good Guys
and Bad Guys. The good ones are the "moderates", who are the allies of
the US in the Middle East - Israel, Mahmoud Abbas and the pro-American
Arab regimes. The bad ones are Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran, Syria and al-
It is a simple script. So simple, indeed, that an 8-year-old can understand
it. The conclusions are also simple: the good guys have to be supported,
the bad guys have to bite the dust. At the end, the hero - George himself
- will ride off into the sunset on his noble steed, while the music reaches
THE CLASSICAL western, of course, does not show us the heroic pioneers
stealing the land from the Indians. Or the United States Cavalry attacking
the camps of the Indians, burning down the tents and killing their
inhabitants, men, women and children. How the US government, after
signing formal treaties with the Indian nations, breaks them one after
another. And how it drives the remnants into desolate regions, long
before the term "ethnic cleansing" was first used.
Denial runs through the classical western like a purple thread, as it does
through this speech of Bush's. This finds its main expression in a simple
fact: the occupation is hardly mentioned at all.
In the Palestinian community, for example, there is a struggle between
the "moderates" and the "extremists". The extremists are killers. Why are
they killers? There is no why. They are killers because they are killers. It's
in their nature. They were just born that way. The moderates are
moderates because they are moderates. Some people are just born good.
So the whole problem is a Palestinian problem. They must decide. They
must choose between moderates and extremists. If they choose the
moderates, they will get everything they can imagine: colorful glass beads
and gallons of whisky. If they choose the extremists, their end will be
The Jewish Israelis do not have to choose between good and bad. Why?
Simply because there are no Bad Guys among them. They are just good.
They must help the good Palestinians. "Release" the Palestinian tax
moneys and give them to "Prime Minister (Salem) Fayad". Not to the
Palestinian government, but to one specific named person, the darling of
What else is required from the Israelis? They must understand that their
"future lies in developing areas like the Negev and Galilee - not in
continuing occupation of the West Bank". (That's the only time the
occupation is mentioned at all.) They should remove unauthorized
outposts and end settlement expansion. Also, they may "find other
practical ways to reduce their footprint (in the West Bank) without
reducing their security". Meaning: the occupation can continue, but it
would be nice if we take some steps to make it less visible.
A long time ago, the United States viewed all settlements as illegal. When
the Israeli government continued to expand them, James Baker, the
Secretary of State under Bush the father, imposed financial sanctions
upon Israel. Bush the son at first demanded that all settlements
established after January 2001 should be dismantled. Later he withdrew
all opposition to the settlement blocs ("centers of population"). In the
"Road Map" he decreed that Israel must immediately freeze the
enlargement of the settlements. Now he is satisfied with a sanctimonious
request to "remove unauthorized outposts" (with no article) - that's to
say, some of those put up without the official authorization of the Israeli
government itself. All this without "or else" or any mention of sanctions.
In the last few years, only one such outpost, Amona, has been
dismantled, and this week Ehud Olmert decided to pardon all the fanatics
accused of attacking the police during that event. The Israeli government
knows that Bush is only paying lip service, and does not take him
IN MANY classical westerns there appears a crook selling a patent
medicine to heal all ills: headaches and hemorrhoids, tuberculosis and
syphilis. George Bush has his own patent medicine, which appears in the
speech again and again. It will heal all diseases and ensure the final
victory of the Sons of Light over the Sons of Darkness.
The label on the bottle says "Building Palestinian Institutions".
How come we didn't think of this until now? Why did we go chasing off
after all kinds of solutions, and did not find this one, so simple, lying in
front of us for all to see?
It is an egg of Columbus, with a whiff of Alexander the Great's sword
cutting the Gordian knot. The Palestinians have no institutions. The two
good people, "President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayad…are striving to
build the institutions of a modern democracy." This means: "security
services…ministries that deliver services without corruption…steps that
unleash the natural enterprise of the Palestinian people…the rule of
All this under occupation, behind roadblocks, walls and fences, while the
main roads are barred to Palestinians, while the West Bank is chopped
into pieces and cut off from the rest of the world. By the way, in this
matter Bush has another patent medicine: all Palestinian exports will in
future go through Jordan and Egypt, not Israel.
In order to realize the vision of "building Palestinian institutions", Bush is
sending along his poodle. According to Bush, the sole task of Tony Blair
is indeed this: "to coordinate international efforts to help the Palestinians
establish the institutions of a strong and lasting free society." (Like which
example? Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Jordan? Pakistan? Morocco? Or perhaps
Let's hope no one is rude enough to mention the fact that the Palestinians
held democratic elections for their Parliament, not so long ago, under the
strict supervision of ex-President Jimmy Carter. As far as Bush is
concerned, that just did not happen, since the majority of the people
voted for Hamas. Therefore, Bush mentions only the elections held before
that, when Mahmoud Abbas was elected president, practically without
opposition. Everything else has been wiped off the slate.
So this is the up-to-date vision: "democratic Palestinian institutions" will
be in place, free of corruption (as in the US and Israel), and "capable
security forces" will be functioning, and Hamas will be eliminated, and the
armed factions will be dismantled, and all attacks on Israel will be
stopped, and the security of Israel ensured, and the incitement against
Israel ended, and everybody will recognize Israel's right to exist as "a
Jewish state and a homeland for the Jewish people", and all the
agreements that were signed in the past will be accepted - then "we can
soon begin serious negotiations towards the creation of a Palestinian
What a wonderful sentence! "Soon" - without a timetable. "Serious
negotiations" - without fixing a date for their conclusion. "A Palestinian
state" (again, without the definite article, which Bush seems to detest) -
without specific borders. But a hint is given: "mutually agreed borders
reflecting previous lines and current realities, and mutually agreed
adjustments." Meaning: the settlement blocs and much else will be
annexed by Israel.
IT SEEMS as if the speech writers, after finishing the product, noticed that
it was pitifully devoid of content. Nothing new, nothing that could cause a
self-respecting newspaper to give it a headline.
I imagine the media advisor saying: "Mister President, we must add
something that will look new." Thus the "international meeting" was born.
"So I will call together an international meeting this fall of representatives
from nations that support a two-state solution, reject violence, recognize
Israel's right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the
parties. The key participants in this meeting will be the Israelis, the
Palestinians, and their neighbors in the region. Secretary Rice will chair
Wonderful. A meeting which has no date yet, but has a season of the year.
And for which no location has yet been fixed. And no list of participants.
And no planned conclusions, except the general statement: "She
(Condoleezza) and her counterparts will review the progress that has
been made towards building Palestinian institutions. They will look for
innovative and effective ways to support further reform. And they will
provide diplomatic support for the parties in their bilateral discussions
and negotiations, so that we can move forward on a successful path to a
Palestinian state." The meeting will not review the progress made towards
the removal of the outposts, for example.
It is not by accident that Bush omitted to identify the governments he
intends to invite. Clearly, he will try to fulfill one of the most cherished
dreams of Olmert: to meet publicly with a top representative of Saudi
Arabia. For Olmert this would be an immense achievement: an official
meeting with the most important Arab country which has no peace
agreement with Israel. A meeting for which he will not have to pay any
price. A free lunch.
It is dubious whether this wish will be fulfilled. The Saudis are very
cautious. They do not want to quarrel with any party in the Region - not
with Syria (which will not be invited, though it is a "neighbor" of the
Israelis and the Palestinians) and not with Hamas. Unlike Egypt, Jordan
and the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia cannot be bribed with money.
It has enough of its own.
THE FINAL objective is a "Palestinian state", the "two-state solution". That
is a far-far-off aim. Not for nothing is it called a "political horizon", since
a horizon, as is well-known, recedes in the distance as one tries to
In his poem "If", Rudyard Kipling describes all the tests an Englishman has
to endure in order to be considered a "man". One of them is: "If you can
bear to hear the truth you've spoken / Twisted by knaves to make a trap
We, the small group of Israelis who raised the banner of the "two-state
solution" more than fifty years ago, now have to endure George Bush
turning it into a rag to cover his nakedness. In his mouth, it is an empty,
deceitful and mendacious slogan. Only a fool will fall into this trap.
As Chaim Weizmann, the prominent Zionist leader and first president of
Israel, once said: "No state is given to a people on a silver platter." The
Palestinians, too, will not get their state without struggle, not as
baksheesh from Bush nor as a '"gesture" from Olmert. Nations achieve
their freedom by political or military struggle. Every struggle, violent or
non-violent, is a matter of power.
And power means first of all: Unity.
Edited by Daniel Dworsky
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