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Uri Avnery: 12 Conventional Lies , 21.10.00


(1) Barak has turned every stone to achieve peace.
Truth is, he has turned every stone to build settlements. Since his first day in office, he has accelerated the pace of setting up new settlements (in the guise of enlarging existing ones), confiscating lands, demolishing Palestinian homes and building by-pass roads (whose main purpose is to add Palestinian lands to the settlement blocs which he wants to annex to Israel.) In all these activities, Barak has done more than Netanyahu. In the political field, too, Barak has upstaged Netanyahu: Bibi returned at least the greater part of the town Hebron to the Palestinians. Barak has not returned one single inch of occupied territory.
(2) At Camp David, Barak went further than any previous Prime Minister.
Even if this were true, it would mean very little. If one Marathon runner (Netanyahu) falls down after one mile, and another (Barak) falls down after three, the difference between them is not really important. What is important is that neither of them got even near the finishing line (26 miles). Barak's proposals at Camp David were far from the minimum necessary to make peace with the Palestinian people and the whole Arab world: Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem, and especially the compound of the holy mosques (Haram al-Sharif). Barak indicated at Camp David that he might consider some cosmetic changes (and thereby he indeed broke some of the Israeli taboos concerning Jerusalem) but as a matter of fact he denied the Palestinians, the Arabs and the Muslims sovereignty over the compound of the holy mosques and the major Arab neighborhoods in the city. That's why the summit failed and the escalation started, leading up to the al-Aksa intifada.
(3) Arafat blew up the Camp David summit.
On the eve of his departure for the summit, Barak announced five Red Lines, which he would not cross under any circumstances. Among them: Israeli sovereignty over the entire city of Jerusalem, No return to the 1967 border, Keeping 80% of the settlers were they are, No return of a single refugee to Israel!!! Afterwards he softened some of these stands, but not enough to come anywhere near an agreement.
(4) All the time, we give, give, give. Arafat doesn't give anything.
When the Palestinians agreed to a peace settlement based on the pre-1967 border (the Green Line), they were already giving up in advance 78% of the land between the sea and the Jordan river. They are ready to set up their state in the remaining 22%. Our government wants a compromise over this area. Meaning: What's mine is mine, about what's yours, we shall compromise. (Factual background: the November 29, 1947, UN partition resolution gave the Jewish state 55% and the Arab state 45% of Palestine. In the ensuing war [started by the Arabs], we conquered half of the territory allotted to the Arab state. Thus the Green Line came about, leaving 78% of the country in our hands.) The problem is not expressed in percentage points only. Barak appears to be asking for only 10% of the occupied territories. In reality, it's closer to 30%, taking into account the territories he wants to annex in the Jerusalem area and place under his security control in the Jordan valley. But even worse, in the map submitted to the Palestinians, these percentage points cut the country up from East to West and from North to South, so that the Palestinian state will consist of a group of islands, each surrounded by Israeli settlers and soldiers.
(5) How can one make peace with the Palestinians when they break every agreement?
Well, Palestinian violations pale in comparison with ours. Before the end of the 5-years interim period (May 1998), the IDF had to withdraw from all the West Bank and the Gaza Strip except specified military locations, settlements and Jerusalem. Barak refuses to do this even at this late date. Also, four safe passages between the West Bank and Gaza should have been in operation long ago. In practice, only one was opened, and this one can only be used by Palestinians after much harassment.
(6) Barak is the heir to Rabin.
Far from it. Within a few months he has succeeded in destroying not only all the achievements of Rabin, but those of Begin, too. He has buried the Oslo agreement (to which he objected from the beginning) and destroyed the relations built up with much effort between Israel and a number of Arab countries. He has created ferment among the Arab citizens in Israel itself. In many respects, he has thrown us back to 1948, even 1936.
(7) The lynching in Ramallah shows that the Arabs are animals.
In a confrontation like this one, each side points to the atrocities committed by the other, forgetting the atrocities committed by his own side. Israel points to the horrible lynching, the Palestinians point to the killing of 12- years old Muhammad al-Dira in the arms of his father and the brain-killing bullets used by Israel army snipers against stone-throwing children. Our acts of violence come in response to the actions of the Palestinians, theirs come in response to ours. It's a vicious circle.
(8) The Palestinian media are instruments of incitement.
That is true, but unfortunately there is no great difference between theirs and ours in this respect. Ours and theirs speak the same language, following guidelines from above. When Palestinian TV shows over and over again the picture of the boy dying in the arms of his father, that's incitement. When our TV shows dozens of times a day, day after day, the atrocious lynching in Ramallah, that's incitement.
(9) They shoot at us and the Israeli army is exercising self-restraint.
It is strange that in two weeks of self-restraint about 110 Palestinian and 3 Israeli soldiers have been killed. No Israeli officer has explained (or was asked to explain) this curious ratio. (The explanation is, of course, that the Israeli army has long in advance trained snipers to choose a person from among the demonstrators, take exact aim through a telescopic sight and hit him with a special deadly, high-velocity bullet. Instead of pacifying the area, as intended, this method has inflamed it even more. Every funeral has led to another confrontation.)
(10) The Arabs send their children against our army positions, so that they can be killed, in order to provide pictures for the world media.
This is a horrendous accusation, betraying an obnoxious racism. It contains the belief that Arab parents do not care about their children dying. In the struggle waged by our underground organizations before 1948 and during our War of Independence, boys and girls played an important part. The arms training of Palestinian boys is no different from the training of our own Gadna youth battalions. The boy who, in 1948, destroyed a Syrian tank at kibbutz Deganya has become a national hero. When a people fights for its very existence and freedom, its youth cannot but take part. (I joined the Irgun, defined by the British as a terrorist organization, at the age of 14 and a half. By the age of 15 I carried guns.) It is an illusion to think that Palestinian parents can restrain their children from going out into the street and throwing stones, when they live under a cruel occupation and their brothers and sisters provide examples of heroism and self-sacrifice. It is quite natural for the Palestinian people to be proud of them. Joan of Arc, by the way, was 16 years old when she led the French army into battle. The settlers routinely exploit their children and babies, not hesitating to put them in harm's way.
(11) Again it is proved that the whole world is against us. They are all anti- Semites.
World public opinion is always on the side of the underdog. In this fight, we are Goliath and they are David. In the eyes of the world, the Palestinians are fighting a war of liberation against a foreign occupation. We are in their territory, not they in ours. We settle on their land, not they on ours. We are the occupiers, they are the victims. This is the objective situation, and no minister of propaganda (like Mr. Nachman Shai) can change that.
(12) We have no partner for peace.
True, we have no partner for a peace that Palestinians see as a capitulation to Israeli ultimatums. We do have a partner for a peace based on equality and mutual respect. The solution is quite clear: the State of Palestine must be set up within the pre-1967 border, with Jerusalem serving as the capital of the two states - East Jerusalem with the Haram al-Sharif must belong to Palestine, West Jerusalem with the Western Wall and the Jewish quarter must belong to Israel.. When this solution is accepted in principle, negotiations can start about the other problems: mutual security, exchange of territories, a moral and practical solution for the refugee problem, water allocation etc. This peace will come about, because the only alternative is hell for both sides.








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