As my friend from Lawrence of Cyberia wrote to me tonight, David Grossman’s keynote address to the 100,000 who attended Yitzchak Rabin’s 11th annual memorial, was heartbreakingly beautiful. It was soulful in a way Israel has become no longer capable of being. It was angry in the way a Biblical prophet could be. It was classical Zionism, a vision of the Jewish people as beacon of hope and morality in a trouble world. Here’s what Diane wrote:
This speech made me cry when I read it. My 10 yr old came in to ask when I was going to make dinner, and was very concerned to find me crying at the computer!
That’s the way I felt about it. It didn’t make me cry, though perhaps that’s because the conflict has left me bereft of emotions human beings can usually muster for the tragedies which afflict them. I wish I could’ve cried.
But anyway, that’s beside the point. This speech was worth crying over. It was masterful in every way. Note as you read it that Grossman adopts the brilliant conceit of imagining an Ehud Olmert who is a decent, caring leader and human being. An Olmert who is confused, but welcomes the thoughts of an avid Zionist thinker like Grossman. And the latter gives Olmert the benefit of his considerable wisdom in envisioning a creative, even brilliant set of tactics that could conceivably break Israel out of the death grip it’s maintaining on the Palestinians and vice versa. In reality, Grossman and all of us know that Olmert has not a whit of courage or vision in him; that he will pay no attention to Grossman’s ideas; that the killing will continue unabated. But the key is that Grossman tried to treat him with human decency. The fact that Olmert will repay him with utter silence will only redound to the latter’s eternal shame in Israeli political history.
I didn’t agree with everything he said–especially about Hamas and its Islam. While I am suspicous of Hamas as most, I do not see Hamas as nearly as much of an impediment to peace as Olmert and his government. The key question is not Hamas recalcitrance or belligerence. The key question is: is there a will to peace on both sides? If there is, these obstacles can be overcome. If there is not, then it is useless and we (Israel) are doomed. But my quarrels with Grossman on this are really minor quibbles that in no way detract from the historic and memorable nature of his speech.
I spent hours translating this speech only to have Diane provide me a Haaretz link to a translation of the entire speech. I even asked a Haaretz writer to check whether they’d be publishing one. When he responded “No” I thought I had a green light to do my own. Apparently, when readers began requesting a translation someone at the paper thought better of not doing one. So with apologies to Haaretz, I quote the entire speech (with several minor editing changes):
The annual memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin is the moment when we pause for a while to remember Rabin the man, the leader. And we also take a look at ourselves, at Israeli society, its leadership, the national mood, the state of the peace process, at ourselves as individuals in the face of national events.
It is not easy to take a look at ourselves this year. There was a war, and Israel flexed its massive military muscle, but also exposed Israel’s fragility. We discovered that our military might ultimately cannot be the only guarantee of our existence. Primarily, we have found that the crisis Israel is experiencing is far deeper than we had feared, in almost every way.
I am speaking here tonight as a person whose love for the land is overwhelming and complex, and yet it is unequivocal, and as one whose continuous covenant with the land has turned his personal calamity into a covenant of blood.
I am totally secular, and yet in my eyes the establishment and the very existence of the State of Israel is a miracle of sorts that happened to us as a nation – a political, national, human miracle.
I do not forget this for a single moment. Even when many things in the reality of our lives enrage and depress me, even when the miracle is broken down to routine and wretchedness, to corruption and cynicism, even when reality seems like nothing but a poor parody of this miracle, I always remember. And with these feelings, I address you tonight.
“Behold land, for we hath squandered,” wrote the poet Saul Tchernikovsky in Tel Aviv in 1938. He lamented the burial of our young again and again in the soil of the Land of Israel. The death of young people is a horrible, ghastly waste.
But no less dreadful is the sense that for many years, the State of Israel has been squandering, not only the lives of its sons, but also its miracle; that grand and rare opportunity that history bestowed upon it, the opportunity to establish here a state that is efficient, democratic, which abides by Jewish and universal values; a state that would be a national home and haven, but not only a haven, also a place that would offer a new meaning to Jewish existence; a state that holds as an integral and essential part of its Jewish identity and its Jewish ethos, the observance of full equality and respect for its non-Jewish citizens.
Look at what befell us. Look what befell the young, bold, passionate country we had here, and how, as if it had undergone a quickened aging process, Israel lurched from infancy and youth to a perpetual state of gripe, weakness and sourness.
How did this happen? When did we lose even the hope that we would eventually be able to live a different, better life? Moreover, how do we continue to watch from the side as though hypnotized by the insanity, rudeness, violence and racism that has overtaken our home?
And I ask you: How could it be that a people with such powers of creativity, renewal and vivacity as ours, a people that knew how to rise from the ashes time and again, finds itself today, despite its great military might, at such a state of laxity and inanity, a state where it is the victim once more, but this time its own victim, of its anxieties, its short-sightedness.
One of the most difficult outcomes of the recent war is the heightened realization that at this time there is no king in Israel, that our leadership is hollow. Our military and political leadership is hollow. I am not even talking about the obvious blunders in running the war, of the collapse of the home front, nor of the large-scale and small-time corruption.
I am talking about the fact that the people leading Israel today are unable to tie Israelis to their identity. Certainly not with the healthy, vitalizing and productive areas of this identity, with those areas of identity and memory and fundamental values that would give us hope and strength, that would be the antidote to the waning of mutual trust, of the bonds to the land, that would give some meaning to the exhausting and despairing struggle for existence.
The fundamental characteristics of the current Israeli leadership are primarily anxiety and intimidation, of the charade of power, the wink of the dirty deal, of selling out our most prized possessions. In this sense they are not true leaders, certainly they are not the leaders of a people in such a complicated position that has lost the way it so desperately needs. Sometimes it seems that the sound box [ed. I would translate this as “echo chamber”] of their self-importance, of their memories of history, of their vision, of what they really care for, exist only in the miniscule space between two headlines of a newspaper or between two investigations by the attorney general.
Look at those who lead us. Not all of them, of course, but many among them. Behold their petrified, suspicious, sweaty conduct. The conduct of advocates and scoundrels. It is preposterous to expect to hear wisdom emerge from them, that some vision or even just an original, truly creative, bold and ingenuous idea would emanate from them.
When was the last time a prime minister formulated or took a step that could open up a new horizon for Israelis, for a better future? When did he initiate a social or cultural or ideological move, instead of merely reacting feverishly to moves forced upon him by others?
Mister Prime Minister, I am not saying these words out of feelings of rage or revenge. I have waited long enough to avoid responding on impulse. You will not be able to dismiss my words tonight by saying a grieving man cannot be judged. Certainly I am grieving, but I am more pained than angry. This country and what you and your friends are doing to it pains me.
Trust me, your success is important to me, because the future of all of us depends on our ability to act. Yitzhak Rabin took the road of peace with the Palestinians, not because he possessed great affection for them or their leaders. Even then, as you recall, common belief was that we had no partner and we had nothing to discuss with them.
Rabin decided to act, because he discerned very wisely that Israeli society would not be able to sustain itself endlessly in a state of an unresolved conflict. He realized long before many others that life in a climate of violence, occupation, terror, anxiety and hopelessness, extracts a price Israel cannot afford. This is all relevant today, even more so. We will soon talk about the partner that we do or do not have, but before that, let us take a look at ourselves.
We have been living in this struggle for more than 100 years. We, the citizens of this conflict, have been born into war and raised in it, and in a certain sense indoctrinated by it. Maybe this is why we sometimes think that this madness in which we live for over 100 years is the only real thing, the only life for us, and that we do not have the option or even the right to aspire for a different life.
By our sword we shall live and by our sword we shall die and the sword shall devour forever. Maybe this would explain the indifference with which we accept the utter failure of the peace process, a failure that has lasted for years and claims more and more victims.
This could explain also the lack of reaction by most of us to the harsh blow to democracy caused by the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as a senior minister with the support of the Labor Party – the appointment of a habitual pyromaniac as director of the nation’s firefighters.
And these are partly the cause of Israel’s quick descent into the heartless, essentially brutal treatment of its poor and suffering. This indifference to the fate of the hungry, the elderly, the sick and the disabled, all those who are weak, this equanimity of the State of Israel in the face of human trafficking or the appalling employment conditions of our foreign workers, which border on slavery, to the deeply ingrained institutionalized racism against the Arab minority.
When this takes place here so naturally, without shock, without protest, as though it were obvious, that we would never be able to get the wheel back on track, when all of this takes place, I begin to fear that even if peace were to arrive tomorrow, and even if we ever regained some normalcy, we may have lost our chance for full recovery.
The calamity that struck my family and myself with the falling of our son, Uri, does not grant me any additional rights in the public discourse, but I believe that the experience of facing death and the loss brings with it a sobriety and lucidity, at least regarding the distinction between the important and the unimportant, between the attainable and the unattainable.
Any reasonable person in Israel, and I will say in Palestine too, knows exactly the outline of a possible solution to the conflict between the two peoples. Any reasonable person here and over there knows deep in their heart the difference between dreams and the heart’s desire, between what is possible and what is not possible by the conclusion of negotiations. Anyone who does not know, who refuses to acknowledge this, is already not a partner, be he Jew or Arab, is entrapped in his hermetic fanaticism, and is therefore not a partner.
Let us take a look at those who are meant to be our partners. The Palestinians have elected Hamas to lead them, Hamas who refuses to negotiate with us, refuses even to recognize us. What can be done in such a position? Keep strangling them more and more, keep mowing down hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza, most of whom are innocent civilians like us? Kill them and get killed for all eternity?
Turn to the Palestinians, Mr. Olmert, address them over the heads of Hamas, appeal to their moderates, those who like you and I oppose Hamas and its ways, turn to the Palestinian people, speak to their deep grief and wounds, acknowledge their ongoing suffering.
Nothing would be taken away from you or Israel’s standing in future negotiations. Our hearts will only open up to one another slightly, and this has a tremendous power, the power of a force majeur. The power of simple human compassion, particularly in this a state of deadlock and dread. Just once, look at them not through the sights of a gun, and not behind a closed roadblock. You will see there a people that is tortured no less than us. An oppressed, occupied people bereft of hope.
Certainly, the Palestinians are also to blame for the impasse, certainly they played their role in the failure of the peace process. But take a look at them from a different perspective, not only at the radicals in their midst, not only at those who share interests with our own radicals. Take a look at the overwhelming majority of this miserable people, whose fate is entangled with our own, whether we like it or not.
Go to the Palestinians, Mr. Olmert, do not search all the time for reasons for not to talk to them. You backed down on the unilateral convergence, and that’s a good thing, but do not leave a vacuum. It will be occupied instantly with violence, destruction. Talk to them, make them an offer their moderates can accept. They argue far more than we are shown in the media. Make them an offer so that they are forced to choose whether they accept it, or whether they prefer to remain hostage to fanatical Islam.
Approach them with the bravest and most serious plan Israel can offer. With the offer that any reasonable Palestinian and Israeli knows is the boundary of their refusal and our concession. There is no time. Should you delay, in a short while we will look back with longing at the amateur Palestinian terror. We will hit our heads and yell at our failure to exercise all of our mental flexibility, all of the Israeli ingenuity to uproot our enemies from their self-entrapment. We have no choice and they have no choice. And a peace of no choice should be approached with the same determination and creativity as one approaches a war of no choice. And those who believe we do have a choice, or that time is on our side do not comprehend the deeply dangerous processes already in motion.
Maybe, Mr. Prime Minister, you need to be reminded, that if an Arab leader is sending a peace signal, be it the slightest and most hesitant, you must accept it, you must test immediately its sincerity and seriousness. You do not have the moral right not to respond.
You owe it to those whom you would ask to sacrifice their lives should another war break out. Therefore, if President Assad says that Syria wants peace, even if you don’t believe him, and we are all suspicious of him, you must offer to meet him that same day.
Don’t wait a single day. When you launched the last war you did not even wait one hour. You charged with full force, with the complete arsenal, with the full power of destruction. Why, when a glimmer of peace surfaces, must you reject it immediately, dissolve it? What have you got to lose? Are you suspicious of it? Go and offer him such terms that would expose his schemes. Offer him a peace process that would last over several years, and only at its conclusion, and provided he meets all the conditions and restrictions, will he get back the Golan. Commit him to a prolonged process, act so that his people also become aware of this possibility. Help the moderates, who must exist there as well. Try to shape reality. Not only serve as its collaborator. This is what you were elected to do.
Certainly, not all depends on our actions. There are major powers active in our region and in the world. Some, like Iran, like radical Islam, seek our doom and despite that, so much depends on what we do, on what we become.
Disagreements today between right and left are not that significant. The vast majority of Israel’s citizens understand this already, and know what the outline for the resolution of the conflict would look like. Most of us understand, therefore, that the land would be divided, that a Palestinian state would be established.
Why, then, do we keep exhausting ourselves with the internal bickering that has gone on for 40 years? Why does our political leadership continue to reflect the position of the radicals and not that held by the majority of the public? It is better to reach national consensus before circumstances or God forbid another war force us to reach it. If we do it, we would save ourselves years of decline and error, years when we will cry time and again: “Behold land, for we hath squandered.”
From where I stand right now, I beseech, I call on all those who listen, the young who came back from the war, who know they are the ones to be called upon to pay the price of the next war, on citizens, Jew and Arab, people on the right and the left, the secular, the religious, stop for a moment, take a look into the abyss. Think of how close we are to losing all that we have created here. Ask yourselves if this is not the time to get a grip, to break free of this paralysis, to finally claim the lives we deserve to live.
John Yorke says
‘Then imitate the action of the tiger……’
Mr. Grossman was indeed eloquent and passionate in his address and his comments resonate deeply in a deteriorating situation. But he does seem to despair of any lasting termination in the violence. There are more than enough reason for doing so. Stating the obvious it may be but, after so long a time at war, can any peace proposal now – from either side – have even the smallest chance of success? His observations, eminently valid though they be, might just as well have been addressed to the wind. They call attention to all the horrors of war, especially that slow grinding down of the human mind and spirit, but do they offer any real prospects for peace? It could be that the belligerents will just be a little more circumspect in their activities from now on – but even this I rather doubt.
The problem is thus. As time passes, present troubles tend to be eclipsed by even more immediate ones, with deeper fears, fainter hopes. War has that quality, that abundant staying power to generate and sustain itself with little regard to external forces. Peace will always have a more difficult time of it. If only some of that same awesome power could be injected into the latter, what then might not be accomplished?
Could the answer lie in peace emulating war, taking unto itself that peculiar talent for survival so long enjoyed by its counterpart? Only by waging war on war itself may we yet see this business brought to some credible – and creditable – finale.
. Can it really be beyond the compass of the human mind to at least regulate this constant cycle of carnage in the Middle East? Maybe it is – but here’s a suggestion for closure where the expenditure involved would seem to comprise mainly that of a few brain cells, a commodity we all have in plentiful supply.
This is a dry, almost antiseptic solution, perhaps a bit ‘clinical’ in its approach to the conflict. It’s a formula-driven method which, somewhat perversely, derives an unexpected synergy from the very problem it seeks to address. Worked out by a German I met many years ago in Nurnburg. Very Germanic therefore, very direct – and, in its own fashion, arguably much more effective than many peace proposals floated in the past – and which have now long since sunk without trace.
Monitor events in the region, sample and evaluate any incidents involving violence and/or intolerance, even the quite minor ones. Place on record that which occurs and make a determination/estimation as to whether this side or that is deemed responsible. For instance, something happens; it was violent; it seemed deliberate; people were hurt; property was damaged – so on and so forth. This was judged at the time to be Israeli in origin – or it was Palestinian inspired. Can include a default option too – ‘perpetrated by person or persons unknown’ – if circumstances so dictate. Collate all this information and await the next sequence of bombs, bullets, whatever, that happens along. Do likewise with these and continue monitoring.
At some stage – a time limit, a points cut-off – the sampling process terminates and one of the entries thus catalogued is then randomly selected. Penalise the offending party here by conferring full ownership and title of some nominal area of land on its opposite number. One square kilometre should more than suffice, the transfer of which is formally recognised by the rest of the world – also acting as guarantor – even if only in the moral and legal sense. One of the much maligned UN resolutions perhaps?
The sampling process then re-engages and, assuming the violence continues unabated, a further parcel of land is thereby delineated and assigned to whoever. The area this covers would then be some 2 sq. km. Subsequent infractions might trigger another penalty; 4 sq. km. After that, it’s 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 sq. km. …….XXXX sq. km. A natural progression; soon ramps up to some very serious real estate indeed.
The dynamic of the whole situation now changes markedly. Israelis, through violence and the like, would be seen to be promoting, even ratifying, the Palestinian cause while, similarly, Palestinians might well be perceived as carrying forward and cementing the dream of a permanent Jewish homeland. Prospects guaranteed to give even the most militant in either camp considerable pause for thought. ‘He brought home the other sides’ bacon for them’ – quite possibly the least coveted obituary of ‘martyr’, soldier and politician alike. Very salutary, though, if a permanent end to these hostilities is ever going to emerge from the present fog of contention.
Now, back there in Nurnburg, I felt that, as a theory, the concept had some small merit but little practical value. And I said as much to my German companion, detailing what I felt to be major obstacles in its path.
1. Too biased. The Israelis might go for it – the novelty alone makes it an idea worth exploring. Not so the Palestinians – and with some justification. Yes, this might lock down the violence – and appreciably so – but to what end? To preserve the status quo? To stifle any movement towards change or progress? Not entirely a welcome outcome where Palestinian interests are concerned.
The answer, apparently, is to acknowledge the objection and offer to take the system ‘off-line’ for one or two months. In that time slot, the whole question might readily be referred back to the field of battle – if calmer counsels have not prevailed in the interval.
2. Too easily sabotaged. Disaffected elements in both groups could easily overload the process, manufacturing spurious claims and stage-managing acts of violence. A futile endeavour therefore and not worth the effort.
Any halfway decent sampling technique should be more than adequate to discourage such activities. Those seeking to choreograph events could find their efforts ineffective, or worse still, counterproductive.
3. Wouldn’t it be imperative to obtain at least tacit approval from both principals in this matter? Given the long-standing enmity between them, acceptance of so radical a departure from familiar norms and customs of warfare seems doubtful in the extreme.
Curiously enough, agreement on the issue need not be a mandatory requirement here. In fact both parties could initially ignore the whole procedure and continue on much as before. However, there comes a time when the areas of land so designated must reach something of a critical mass. At such a point, one side or the other might very well decide to go with what’s on offer. Holding such clear and universal title to any major tract of this much disputed territory might prove progressively more and more difficult to resist. Thereafter, further violence becomes increasingly untenable. Fighting against a conventional enemy is all very well – but when that enemy is also a mathematical construct, the numbers themselves soon begin to outweigh all other considerations.
4. But who could – or should – debate, decide, pronounce on changes of such magnitude? Who would accept the awesome responsibility entailed in decisions of this significance?
We are all, it seems, as ever, still our brothers keeper. It must fall to us, the world community – or representatives thereof – to perform the deed. And, with such godlike powers theirs to command, the expectation is that there would be no great shortage of volunteers.
Now whether all this has any relevance as to our view of the Middle East today is, of course, debatable. But it would be well to note that, in our various dealings with the Angel of Death, any increase in our choices here must certainly be welcome. A template capable of ending once and for all, not just this business, but also others of an equally intractable nature, would go a long way towards making some sense out of all that’s happened – even if only as an intellectual exercise.
And if, for some reason, it didn’t work out, some unforeseen flaw in the design perhaps, well then, we could at least comfort ourselves with the knowledge that, in the final analysis, – we can always blame the Germans!
Amin Nusseibeh says
palestine is ours. The Jews need to exercise their right of return so we can exercise ours. Perhaps Gorge Soros can fund this exodus with the billions he has stolen in Malaysian currency speculations. The ideology behind israel is real estate, the ideology behind Palestine is justice. The longer we struggle, the more nations recognize the justice of our positions
Richard Silverstein says
Pure propagandistic nonsense. In your case, sloganeering substitutes for thought. Palestine is no more yours than it is Israel’s. You Neanderthal haters will never succeed in yr visions of ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel. Just like with the rightist pro-Israel crowd, I will delight when there is peace and Palestinians & Israelis begin to live in peace & contradict by their co-existence the hate & venom that spews forth fr. the mouths of people like you.
It sounds nice. But unfortunately it’s utter bullshit. Each nationalist ideology has both justice & injustice integrally bound up within its actions. Palestine nationalism is no more, nor no less just than Zionism.
The longer you struggle the longer the world tires of your death wish. And I say the same to Israelis and about Israel. The longer it oppresses the Palestinians the less sympathy Israel invokes in the world community. You don’t get it. People are tired of both our nations wanting to fight to the death. The world wants us to get over it & figure out a way to coexist. Clearly, the solution won’t come from the likes of you.
You’re just as bad as the Israeli extremists. You mirror ea. other perfectly. A match made in heaven.
Amin Nusseibeh says
The problem is such. Palestine was stolen by people with no claim to it. Your right wing is at least more honest. It says that we stole Palestine because we are stronger, and we are going to hold it, because we are stronger. Your left wing, which Im afraid includes you says, yes, we stole it, but we want to cloak our theft with a gloss of morality. Therefore we try to legitimize our theft by enlisting the United Nations and the world community.
You say that the world is tired of our death wish. On what basis do you think so? Nobel Prize winners including Jimmy Carter, Shirin Abadi, Desmond Tutu, adn Jose Saramego all consider Israel the main threat to world peace. 20 years ago, you claimed there are no Palestinian people. 10 years ago, you were clamoring for two states. Now, your own intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Meron Benveniste, and Tony Judt all believe that Israel must be dismantled because it is a threat to justice and peace. We are winning and our strategy of resistance is highly effective
Richard Silverstein says
You are a liar & a fraud. Certainly the Palestinians have a perfectly valid claim to the land. But Jews have no less a claim. To deny this means you are so befogged & besotted w. yr cause that you refuse to recognize reality. The Jews had their own kingdoms ruling this land for centuries. They have maintained a constant presence in this land for millenia. They never renounced their bond to the land. If I can grant the same valid claim to Palestinians why can’t you do the same for Jews/Israelis?
Utter bullshit. The reality is much more complicated than you make it out to be. I believe there was a theft in 1948 & subsequently in the same way that I maintain that the U.S. stole the Native American patrimony fr. them in the 19th century. So because a great crime was committed does that mean it invalidates a nation’s claim to existence. Of course not. Only blind propagandists like you try to say otherwise.
And how am I cloaking the theft in a gloss of morality? This is more bullshit. I guess what angers you so is that I maintain that this theft was a perversion of true Zionism, which would not countenance such crimes. You prefer a Zionism with horns, totally diabolic because it makes such a nice caricature for you to stick your pins in. Well, I know Zionism warts and all. What you call Zionism is an evil figment of yr imagination.
“Main threat?” Prove it. You can’t. I’m certain that they think Israel is A threat to world peace & I would agree with them. But the only reason they don’t include Palestinians or Hezbollah as a threat to world peace is that they don’t (yet) have the arsenal to bring about mass destruction. As of now, they can only kill discreetly in the tens or hundreds at a time.
You’re a blithering idiot. I never ever made this claim. I have always fought against this claim since 1967 when I first became involved with progressive Zionism.
More blithering idiocy. I have been reading Meron Benvenisti for 30 years & not once have I ever read a statement saying he believed in the “dismantling” of Israel. Again, prove it. If you can’t then shut up. As for the other three, they’re entitled to their opinions. They’re in a minority. A pitifully small minority. I sympathize with many of their arguments but not with their overall judgment of what should be done. Would you like me to match yr 3 intellectuals with 50 or 100 equally distinguished who believe in a 2 state solution? Would that make a diff.? Of course not. Your 3 own the truth and my 50 are all charlatans.
What a nice convenient system you’ve got going for you. Never troubled by any thoughts that run counter to yr prejudices. It’s a good thing you’ve got going for you. You stew in yr own juices & hatred nursing a grudge for all eternity. Meanwhile, the only ones who suffer are your Palestinians (& Israelis of course). But you’re happy to let them spill their blood & not yours as you sit at home nursing a drink by the fire. Very cozy life you’ve got. Unfortunately, the lives of yr compatriots are not cozy. They die. They bleed. And largely because of Know Nothings like you. Israel’s brutality doesn’t help the situation of course. But you are a perfect match for Israeli leaders. You both proffer a vision of neverending death, violence, & human sacrifice.
Dream on Macduff. What are you “winning?” More death, more bullets, more starvation, more privation, more needless deaths from lack of medicine?? Oh yes, you fight because in some imaginary future there will a sovereign Palestinian state in all of “Palestine” with the Jews displaced & sent God knows where. BTW, you’d love Benny Elon’s proposal to transfer Israeli Arabs to Bulgaria. With a few minor changes you could adapt the plan for yr own purposes. I do think however that you should out of courtesy give a credit to Elon for coming up with it before you.
John Yorke says
Making the world a better place?
How does killing innocent women and children achieve this objective? And can martydom/suicide attacks ever herald even the smallest advance in that direction? Does being validated by historical or divine authority justify the taking or imperilling of even one single human life? No, these are but the tragic by-products of an inability to resolve the situation. They serve only to exacerbate the symptoms, symptoms of a disease as old as Man himself. The territorial imperative is just as dominant in us as when the first cavemen disputed the first waterhole, when the first tribes fought over possession of the best arable land. Justice and legitimacy then, as now, were concepts rarely in attendance. But backtracking over the rights and wrongs in the Palestinian/Israeli dispute serves merely to catalogue the repeated failures of rational human beings caught between diametrically opposed positions. Best leave all that for another time. If justice and legitimacy are to have any dominion over the contested lands of Israel/Palestine then that justice and legitimacy must be massively enhanced, brought up-to-date and to a point where peace becomes the exclusive consideration of all concerned. A cessation in the violence – or at least a significant moratorium on its use – must be the primary requirement. Without this, all the rest is an object lesson in futility.
To that end, all it may require of us ‘rational human beings to contemplate a peace process focused solely on that one single purpose.
As an example, you might care to return to my first comment above.
Herbert Kaine says
A hypothetical-If all the Jews in Israel converted to Islam, would the war against Israel continue?
Herbert Kaine says
While Amin is wrong about everything else, he is spot on when he described Meron Benveniste as an opponent of Israel (see below). A binational state would result in the biggest pogrom since the Holocaust. Benveniste knows this, and wants this to happen
The Injustice of the New Formula-by Meron Benvenisti
In recent weeks, the discussion of the chances of the struggle for the establishment of a Palestinian state as a way to resolve the conflict has become sharper and more profound, and alternatives to the formula “two states for two peoples” have been raised; despair over implementing this solution is reinforcing the idea of “one binational state.”
As long as there were only “a few more or less naïve Israelis, who were caught up in the foolish idea of a binational state” (Avraham Tal, Haaretz, October 14), the issue could be treated with condescending dismissiveness.
But when the matter is starting to be discussed by groups and people who belong to the heart of the political and military establishment in both the Israeli and the Palestinian camps, and the attention being devoted to it by pundits and journalists the world over is reaching new heights, the sense heightens that a process of a paradigm change has begun, and that it won’t be long before a contest erupts as to who owns the patent for the new formula.
After all, the slogan “two states” is less than 20 years old, and many of those who are rejecting the binational formula scornfully and aggressively had the same hostile attitude toward the two-state formula, until it gained legitimacy – after being emptied of meaning.
The formula of two states for two peoples is being attacked from different angles and for contradictory reasons. It is also characterized from the outset by willful obstruction, whose implementation leads to the inevitable conclusions.
The Israelis who did their utmost to destroy any chance of the two-state solution are now looking for a way out of the disaster they have brought upon themselves with their own hands.
First of all, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gets Israel involved in a bitter debate about “the disengagement,” which threatens a national rift, just to bring about a situation in which “this entire package that is called the Palestinian state will disappear from our agenda for an unlimited period of time.”
And afterward, when it turns out that Israel has in fact succeeded in teaching the world that there is “no one to talk to” (on the Palestinian side), the top military echelons leak to Aluf Benn (Haaretz, October 19) that it may be worthwhile to examine the possibility of returning to the pre-1967 situation and to hand over the occupied territories to Syria, Jordan and Egypt – and thus to abandon “the failed attempt to share the country with Arafat and his cronies.”
The very idea that the Arab countries would agree to function as Israel’s storm troopers for the occupation is a mad notion, bordering on chutzpah. But anyone who bases the occupation regime (and the disengagement plan) on the generosity of the donor countries and the UN agencies – and is not ashamed to humiliate them and to insult their emissaries – will not hesitate to blame the “Arabs” for the situation that has been created, and to proclaim his own innocence.
It is the very processes of unilateral disengagement – the separation fence and the evacuation of the Gaza Strip, that ostensibly are implementing the territorial division of Eretz Israel and distancing the nightmare of a binational state, which in fact are laying the foundations for the binational reality and destroying the option of two states for two peoples.
The Israelis believe that the fence turns the conflict into a border dispute, and that disengagement from Gaza alleviates the “demographic problem.”
However, in effect, the fence and the evacuation create total dependence by defenseless Palestinian cantons. Thus a de facto binational state is being established, which contains many deceptive indicators that enable us to nurture the illusion that it is not such a state, and even to make us feel that the worst of all evils – a binational state has been prevented. The Palestinians, who correctly under- stand the significance of the processes – and who are unable to enjoy the luxury of fooling themselves – sense that Israeli activity has in fact made the two-state option impossible, and therefore there must be a return to a one state strategy.
It must be mentioned repeatedly that a binational regime is not a prescription, but a description of the existing situation. The trouble is that the binational danger is being treated only as a possible future problem. The danger of a binational state is illustrated by its opponents not by exposing the racist and discriminatory components that are becoming rooted in everyday existence – and that are clear to everyone, except for the Israelis themselves – but by raising the empty threat called a demographic danger.
The Israelis consider “womb-to-womb combat” more dangerous than their slide down the slope of racism and delegitimization.
Just as a “Palestinian state” is the vessel into which the Israelis throw all the injustices of the past, so a “binational state” is a refuge for all those who fear the future, an empty threat whose purpose is to present undefined dilemmas and theoretical constitutional constructs. In the conditions prevailing today, what difference does it make whether a person supports two states or one?
This preoccupation is only an escape from genuine and immediate problems that stem from the injustices of oppression, from the damage to basic human rights and from racism. How easy it is to fall into the trap of slogans.
Richard Silverstein says
Herbert Kaine: Thanks for that fascinating article. Glad you also agree w. me about Amin.
But I totally disagree with you that Benvenisti is an “opponent of Israel.” And I’m afraid we’ll have to “dismantle” Amin’s notion that Benvenisti wishes to “dismantle Israel.” He is an ardent opponent of Israeli policy, but that is far different than saying you want to see Israel destroyed or subsumed within an Arab majority single state. And he certainly does not share the Chomsky-Finkelstein ‘utopian’ one-state vision in which both peoples live together supposedly in peace & tranquility.
I think something more subtle is going on in Benvenisti’s article. I would argue that Benvenisti does prefer the two-state solution. However, he realizes that given the self-destructiveness of Israeli policy, that it is Israel that is rapidly destroying the possibility for a real 2 state solution. He would argue that Israel is headed not for a Chomskyan one-state solution; but rather for a South African apartheid solution in which two peoples live in the same land, but in utterly dominant-dominated mode. Benvenisti argues that Israel is headed down the road of becoming a racist, subjugating state. This too is a one-state solution (he calls it a ‘bi-national state’), but far diff. than what the anti-Zionist utopians posit. And this is certainly not a situation that he anticipates with relish.
Herbert Kaine says
If you read Benveniste’s other articles in Haaretz, you will find explicit support of a binational state. As deputy mayor of Jerusalem in 1967, he opposed Jews trying to reclaim properties in the Old City, prefering to keep the ethnically cleansed status of the Old City. He seems to agree with Israeli artist Igal Tumarkin, who is famous for his pictures of pigs wearing tefillin, and for his slogan “After 1967, Jerusalem became ugly”. Benveniste is routinely quoted on neo-Nazi websites, and may have served as inspiration for Arab claims, including Amin’s, that there is no Jewish claim to the land of Israel. I think it is important to listen to the repulsive claims of Amin, because in my experience, he represents the majority of Palestinian opinion, and they do believe that they are winning. Together with the Iranian drive for the nuclear bomb, and the Hezbollah war, they believe they are on a roll
Richard Silverstein says
I read him there pretty religiously & haven’t read such sentiments. If you find anything more specific feel free to bring it to my attention.
In this blog, I don’t go in much for propaganda slogans full of rhetoric & empty of meaning. “Ethnic cleansing” in the context of the I-P conflict is definitely one of those phrases I detest. Instead of using that term, I could just as easily (& much more truthfully) describe Jewish rightist efforts to reclaim the Jewish Quarter as a land grab at the expense of Palestinians who’d lived there for generations. The question is do you want to right some wrong done 60 years ago when Jews were displaced fr. the Quarter by the Jordanians; or do you want to create a solution that will ensure peace for our children & generations to come? Wisely, Benvenisti foresaw that such expropriations in the Jewish Quarter would create hatred & conflict bet. the 2 communities. And guess what, it did precisely that.
“He seems to agree?” Do you think you can pass this off as legitimate argument in this blog? That’s rich. If you want to cast calumnies like that around you’ll have to be a lot more definitive than “he seems.” You have no evidence that he believes this because he doesn’t.
Again, a completely illegitimate argument. Even the devil quotes Scripture. I’ve been linked & quoted in Holocaust Revisionist websites (in addition to being linked, quoted & reviled in countless rightist pro-Israel sites). You can’t judge the truth, credibility or quality of anyone’s thought based on who quotes them. That’s simply ridiculous.
“May have?” What does “may have” mean? Either he served as inspiration or he didn’t. If you believe he did, then show it. If you can’t, then you have no case. And Benvenisti does NOT believe that there is no Jewish claim to the land. What he does believe is that are equally valid & worthy claims put forward by both sides. This is what really gets yr goat. For a Jew & Israeli to accept that the Palestinians have an equal claim to the land. That sticks in yr craw. Well let it. Get used to it. Whether you like it or not, the final resolution of this conflict will involve 2 peoples living together side by side (though not necessarily in a single state). Neither will have a superior claim to anything. And that’s as it should be.
While I agree w. the first part of yr assertion, you are dead wrong about the 2nd part. I have covered here many surveys produced by diverse sources, including one conducted jointly by Palestinian pollsters & Hebrew University researchers, of Palestinian political opinion in this blog. Such opinion is uniformly moderate on the major political issues. Palestinians are in favor of negotiation with Israel. They are willing to accept a solution involving ending hostilities & terror attacks & recognizing Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders. They are willing to accept the 2002 Saudi initiative. Amin in no way represents the majority of those who live in the Territories.
Do you have a heart, a brain & eyes in yr head? “On a roll?” How can they believe they’re on a roll when hundreds are killed, their babies die of malnutrition, their sick cannot get medicines or hospital treatment, they have no salaries? These people are not stupid nor are they the raving ideologues you make them out to be. They know they are in Israel’s death grip. They know that compromise is the only way out of this. But as long as Olmert refuses to engage in negotiations what are they supposed to do? Just lay themselves in their coffins & prepare for death? No, they’re not going to make it that easy. I read both the Israeli & Palestinian press plus blogs on both sides & I’ve never read a Palestinian resident in the Territories who believes they are “on a roll.”
Amin does not live in the Territories I am sure. As I wrote above, he has the luxury of sitting in his easy chair & directing the coming Palestinian “victory” while others will actually shed the blood on his behalf. But till you live there or really put yourself in their shoes, you just don’t know what it’s like.
Herbert Kaine says
Sorry-I live in close proximity to Palestinians and even those who help build construction in settlements east of the Green line are confident that they are winning. They liken their situation of childhood leukemia. The initial chemotherapy is rough, they lose weight and vomit, but they feel the prognosis for a cure in the long term is good. The Palestinians do not measure their success in how many trips abroad they make, or how many restaurants they eat in. I dont know where Amin lives, but the majority of Palestinians that I have met would at least agree with him. Im certain you dont live in the territories. If you believe I am wrong, spend a few days in East Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, etc
Herbert Kaine says
One other comment. You believe that Meron Benveniste supports your point of view. Amin believes that Benveniste supports his point of view. You could settle this argument by providing sources within the last 2 years that show Benveniste’s support for a Jewish state. Unless you provide evidence to the contrary, I believe the preponderance of the evidence supports Amin in the case of Benveniste
Richard Silverstein says
I’m sorry but I have no confidence that you have yr pulse on the true heartbeat of Palestinian society. Look through this site for the many Israeli & Palestinian political opininon surveys I’ve provided. All Palestinian survey uniformly find that the majority wants peace along the lines I’ve outlined here & is willing to renounce violence & recognize Israel to get it. Hamas may not fully share those views but even in the last election Hamas did not get a majority of the vote and now it would receive much less because Palestinians do not share Hamas’ rigidity regarding the conflict.
The operative phrase is “that I have met.” I can’t account for how many or which Palestinians you have met. But surveys don’t lie. And they cover a lot more territory than a single individual like yourself can.
I have good Jewish friends who’ve done precisely that & reported to me their findings which jibe w. my own. BTW, how many days have YOU spent among Palestinians in any of those places?
As for Benvenisti, pls. go back through any of his columns in Haaretz & show me anything that supports yr view that he wishes the demise of Israel. I don’t have to prove Benvenisti supports Israel because I don’t have any doubt of the truth of this statement. For God’s sake, he was Jerusalem’s long-serving deputy mayor under Teddy Kollek. How could you accuse such an individual of harboring such views, esp. w/o providing any real proof that he does? If you believe this of him, then I’m afraid it’s yr responsibility to prove otherwise.
Asking me to prove that Benvenisti supports Israel’s right to exist is a lot like Joe McCarthy asking people to prove they aren’t Communists. I don’t want to play that game.
As much as I enjoy reading the arguments, the discourse and the passion and conviction of the writers, I mostly feel very much like Mr. Grossman.
Perhaps living abroad and looking at the events from a distance we are able to see the big picture. What pains me the most is the moral and political corruption of the Israeli society and its “leaders”. “hollow” doesn’t begin to describe the inadequacy of these people .
Former “bouncer” in governement ?
Where are the leaders ?
If we as a nation don’t wake up soon and follow in Rabin’s path, Israel as a state is doomed.
We don’t need to debate details of who was first. who started, who is at fault, who’se God is more just. We must , on the other hand, unilaterally, just like the withdrawal from Gaza, initiate dialog towards formation of a Palestinian state. Instead of killing citizens of Gaza, we must help them to stand on their feet again and behave like one neighbour to another.
Maybe we forgot with time that their lives are worth almost as much as Israeli lives ( at least to their mothers ). Don’t talk about the right to exist just have a righteous existence.