October 4, 2016
An oft-used phrase by some is that the Palestinians (specifically Arafat) never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
I remember, in late 1996, I was flying back to Israel on an El Al flight. It was exactly a year since the assassination of PM Rabin. At the time of the horror, so many hoped that he would not die in vain. The warrior, who was killed while attending a peace rally, singing with a voice that was not that of a singer. He was a good example of the strength you need while fighting for peace. That is not an oxymoron.
Peres was another example of such a character. There’s no question his 7 decades of working for peace included so many ‘security-minded’ acts, including the establishment of the ‘alleged’ Israeli nuclear capability, the building of the IDF (military) and being involved in so many military actions. There is no doubt that the typical road to peace involves riding over rough stones.
But there’s also no denying that peace was always at the heart of Peres’ mindset. He was often referred to as naïve, but that’s more a point of view. He had a dream, like M-L King, and refused to be budged from that target.
(And I have to add that his passionate involvement in education, especially in the direction of hi-tech, was part of the same story. He knew that education always lessens aggression and conflict. That’s a no-brainer).
In an earlier Letter, I criticized Basel Ghattas, one of 14 Israeli Arab members of parliament, for saying ‘disgusting’ things about Peres just after his stroke.
Now I go one step further. Pope Francis said he’d come to the funeral, but could not change his planned trip to Georgia. That was OK. The leaders of Egypt and Jordan, officially at peace with Israel, sent representatives in their place. Worth some criticism, but OK….Even Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, not only came, but actually gave his hand to his ‘enemy’, Netanyahu. Good for him.
But…all 14 Arab members of the Knesset stayed away – away from the funeral of the man who could hardly have done more in his life for peace. (Gotta say it: the man who received the Nobel Peace Prize along with their hero, Yasser Arafat).
The 14 are actually members of 4 separate Israeli Arab political parties. Their ‘Joint List’ was a clever political maneuver to ensure the maximum number of parliamentary seats. This was perhaps only the 2nd time they had ‘made a joint statement’. That’s pathetic, as I am sure some of them felt differently. And that statement is so clear – and so stupid.
And, by the way, despite their use of democracy to gain their positions, do not think for a minute that their complaints are based on any personal suffering. As is oft-reported, the Middle East is swamped by tribal mentality. Politicians surround themselves with favored family members and friends, and ensure that they themselves, for whatever cause they are fighting, are doing ‘very OK’. Check them out, these MPs, and find out just where, how and well they are living.
During the funeral, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke to Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian politician, based in Ramallah. He can perhaps be excused for grabbing the opportunity to remind us all that is wrong with Israeli policies.
But for these 14 Israeli MP’s to make such a statement…..What chance does peace have?