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|Topic: Uri Avnery|
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Joined: 17 March 2005
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 13 January 2007 at 2:02pm|
Manara Square, Ramallah
IT WAS murder in broad daylight. Undercover soldiers disguised as Arabs,
accompanied by armored vehicles and bulldozers and supported by
helicopter gunships, invaded the center of Ramallah. Their aim was to kill
or capture a Fatah militant, Rabee' Hamid. The man was wounded but
managed to escape.
As always, the place was teeming with people. Manara Square is the heart
of Ramallah, full of life, both walking and driving. When people realized
what was going on, they started to throw stones at the soldiers. These
responded by shooting wildly in all directions. Four bystanders were
killed, more than 30 wounded.
The routinely mendacious army press release announced that the four
had been armed. Indeed? One of them was a street vendor named Khalil
al-Bairouti, who used to sell hot beverages from a small cart at this place.
Another was Jamal Jweelis from Shuafat near Jerusalem, who had come to
Ramallah to buy new clothes and sweets for the engagement party of his
brother, which was scheduled for the next day. Hearing that approaching
bulldozers were crushing vehicles in the street, Jamal ran out of the shop
to remove his car.
That happened nine days ago. A "routine" action, like so many others that
take place in the occupied Palestinian territories almost daily. But this
time it created an international uproar, because on that very day Ehud
Olmert was due to meet the President of Egypt, Husni Mubarak in Sharm
el Sheikh. The host was deeply offended. Do the Israelis despise him so
much, that they so lightly put him to shame in the eyes of his people and
the Arab world? At the end of the meeting, he gave vent to his anger in no
uncertain terms, in the presence of Olmert, who muttered some weak
words of apology.
In Israel, the usual game of passing the buck, known as "covering one's
ass", began. Who was responsible? As usual, someone low down in the
hierarchy. The Prime Ministers's people first suspected that the Minister
of Defense, Amir Peretz, had done it to trip up Olmert. Peretz denied any
prior knowledge of the action, and passed the buck on to the Chief-of-
Staff, who, he implied, wanted to bring about the downfall of both Olmert
and Peretz. The C-o-S transferred the responsibility to the Commander of
the Central Front, Ya'ir Naveh, a Kippa-wearing general known as
especially brutal, with extreme right-wing views. In the end it was
decided that some officer lower down had approved the action, and that
all the responsibility was his.
Even if you believe all these denials - and I most certainly do not - the
image is no less disturbing: a chaotic army, out of control, where every
officer can do as he sees fit (or unfit).
TWO DAYS later, my wife Rachel and I visited the place. It was early
evening. Under an intermittent drizzle, Manara ("lighthouse") Square was
again teeming with people. Traffic jams blocked all the six streets leading
to the square
Zacharia, the Palestinian friend who was accompanying us, was clearly
worried. He tried to persuade us not to go there so soon after the
incident. But nothing happened.
Posters of Arafat were hanging on the column in the center of the square
and on some walls. In a mini-market there were photos of Saddam
Hussein. One of the walls carried angry graffiti: "We Don't Need Your Aid!"
(You the Americans? The Europeans? The aid agencies?)
The four lions surrounding the column in the square looked to me forlorn
and helpless. One of them is wearing a watch on his leg. The designer
had added the watch as a joke and the Chinese who were contracted to
produce the lions according to the plan did precisely that.
In the end we entered a coffee shop. While we were sitting and enjoying
the coffee, all the lights went out. Before we could start to worry, people
around us used their cigarette lighters and cellular phones. After some
minutes, the lights went on again.
On the way home to the hotel in a side street, we took a taxi. The driver,
who did not know that we were Israelis, talked all the way with his brother
in Arabic on his phone. He ended the conversation with three words:
"Yallah. Lehitraot. Bye." Yallah (something like OK) in Arabic. Lehitraot
("see you again") in Hebrew. Bye in English.
WHEN WE told our friends in Tel-Aviv that we were off to a conference in
Ramallah, they thought that we had taken leave of our senses. "To
Ramallah? And now of all times, after what has just happened there?"
The organizers of the conference - Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace,
an international group of academics - also hesitated. True, the
conference was arranged several weeks ago, but perhaps it would be best
to postpone it for a week or two? Was it wise to bring to Ramallah dozens
of Israelis, less than 24 hours after the killing?
In the end, it was decided, quite rightly, that this was exactly the right
time and place to convene the conference. The representatives of 23
Palestinian, 22 Israeli and 15 international organizations were lodged for
three days in a Ramallah hotel, met, ate together and discussed the one
subject that was on everybody's mind: how to act together to put an end
to the occupation which produces daily horrors like the Manara Square
It was important to hold the conference precisely at this place for another
reason: Since the murder of Yasser Arafat, the connections between the
Israeli and Palestinian peace forces at the higher level had become
tenuous. Unlike Arafat [incidentally, Uri Dan, Sharon's confidant, recently
put to rest any doubt that the late Palestinian President was indeed
murdered], Mahmoud Abbas obviously does not think that they are
important. That is one of the reasons - one of many - for the pessimism
that has infected parts of the peace camp.
Therefore, the very fact that such a conference was taking place was
important. Israelis, Palestinians and international activists mingled and
sat together, proposed actions, stressed the common aim. On the second
day, the conference broke up into smaller workshops, where participants
from Tel-Aviv and Hebron, Nablus and New York, Barcelona and Kfar-
Sava put forward ideas for joint actions.
There were also some stormy debates, though not between Israelis and
Palestinians, but about differences of opinion that did not follow national
lines. The most important one: Should the main effort be devoted to
action in the country or abroad?
The representative of an Israeli group argued with much feeling that there
was nothing to be done inside the country, that all the efforts should be
focused on winning over international public opinion, on the lines of the
world-wide boycott that had been so successful against South Africa. In
response, a Palestinian activist argued that the only important thing was
to influence public opinion in Israel, which was, after all, the occupier. I
also argued that the main effort should be directed towards Israel, even if
actions abroad can be useful, too. I vigorously opposed the idea of a
general boycott against Israel, because - among other things - it would
push the public into the arms of the Right. (However, I do support the
idea of a boycott against specific targets that are clearly identified with
the occupation, such as the settlements, suppliers of certain military
equipment, universities with branches in the occupied territories etc.)
SOME DAYS later a comparable meeting took place in the capital of Spain.
But there was a difference between the two conferences - much like the
difference between Sun Square in Madrid and Manara Square in Ramallah.
Madrid saw a congregation of respectable personalities, Members of the
Knesset (including supporters of the government that is responsible for
the bloodshed in Ramallah, one of them a representative of a neo-Fascist
party) together with some notables from the Palestinian authority and
their colleagues from Arab and other countries. In Ramallah there came
together the veterans of the fight for peace, people who had stood fast
dozens of times in a cloud of tear gas and against rubber-coated bullets.
One group of Palestinians and Israelis, who arrived together late on the
first day, came straight from a demonstration in Bil'in, where the army
had used a water cannon, tear gas and also rubber bullets.
The guests in Madrid had come by plane. The guests in Ramallah had a
much tougher time getting there. The Israelis had to squirm through
checkpoints on their way in, and even more on the way back. Israelis
(except settlers) break the law when they travel to the occupied
territories. But for the Palestinians, it was ten times harder to get to
Ramallah. A guest from Nablus told us that he had left home at 2 AM in
order to reach the conference at 11 AM. The guest from Tubas, near
Nablus, spent eight hours on the road and at the checkpoints - much
more than the time needed to get from Tel-Aviv to Madrid.
The Madrid conference was covered extensively in the Israeli media, day
after day. The Ramallah conference was not mentioned with one single
word in any Israeli newspaper, TV or radio station, except for a single line
in the gossip column in Maariv, which said: "Uri Avnery has temporarily
gone to live in Ramallah".
THE MADRID conference was relevant mainly as proof that Israeli and
Palestinian politicians can sit together, even after all that has happened.
What was the importance of the meeting in Ramallah?
In the past, I have taken part in many similar conferences that have borne
no fruit. This time, too, the obstacles are enormous. But more than ever,
it is clear that action must be taken against the occupation, and that the
action must be joint, consistent and well planned.
In five months, the occupation will be 40 years old - perhaps the longest-
lasting military occupation regime the world has ever seen. At the
conference, there was general agreement that all forces must be
concentrated in a great public campaign to mark this shameful date and
draw attention to the injustices of the occupation, the harm it does not
only to the Palestinians but also to the Israelis, to bring the Green Line
back into the public consciousness, to act against the roadblocks and the
Annexation Wall, and for the release of the prisoners of both sides. For
this purpose, the conference decided to set up "an Israeli-Palestinian-
International Coalition to End the Occupation".
The continuation will depend on the willpower, courage and devotion of
all peace forces, and their ability to cooperate beyond the roadblocks,
walls and fences - one of whose aims is precisely to obstruct such
Time is pressing. Perhaps that is why one of the lions in Manara Square
has a watch.
Joined: 17 March 2005
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 21 January 2007 at 1:21pm|
A Freedom Ride
MAHATMA GANDHI would have loved it. Nelson Mandela would have
saluted. Martin Luther King would have been the most excited - it would
have reminded him of the old days.
Yesterday, a decree of the Officer Commanding the Central Sector,
General Yair Naveh, was about to come into force. It forbade Israeli
drivers from giving a ride to Palestinian passengers in the occupied
territories. The knitted-Kippah-wearing General, a friend of the settlers,
justified this as a vital security necessity. In the past, inhabitants of the
West Bank have sometimes reached Israeli territory in Israeli cars.
Israeli peace activists decided that this nauseating order must be
protested. Several organizations planned a protest action for the very day
it was due to come into force. They organized a "Freedom Ride" of Israeli
car-owners who were to enter the West Bank (a criminal offence in itself)
and give a ride to local Palestinians, who had volunteered for the action.
An impressive event in the making. Israeli drivers and Palestinian
passengers breaking the law openly, facing arrest and trial in a military
At the last moment, the general "froze" the order. The demonstration was
THE ORDER that was suspended (but not officially rescinded) emitted a
strong odor of apartheid. It joins a large number of acts of the occupation
authorities that are reminiscent of the racist regime of South Africa, such
as the systematic building of roads in the West Bank for Israelis only and
on which Palestinians are forbidden to travel. Or the "temporary" law that
forbids Palestinians in the occupied territories, who have married Israeli
citizens, to live with their spouses in Israel. And, most importantly, the
Wall, which is officially called "the separation obstacle". In Afrikaans,
"apartheid" means separation.
The "vision" of Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert amounts to the
establishment of a "Palestinian state" that would be nothing more than a
string of Palestinian islands in an Israeli sea. It is easy to detect a
similarity between the planned enclaves and the "Bantustans" that were
set up by the White regime in South Africa - the so-called "homelands"
where the Blacks were supposed to enjoy "self-rule" but which really
amounted to racist concentration camps.
Because of this, we are right when we use the term "apartheid" in our
daily struggle against the occupation. We speak about the "apartheid wall"
and "apartheid methods". The order of General Naveh has practically
given official sanction to the use of this term. Even institutions that are
far from the radical peace camp did relate it to the Apartheid system.
Therefore, the title of former President Jimmy Carter's new book is fully
justified - "Palestine - Peace not Apartheid". The title aroused the ire of
the "friends of Israel" even more than the content of the book itself. How
dare he? To compare Israel to the obnoxious racist regime? To allege that
the government of Israel is motivated by racism, when all its actions are
driven solely by the necessity to defend its citizens against Arab
terrorists? (By the way, on the cover of the book there is a photo of a
demonstration against the wall that was organized by Gush Shalom and
Ta'ayush. Carter's nose points to a poster of ours that says: "The Wall -
Jail for Palestinians, Ghetto for Israelis".)
It seems that Carter himself was not completely happy with the use of this
term. He has hinted that it was added at the request of the publishers,
who thought a provocative title would stimulate publicity. If so, the ploy
was successful. The famous Jewish lobby was fully mobilized. Carter was
pilloried as an anti-Semite and a liar. The storm around the title displaced
any debate about the facts cited in the book, which have not been
seriously questioned. The book has not yet appeared in Hebrew.
BUT WHEN we use the term "Apartheid" to describe the situation, we have
to be aware of the fact that the similarity between the Israeli occupation
and the White regime in South Africa concerns only the methods, not the
substance. This must be made quite clear, so as to prevent grave errors in
the analysis of the situation and the conclusions drawn from it.
It is always dangerous to draw analogies with other countries and other
times. No two countries and no two situations are exactly the same. Every
conflict has its own specific historical roots. Even when the symptoms are
the same, the disease may be quite different.
These reservations all apply to comparisons between the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict and the historical conflict between the Whites and the
Blacks in South Africa. Suffice it to point out several basic differences:
(a) In SA there was a conflict between Blacks and Whites, but both agreed
that the state of South Africa must remain intact- the question was only
who would rule it. Almost nobody proposed to partition the country
between the Blacks and the Whites.
Our conflict is between two different nations with different national
identities, each of which places the highest value on a national state of its
(b) In SA, the idea of "separateness" was an instrument of the White
minority for the oppression of the Black majority, and the Black
population rejected it unanimously. Here, the huge majority of the
Palestinians want to be separated from Israel in order to establish a state
of their own. The huge majority of Israelis, too, want to be separated
from the Palestinians. Separation is the aspiration of the majority on both
sides, and the real question is where the border between them should
run. On the Israeli side, only the settlers and their allies demand to keep
the whole historical area of the country united and object to separation,
in order to rob the Palestinians of their land and enlarge the settlements.
On the Palestinian side, the Islamic fundamentalists also believe that the
whole country is a "waqf" (religious trust) and belongs to Allah, and
therefore must not be partitioned.
(c) In SA, a White minority (about 10 percent) ruled over a huge majority
of Blacks (78 percent), people of mixed race (7 percent) and Asians (3
percent). Here, between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, there are
now 5.5 million Jewish-Israelis and an equal number of Palestinian-Arabs
(including the 1.4 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel).
(d) The SA economy was based on Black labor and could not possibly have
existed without it. Here, the Israeli government has succeeded in
excluding the non-Israeli Palestinians almost completely from the Israeli
labor market and replacing them with foreign workers.
IT IS important to point out these fundamental differences in order to
prevent grave mistakes in the strategy of the struggle for ending the
In Israel and abroad there are people who cite this analogy without paying
due attention to the essential differences between the two conflicts. Their
conclusion: the methods that were so successful against the South
African regime can again be applied to the struggle against the
occupation - namely, mobilization of world public opinion, an
international boycott and isolation.
That is reminiscent of a classical fallacy, which used to be taught in logic
classes: an Eskimo knows ice. Ice is transparent. Ice can be chewed. When
given a glass of water, which is also transparent, he thinks he can chew it.
There is no doubt that it is essential to arouse international public
opinion against the criminal treatment by the occupation authorities of
the Palestinian people. We do this every day, just as Jimmy Carter is doing
now. However, it must be clear that this is immeasurably more difficult
than the campaign that led to the overthrow of the South African regime.
One of the reasons: during World War II, the people who later became the
rulers of South Africa tried to sabotage the anti-Nazi effort and were
imprisoned, and therefore aroused world-wide loathing. Israel is accepted
by the world as the "State of the Holocaust Survivors", and therefore
arouses overwhelming sympathy.
It is a serious error to think that international public opinion will put an
end to the occupation. This will come about when the Israeli public itself
is convinced of the need to do so.
There is another important difference between the two conflicts, and this
may be more dangerous than any other: in South Africa, no White would
have dreamt of ethnic cleansing. Even the racists understood that the
country could not exist without the Black population. But in Israel, this
goal is under serious consideration, both openly and in secret. One of its
main advocates, Avigdor Lieberman, is a member of the government and
last week Condoleezza Rice met with him officially. Apartheid is not the
worst danger hovering over the heads of the Palestinians. They are
menaced by something infinitely worse: "Transfer", which means total
SOME PEOPLE in Israel and around the world follow the Apartheid analogy
to its logical conclusion: the solution here will be the same as the one in
South Africa. There, the Whites surrendered and the Black majority
assumed power. The country remained united. Thanks to wise leaders,
headed by Nelson Mandela and Frederick Willem de Klerk, this happened
In Israel, that is a beautiful dream for the end of days. Because of the
people involved and their anxieties, it would inevitably turn into a
nightmare. In this country there are two peoples with a very strong
national consciousness. After 125 years of conflict, there is not the
slightest chance that they would live together in one state, share the
same government, serve in the same army and pay the same taxes.
Economically, technologically and educationally, the gap between the two
populations is immense. In such a situation, power relations similar to
those in Apartheid South Africa would indeed arise.
In Israel, the demographic demon is lurking. There is an existential angst
among the Jews that the demographic balance will change even within the
Green Line. Every morning the babies are counted - how many Jewish
babies were born during the night, and how many Arab. In a joint state,
the discrimination would grow a hundredfold. The drive to dispossess
and expel would know no bounds, rampant Jewish settlement activity
would flourish, together with the effort to put the Arabs at a disadvantage
by all possible means. In short: Hell.
IT MAY be hoped that this situation will change in 50 years. I have no
doubt that in the end, a federation between the two states, perhaps
including Jordan too, will come about. Yasser Arafat spoke with me about
this several times. But neither the Palestinians not the Israelis can afford
50 more years of bloodshed, occupation and creeping ethnic cleansing.
The end of the occupation will come in the framework of peace between
the two peoples, who will live in two free neighboring states - Israel and
Palestine - with the border between them based on the Green Line. I hope
that this will be an open border.
Then - inshallah - Palestinians will freely ride in Israeli cars, and Israelis
will ride freely in Palestinian cars. When that time comes, nobody will
remember General Yair Naveh, or even his boss, General Dan Halutz.
Joined: 26 January 2005
Location: United States
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 21 January 2007 at 2:56pm|
Originally posted by Daniel Dworsky
Sorry, Wrong Continent
A FEW weeks ago, the 15th Asian games, the "Asiad", was held in Qatar.
The Israeli media treated the event with a mixture of derision and pity.
Some kind of picturesque Asian circus. Our television showed an exotic
horseman with a keffiyeh at the opening ceremony, riding his noble Arab
steed up a steep staircase to light the Olympic flame. And that was that.
One question was not asked at all in any of the media: why are we not
there? Does Israel not lie in Asia?
That was not even considered. We? In Asia? How come?
WHEN I followed the event on Aljazeera television, I suddenly
remembered a private anniversary that had slipped my memory.
Exactly 60 years ago a small number of young people founded a group
that called itself in Hebrew "Young Eretz-Israel" and in Arabic "Young
Palestine". With money out of our own pockets (at the time we were all
quite poor) we published occasional issues of a periodical we called
Bamaavak ("In the struggle").
Bamaavak stirred up a lot of stormy waves, because it voiced infuriatingly
heretical opinions. Contrary to the dominant Zionist narrative, it asserted
that we, the young generation growing up in the country, constituted a
new nation, the Hebrew nation. Unlike the somewhat similar group of
"Canaanites", that preceded us, we proclaimed that (a) the new nation is a
part of the Jewish people, much as Australia is a part of the Anglo-Saxon
people, and (b) that we are a sister-nation to the resurgent Arab nation in
the country and throughout the region.
And, no less important: that since the new Hebrew nation was born in the
country, and the country belongs to Asia, we are an Asian nation, a
natural ally to all the Asian and African nations that strive for liberation
On Wednesday, March 19, 1947, a few months after the first edition of
Bamaavak had appeared, the Hebrew daily Haboker reported: "On the
occasion of the opening of the Pan-Asian Conference (in New Delhi), the
group Young Eretz Israel has sent a cable to Jawaharlal Nehru reading:
'Please receive the congratulations of the Eretz-Israeli youth for your
historic initiative. May the aspirations for freedom of the peoples of New
Asia, inspired by your heroic example, become united. Long live the
united and arising Young Asia, the vanguard of fraternity and progress'."
A similar news story appeared on the same day on the front page of the
Palestine Post (the predecessor of the Jerusalem Post), with the names of
the signatories: Uri Avnery, Amos Elon and Ben-Ami Gur.
Bamaavak appeared from time to time, whenever we had enough money,
up to the outbreak of the 1948 war. In the Hebrew press, more than a
hundred reactions were published, almost all of them negative, many of
them vituperative. The famous writer Moshe Shamir, then a left-winger,
made a neat play on words, calling us Bamat-Avak ("stage of dust").
When the war broke out, this whole chapter was overshadowed and
forgotten. But almost all we said 60 years ago remains relevant today.
And the most relevant question is: To what continent does the State of
Israel actually belong?
I BELIEVE that one of the most profound causes for the historic conflict
between us and the Arab world in general, and the Palestinian people in
particular, is the fact that the Zionist movement declared, from its very
first day, that it did not belong to the region in which we live. Perhaps
that is one of the reasons for the fact that even after four generations,
this wound has not healed.
In his book "The Jewish State", the founding document of the Zionist
movement, Theodor Herzl famously wrote: "For Europe we shall be (in
Palestine) a part of the wall against Asia…the vanguard of culture against
barbarism…" This attitude is typical for the whole history of Zionism and
the State of Israel up to the present day. Indeed, a few weeks ago the
Israeli ambassador to Australia declared that "Asia belongs to the yellow
race, while we are Whites and have no slit eyes. "
One can perhaps forgive Herzl, a quintessential European, who lived in an
era when imperialism dominated European thought. But today, four
generations later, those forming public opinion in Israel, people born in
the country, continue along the same path. Former Prime Minister Ehud
Barak declared that Israel is "a villa in the middle of the jungle" (the Arab
jungle, of course), and this attitude is shared by practically all our
politicians. Tsipi Livni likes to talk about the "dangerous neighborhood" in
which we are living, and the chief advisor of Ariel Sharon once said that
there will be no peace until "the Palestinians turn into Finns."
Our soccer and basketball teams play in the European leagues, the
Eurovision song contest is a national event in Israel, 95% of our political
activity is focused on Europe and North America. But the phenomenon
extends far beyond the political arena - this is a "world view" in the literal
sense. In our world, Israel is a part of Europe.
In the 50s, when I was the editor of the news magazine Haolam Hazeh, I
once published a cartoon that I am still proud of: it showed the map of
the Eastern Mediterranean, with an arm projecting from Greece and
holding scissors that cut Israel off from Asia. It is a pity that I did not add
a second drawing, showing Israel being attached to the shore of France
or, preferably, Miami.
These days it would be hard to find anybody who would assert that Asia -
India, China - is barbarian. But it is easy to find people in Israel, and
throughout the West, who believe that the Arab world, and indeed the
entire Muslim world, is a "jungle". With such an attitude, one cannot make
peace. After all, one does not make peace with poisonous snakes and
In the Bamaavak days, we coined the slogan "Integration in the Semitic
Region". But how can one integrate oneself in a region that is seen as a
A WORLD VIEW is not an academic matter. It has a huge impact on actual
life. It influences people when it is conscious, and even more so when it is
unconscious. It shapes the practical decisions, without the decision-
makers being aware of it. Politicians, too, are only human beings (if that),
and their actions are directed by their hidden beliefs.
In Israel we are used to consider unquestioned "conceptsias" as the
mother of all our mistakes and defeats. But is such an assumption any
different from the expression of an unconscious world-view?
The world-view influences many aspects of the state. It is the core of the
education system, which forms the mind of the next generation. We have
perhaps the only education system in the world that does not teach the
history of its homeland. In our schools, very little is taught about the past
of the country. Instead, what is taught is the history of "the Jewish
people". This starts with the ancient Israelite kingdoms before the sixth
century BC ("the First Temple"), then the Jewish community in the country
before the beginning of the Christian era and for some years after ("the
Second Temple"). Then it leaves the country and dwells on the Jewish
Diaspora for some thousands of years, until the beginning of the Zionist
settlement. For almost 2000 years, the annals of the country disappear
from the school.
I once talked about this in a speech in the Knesset. I said that an Israeli
child born in the country, whether Jewish or Arab, should study the
history of the country, including all its periods and peoples: Canaanites,
Israelites, Hellenists, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Turks,
British, Palestinians, Israelis and more. In addition they could be taught
the story of the Jews in the diaspora, too. The Minister of Education
responded humorously and insisted on calling me, from then on, "the
LATELY IT has become fashionable for politicians and commentators in
Israel to speak about the danger of annihilation that hovers, or so they
claim, over Israel. It is hardly believable: the State of Israel is a regional
superpower, its economy is robust and developing, its technological level
is one of the most advanced in the world, its army is stronger than all the
Arab armies combined, it has a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons. Even if
the Iranians were to obtain a bomb of their own, they would be mad to
use it, for fear of Israeli retaliation.
So where does this fear of annihilation come from in the 59th year of the
state? A part of it surely emanates from the memory of the Holocaust,
which is deeply imprinted in the national mentality. But another part
comes from the feeling of not belonging, of temporariness, of the lack of
That has, of course, domestic implications, too. Consciousness also
affects practical interests. The assertion that we are a European people
automatically reinforces the position of our ruling class, which is still
overwhelmingly Ashkenazi-European, over and against the majority of the
citizens of Israel, who are of Asian-African Jewish and Palestinian-Arab
descent. The profound disdain for their culture, which has accompanied
the state from its first day, facilitates discrimination against them in many
A CHANGE affecting the consciousness of a community is not a short-
term proposition. It cannot be achieved by decree. This is a slow and
gradual process. But at some stage we shall have to start it, and first of all
in the education system.
I started my booklet "War or Peace in the Semitic Region", which was
published in October 1947, just a few weeks before the outbreak of the
1948 war, with the words:
"When our Zionist fathers decided to set up a 'safe home' in Eretz Israel,
they had the choice between two roads: they could appear in West Asia as
a European conqueror, who sees himself as a beachhead of the 'white'
race and a master of the 'natives'…(or) see themselves as an Asian nation
returning to its homeland."
When I wrote these words, the rise of Asia was still a dream. World War II
had ended just two years before, and the United States looked like an
omnipotent superpower. But now a quiet revolution of huge proportions
is taking place. The nations of Asia, with China and India in the lead, are
becoming economic and political powers. Should we not gradually move
toward this camp?
That brochure, 60 years ago, ended with the words of a Hebrew song:
"We stand and face the rising sun / To the East our homeward path…"
Jazzak Allah Khayr Brother Daniel. An anti-racist speech like this one needs to be widely read and heard. With all that he knows, Mr. Averny stilll hopes for a brighter future. Amazing and Inspiring.
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: 21 January 2007 at 4:15pm|
Uri sent me a poem. It goes like this:
Has been ejected
From the office
Of the Chief-of-Staff.
What do we feel?
A slight bump
On the wing.
Edited by Daniel Dworsky
Joined: 25 July 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 21 January 2007 at 11:34pm|
Jazzak Allah Khayr Brother Daniel. An anti-racist speech like this one needs to be widely read and heard. With all that he knows, Mr. Averny stilll hopes for a brighter future. Amazing and Inspiring.
Dokhtar'em, he is the most amazing of all men, women and children (you know, they are the best ones in our world!) I have ever come to know or know of. I have no idea how and from where does he get all that noble energy. Just a gift of nature, perhaps.
It is not in the vested American interests to let the peoples in this area to live in peace or even evolve some decent or noble living systems. Their is good reason for the west to be dead scared of the combined energies and the natural resources of these people who have far more practice of living together than our Masters would have us believe.
This area will never be at peace as long as the Brits and the U S have their fingers in it.
BUT, all of this will change. One day, peace shall rise. I know this since I know the Uris and the Daniels of my world.
Joined: 17 March 2005
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 22 January 2007 at 12:52am|
Just when I'm about to quit altogether you go and say something like that.
Joined: 17 March 2005
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 04 February 2007 at 11:19am|
IT SOUNDS like a promo for a second rate soap opera: a 21- year old
woman appears with a much older celebrity, who grabs her, forces a kiss
on her and pushes his tongue into her mouth.
This scene has been occupying the attention of the Israeli public for
months now, more than any other topic, except perhaps the allegation
that the President of the State sexually assaulted several of his
employees. The war and its consequences have been pushed aside.
The interest stems, of course, from the identity of kisser and kissee: Haim
Ramon was at the time Minister of Justice and a central figure in the
government; the young woman, who was identified only as H., was a
lieutenant in the office of the "military secretary" of the Prime Minister, an
important military-political liaison point. The fatal encounter took place
at the Prime Minister's office, shortly before a cabinet meeting.
This week, three judges - two female, one male - unanimously found
Ramon guilty of an indecent act. It seems that the prosecution will not
call for the maximum penalty - three years in prison - but the political
career of Ramon has, so it seems, come to an end.
This might have been nothing more than a juicy piece of gossip, except
for one small detail, which has hardly been mentioned: the fateful kiss
took place in the room adjacent to that where a cabinet meeting was due
to start, and in which it was decided to start the war in Lebanon.
A short time before that, the Chief-of-Staff, Dan Halutz, also found the
time and energy for an un-warlike act: he called his broker and instructed
him to sell his shares.
The background must be remembered: a few hours earlier, Hizbullah
fighters had crossed the border and captured two Israeli soldiers. Two
soldiers had been killed during the operation, and six more died in
pursuit of the captors. Obviously the cabinet was about to decide upon a
military operation in which many soldiers and civilians, Israeli and
Lebanese, would lose their lives. Yet the supreme commander of the army
was handling his shares and a prominent minister was handling a female
IN THE course of the 1948 war, I wrote reports of the battles from the
point of view of a simple soldier. After the war, when I was collecting
these reports for a book, it crossed my mind that it would be interesting
to add a description of the war as seen from the point of view of the
commander, who had made the decisions that affected our fate.
I approached my brigade chief, a commander highly admired by all of us,
and he gave me a detailed description of the campaigns. Before my eyes,
a different war unfolded. True, the place names and the battles were the
same, but there was no similarity between our war, the war in which the
fighters' main concern was to survive from day to day, and the war of the
high command, which moved figures on the board in an intricate game of
chess with the enemy commanders. The difference between the two levels
fascinated me. Perhaps it was that which helped to make the book, "In the
Fields of the Philistines, 1948", into a run-away bestseller.
All the great writers who wrote about war - from Leo Tolstoy ("War and
Peace") to Erich Maria Remarque ("All Quiet on the Western Front") and
Norman Mailer ("The Naked and the Dead") highlighted this huge
difference. The soldier crawls through the thorns, sinks into the mud and
cowers in his foxhole; the commanders move arrows on the map.
For the simple soldier, and even more so for the civilian, it is difficult to
penetrate the mental world of a general who decides upon an operation,
knowing that there will be so and so many "casualties", dead and
wounded. But after all, that is his profession: to weigh the gains of a
move against the expected losses. He receives the order to capture Hill
246 and works out a plan, which he expects will cost the lives of a
hundred or so of his soldiers. While he is calculating, those hundred
soldiers are horsing around, talking with their parents on the phone,
trying to catch some sleep.
I AM not writing this in a philosophical or literary mood, but in order to
draw attention to the unbearable lightness with which politicians and
generals decide on starting a war. The shares of Halutz and the kiss of
Ramon are but symptoms of this phenomenon.
The day before yesterday, Ehud Olmert appeared before the Board of
Inquiry (which he had appointed himself) and described how his cabinet
decided to start the Second Lebanon War. The testimony is being kept
secret, but it may be assumed that Olmert did not forget to express his
condolences to the bereaved families and his hopes for the speedy
recovery of the wounded. But did any of his ministers really weigh the
price of the operation in human lives - on our side and on the other? Did
the Chief-of-Staff, who had just disposed of his shares, raise the subject?
Was the Minister of Justice, who had just enjoyed a little adventure with
consequences he could not dream of, in an appropriately serious mood?
This is not a uniquely Israeli problem. Did George W. Bush and his clique
of Neo-Conservatives really consider the casualties, when they decided to
invade Iraq? Let's ignore for a moment the lies they spread, the fabricated
stories about "weapons of mass destruction", the imaginary connections
between Saddam and Osama and all the other falsehoods and deceptions.
Let's concentrate only on the two real aims of the war (which we exposed
at the time): (a) to get their hands on the oil of Iraq and the entire region,
including the Caspian, and (b) to place an American garrison in the heart
of the Middle East.
If Bush had to face a Board of Inquiry in Washington DC as Olmert did in
Tel-Aviv, he would certainly be asked some questions (which this column
asked in real time): Did you consider how many soldiers and civilians
would be killed and wounded? What led you to think that the invading
army would be received with showers of flowers? Why did you believe that
the Air Force would determine the issue so that the ground forces would
have to play only a minor role? Did you imagine that the planned little war
would still be going on three years and more later? Did you take into
consideration that the Iraqi state would be blown to pieces and that the
three peoples living there would soon be at each other's throats? Did you
expect that the war would strengthen Iran's position in the Middle East? In
short, did you have any idea at all of the place that you were about to
Clearly, nobody with any influence in the US government raised these
questions at the time. A foolish and power-drunk president, a rapacious
vice-president and a cabal of arrogant and ignorant ideological fanatics
decided upon an adventure whose end is not in sight even now. And
afterwards the statesmen and strategists went to their elegant restaurants
to enjoy sumptuous meals, while the 3000 US soldiers who have been
killed up to now spent the day in blissful ignorance of what was going on
at the highest level. The media and the senators, of course, were ecstatic.
IT'S NOT the past I am writing about, but the future.
At this moment, people in Washington and in Jerusalem are thinking
about a war in Iran. Not if it should be started, but when and how.
If this is to be an American war, its consequences will be many times
more grievous than the war in Iraq. Iran is a very hard nut. The Iranian
people are united. They have a glorious national tradition, a highly
developed national pride and a tough religious ideology. One can bomb
their oil facilities, but it is a big country, not dependent on a
sophisticated infrastructure, and it cannot be subdued by bombing alone.
There will be no alternative to a military attack on the ground.
Bush is already preparing the war. This week he instructed his soldiers in
Iraq to hunt down and kill all "Iranian agents" there. That is reminiscent of
the infamous "Kommissarbefehl" of June 6, 1941, on the eve of the
German invasion of the Soviet Union, in which Adolf Hitler ordered the
summary execution of every captured political commissar of the Red
Army. Since the commissars were uniformed soldiers, every commander
who carried out the order became a war criminal.
It is quite certain that if the United States does go to war, the Iranian
people will rally behind their government. They will draw the conclusion
that everything their leaders told them about the West was true. The
opposition, which has lately raised its head, will fall silent and disappear.
The big-mouthed president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose wisdom is
now being questioned by many of his own people, will turn overnight into
a national hero. It will be a war of many years, and many thousands of
American soldiers - not to mention Iranians - will fall.
President Bush may hesitate and pass the task over to Israel. Lately,
Olmert has hinted that it was the Americans who pushed him into the
Lebanon war. They believed that the Israeli army would defeat Hizbullah
easily, and that this would help the American clients in Beirut. (A similar
foolish calculation caused the Americans to give their blessing to Sharon's
First Lebanon War in 1982.)
Nowadays, our politicians and generals speak freely about the inevitable
attack on Iran. The pro-Israeli lobby in the US, both Jewish and Christian,
is toiling mightily to push American public opinion in this direction. All
these gentlemen and ladies, in their comfortable villas far from the
prospective battlefields, yearn for a war which will cost the lives of the
sons and daughters - of other people.
The advocates of the war declare that it is necessary in order to prevent a
"Second Holocaust". That has already become a mantra. This week,
Jacques Chirac nearly exploded it, when he expressed the self-evident:
that if an Iranian nuclear bomb were launched at Israel, Israel would wipe
Tehran from the face of the earth. The Iranian rulers are not mad and the
"balance of terror" will do its job. But the "friends" of Israel and the USA
started to pelt Chirac with verbal rocks, and he hastily retracted.
LET'S ASSUME for a moment that the Israeli Air force, with the help of the
American naval forces that are now being steadily built up in the Persian
Gulf, succeeds in bombing targets in Iran. What will happen then?
Iranian missiles will rain down on Tel-Aviv and Haifa. The promise of our
Air Force to destroy them on the ground is worth no more than the
similar promises we heard about Lebanon. In order to defend Israel,
American soldiers would have to go into Iran. Israel's account would be
debited with every casualty. If Israel is, God forbid, the first to use a
nuclear bomb there, the shame will last forever.
The masses of the Arab - indeed the entire Muslim world, both Sunnis
and Shiites, will rally around Iran. The Sunni heads of state, who are
embracing Israel now in secret, will run away in panic. We shall be left
alone to face the revenge that will come sooner or later. Will we be able to
rely on the heirs of Bush, who may be less reckless and more inclined to
listen to world public opinion, which will inevitably blame us for this
Iran is not a second Iraq, neither is it Hizbullah multiplied by ten. It is an
entirely different story.
But is anyone here thinking about it seriously? Will the successors of the
share-selling Chief-of-Staff and the tongue-pushing minister be more
thoughtful? Or will they decide upon a new military adventure with the
same unbearable lightness?
Joined: 17 March 2005
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 10 February 2007 at 1:40pm|
Read and learn
The Method in the Madness
WHEN A Prime Minister has just lost a war, is dogged by corruption
allegations and sees his popularity ratings in free fall - what can he do?
Why, he can initiate provocations.
A provocation diverts attention, generates headlines, creates the illusion
of power, radiates a sense of leadership.
But a provocation is a dangerous instrument. It can cause irreversible
PROVOCATION NO. 1: The northern frontier.
Along the northern border runs a fence. But not everywhere does the
fence coincide exactly with the recognized border (the so-called Blue
Line). For topographical reasons, some sections of the fence run a few
dozen meters south of it.
That is the theory of the situation. In the course of the years, both sides
have become accustomed to regarding the fence as the actual border. On
the Lebanese side, the villagers farm the fields up to the fence, fields
which may well be their property.
Now Ehud Olmert has decided to exploit this situation and reveal himself
as a great, invincible warrior. Some explosives recently found a few yards
from the Blue Line serve as a pretext. The Israeli army claims that they
were put there just days ago by Hizbullah fighters disguised as
goatherds. According to Hizbullah, they are old bombs that have been
there since before the recent war.
Olmert sent soldiers beyond the fence to carry out a "Hissuf" ("exposure")
- one of those new Hebrew words invented by the army's "verbal laundry"
to beautify ugly things. It means the wholesale uprooting of trees, in
order to improve vision and facilitate shooting. The army used the
trademark weapon of the State of Israel: the armored bulldozer.
The Lebanese army sent a warning that they would open fire. When this
did not have any effect, they indeed fired several salvoes over the heads
of the Israeli soldiers. The Israeli army responded by firing several tank
shells at the Lebanese position and lo - we have our "incident".
The whole affair is very reminiscent of Ariel Sharon's methods in the 60s,
when he was the chief of operations of the Northern Command. Sharon
became quite an expert at provoking the Syrian army in the demilitarized
zones that existed on the border between the two countries at the time.
Israel claimed sovereignty over these areas, while the Syrians asserted
that it was a neutral zone that did not belong to either state and in which
the Arab farmers, who owned the land, were allowed to tend their fields.
According to legend, the Syrians exploited their control of heights
overlooking the Israeli villages in the valley below them. Again and again
the evil Syrians (the Syrians were always "evil") terrorized the helpless
kibbutzim by shelling. This myth, which was believed by practically all
Israelis at the time, served as a justification for the occupation of the
Golan Heights and their annexation by Israel. Even now, foreign visitors
are brought to an observation post on the Golan Heights and shown the
defenseless Kibbutzim down below.
The truth, which has been exposed since then, was a bit different: Sharon
used to instruct the Kibbutzniks to go to their shelters, and then send an
armored tractor into the demilitarized zone. Predictably, the Syrians shot
at it. The Israeli artillery, just waiting for its cue, then opened up a
massive bombardment of the Syrian positions. There were dozens of such
Now the same method is being practiced by Sharon's successor. Soldiers
and bulldozers enter the area, the Lebanese shoot, the Israeli tanks shell
Does this provocation make any political sense? The Lebanese army
answers to Fuad Siniora, the darling of the United States and the
opponent of Hizbullah. In the wake of the Second Lebanon War, this army
was deployed along the border, at the express demand of the Israeli
government, and this was proclaimed by Olmert as a huge Israeli
achievement. (Until then, the Israeli army commanders had adamantly
opposed the idea of stationing Lebanese or international troops in this
area, on the grounds that this would hamper their freedom of action.)
So what is the aim of this provocation? The same as with all Olmert's
recent actions: gaining popularity to survive in power, in this case by
PROVOCATION NO. 2: The Temple Mount.
Islam has three holy cities: Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. In Mecca this
week, the chiefs of Fatah and Hamas assembled in order to put an end to
the mutual killing and set up a unity government. While the attention of
the concerned Palestinian public was riveted there, Olmert struck in
As pretext served the "Mugrabi Gate", an entrance to the Haram-al-Sharif
("the Noble Sanctuary"), the wide plaza where the al-Aqsa mosque and
the Dome of the Rock are located. Since this gate is higher than the
Western Wall area below it, one can approach it only over a rising bridge
The old bridge collapsed some time ago, and was replaced with a
temporary structure. Now the "Israel Antiquities Authority" is destroying
the temporary bridge and putting in its place - so it says - a permanent
one. But the work looks much more extensive.
As could have been expected, riots broke out at once. In 1967, Israel
formally annexed this area and claimed sovereignty over the entire
Temple Mount. The Arabs (and the whole world) have never recognized
the annexation. In practice, the Temple Mount is governed by the Islamic
Waqf (religious endowment).
The Israeli government argues that the bridge is separate from the
Temple Mount. The Muslims insist that the bridge is a part of it. Behind
this tussle, there is a lurking Arab suspicion that the installation of the
new bridge is just a cover for something else happening below the
At the 2000 Camp David conference, the Israeli side made a weird-
sounding proposal: to leave the area itself to the Muslims, but with Israeli
sovereignty over everything beneath the surface. That reinforced the
Muslim belief that the Israelis intended to dig beneath the Mount, in order
to discover traces of the Jewish Temple that was destroyed by the Romans
1936 years ago. Some believed that the real intention was to cause the
Islamic shrines to collapse, so a new Temple could be built in their place.
These suspicions are nurtured by the fact that most Israeli archaeologists
have always been the loyal foot-soldiers of the official propaganda. Since
the emergence of modern Zionism, they have been engaged in a
desperate endeavor to "find" archaeological evidence for the historical
truth of the stories of the Old Testament. Until now, they have gone
empty-handed: there exists no archaeological proof for the exodus from
Egypt, the conquest of Canaan and the kingdoms of Saul, David and
Solomon. But in their eagerness to prove the unprovable (because in the
opinion of the vast majority of archaeologists and historians outside
Israel - and also some in Israel - the Old Testament stories are but sacred
myths), the archaeologists have destroyed many strata of other periods.
But that is not the most important side of the present affair. One can
argue to the end of days about the responsibility for the Mugrabi walkway
or what it might be that the archaeologists are looking for. But it is
impossible to doubt that this is a provocation: it was carried out like a
surprise military operation, without consultation with the other side.
Nobody knew better what to expect than Olmert, who, as mayor of
Jerusalem, was responsible for the killing of 85 human beings - 69
Palestinians and 16 Israelis - in a similar provocation, when he "opened" a
tunnel near the Temple Mount. And everybody remembers, of course,
that the Second Intifada started with the provocative "visit" to the Temple
Mount by Ariel Sharon.
This is a provocation against 1.3 billion Muslims, and especially against
the Arab world. It is a knife in the back of the "moderate" Mahmoud
Abbas, with whom Olmert pretends to be ready to have a "dialogue" - and
this at exactly the moment Abbas reached an historical agreement with
Hamas for the formation of a national unity government. It is also a knife
in the back of the king of Jordan, Israel's ally, who sees himself as the
traditional protector of the Temple Mount.
What for? To prove that Olmert is a strong leader, the hero of the Temple
Mount, the defender of the national values, who doesn't give a damn for
world public opinion.
PROVOCATION NO. 3: After Haim Ramon was convicted of indecent
conduct, the post of the Minister of Justice fell vacant. In a surprise blow,
after laying down a smoke screen by dangling the names of acceptable
candidates, Olmert appointed to the post a professor who is the open and
vocal enemy of the Supreme Court and the Attorney General.
The Supreme Court is almost the only governmental institution in Israel
which still enjoys the confidence of the great majority. The last President
of the Court, Aharon Barak, once told me: "We have no troops. Our power
is based solely on the confidence of the public." Now Olmert has
appointed a Minister of Justice who has been engaged for a long time and
with a lot of noise in destroying this confidence. Indeed, it seems that this
is his main interest in life, ever since he failed to get a close friend, a
female professor, elevated to the Supreme Court.
One can see in this an effort by Olmert, a politician who is dragging
behind him a long train of corruption affairs (several of which are at
present under police and State Comptroller investigation), to undermine
the investigators, the Attorney General and the courts. It serves also as
revenge against the court that dared to convict Ramon, his friend and
ally. He did not, of course, consult with anyone in the judicial system: not
with the Attorney General (whose official title is "Legal Adviser of the
Government") nor with the President of the Supreme Court, Dorit Beinish,
whom he cannot stand.
I am not an unreserved admirer of the Supreme Court. It is a wheel in the
machinery of the occupation. It cannot be relied on in matters like the
targeted assassinations, the Separation Wall, the demolition of Palestinian
homes and the hundred and one other cases over which the false banner
of "security" is waving. But it is the last bastion of human rights inside
The appointment of the new minister is an assault on Israeli democracy,
and therefore no less dangerous than the other two provocations.
WHAT DO the three have in common? First of all: their unilateral
character. Forty years of occupation have created an occupation mentality
that destroys all desire and all ability to solve problems by mutual
understanding, dialogue and compromise.
Both in foreign and domestic relations, Mafia methods reign: violence,
sudden blows, targeted eliminations.
When these methods are applied by a politician haunted by corruption
affairs, an uninhibited war-monger who is fighting for survival by all
means available - this is indeed a very dangerous situation.
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