Football

David Grossman at the Rabin Memorial Ceremony

Here’s something that ought to get tongues wagging – David Grossman in the Guardian, from a speech at the Rabin Memorial ceremony over the weekend:

Yitzhak Rabin turned to the path of peace with the Palestinians not because he was fond of them or their leaders. Then also, if you remember, the common wisdom was that we had no partner among the Palestinians, and that there was nothing for us to talk about with them.

Rabin decided to act, because he detected, with great astuteness, that Israel could not long continue in a state of unresolved conflict. He understood, before many people understood, that life in a constant climate of violence, of occupation, of terror and fear and hopelessness, comes at a price that Israel cannot afford to pay. All this is true today as well, and much more sharply.

Let’s look for a minute at our potential partners. The Palestinians have placed Hamas in their leadership, and Hamas refuses to negotiate with us, refuses even to recognise us. What can we do in such a situation? What more can we do? Tighten the noose even more? Continue to kill hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the great majority of them innocent civilians, like us?

Appeal to the Palestinians, Mr Olmert. Appeal to them over Hamas’s head. Appeal to the moderates among them, to those who, like you and me, oppose Hamas and its ideology. Appeal to the Palestinian people. Speak to their deepest wound, acknowledge their unending suffering. You won’t lose anything, and Israel’s position in any future negotiation will not be compromised. But hearts will open a little to each other, and that opening has great power. Simple human compassion has the power of a force of nature, precisely in a situation of stagnation and hostility.

Look at them, just once, not through a rifle’s sights and not through a road block. You will see a people no less tortured than we are. A conquered, persecuted, hopeless people. Of course, the Palestinians are also guilty of the dead end that we’ve reached. Of course they bear part of the blame for the failure of the peace process. But look at them for a moment in a different way, not just at their extremists, not just at those who have an alliance of mutual interest with our own extremists. Look at the great majority of this wretched nation, whose fate is bound up with ours, like it or not.

Go to the Palestinians, Mr Olmert. Don’t look for reasons not to talk to them. You’ve given up on unilateral disengagement. And that’s good. But don’t leave a vacuum. It will fill up immediately with violence and destruction. Talk to them. Make them an offer that their moderates can accept (there are far more of them than the media show us). Make them an offer, so that they will have to decide whether to accept it, or instead remain hostages to fanatical Islam. Go to them with the boldest, most serious plan that Israel is able to put forward, a plan that all Israelis and Palestinians with eyes in their heads will know is the limit of refusal and concession, ours and theirs. If you hesitate, we will soon be longing for the days when Palestinian terrorism was an amateur affair. We will pound ourselves on our heads and shout, why did we not use all our flexibility, all our Israeli creativity, to extricate our enemy from the trap in which he ensnared himself?

Read it all.

/stands back to watch the fireworks

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