Israeli leftists (those of us that are left) can be divided into two. Well, probably more than two, but stay with me a sec… Those who want to end the occupation for pragmatic reasons, and those who want to see an end to Palestinian suffering. There are, of course, many gray areas in between…
I won’t go into the different reasonings for both – that could take years. I will say, that for me it kind of depends on my mood. If I’m in a “Have-you-hugged-your-Palestinian-today?-mood”, and I’m all feel-good-lovey-dovey, then I can easily go for a one-state solution and let my kid marry a Palestinian. But the truth is, I haven’t felt like that for years.
Usually I’m in a “Good-fences-make-good-neighbors-mood”. Which basically means, I want the occupation to end, for all settlements to be removed (now!), and that I wouldn’t feel too bad if I didn’t see another Palestinian for the rest of my life.
But every once in a while I get those peace-pangs, deep down inside. It happened again recently when I watched an interview on Channel 2 with Knesset member Ahmed Tibi. It brought back those good ‘ole feelings of “not only do I think I CAN live with Palestinians, I may actually WANT to live with them”.
I’m going to do an injustice to Tibi by trying to sum him up in just a few lines for those of you who don’t know him, but – it must be done. He’s an Arab MK, the leader of the Ta’al party. He is a trained medical doctor, and in the early 90’s before he got into the Knesset, he was an advisor to Yasser Arafat.
Over the years, Tibi has been called every name in the book, from “traitor” to “terrorist”. But I’ve always found him to be a rather moderate MK, and a straight-talking politician. Very rare these days, as you know.
To cut a long story short, last Wednesday on International Holocaust Remebrance Day, Tibi gave a speech from the Knesset podium. I guess that since it wasn’t Israel’s official Holocaust Day, they didn’t mind letting an Arab speak. But lo and behold, Tibi took their breath away – even Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called it one of the best speeches he has ever heard in the plenum.
I’ve subtitled an interview Tibi did with Yair Lapid (who I recently wrote about here) on Channel 2’s flagship Friday evening news show, about the speech.
Take a look (it’s only 5 minutes), and meet me later for a chat.
Now, some of my readers are probably saying: “Oh, Tibi’s just telling us what we want to hear”. Call me naive, but I thought he was very genuine.
First, for those of you who aren’t Israeli it might be difficult to understand – but to hear an Arab with a thick Arab accent tell the story of a young couple who fell in love in Auschwitz, with all the German and Jewish names, and tell it as if it was his people that had been persecuted – all this is very new to Israeli ears. It had a strange affect on me, at least…
Lapid, being the usual drama-queen that he is, was actually asking the right questions. Not the questions that I would have asked, but the ones that the typical Israeli on the street wants to hear answers to: We’re here to stay because of the Holocaust, can you understand that?
I believe Tibi understands. I believe many Arabs do – though I don’t know if all of them do. But the same can also be said about the understanding of the Palestinian’s pain on our side.
I do know that if we all lived by Tibi’s credo, of not wanting to beat each other – but to win together – things might look a whole lot better around here.