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.