UPDATE: Well, it is happening, but maybe not quite as expected. For some participants, who are members of the older or traditional Israeli elite, this was a “baptism” in activism. Haaretz reported here that the announcers were heckled, disrupted — and then, probably for the first time, they got no support from the police: “Leading left-wing cultural leaders, including several Israel Prize laureates, were verbally accosted on Thursday during a rally in support of an independent Palestinian state. The rally, taking place outside Tel Aviv’s Independence Hall, was reportedly disrupted by right-wing activists equipped with bullhorns, who called out: ‘leftist professors, it will all blow up in your face’, ‘Kahane was right’ [?], and ‘traitors’. Rally organizers and participants, who included 17 Israel Prize laureates, said present police forces did not separate rally goers from objectors, as they usually do during right-wing events. The speech by Israel Prize winning actress Hanna Maron was disrupted several times by right-wing counter-protesters, who yelled out ‘fifth column’. Disruptions reportedly continued even after attempts by organizers to quell the anti-rally sentiment by mentioning Maron lost her leg during a 1970 terror attack on an El-Al flight”…
The “police forces did not separate rally goers from objectors” …
YNet reported that some of the right-wing counter-protesters even called the demonstrators “Jewish Nazis” — and “some even cried ‘You forgot about the children who were slaughtered in Itamar’.” This is reported here.
The YNet report added that “The organizers of the event are a number of artists and academicians who have recently published petitions warning of the rise of ‘fascism’ in the Israeli government”.
The Jerusalem Post later reported here that the right-wing crowd nearly drowned out the people making the Declaration of Independence from Occupation, and hurled “insults”, as “shoving matches broke out”. The JPost report said that “The demonstration had a largely volatile edge to it, but was eventually dispersed shortly after 3 p.m. without any injuries or arrests made”.
These Israelis who stood behind the Declaration of Independence against the Occupation took a public stand today — and they stood up for it (so far, at least).
Here is what we posted earlier:
(1) In just over an hour, it is scheduled to happen … in the middle of the Passover week vacation and celebrations in Israel, a group of eminent Israelis from the mainstream of public life in the country are going to issue a call from Tel Aviv declaring the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land (and lives) that began with the June 1967 war.
On Thursday, the right-wing [meaning, in the Israeli political spectrum, pro-occupation and pro-settlement] Israel National News reported here that “Radical left professors and others are accused of siding with the enemy in planning a ceremony at which they will ‘declare’ a Palestinian state”.
Haaretz reported Wednesday here that “Dozens of public figures will stage a protest on Thursday at 2 p.m. in front of Independence Hall on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, where David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s statehood in May of 1948” …
The people behind this Declaration are from the traditional elite of Israel…
The Haaretz report included explanations given to the Israeli newspaper by two of the eminent signatories: Sefi Rachlevsky, described as one of the initiators of the event, and a columnist for Haaretz, said: “Our initiative is not a naive one … Instead of Israel being the first to extend its hand and support Palestinian independence, it is trying to warn against it. That is not only a moral disaster, but it’s also liable to bring about a practical catastrophe in which Israel will isolate itself and turn into a kind of South Africa … Israel is acting this way out of the delusion that it’s possible to continue its colonialist behavior, which is built on anti-democratic racism that contradicts [Israel’s own] declaration of independence”.
Another eminent signatory who spoke to Haaretz, historian Prof. Yehuda Bauer, said: “I am speaking from a Zionist standpoint … Zionism sets as its goal the preservation of a Jewish national home with a solid Jewish majority – this was the dream of people from the left, right and center of classical Zionism. But the continuation of the occupation guarantees the nullification of Zionism – that is, it rules out the possibility that the Jewish people will live in its land with a strong majority and international recognition. In my eyes, this makes [Israel’s] government clearly anti-Zionist”. The Haaretz report added that “Bauer said that he sees the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders as the ‘realization of genuine Jewish nationalism that exists in peace in the region, and within the international community’.”
The New York Times, in a report posted here, wrote that “Yaron Ezrahi, a political theorist at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and also one of the signers, said the group chose this week to issue its declaration because it was Passover, which marks the freedom of the Jewish people from slavery. ‘We don’t want to pass over the Palestinian people’, Mr. Ezrahi said. ‘This is a holiday of freedom and independence’. He added that given the struggle for freedom across the Arab world today and the Palestinians’ plans to seek international recognition of their statehood by September, it was important for Israeli voices to be added to the call”.
Here is what the group will be announcing:
“Declaration of Independence
from the Occupation”
“The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish People, where Jewish identity was shaped. Palestine was the birthplace of the Palestinian People where it formed its identity.
On a Friday 63 years ago, Israel’s Declaration of Independence was read. The declaration promised ‘complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex’. The declaration reached out for peace with all our neighbors. The declaration was based on the UN’s partition plan, calling for the foundation of two states in Israel – a Jewish democratic nation state and an Arab democratic nation state. It is the natural right of the peoples, the Israeli and the Palestinian: ‘to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State’.
Therefore we are here assembled, on April 21st, 2011, to welcome the coming Declaration of Independence of the Palestinian State, neighboring the state of Israel, according to our borders of independence, shaped at the end of the War of Independence in 1949. The borders known today as the ‘67 borders.
The independence of both peoples mutually strengthens them. It is both a moral and an existential necessity, and it is the basis for the possibility of good neighborhood. We call all the citizens of Israel, the Knesset, the Government, all the citizens of the world and their governments, to recognize the two states, in which the right of the two peoples to self determination is expressed, as well as the general principles of democracy and equality.
We, the undersigned, call every peace and freedom seeker and all nations – to welcome the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, to extend a helping hand and encourage the citizens of the two states to maintain peace based on the ’67 borders and other agreed settlements. The complete end of occupation is a fundamental condition for the freedom of both peoples, for the fulfillment of the Israeli Declaration of Independence – and for the independence of the State of Israel”.
Preliminary list of signatories:
Prof. Joseph Agassi
Micha Ullman, Israel Prize laureate
Ariel Ezrahi, lawyer
Prof. Yaron Ezrahi
Shulamit Aloni, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Yehuda Elkana
Prof. Yehuda Bauer, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Judith Buber Agassi
Prof. Galia Golan
Prof. Chaim Gans
Yair Garbuz, Emet Prize laureate
Prof. Ruth Hacohen
Prof. David Harel, Emet and Israel Prizes laureate
David Tartakover, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Yirmiyahu Yovel, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Menahem Yaari, former President of the Israel Academy of Sciences, Israel Prize laureate
Alex Libak, Israel Prize laureate
Sami Michael, Emet Prize laureate
Dr. Ruhama Marton
Hanna Maron, Israel Prize laureate
Ohad Naharin, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Gabi Salomon, Israel Prize laureate
Dr. Yehuda Atai
Yona Fischer, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Dov Pekelman
Prof. Itamar Procaccia, Israel Prize laureate
Dan Zur, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. Yehoshua Kolodny, Israel Prize laureate
Dani Karavan, Israel Prize laureate
Prof. David Shulman, Emet Prize laureate
Prof. Zeev Sternhell, Israel Prize laureate
(2) Another Israeli private-initiative proposal (supported by an equally eminent but more military-security crowd numbering about 40 people) went public two weeks ago, in early April.
This plan calls for the creation of a Palestinian state, including East Jerusalem as its capital, and calls on Israel to withdraw from the land it occupied in 1967, with “modifications based on mutually-agreed land swaps”, according to a report by VOA news, here, and “also calls for Israel to pay compensation to refugees and allow them to return to the Palestinian state”.
On 4 April, the NYTimes reported here that a two-page proposal, called the Israeli Peace Initiative, “is partly inspired by the changes under way regionally and is billed as a direct response to the Arab Peace Initiative issued by the Arab League in 2002 and again in 2007. It calls for a Palestinian state on nearly all the West Bank and Gaza with a capital in much of East Jerusalem, an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, and a set of regional security mechanisms and economic cooperation projects. ‘We looked around at what was happening in neighboring countries and we said to ourselves, ‘It is about time that the Israeli public raised its voice as well’,’ said Danny Yatom, a signer of the document and former head of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service. ‘We feel this initiative can bring along many members of the public’.” Another member of the group, Yaakov Perry, a former head of Shin Bet, the internal security agency, said he sent a copy of the document on Sunday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who replied that he looked forward to reading it. The official unveiling is set for Wednesday [6 April] in Tel Aviv, but a copy was made available to The New York Times [editorial note: of course]. ‘We are isolated internationally and seen to be against peace’, Mr. Perry said in a telephone interview. ‘I hope this will make a small contribution to pushing our prime minister forward. It is about time that Israel initiates something on peace’. Mr. Yatom has been a member of Parliament from the Labor Party, and Mr. Perry, now a banker, has recently joined Kadima, the main opposition party. Like all 40 people who signed the initiative, they are politically to the left of Mr. Netanyahu and most of his rightist government. But the group was selected to seem as mainstream as possible. It includes scholars, businesspeople, and the son and daughter of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995. While polls show that the Israeli public has moved right in recent years, many political analysts argue that the public worries about the country’s diplomatic isolation and is open to a peace deal. [n.b. – The group also included Haaretz’s eminent journalist Akiva Eldar, who is Israel’s biggest supporter of the Arab Initiative, though, he once said, for Israelis, the biggest problem with the Arab Peace Initiative is… its name!] The initiative’s goal is resolution of all claims and an end to the Israeli-Arab conflict. It acknowledges ‘the suffering of the Palestinian refugees since the 1948 war as well as of the Jewish refugees from the Arab countries’. It says it shares the statement of the Arab Peace Initiative ‘that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties’.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. has apparently been trying to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to come up with some sort of peace proposal of his own — and it is now being reported that might happen sometime in May.
However, Palestinians are very sceptical.
AFP reported that “Leaked details of a purported new Israeli peace plan show it to be ‘a reinvention of Israel’s occupation’, a senior Palestinian official said on Tuesday. Hanan Ashrawi, a leading member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, made the remarks after a report [in the Los Angeles Times, AFP says] suggesting the international community would try to pressure Israel into unveiling a new peace initiative … Ashrawi pointed out that the Quartet had made no statements recognising a Palestinian state, though she said Quartet recognition would not be a substitute for United Nations recognition, which the Palestinians have pledged to seek. She also ridiculed leaked details of an Israel peace initiative that is reportedly under consideration. ‘Deliberate Israeli leaks of the so-called ‘Netanyahu initiative’ show it to be little more than a reinvention of Israel’s occupation as a system of annexation and control, rather than a genuine attempt to end the occupation and abide by international law and the requirements of peace’, she said. Israeli media reports have said the Israeli premier is considering several alternatives peace proposals, including an interim peace deal, or a partial withdrawal from the West Bank. This AFP report is posted here.