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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/29/16

"Us" and "Them"

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Not because he is wrong. There are certainly many people who believe that the Labor Party members are "Arab-lovers" (though there is no sign that they are. It must be a secret passion.) And many people believe that the Labor Party is sinking to the bottom because so many believe this awful thing. There are plenty. Problem is, this kind of person would not vote for Labor, and even less for Herzog, even if they jumped into the air and shouted: "Death to the Arabs!"

And even this is not the most important fact. The most important fact is that beyond all the moral and political considerations, these words disclose an abysmal lack of understanding of the Israeli reality.

TODAY'S ISRAELI reality means that there is not the slightest chance to remove the Right from power if it is not faced with a united and resolute Left which is based on Jewish-Arab partnership.

There is the demographic reality. Arab citizens constitute about 20% of Israelis. In order to achieve a majority without the Arabs, the Jewish Left would need 60% of the Jewish public. A pipe dream.

Some dream about the Center, which could do the job of the Left. That is a pipe dream, too. The Center is not a force, it has no spine, no ideological base. It attracts the weak and the meek, those who do not want to commit themselves to anything. The Yair Lapids and the Moshe Kahalons, like their predecessors, like their likely successors, are the tails of foxes, not the heads of lions. Since the days of the Dash party in 1977, they will always trail the Right. That's where they came from, that's where they will return.

Past are the days of the old Labor Party, Mapai, with its tails -- the former national-religious party and the Jewish-Oriental Shas party.

A new, large and strong Left must arise.

Such a Left, new, large and strong, cannot arise but on the solid basis of Jewish-Arab unity. This is not a dream or a forlorn hope. It is a simple political fact. Nothing good will come about in the country but on the basis of Jewish-Arab partnership. This partnership made the Oslo agreement possible. Without the Arab votes in the Knesset it would not have passed. Such a partnership is necessary for any step towards peace.

The argument that a leader "does not love Arabs" is irrelevant in itself. It just says that the person is unfit to lead Israel. He will not succeed in anything, certainly not in making peace.

Not to mention the fact that the phrase "loving Arabs" is childish. How can one love -- or not love -- an entire people? In every people -- including ours -- there are good and bad individuals, good-hearted and evil ones, friendly and antagonistic ones. "Arab lover" is like "Jew lover" -- two words that have a strong anti-Semitic smell, as every Jew well knows.

I WAS an eye-witness -- and an action-witness -- to many efforts to establish a Jewish-Arab partnership in Israel, literally from the first days of the state.

As I have already recounted many times (perhaps too many), immediately after the 1948 War I was part of a tiny group which compiled the first plan for a "two-state solution." In the 1950s I took part in setting up the "Committee against the Military Government," a Jewish-Arab group that fought for the abolition of the repressive regime to which Arab citizens were then subjected. (It was abolished in 1966). In 1984 I took part in creating the "Progressive List for Peace," an Arab-Jewish party that won two seats in the Knesset, one for an Arab, one for a Jew. And there were many efforts in between.

I mention them in order to illustrate a frightening fact: during the last 30 years, the cooperation between the Jewish and Arab peace forces has not grown, but on the contrary, has shrunk. It is in a steady process of decline. And so, by the way, is cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian peace forces.

This is a fact. A sad, depressing, even despair-creating fact. But a fact, nevertheless.

WHO IS to blame?

Such questions are quite pointless when it comes to historical processes. Every historic tragedy has many fathers. In spite of this, I shall try to answer.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)

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