Israel/Palestine: magnanimity and hope

January 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm (Civil liberties, good people, israel, Jim D, Middle East, palestine, solidarity)

The news from Israel /Palestine has been so unremittingly bad for so long, that it’s easy to simply despair. So here are two items of good news: one an individual story of incredible magnanimity and humanity from the Palestinian side, the other a collective act of defiance from the Israeli side, of the sort that anti-Israeli fanatics are always telling us is either impossible or of no consequence.

Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish Israeli and Palestinian flags are waved by thousands of activists from leftwing groups in Tel Aviv 

Top: Izzeldin Abuelaish, with his son Abdallah. Immediately above:  Israeli and Palestinian flags are waved by thousands of activists from leftwing groups at a rally in Tel Aviv.

1)  I refuse to hate, he tells his distinguished audiences, and I do not believe in revenge; hatred is an illness, and the enemy of peace. His stance has won him humanitarian awards around the world, and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. But it has also, appallingly, led to claims that he is cashing in on his loss, a point of view to which I can only say: weren’t there people who said the same about Otto Frank?

So far, the Israeli government has neither compensated Abuelaish, nor apologised to him. “Actually, for me, it’s not a question of compensation,” he says. “But an apology? Yes. That would be good. The truth is the shortest way in life. It’s not shameful to apologise. If I did something wrong to you, and I said sorry, I would be highly valued by you, and in the eyes of others. I wish they would have the moral courage.”

He has been told that there exists a statute of limitations on the issue of compensation and apology of two years. Two years! “There is no statute of limitation for our loved ones. It’s insane. For me, it’s now. It’s now, and it will always be now. It will never leave me, so long as I am breathing.” He sees his daughters in waking dreams: they move, they smile. They live with him still, spiritually. “Believe me, even as I speak to you, I see them.” Though he makes no sound, he has begun to weep: huge tears, that he makes no effort to wipe away.

Read the rest here.

2)  The organisers of the march and rally hoped it would signal the beginning of the revival of Israel’s left and a fightback against the dominance of the right. Around 20,000 people attended the rally according to the organisers; the police said there were 10,000 present.

The galvanising issue was the recent approval by the Knesset of a bill to set up a parliamentary investigation into the funding of civil and human rights groups. It has been seen by opponents across the political spectrum as a fundamental attack on democracy and reminiscent of a McCarthyite witch-hunt… Protesters held placards reading “Jews and Arabs will not be enemies” and “We will fight the regime of darkness”, and both Israeli and Palestinian flags were waved.”

Read the rest here.

1 Comment

  1. Sarah AB said,

    Thanks – yes he does sound a most impressive man, comparable to Bassam Aramin – what they both say contrasts bizarrely with the kind of statements you sometimes read by, for example, those involved in the PSC – most of whom have no links at all with this region and certainly haven’t lost family members to the conflict.

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