Friday, June 4, 2010

some clarifications about my infamous 'open letter' written during the Gaza War, 2009

Dear friends,

During the Gaza war in January 2009, I wrote an open letter. That letter was written with the best intentions on my part but ended up drawing immense criticism, entirely contrary to the spirit in which it was written.

The criticism seems to center around the following sentence:

“I can only wish for you that Israel will do the job we all know needs to be done, and finally RID YOU of this cancer, this virus, this monster called fanaticism, today, called Hamas”

This sentence was widely interpreted as support for the Gaza war as it was perceived by many people: a wanton attack on innocent civilians. This was, and is, by no means the case.

I was always against the use of violence and i continue to be against the use of violence, on all sides. Throughout my career I have been a supporter of the Palestinian quest for independence in a sovereign state alongside Israel, and I continue to be a staunch supporter of their cause. I have fought and sacrificed much for this, and i am sorry for every innocent life lost on both sides of the fence.

It is important for me that it be known that my letter was written as an emotional reaction to horrifying testimony I received from a close friend of mine who is a Palestinian peace activist (a real peace activist) that was living in Gaza, and told me of the torturing, killing and terrorizing of the Palestinian population there by Hamas, especially anyone working for peace with Israel. He himself fled from Gaza moments before Hamas henchmen raided his house with the intention of killing him. He was lucky, many others were not. His blood-curdling stories were the impetus for my letter.

Having said that, I understand now that I should not have written the specific sentence I mentioned before in the original letter, because it did not convey my intentions properly.

There is a great distinction between my stand against Hamas and my support for the Palestinian people and their rights. My sentence seems to have confused the two. Let me be clear. For the time being I am still totally against Hamas for two reasons:
1, Their official covenant calls for the total destruction of Israel and the murder of every man, woman and child!
2. They are a fundamentalist religious organization who dictates an Islamic rule that stands against any liberal human value that I and most of the readers of this document cherish. The entire free world has fought horrible wars against similar regimes paying a high price for the liberties that the fortunate among us enjoy today – including the liberty to express unpopular views and harshly criticize each other.

BUT, my mistake was to write that it is the Israelis who must eradicate Hamas. I take back these words and i regret them. They were inappropriate.

For me, Hamas is not representative of the hopes and dreams of the Palestinian people. Hamas came into power at a certain tragic moment in time, and I personally regret that deeply, as I also regret the rise of the government presently in power in Israel.

My view is clear, as I wrote in the answers I gave to La Republica, starting with my peace plan, “recognize, apologize, share”.

Israel needs to stop the occupation immediately and make an agreement with any leadership of the Palestinian people who wishes to live in peace with its neighboring state of Israel.

Not long ago it seemed impossible to envision talks between the PLO and Israel, but both sides managed to change their paradigm. I firmly believe today that the same type of change is possible between Hamas and Israel and I urge BOTH parties to check their motives and intentions again. I will be the first to put the past behind me and reach out my hand in peace to any former enemy. I firmly believe that if Hamas adopts the same principles that the Palestinian authority has already adopted long ago, the movement towards peace will be swift, though far from easy. Both sides will have to control their extremists in much the same way that Israel managed to clear its settlers out of Gaza.

This whole process must be assisted by the international community, who must ensure the security of both sides, and contribute financially and otherwise to the success of the fledgling state of Palestine and the relationship between the two countries.

I call on all people to listen to all sides with an open heart free from prejudice. I call upon my brothers in Israel and Palestine to unite for the cause of peace. Let’s not point fingers anymore and bring more and more hatred to the world. Let’s show the beauty of all cultures, the wisdom of all religions, and the human, compassionate face of mankind.

It is as simple as that.

Sincerely yours,

Thursday, June 3, 2010

an interview about the situation

Hello all,
Here is an interview i did for the Italian paper La Republica, one of the largest in that country.
Thought you would find it interesting.
(i don't know what they will end up printing, but these are the answers i gave them)

1) Why in all these years all the pacts did not reach a real solution for the crisis?

There exist a sufficient number of Israeli Jews who are convinced that Arabs by and large want to kill them, destroy Israel and impose fanatic Moslem hegemony all over the world. At the same time there also exist a sufficient number of Moslems who are convinced that Israeli Jews wish to colonize them, expel them, kill them and enslave them forever. Unfortunately there exist enough evidence to substantiate both arguments! and the evidence continues to compile every day. Obviously each side is convinced that the evidence proves their own righteousness, while the evidence to the contrary play very little role in the minds of most people. This happens for a simple reason. Here's a metaphor which explains why: If, for example, while entering a 1000 seats auditorium, i'm being told that there is one crazy gunman with one bullet in his gun and he's bound to shoot someone, would i stay there? would i say its just one in a thousand ? of course not! i will leave the place immediately! The point is, one doesn't need too many threats to feel threatened and get defensive. From that point the road to violence is unfortunately a very short one. The Hamas Covenant on one side and the ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers' ideology on the other, combined with both parties actions to implement their ideologies by building settlements or by terrorism, provide all the necessary evidence for anyone who finds it difficult to believe in peace. For instance, i am certain that the assassinations of Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat by Muslim fundamentalists and of Israeli PM Itzhak Rabin by a Jewish fundamentalist sealed the lid on many people's hopes in our miserable war stricken region.

2) What the artists, and especially the Israeli artists, can do to testify the need of a democratic solution of the israeli-palestinian crisis?

In general I wish Israelis would both campaign and use their democratic vote to elect a government that would put a complete end to the 1967 occupation and would sign a peace treaty with the elected government of the Palestinian people. Both governments would ideally represent the wishes of both peoples to live side by side in peace and cooperation in their independent, sovereign and internationally recognized state. I will always raise my voice in such campaigns and urge all artists, Israeli and Palestinian to do the same.
I will also repeat my three stage peace plan: Recognize, Apologize, Share:
Each side must recognize the rights of the other to life, freedom, independence, identity, the right to flourish, the right to a peaceful existence. This is the first and critical stage of the plan. Without formal recognition, in writing, signed by the recognized leaders of each nation, no progress can be made.

Both sides have done horrible things to each other in the name of this and that ideal. Since the death of one life is parallel to the death of all of humanity, there should be a true and deep remorse for these actions, a heartfelt apology on both sides for the pain and anguish they have caused.

Each side should revoke their dreams of a complete ‘anything’. Only through compromise is peace achievable. In this way, on one small piece of land, we can create 2 countries, Israel and Palestine, living peacefully and respectfully alongside each-other.

3) After this violent and tragic event, what is the atmosphere and what are the feelings among your friends and people you daily meet?

The feeling is terrible, a lot of anger and frustration, a lot of remorse for the loss of human life. Nobody in Israel believes that the Israeli government intended to kill anyone on that boat. Many in Israel believe the Israeli government's decisions regarding how to handle the situation has not only brought the unnecessary loss of human life and injury to the passengers of the boat and to our soldiers, but also brought harsh criticism and demonization of the state of Israel and the Jewish people, while at the same time absolving all other participants in the incident from any responsibility for the unfortunate and utterly tragic event. If i were the Israeli PM or Defence Minister, I would resign immediately, taking responsibility for the consequences of my decisions, that have jeopardized the security of my country and harmed its image.

Personally my criticism of my own government is mostly that it continues to see the occupation as an asset rather than a liability. This position has made the moral and human implications of occupation "tolerable" for too long, and in my opinion, they are intolerable. Truly the alternative of losing strategic depth (a common fear prevalent in the post 1967 era, with arguably good reason) could only be compensated by relying on friendly nations for defence. However the inability of the allies to stop the holocaust during WWII burnt into the hearts of Jews and Israelis the notion of "never again"...never again will we rely on anyone's help but our own strength for survival! Can anyone contest this argument easily? i don't think so.
In conclusion, when i say that i Noa want to end the occupation and am willing to rely on friendly nations for my children's security and my own, it is because the west bank occupation is immoral and inhuman. I know i might be taking a huge risk, but my moral fabric refuses to succumb to any fear, however substantiated it may be. I'm far from being naive and only history will tell, but i am willing to take the risk, just as i hope people like me, on the other side, are willing to take the same risk, no matter how deeply fear and prejudice is rooted in their hearts. The anti-Israeli sentiment I feel everywhere in the world media today doesn't make that an easy thing for me and other Israelis to do, and it is for that reason that we are asking, emphatically, that the international community and its media stand firmly by those who refuse to surrender to fear and hatred, and refrain from the judgement and finger-pointing that does nothing but make matters worse.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

an important petition, a sane, humane voice from israel

dear friends,

i have been racking my brain trying to come up with what to write about the tragic events of the last days here in israel. i am so heartbroken, so angry, i can hardly find words to say.
then i stumbled upon this petition, written by israelis who obviously feel just as i do.
please read it, please spread it around, and if you can, please sign it!! it is so important that the world know that there are OTHER voices in Israel, not only those of our governmnet. these other voices need to be heard. i am proud to raise my voice alongside theirs.

i have printed the petition below.

this is the web site, in hebrew and english:

hoping for better days,


We are Israeli citizens, outraged at the continuously violent and impervious Israeli policy which has culminated in the tragic attack on the flotilla to Gaza.

We are consumed with sympathy and sorrow for the loss of those on the flotilla and for their families.

We demand that a public apology be made on our behalf to all innocent persons injured.

We demand to know: Who gave the order? Who will be held accountable? Who will investigate the incident?

We hold the government of Israel responsible: for the policies and actions which have resulted in this turn of events; for the misguided decisions; for the explicit and implied instructions; for the attempt to besmirch our children and our friends, our soldiers and their commanders.

In carrying out these actions, the government of Israel played directly into the hands of a minority group which sought to translate a global, humane, legitimate civil protest into a violent, provocative and ill fated event.

We call upon the government of Israel to recognize the profound political crisis which has been brought upon us and to make a change! We must transform this failure into a renewed sense of hope. We must return to the lines of peace. We must strive to see the end of the occupation, the end of the blockade and an end to the grave injustices they have unleashed. We must provide Israel, now more than ever before, with a renewed, promising political and moral horizon.

Do not shun responsibility, do not become entrenched in past mistakes, and do not shy away from positive transformation. It is never too late to repair misguided paths.

We deserve an Israeli policy which is committed to:

Restoring Israel’s national strategy to one of a civil society relentlessly seeking peace and founded upon values of justice, equality and morality;
Destroying the impervious political and ethical wall encompassing Israel;
Standing firm against the waves of internal hatred, political isolationism, belligerent and messianic nationalism, intolerance and xenophobia characterizing growing portions of Israeli society and large factions of its government.

We deserve a country we can be proud of

We deserve a policy of hope