December 14, 2013
CAN A country boycott itself? That may sound like a silly question. It is not.
At the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, the “Giant of History” as Barack
Obama called him,
The only dignitary who agreed to go was the speaker of the Knesset, Yuli
Edelstein, a nice person, an immigrant from
Why? The President of the State, Shimon Peres, caught a malady that prevented him from going, but which did not prevent him from making a speech and receiving visitors on the same day. Well, there are all kinds of mysterious microbes.
The Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, had an even stranger reason. The journey, he claimed, was too expensive, what with all the accompanying security people and so on.
Not so long ago, Netanyahu caused a scandal when it transpired that for his journey to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, a five hour flight, he had a special double bed installed in the El Al plane at great expense. He and his much maligned wife, Sara'le, did not want to provoke another scandal [“this week” or “so soon”?] . Who’s Mandela, after all?
ALTOGETHER IT was an undignified show of personal cowardice by both Peres and Netanyahu.
What were they afraid of?
Well, they could have been booed. Recently, many details of the Israeli-South
African relationship have come to light. Apartheid
The relationship was not merely commercial. Israeli officers and officials met
with their South African counterparts, visits were exchanged, personal
friendship fostered. While
Still, our leaders should have been there, together with the leaders of the
whole world. Mandela was the Great Forgiver, and he forgave
Strange. Two moral giants and the same blind spot? How could that be, one wonders.
THE BOYCOTT movement against
The most focused form is the boycott of the products of the settlements, which was started by Gush Shalom 15 years ago. It is active now in many countries.
A more stringent form is the boycott of all institutes and corporations that are dealing with the settlements. This is now the official policy of the European Union. Just this week, Holland broke off relations with the monopolistic Israeli Water Corporation, Mekorot, which plays a part in the policy that deprives Palestinians of essential water supplies and transfers them to the settlements.
The third form is total: the boycott of everything and everyone Israeli (Including myself). This is also slowly advancing in many countries.
The Israeli government has now joined this form. By its voluntary
no-representation or under-representation at the Mandela ceremony, it has
LAST WEEK I wrote that if the Americans find a solution to
Binyamin Netanyahu declared this week that stationing Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley, as proposed by John Kerry, is not enough. Not by far.
Israel cannot give up the West Bank as long as Iran has nuclear capabilities, he
declared. What’s the connection, one might well ask. Well, it’s obvious. A
Before this happens,
IN THE last article I also ridiculed the Allon Plan and other pretexts advanced
by our rightists for holding on to the rich agricultural land of the
A friend of mine countered that indeed all the old reasons have become obsolete.
The terrible danger of the combined might of
But the valley guardians are now advancing a new danger. If
The day after the Palestinians take possession of the river crossing, missiles
will be smuggled in. Missiles will rain down on Ben-Gurion international
airport, the gate of [or “gateway to”]
Haven’t we seen this all before? When
We cannot possibly rely on the Palestinians. They hate us and will continue to
fight us. If Mahmoud Abbas tries to stop it, he will be toppled. Hamas or worse,
al-Qaeda, will come to power and unleash a terrorist campaign. Life in
Therefore it is evident that
WELL, FIRST of all the
Abbas does not object to a foreign military presence throughout the West Bank,
BUT THE main point is something else, something that goes right to the roots [or “root”] of the conflict.
Netanyahu’s arguments presuppose that there will be no peace, not now, not ever. The putative peace agreement – which Israelis call the “permanent status agreement” - will just open another phase of the generations-old war.
This is the main obstacle. Israelis – almost all Israelis – cannot imagine a situation of peace. Neither they, nor their parents and grandparents, have ever experienced a day of peace in this country. Peace is something like the coming of the Messiah, something that has to be wished for, prayed for, but is never really expected to happen.
But peace does not mean, to paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz, the continuation of war by other means. It does not mean a truce or even an armistice.
Peace means living side by side. Peace means reconciliation, a genuine willingness to understand the other side, the readiness to eliminate [or “get over”] old grievances, the slow growth of a new relationship, economic, social, personal.
To endure, peace must satisfy all parties. It must create [or “It requires”] a situation which all sides can live with, because it fulfills their basic aspirations.
Is this possible? Knowing the other side as well as most, I answer with utmost assurance: Yes, indeed. But it is not an automatic process. One has to work for it, invest in it, wage peace as committedly as one wages war.
Nelson Mandela did. That’s why the entire world attended his funeral. That’s, perhaps, why our leaders chose to be absent.