Israeli-born Adam Keller from Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) spoke at the Friends House September 17 at a meeting hosted by the Jewish Women's Committee to End the Occupation, the Coalition for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel, Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation (NECEF), Sabeel (Toronto) and Science for Peace. Rating: NNNNN
The demand of palestinian refugees to come back to where they lived in Israel before 1948 is a morally justified demand. (One would think) the first to sympathize with this would be a Zionist. After all, the whole of Zionist ideology rests on the demand of the refugees from 2,000 years ago to return to where they'd lived, (though) not a single Jew in the world can point to a particular village where his ancestors lived 2,000 years ago.
But Palestinian refugees certainly can and do point to the particular village and house where they lived, their particular olive grove and well. So, in theory, then, Zionists should've been sympathetic. In practice, as of course we all know, they are very definitely not sympathetic.
(Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon has very effectively discredited the war option by using it. The people of Israel realized that all these measures have failed to break the spirit of Palestinians. This realization was starting to sink in by the middle of 2003. And that was when the peace movement started dictating again the public agenda. There was a public feeling that Sharon was a failure.
Now, unfortunately, Sharon is a clever man. It would have been much better if he'd been stupid. In order to survive, he's had to take up at least a little bit of the agenda of the left, and what he did was to come up with the Gaza re-deployment program. Essentially, it means withdrawal from Gaza in order to increase the power of Israel over the West Bank. And that is creating a problem for us because, as you know, we live in the age of the sound bite. It's very bad to make a campaign on a slogan of "yes but..." or "no but...." A good campaign has to be (based) on very clear and unambiguous slogans.
At the moment we can't offer this, because you cannot say we are against withdrawal from Occupied Territories. Certainly we are in favour of it, but we also certainly cannot say we are in favour of the Sharon plan. So our challenge now is to push things far beyond what Sharon really wants.
The Wall is essentially Sharon's plan to cut very deeply into Palestinian territory and annex as much as possible. He's presented it as necessary in order to protect Israelis from suicide bombers. I'm also afraid of suicide bombers when I go on the bus, because it could happen anywhere, any time. And actually, two years ago one of our members was killed in a suicide bombing, and one time a suicide bomber blew himself up in a place my mother had been 10 minutes before he did it.
So it makes very much sense to ordinary society when government says, "Here are the suicide bombers who want to kill you. Let's build a barrier in between." But since the end of the 70s, Sharon has formulated maps showing which parts of the West Bank should be annexed to Israel. And it just so happens that the course of the Wall is fitting very, very exactly these maps that he drew up more than 20 years before the first suicide bomber.
(Then there is the) Council for Peace and Security, which includes several hundred dovishly minded former officers of the Israeli army, the police and the security services. They presented an affidavit to the Israeli supreme court criticizing the Wall because (it) is cutting through the Palestinian fields and is bad even for the security of Israel.
Since Israel is such a militarized society, the word of an officer carries much more weight than my word or that of people like me.
And all this (has) produced the Israeli supreme court ruling that large parts of the Wall are illegal. (This) has actually forced the government to accept an extensive change (to the Wall) but we don't know exactly what the change will be.
Of course, this cannot be separated from the International Court in the Hague's (ruling that the Wall is a violation of international law.) Altogether, the struggle against the Wall seems to be doing well. But with Sharon, you never know. I can be cautiously optimistic that quite a few villagers will get back the land stolen from them by the Wall. Moving it even 1 or 2 kilometres means hundreds of families get back their land.
It seems that Sharon is going to have to give up his plan to make an eastern fence to enclose the Palestinian areas to the east and separate them from the outside world. If that is true, it's a very significant change that has a direct bearing on the issue of whether a Palestinian state will or will not be viable. But as I say, with Sharon you have to be suspicious.