FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

We are the Patriots

by URI AVNERY

On June 28, an important event took place in Ramallah. Three hundred personalities, half of them Palestinians, half of them Israelis, took part in the founding conference of the first wholly integrated joint peace organization–the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Action Group for Peace.

This followed the publication, two months ago, of a joint political statement signed by 1500 Palestinian and Israeli personalities.

The occupation forces tried to prevent the Israelis from reaching Ramallah, some of them had to walk two kilometers in the heat to evade the checkpoints.

I was invited to give one of the keynote speeches. I would like–however immodestly–to publish it here in full. UA

Dear Friends,

Today we come together, Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis, to create something completely new: a Joint Action Group for peace.

Not for a hudna (truce), not for some temporary compromise, not just another little step in an endless step-by-step process, but for a real peace, for a just peace, for a peace with dignity, for a peace between equals.

What we are trying to do is completely new. We do not want to set up just another framework for cooperation between enemies, but a completely integrated task force. Not an Israeli movement with a Palestinian tail, nor a Palestinian movement with an Israeli tail. But an organization in which we all, Israelis and Palestinians, shall be full partners, united by a common vision of a free Palestine and a free Israel living together, side by side.

Of all the people I have met in the long fight for peace, the one whom I miss most at this meeting is Issam Sartawi, who was murdered 20 years ago. He would be sitting here. His spirit is with us.

Sartawi was a patriot, an ex-Fedai, who believed that the only way for the Palestinian people to achieve their national aims is to win the hearts of the Israeli people. In the same way, I believe that the only way for Israel to find a secure and prosperous future is to win the hearts of the Palestinian people.

Sartawi believed that the battle for Israeli public opinion is not just one task among many, but that it is the main front in the Palestinian struggle for liberation. In the same way, I believe that the battle for reconciliation and justice together with the Palestinian people is the main task of every real Israeli patriot. And we are the real Israeli patriots.

When we created the slogan “Two States for Two Peoples”, we did not mean separation. We certainly did not mean two ghettos living side by side, each surrounded by high walls and electric fences. On the contrary, we meant close neighborly relations, cooperation, partnership, open borders, free movement of people.

In order to convince our own peoples that this is possible, that this is not simply a dream of naive peaceniks, we must prove in our day-to-day activities that we can work together and speak together with one voice. It is a tragedy that in all these years, especially since Oslo, no joint peace organization has come into being.

Of course, we have often met in action. We have many common memories. We have been beaten up together, we were tear-gassed together, we have demonstrated together many times. But there was never the one thing that was needed: regular, systematic, continuous joint action, day after day, week after week, month after month. We must now correct this historic mistake, which has had grievous consequences for peace.

We are meeting in dark times. Targeted assassinations, suicide bombings, the killing of women and children have become routine events. On both sides, people live in a state of fear, hopelessness and apathy. But we have no reason lose hope. Looking back on the decades of our struggle, we see a steady move towards peace.

There were times when almost all Israelis denied even the existence of the Palestinian people. “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people,” said Golda Meir. Today, there is hardly an Israeli who denies it.

Many years ago, when we raised the idea of two states living side by side, we were a tiny minority on both sides. Today, the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians accept this idea, and the whole world supports it.

Thirty years ago, when we established the first contacts with the PLO, we were considered traitors. Today it is official Israeli policy.

Seven years ago, in a joint demonstration with Faisal Husseini (Had he lived, he, too, would be sitting here!) at the wall of Jerusalem, we broke the Israeli taboo and declared that Jerusalem will be the capital of two states. Today this idea is generally accepted even by those who hate it.

We are still very far from victory. Many hardships and much suffering still lie ahead. But if we act together, with vigor and determination, our vision will prevail.

We must be the lighthouse, the fixed light that gives the direction and shows the way.

What can we do in practice?

I propose the following actions:

* Set up joint expert committees to prepare within three months the full text of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, including detailed solutions for all the problems–borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, security, water–and present it to the public, showing that such an agreement is possible. If some disagreements remain, we shall say so candidly.

* Set up a joint Committee for Truth and Reconciliation, on the South African model, in order to examine the history of the last 120 years and establish a true picture, acceptable to both peoples.

* Set up immediately a joint Press Office, to address the Israeli, Palestinian and world media.

* Set up a joint operations staff, to plan public campaigns and demonstrations.

These are only a few ideas for discussion today. I am sure that many of you have more. Let’s put them on the table.

The main thing is, let us do it together and carry it through, until the peace which we all desire comes to this beloved country.

Some weeks ago, when we met Yasser Arafat, some journalists asked him when will peace come. He said: Both URI AVNERY and I will see it in our lifetime. Arafat is 74 years old, I shall be 80 in a few weeks. So let’s get moving!

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is one of the writers featured in The Other Israel: Voices of Dissent and Refusal. He can be reached at: avnery@counterpunch.org.

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

More articles by:
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail