Uri Avnery on Israel and Mandela

Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom is a phenomenon: a fighter in the 1948 war, he has been involved in Israeli politics ever since, as a pioneering advocate of peace and partnership with the Palestinians (he was the first Israeli ever to meet Arafat, crossing the lines during the Siege of Beirut to to do so). His weekly columns are always incisive and perceptive, even if you don’t always agree with his conclusions.

This week, he is writing about Netanyahu’s refusal to attend Mandela’s funeral, supposedly on the ridiculous grounds of cost. He suggests that one real reason might have been Netanyahu’s expectation of an unfriendly reception, given Israel’s long and close alliance with apartheid South Africa and Mandela’s solidarity with the Palestinians. He concludes that by being absent from the world community at Mandela’s funeral, Israel’s leaders have now themselves joined the boycott movement!

He goes on to tie this to Netanyahu’s announcement this week that Israel cannot give up the West Bank as long as Iran has nuclear capabilities, though he recognises that of course if this objection is overcome another will immediately appear in its place. He traces this never-ending stream of preconditions to the fundamental view that “almost all” Israelis hold, that peace is not possible. From his knowledge of the Palestinians he is confident that peace is indeed possible. But, he concludes:

… it is not an automatic process. One has to work for it, invest in it, wage peace as one wages war.
Nelson Mandela did. That’s why the entire world attended his funeral. That’s, perhaps, why our leaders chose to be absent.

Read the whole piece here.

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