Twenty years ago, the European Parliament created the Sakharov Prize awarded to people who dedicated their lives to defending human rights and mutual understanding. Among those on this distinguished list are Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, the former chief of the United Nations and the Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi. It thus comes as a surprise that Dr. NuritPeled-Elhanan (HUJ) was made a recipient of prize.
Peled-Elhanan has supported extreme political positions, notably the one- state solution and the right to return of the Palestinians that would put an end to a Jewish majority.
Like many Marxist and neo-Marxist scholars, Peled-Elhanan sees no separation between her political and academic work. She has consistently used the latter to delegitimize Israel’s international standing by painting it as an apartheid state and a Nazi-like regime rolled- in- one. Her new book on the alleged racism of Israeli textbooks is no exception; it purports to show that texts use stereotypes that are demeaning to Arabs and Muslims. Moreover, she “proves” that such stereotypes incite Israelis to war in general and wanton murder of Palestinians in particular. In other words, young Israelis, like the Nazi Hitlerjugend are brought up to be “natural born-killers.” At the same time, Peled-Elhanan finds no evidence of stereotyping in Palestinian textbooks. More broadly, she asserts that Muslims are represented as "...vile, primitive and blood-thirsty..." to the citizens of the United States and Great Britain despite "...the fact that the people who are destroying the world today are not Muslim. One of them is a devout Christian, one is Anglican and one is a non-devout Jew."
Peled-Elhanan’s reading of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is equally and blatantly one-sided. She has never mentioned that the Palestinians and their supporters in the Muslim world have repeatedly rejected a two-state solution. In 1947 the United Nations agreed to the establishment of two states; this was rejected by the Arabs and in contravention of resolution 181, Israel was attacked with a goal of destroying it. In 1967, Egypt, Syria and Jordan tried again and lost again as was the case in 1973. Each time, in self-defense, Israel acquired more territory which resulted in an exodus of refugees who were never accepted in the neighboring countries.
But it's Peled-Elhanan’s view on terror that is most disturbing. She justifies Palestinian use of terrorism on the grounds that they are “pushed to despair” by Israeli occupation. Indeed, when her thirteen year old daughter was killed in a suicide bombing in 1997 she blamed the Israeli government rather than the Palestinian perpetrator. Her statement offended families of terror victims and provoked a huge public outcry.
In awarding the Sakharov Prize for human rights, the European Parliament has legitimized Peled-Elhanan view that terror attacks against innocent civilians are justified under certain conditions. This stands in stark contrast to the unequivocal condemnation of terrorism by the enlightened international community of which the European Parliament is a vital part of.
The Sakharov Prize committee needs to be reminded that Nelson Mandela and other leaders it has honored had never embraced terror. Sharing the prize with Elhanan-Peled cheapens their achievements and tarnishes their names.
Watch 10 minutes video interview with Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan (transcribed below)
Editorial note on the video
Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan gives a highly revealing interview on the roots of Palestinian terrorism.
She notes that Israel wants to exterminate the Palestinians and, when "pushed to the wall," they respond by using terror. After legitimizing terror as the weapon of choice of those who have no power and "no army," Peled-Elhanan proceeds to offer a conspiracy theory; consecutive Israeli governments are the real architects of Palestinian terrorism. They have deliberately manipulate the situation to trigger terror attacks so they can annex more territories and wage more wars.
Peled-Elhanan conveniently omits some pertinent facts; Palestinians and their Arab supporters have been the aggressors in all the major wars since 1948; Palestinians rejected a historic deal under the Oslo peace process; Hamas and Islamic Jihad have continuously proclaimed their desire to eliminate the State of Israel; in early 1994 the Iranian leadership took a decision to destroy the peace process through suicide bombings. The Al-Quds Force, the external branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, has trained and aided the Jihadists and is still the main sponsor of the Hamas government in Gaza.
Peled-Elhanan gives the classic Marxist assessments that, if it was up to the "people" on both sides - as opposed to the Israeli government- the conflict would have been settled a long time ago. Again, her devotion to theory flies in the face of reality; the Islamist movement has a huge following in Gaza and the West Bank, and it is these multitudes that show up to cheer any new terror attack against Israelis or welcome as heroes released prisoners responsible for the murder of hundreds of Israeli civilians.
Transcript of video interview
Nurit Peled Catalyst Series
Nurit Peled Elhanan: I do blame the Israeli government and I did from the start. The Israeli government and the occupation, how far can you push people to the wall before they react? How far? So they are to blame! They are to blame! They have blood on their hands, each and every one of them! They go on, because they have blood to their necks today! But blood is on their hands, of every child, every child in uniform or out of uniform, that was killed in this place, Palestinian and Israeli, it’s on their hands!
Narrator: Since its birth in 1948, Israel has eternal critics from the far left, people such as General Mattiyahu Peled, a military hero in the Six Days War in 1967, who became an Arab scholar, Knesset member, and activist for peace in Palestine.
Mattiyahu Peled: We are occupying the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for the last 25 years and this is corrupting us.
Narrator: His daughter, Nurit Peled, an academic and educator, is an intense critic of Israeli policies. With her husband, RamiElhanan, she is a founding member of the Bereaved Parents Circle, joining Israelis and Palestinians who like them have lost children either to the Israeli military or Palestinian suicide bombers.
Rami Elhanan: The reason why I get out of bed in the morning is to go and to tell people that it isn’t a predestined fight. It is not written anywhere that we should go on killing each other and the only way to stop it is by dialogue.
Narrator: Nurit’s son Elik is a co-founder of Ex-combatants for Peace, an alliance of former soldiers from the Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian fighters who have sworn never to use violence against each other again.
Elik Elhanan: Today we must have rage in us. A strong rage against the unnecessary death of human beings!
Narrator: The strength of Israel’s political map changes with time and circumstances. Sometimes integrated into political parties, sometimes held together by only a few individuals! At this time of social fracturing and citizen protest, Israeli leftists are rising and speaking up again.
Nurit Peled Elhanan: I think that there is a lot of dialogue going on. Not on the political level, on the political level it’s a sham! Most of the leftist movement, Combatants for Peace and Women Coalition, all of the movements within the Women Coalition, and Ta’ayush, and Machsom Watch and all these people, and on the academic level, there is an ongoing constant dialogue. It’s the politicians who make whatever they can to step back this dialogue by building the fence, and by, you know, having a wall every now and then and whenever there is a bit quiet they kill a few Palestinians, to incite the people again. And all this, for obvious reasons! But if you leave it to the people, I think the day the occupation stops no one will remember why it was there!
And you saw it in the time of Oslo, suddenly every one was friends! Every one visited every one else! The markets were full! We went to Gaza, we were welcomed with flowers! And every thing was within a day or two! People forget because there is no real reason for all this, except for the wish of Israel to exterminate Palestinians, yah! But this is on the political level again!
I think to bring people to the point where you have no right to decide about your time, or your space, or your life, or your education, or your children. And the only thing that is left to you to control is your death. Somebody made them so! So I think all this terrorists are the bad reeds of the occupation! And I think the Israeli government is very interested in this terrorism! Very, because this is the trigger, you know, to destroy houses, to occupy more land, to use all the ammunition that they have to use in order to make more money! And whenever there is a bit of quiet, they incite terrorism again likeArik Sharon when he went on the Temple Mount or Bibi Netanyahu when he opened the tunnels! It was right prior to our tragedy! And every time there is quiet, they do something to incite terrorism! The Palestinians don’t have an army! They don’t have any thing! So this is the way they act! And of course people are afraid! Every body’s afraid! You are afraid if you know there’s a bomb going to explode next to you!
But all these things always appear in western and Israeli media as if they came out of the blue! They never come out of the blue! It’s always in reaction to something! To some limit the occupation passed! So, you have to remember, now after Gaza, I’m surprised that there is not terrorists and suicide bombers and all these things! After what they did in Gaza! All the time they say this is the result of our deterrence, you know, capacity! This is bullshit! This is a Palestinian decision not to do that! Because if somebody wants to come here with a bomb, he can! And what amazes me is that such a few Palestinians turn to the way of violence! Most of them have never held a gun in their lives! And I should say more! Most of the 11,000 prisoners in Israeli jails have never held a gun in their lives! And this is what amazes me that these people in spite of every thing, continue with an incredible optimism to live and to raise families and to educate their children in a marvelous way! This is one of the things that always amazes me when I go to refugee camps! You see these people living in this hell, and when you meet the children, they are flowers! They are so polite! They are so knowledgeable! They are so happy! They are so lovely! How do you do that? This is something that the world does not know!
What interests me is how Israeli children become monsters, become the pilots that bomb Gaza and then go on to their children to tuck them in at night! This for me is monstrous! Much more if you can weigh the monstacities! The fact that this horrible apartheid wall is so accepted by left and right people in Israel is because they have this mental wall! People, when they go to the army, say, wow, I saw an Arab […] just like normal people, like ours! Can you imagine that? I mean, it’s not Australia exactly! And in the books, you have things like the Arabs remained out of the circle of development and modernity because they live in far away places and it’s very hard to connect them to electricity and water. You have that in textbooks, studied today in Israel! And when you think where are these Arab villages and Arab people, within the fifty kilometers reach is the widest part of Israel! This is where they live! Far away! You can not connect them to electricity and water! And they read these books and say ok! This is it! No body questions any thing! And this is how they build this mental wall! These people are dangerous! These people are primitive; they are not us and shouldn’t be there!
But usually people listen to you if you have the facts right! So you see what I mean? The idea is really when I speak about textbooks, I just show them things. I don’t make any interpretations! I just show them the maps and the caricatures and the texts. I think that this is my mission, really, to speak about things and to show them what happens and most of them would listen.