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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
John Stauber
The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?
Ted Rall
Ameri-Splaining
Michael J. Sainato
Mainstream Media Continues Absolving Itself From Clinton, Trump Election Failures
Ralph Nader – Mark Green
Divest or Face Impeachment: an Open Letter to Donald Trump
Gareth Porter
US Airstrikes on Syrian Troops: Report Data Undermine Claim of “Mistake”
Martha Burke
What Trumponomics Means for Women
Ramzy Baroud
Fatah, Hold Your Applause: Palestinian Body Politic Rotten to the Core
Steve Horn
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill Exempting Fracking from Drinking Water Rules
Joe Ware
The Big Shift: Why Banks Need to Stop Investing Our Money Into Fossil Fuels
Juliana Barnet
On the Ground at Standing Rock
Franklin Lamb
Aleppo Update: An Inspiring Return to the Bombed Out National Museum
Steve Kelly
Hidden Harmony: on the Perfection of Forests
December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail