By Israeli activistis
For Truth and Reconciliation, For Equality and Partnership
The State of Israel was supposed to provide security for Jews -- It created a death-trap in which residents live in a constant danger unknown to any other Jewish community;
The State of Israel was supposed to knock down the ghetto walls -- It is now constructing the biggest ghetto in Jewish history;
The State of Israel was supposed to be a democracy -- It established a colonial regime, combining unmistakable elements of apartheid with the arbitrariness of a cruel military occupation.
Israel 2004 is a state on the road to nowhere. Fifty six years after its establishment, in spite of its many achievements in agriculture, science, and technology, even as a regional superpower armed with the doomsday weapon, many of its citizens experience terrible existential distress and are fearful for their future.
Since its establishment Israel has lived by its sword. An uninterrupted sequence of endless “retaliatory” actions, military operations, and wars have turned into the life elixir of Israeli Jews. Today, nearly four years since the advent of the second Palestinian Intifada, Israel is up to its neck in the mud of occupation and oppression, persistently expanding settlements and adding outposts, exhaustively persuading itself that “we have no partner for peace.”
Ten years after the Oslo accords we live in a bleak colonial reality--in the heart of darkness. Thirty seven years after Israel occupied the remaining Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, more than 3.5 million Palestinians under Israel's rule are incarcerated in their cities, towns, and villages. The phrase “Palestinian State”, which for years marked the “option of peace” is employed by many Israeli politicians as a delusion, a spin prop for promoting the reality of occupation: in the future, they mutter and wink, the Palestinian entity in the territories might possibly be called a state. In the meantime, Israel intensifies its destructive operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as if determined to grind the Palestinian people to dust.
Against the large Israeli camp of separation-wall supporters, whose members, on the right and on the left, are haunted by demography demons, constantly keeping count of the population--to know how many Jews and how many Arabs are born and die each week, how many Jews and how many Arabs live throughout the country, as well as in each of its districts in any given month--an ideological alternative must be presented, whose principles are: Joint life for the peoples of this country, based on mutual recognition, egalitarian partnership and historical justice.
We are united in our critique of Zionism, which is based on refusal to acknowledge the indigenous people of this country and their rights, on dispossessing them of their land and on the adoption of separation as a founding principle and a way of life. Adding insult to injury, Israel persists in its refusal to bear any responsibility for its acts, from the expulsion of the majority of Palestinians from their homeland more than 50 years ago, to the construction of ghetto walls for the remaining Palestinians in the cities and villages of the West Bank in the present. Thus, today, wherever a Jew and an Arab stand, with each other or facing each other, a border runs between them, to separate and distinguish between the blessed from the cursed.
We are united in knowing that this country belongs to all its sons and daughters, citizens and residents, present and absent--without discrimination on a personal, communal, civil, national, religious, cultural, or gender basis. We demand the immediate annulment of all laws, regulations, and practices that discriminate between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, and the dismantlement of all institutions, organizations, and authorities based upon these laws, regulations, and practices.
We are united in the belief that peace and reconciliation are contingent on Israel's acknowledgment of its responsibility for the injustices inflicted upon the Palestinian people, and the willingness to amend them. Recognizing the right of return stems from our principles. Amending the ongoing injustice inflicted upon the Palestinian refugees for generations is a necessary condition both for reconciliation with the Palestinian people, and for the taken of our souls--the Jews of Israel. Only in this way will we cease to be haunted by the demons of the past and its curses, and prepare ourselves to be “at home” in our shared country.
For years, Israeli leaders have and continue to work hard to portray Palestinians as sub-humans. These leaders are followed by a host of intellectuals and media barons, as well as hollow functionaries, and bum word-mongers, on the right and on the left. We reject this racist vanity with disgust, knowing that Palestinians, like any other people, are neither demons nor angels, but, just like us, are humans created equal.
We are convinced that if we approach peace and reconciliation with the Palestinians with willingness, and an open heart, we would encounter what we would bring with us--willingness and an open heart. Because we are humans and brothers and not as the poisoners of wells would have us eternal enemies.
It is pointless to guess, at this time, the form this vision of life together will take: two states, or one? Perhaps a confederacy? Or a federation? How about cantons? Either way, the primary condition for promoting the vision of life together is obvious, both as a superior moral imperative, and as a pressing actuality: an immediate end to the occupation.
Only in this way will Palestinians in East Jerusalem, in the West Bank, and in the Gaza Strip be rid of the burden of settlements, the nightmare of apartheid, the suffering of humiliation, and the demons of destruction employed by Israel for 37 years, day and night, without respite. Only in absolute liberty will the Palestinians be able to discuss and decide their future.
We believe that adopting the above formulated principles would establish the foundations upon which the people of this country could establish the appropriate frameworks for life together. We are not talking about fantasies, or a miracle move that would deliver us from living hell to heavenly paradise.
We are talking about a road that has yet to be tried: to be fair and honest with ourselves, with our neighbors, and especially with the Palestinians--our enemies who are our brothers. If we find within us the appropriate honesty and the necessary courage, we can take the first step in the long journey that could extricate us from the thick of denial, suppression, distortion of reality, loss of direction, and the forsaking of conscience, wherein the people of Israel has been trapped for generations.
All who have eyes to see and ears to listen know the choice is either another one hundred years of conflict, ending in ruin, or a partnership between all the inhabitants of the country. Only such a partnership has the power to turn us, the Jews of Israel, from strangers to sons and daughters of this country.
We do not intend to launch another movement against the occupation, nor a political party with a platform, organs, and leaders. We wish to arouse a keen public discussion on the dead end we are living, and of the far-reaching changes necessary in order to get out of it. Every Israeli knows this is not about political nit-picking, but about the destiny of the peoples of the country.
Primary list of supporters:
Prof. Zalman Amit
Dr. Ariella Azulay
Dr. Diana Dolev
Dr. Avishai Ehrlich
Prof. Ariella Friedmann
Dr. Daphna Golan
Prof. Uri Hadar
Rachel Leah Jones
Dr. Katlin Katz
Prof. Baruch Kimmerling
Prof. Bezalel Manekin
Prof. Adi Ophir
Prof. Avraham Oz
Dr. Nurit Peled Elhanan
Dr. Dan Rabinowitz
Dr. Nitzan Rabinowitz
Dr. Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin
Sami Shalom Chetrit
Dr. Haim Yacobi
Prof. Oren Yiftachel
Prof. Moshe Zuckermann