# 14 – Non-Violence by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 14 – Non-Violence

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409
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February 18, 2003

If Alistair Cooke can do it for over 50 years from America, I can try just a couple from here. Sounds nicer than the pseudo-political messages I’ve been spreading.

I’ve just spent a weekend with Aviva in Taba. That’s the postage stamp-sized piece of land across the border from Eilat, over which Israel and Egypt argued following the Camp David accords. Egypt won.

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The Hilton is a decent hotel, with a very nice wing called ‘Nelson’s Village’, containing lovely units right on the beach. The vivid pink bougainvilla draped across our terrace made the view across the gulf just that bit more beautiful.

Why ‘Nelson’? Rafi Nelson was a hippy who set up a ‘place on the beach’ back in the late 60s. His straw-covered hut/bar became a magnet for every- and anyone who wanted a day of relaxation. Became almost a legend in his time.

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On the way down, we had the infrequent pleasure of seeing the Negev (Desert) in bloom. The recent rains had done a wonderful job, and reds, lilacs, blues, whites and plenty of greens covered the landscapes, at least in the central areas. I like to remind people that the Negev is said to be the only shrinking desert in the World. This is the desert that David Ben-Gurion pledged to populate. Certainly, he stuck to his word, living – and dying – in Sde Boker, near Beersheva. In Beersheva itself, about 100 km south of Tel Aviv, the main departments of the Ben Gurion University are located. There are other attractive towns in the desert, such as Dimona, Arad (and its popular annual music festival), Omer and so on.

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Eilat is obviously also suffering from the current situation. It was good to see the number of Israeli Arabs who come down to relax in a holiday atmosphere. In Taba, however, we noticed far more of them – understandably desperate to experience a few days in an ‘Arab’ country. (The noise at breakfast in the large dining room was so similar to where the Israelis convene, such as Antalya in Turkey – Did you know that Antalya is closer to Tel Aviv than it is to Istanbul?).

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Last week, so soon after the shock of the disintegration of the shuttle Columbia, another tragedy. A tragedy, of course, is often dependant upon the eye of the beholder. In this case, there was a suspicious car in the centre of Bethlehem, a town which, unlike its traditional history, has become a haven for Palestinian extremists. The Israeli forces presumed it to be rigged with a bomb, and decided to blow it up. The officer in charge, Shachar Shmul stayed behind to put the fire out, seeing the danger of nearby Palestinian homes also catching fire. He did not force his men to help him. A sniper killed him.

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One wonders – perhaps the families of the 4 soldiers, killed when their tank was attacked, wonder – why he should warrant such an important funeral, attended by thousands, including high-ranked military personnel and some politicians – and their funerals just attracted their families and colleagues. That’s just the way it is; some people do leave a larger legacy. Shachar also happened to be married to a cousin of ours. Aviva and her sister attended the funeral in Jerusalem; cried with the mother. We are becoming more involved; the pain is getting closer.

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When Palestinians die, the family cries and the bullets fly. When an Israeli dies, the family cries, and trees are planted.

I have the solution to the Middle East problem – to all problems. I am currently deep in the world of Martin Luther King’s autobiography. And I was impressed with the recent outpouring of international sentiment against the war with Iraq. I have come to admire the power of protest, as long as it is 100% non-violent. King – and his mentor, Ghandi, achieved miracles with such non-violent aggression.

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We need hundreds of thousands – millions – to gather together and march into this area and demand that the 2 sides stop this cycle of violence that is fast-destroying both, and realise that there is no other solution than negotiations. The extremists (on both sides) must be kept not on the sidelines, but on the other side of us all. The extremists are the enemy, not the Palestinians. And the cousin-Arabs (the Jordanians, Saudis, Egyptians, so-called moderates) who have quietly ensured that the Palestinian problem remain in the limelight, hiding their own crimes, must be smothered by the millions.

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It’s so easy to retaliate violently to violence, so rare to retaliate with non-violence.

For MLK it was a dream that came true. For me? I just woke up.

Stephen Pohlmann

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