Excerpted from a lecture by Oren Medicks, an activist with Israeli peace group Gush Shalom. Recently arrested for protesting the security wall in the Palestinian village of Mas'ha, Medicks spoke last Thursday, October 9, at U of T's Victoria College along with Diana Buttu, legal counsel for the Palestinian National Authority. Rating: NNNNN
I'm here to tell people who care for Israel that supporting the current administration is not supporting Israel. If we want hate to stop, then we must end the occupation immediately and create a prosperous, free Palestinian state. The reason why (the peace process) is failing is that Israelis in general think that any offer is generous. Many Israelis are racists. I want to assure you that the attacks against Israelis will not stop when the occupation ends. But it's a good beginning. When you stab someone and then take out the knife, it won't cure anything - but it's a good beginning. We're talking about 120 years of oppressing the Palestinian people. It didn't start in 1967 or in 1948. It's a very deep conflict. What's really needed is a reconciliation process in which we change our view of Palestinians.
(To have a secure Israel), the borders must be protected on the Green Line. We can put lots of flowers on top - suicide bombers don't cross where there's flowers. Suicide bombings only started in 1990. I believe it's possible to radically reduce the number of attacks and work rapidly toward a different future.
(On the question of Palestinians' right of return): There so much fear about the end of Israel as a Jewish state. "The end of Israel " - you don't even get to the end of the sentence. The sentence is very frightening in the way it is constructed. I'm not representing my organization (on this point), just myself. What if I put the sentence differently and talk about "the beginning of Israel as a democratic state..."? How does that sound?
It's imperative that Israel be democratic. (Then we can) think of a way to introduce Jewish values into this democratic state in a way that won't jeopardize democracy. Now the Jewish state is all about counting bodies, because there are more and more Palestinians and we need to outnumber them. This is the wrong way to go.
When you read the Zionist literature, there was never an intention to have all the Jews of the world concentrated in Israel. This is against the Jewish religion and strategy of survival, which was always to have communities that survive by connecting with each other. This (concept of a single state) was never discussed by the Jewish people and agreed upon.
One of the ideas of Zionism was to create a haven for the Jews so they would never be in danger. Ironically, Israel is the most dangerous place on earth for Jews. The other concept was to create a centre of gravity, a national entity that would radiate out into the world and earn us respect. But here again, Israel is turning into a liability for Jews very rapidly. So the Jewish people, both inside and outside Israel, have to think very carefully about our relationship with this form of Jewish state. After 120 years it's time to do so.
We have to turn particular values into universal values. As an example, it's shameful and a disgrace that Israel and the U.S. have not signed the treaty for the establishment of the International Tribunal for War Crimes. Turning the particular into the universal means this tribunal should have resided in Israel, and (because of the Holocaust) Israel should have become the first prosecutor of war crimes - wherever. This is a universal value.
The fact that the Jewish people through the state of Israel have become oppressors of another people is tragic. My son finished (his stint) in the army and 10 days later left for New York. He said that there is nothing much left for him (in Israel), because the moment he left the army he got a notice telling him he was going to (have to report) for reserve service in the Territories.
By calling Israel a Jewish state, you put a heavy responsibility on it. Everything done there is done in the name of the Jewish people and the Jewish religion (everywhere). What is happening will cause many young Jews in the world to turn their backs on the Jewish religion. They will say, "I don't know who's right or who's wrong. I just don't want anything to do with it" I want a Jewish state that would not contradict (the values) of a democratic state and would be something I could be proud of. And my son could return from New York.