Sunday, 3 August 2014

a strong voice for peace

Today I post parts of an article Achinoam Nini (Noa) wrote for the newspaper "Ha'aretz". Achinoam Nini is a famous Israeli singer. There were times I could not get enough of listening to her songs and beautiful voice. She is known as a strong voice for peace.
The whole text is much longer. I added the link but you need to subscribe to read the whole of it (you can do so for free if you want to read only this article).
It's such a strong message and we need voices like this now more than ever.

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With the Taliban tactics of Hamas on one side and the F-16 bombers of the Israeli army on the other, these people (The Gazans) are clamped like walnuts, crushed by the thick metal jaws of blindness and stupidity. The death toll is rising and rising – for God’s sake, how much longer will this go on?
My heart goes out to the families of the victims wherever they are. I am happy to have a strong Israeli army to defend me against those who clearly state that their aim is to slit my children’s throats. But I do not want to use my sorrow and fear as a shield against human empathy and clear thinking. On the contrary, I want to do the opposite.
I want to stand in the middle of the rink and speak my truth.
There are only two sides, and they are not Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs. They are moderates and the extremists. I belong to the moderates, wherever they are. They are my camp – and this camp needs to unite. I have nothing whatsoever in common with the Jewish extremists who burn children alive, poison wells, uproot trees, throw stones at schoolchildren and are motivated by brainwashed hate and acute self-righteousness.
Violent radical Islamists terrify me. The pictures of how they torture and behead, kill and destroy – their indescribable cruelty and abominable treatment of women are horrifying to say the very least. But their wrath is directed not only against me but against the moderates in their own society, thus making us all brothers in arms.
Just as I urge the Arab moderates wherever they are to do everything in their power to shun extremism, I have no intention of blinding my eyes to the responsibility that must be taken by my side for the fiasco that is now occurring. Radical Islam is a dangerous phenomenon that must be dealt with not only by Israel, but by the entire world. And in the Muslim world there are more moderate voices; there are partners for dialogue. Have we done everything in our power to reach out to them?
The answer is no.
Only dialogue from a place of respect and empathy can save us. Only a concerted effort to strengthen the moderates and thus marginalize, as much as possible, the radicals can afford us some hope.
As much as we in Israel justifiably despise Hamas, it does not look like this group is going anywhere. Have we seriously considered the conditions it poses for a cease-fire? Many of them make sense. Why not attempt to alleviate the suffering of the Gazans, enable them to flourish economically, return dignity to their lives and gain a 10-year cease-fire? Ten years is a long time.
Young minds can be opened; even modest prosperity can be the catalyst of change. Why assume automatically that these years will be used only to strengthen Hamas’ military power? The conditions include international supervision. Maybe the years will create a reality in which Hamas, with a younger generation of leaders who see a different horizon, can be drawn into the political circle in a way that will finally enable dialogue?
I ask myself: Why don’t we surprise ourselves. Netanyahu, you are known to be a clever man: Why not go 180 degrees, change the rules of the game, think out of the box? Welcome Abu Mazen, strengthen him in the eyes of his people, think up creative solutions with him, stop the building in the settlements, support the unity government, open Gaza and enable commerce with international supervision, embrace the Palestinians’ aspirations alongside our own, welcome international intervention, especially by the Arab League, and gain a real ally against the waves of extremism. Checkmate.
Have we really made every effort to do all this before sending our young men off to die? Sadly, we have not. No one is dismantling the Israeli army anytime soon, and it should remain strong. But why are we so stubbornly refusing to take this calculated risk and instead choosing to sacrifice our children? It is beyond my comprehension.

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