Avnery: The Four Letter Word

… by  Uri Avnery, with Gush Shalom

Uri, on the front line of Israel politics for a long time, is still the peacemaker

[ Editor’s note: Uri gives us a vocabulary lesson today, wrapped inside a history one, in a way only Uri can do, which is why we like to publish him. The “four letter” word above is Hebrew for peace, “shalom”, which is six letters in English, but it worked for Uri.

He takes us right into the swamp of how does one define what peace is for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where everyone has their own opinion and usually refuses to be bound by anyone else’s.

I learned something right away. Despite my having Theodor Herzl’s book, The Jewish State, I did not know the accurate translation is “The Jewstate”. One might ask, “What difference does it make?”, and I would suggest asking those who changed its name.

I also have Herzl’s autobiography, a real trip, where he planned to use anti-semitism to get his Jewish State, and was very flexible as to where to have his country in the beginning, looking at Africa first and then South America. And of course he expected others to bankroll it all, with him being the boss. Zionists like being the boss, one of the reasons they like to cultivate outside enemies, as it tampers down the incessant infighting among rank-and-file Jews.

Uri’s observation about Trump’s quick hope to make peace in the Mideast is that Trump is just a rube out of his league, and that’s probably true.

Bibi Netanyahu looks at Trump as a New York real-estate hustler, whose early success was due to his close relationship with mob attorney Roy Cohn… making deals by getting the fix in ahead of time.

People a lot more talented than Mr. Bankruptcy Trump have tried and failed. Netanyahu will enjoy burning up the next four to eight years in a “search for peace” with Trump fronting the US taxpayer money, all of it borrowed, flowing into Zionist coffers. Bibi does love Trump for that, but that is all. He loves everybody he can use, which is why he hated ObamaJim W. Dean ]

Jim’s Editor’s Notes are solely crowdfunded via PayPal[email protected]

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– First published   …  June 24, 2017

Sh-l-o-m

When a Briton or American speaks about a “four-letter word”, he means a vulgar sexual term, a word not to be mentioned in polite society. In Israel we also have such a word, a word of four letters. A word not to mention. This word is “Shalom”, peace. (In Hebrew, “sh” is one letter, and the “a” is not written.)

For years now this word has disappeared from intercourse (except as a greeting). Every politician knows that it is deadly. Every citizen knows that it is unmentionable.

There are many words to replace it. “Political agreement”. “Separation”. “We are here and they are there”. “Regional arrangement”. To name a few.

And here comes Donald Trump and brings the word up again. Trump, a complete ignoramus, does not know that in this country it is taboo. He wants to make peace here. SH-A-L-O-M. So he says. True, there is not the slightest chance that he really will make peace. But he has brought the word back into the language. Now people speak again about peace. Shalom.

PEACE? What is peace? There are all kind of peaces. Starting from a little peace, a baby-peace, to a large, even mighty peace.

Therefore, before opening a serious debate about peace, we must define what we mean. An intermission between two wars? Non-belligerence? Existence on different sides of walls and fences? A prolonged armistice? A Hudna (in Arabic culture, an armistice with a fixed expiry date)?

Something like the peace between India and Pakistan? The peace between Germany and France – and if so, the peace before World War I or the peace prevailing now? The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, or the Hot Peace between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump?

There are all kinds of peace situations. What kind of Israeli-Palestinian peace are we talking about? The peace between a horse and its rider? The peace between a people of masters and a people of slaves? Something like the peace between the South African Apartheid regime and the Bantustans it had created for the Blacks?

Or a quite different kind of peace, a peace between equals? It’s about this peace I would like to speak. Not “real” peace. Not “perfect” peace. Not “complete” peace.

About peace. Peace pure and simple. Without qualifications, please.

When did it all start? The conflict that now dominates the lives of the two peoples, when did it begin? Hard to say.

No, it is easy to say – it started when the first Jewish immigrant reached these shores. Sounds simple. But it is not altogether true. It seems that the pre-Zionist Bilu immigrants, who came here in the early 1800s, did not arouse hostility.

Recipe for Zionism – First, lay the foundation for the solution; second, introduce the persecution problem for the victims, some of whom will embrace the first solution presented, “Zionism”.

I have a theory about that: some time before the Bilu (short for “House of Jacob, Go!”) came here, a religious German sect, the Templers, settled in this country. They had no political aims, just a religious vision. They set up model villages and townships, and the locals were grateful. When the first Jews arrived, the locals assumed that this was more of the same.

Then came the Zionist movement, which definitely had political aims. They spoke only about a “national home”, but the founder, Theodor Herzl, had previously written a book called “The Jewish State” (or, more accurately, “The Jewstate”). The aim was hidden for a time, because the country belonged to the Ottoman Empire.

Only very few of the local population realized right from the beginning that this was a mortal danger for them. A large majority of the Muslims saw the Jews only as an inferior religious community, which the Prophet had commanded them to protect.

So when did the conflict start? There are various theories about that. I adhere to the theory of the almost-forgotten historian Aharon Cohen, who pointed to a particular event. In 1908, the revolution of the “Young Turks” broke out. The Islamic Ottoman Empire turned into a nationalist state. As a reaction, there arose in Palestine and the neighboring countries an Arab national movement, which called for the “decentralization” of the empire, giving autonomy to its many peoples.

Uri is telling it like it is

A local Arab leader approached the Zionist representative in Jerusalem with a tempting offer: if the Jews support the Arab movement, the Arabs will support Zionist immigration.

In great excitement, the Zionist representative rushed to the then leader of the Zionist world movement, Max Nordau, a German Jew, and urged him to accept the offer. But Nordau treated the offer with contempt. After all, it was the Turks who were in possession of the country. What did the Arabs have to offer?

It is difficult to know how history would have evolved if such a Zionist-Arab cooperation had come into being. But a European Jew could not even imagine such a turn of events. Therefore the Zionists cooperated with the Turkish – and later with the British – colonial regime against the local Arab population.

Since then, the conflict between the two peoples has intensified from generation to generation. Now peace is further away than ever. But what is peace?

The past cannot be obliterated. Anyone who suggests that the past should be ignored and that we “start again from the beginning” is dreaming. Each of the two peoples lives in a past of its own. The past shapes their character and their behavior every day and every hour. But the past of one side is totally different from the past of the other.

This is not just a war between two peoples. It is also a war between two histories. Two histories which contradict each other in almost every particular, though they concern the very same events.

For example: Every Zionist knows that until the 1948 war, the Jews acquired land with good money, money contributed by Jews around the world. Every Arab knows that the Zionists bought the land from absentee landlords who lived in Haifa, Beirut or Monte Carlo, and then demanded that the Turkish (and later the British) police evict the fellahin who had tilled the land for many generations. (All the land had originally belonged to the Sultan, but when the empire was bankrupt the Sultan sold it to Arab speculators.)

Native inhabitants were sold out by their leaders.  Sound familiar?  Similar plans await the American Midwest, brought to you by the “American” “Elite”. (Middle photo courtesy of nass625 Deviantart)

Another example: Every Jew is proud of the Kibbutzim, a unique achievement of human progress and social justice, which were frequently attacked by their Arab neighbors. For the Arabs, the Kibbutzim were just sectarian instruments of displacement and deportation.

Another example: Every Jew knows that the Arabs started the 1948 war in order to exterminate the Jewish community. Every Arab knows that in that war, the Jews evicted half the Palestinian people from their homeland.

And so forth: nowadays the Israelis believe that the Palestinian Authority, which pays a monthly salary to the families of “murderers”, supports terrorism. The Palestinians believe that the Authority is duty-bound to support the families whose sons and daughters have sacrificed their lives for their people.

And so forth, without end. (By the way, I am very proud of having invented the only scientifically sound definition of “terrorist”, which both sides can accept: “Freedom fighters are on my side, terrorists are on the other side.”)

There will never be peace if the two peoples do not know the historical narrative of the other side. There is no need to accept the narrative of the opponent. One can deny it totally. But one has to know it, in order to understand the other people and respect it.

An Israeli boy and Palestinian friend

Peace does not have to be based on mutual love. But it must be based on mutual respect.

Mutual respect can arise only when each people knows the historical narrative of the other side. When it understands that, it will also understand why the other people acts the way it does, and what is needed for peaceful co-existence.

That would be much easier if every Israeli Jew learned Arabic, and every Palestinian Arab learned Hebrew. That would not solve the problem, of course, but it would bring the solution much closer.

When each of the two peoples understands that the other side is not a bloodthirsty monster, but acts from natural motives, it will discover many positive points in the culture of the other side. Personal contacts will be established, perhaps even friendships.

This is already happening in Israel, though on a small scale. In the academic world, for example. And in the hospitals. Jewish patients are often surprised to discover that their nice and competent doctor is an Arab and that Arab male nurses are frequently more gentle than the Jewish ones.

That cannot replace dealing with the real problems. Our two peoples are divided by real, weighty controversies. There is a problem about land, about borders, about refugees. There are problems of security and innumerable other issues. A war of more than a hundred years will not end without painful compromises.

When there is a basis for negotiations between equals, a basis of mutual respect, insoluble problems will suddenly become soluble problems.

Everything Starts with a Belief

But the precondition for this process is the return of the four-letter-word to the language. It is impossible to do something big, something historic, if there is no belief that it is possible.

A person will not plug an electric cord into a wall if they do not believe that they will be connected to electricity. They must believe that the lights will go on.

Nobody will start peace negotiations if they believe that peace is impossible. The belief in peace will not make peace certain. But at least it will make peace possible.

*

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Posted by on June 25, 2017, With 2190 Reads Filed under Foreign Policy, Government & Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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13 Responses to "Avnery: The Four Letter Word"

  1. Peter Johnson  June 27, 2017 at 12:17 am

    At the end of the day, Uri, Israel is not capable of executing its strategy.

    The population is too small — If it suffers a few.million casualties, it’s game over.

    There is only one city — if that is flattened it’s game over.

    The landmass is too small — if a few thousand square miles are polluted with TNT and DU it’s game over.

    The geography leaves it extremely vulnerable. Its only city is pinched between the sea and hills. It is an almost indefensible strip with hundreds of miles of border guarded by conscripted children doing their national service — what happens if the entire length of that border gets peppered every night with 50 calibre rounds from inside Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Sinai? What happens is that those nice Jewish boys and girls who have more to live for than to die for desert their posts.

    It’s time to end the dream and join the locals as a religious minority and compete on an equal footing. Why this would be a problem is a mystery — you people have dominated in every country where you have competed as equals.

    • Peter Johnson  June 27, 2017 at 12:36 am

      And of course, if they ever use their nuclear weapons in anything more than an isolated, low yield, plausibly deniable attack, it’s game, set and match over.

    • Peter Johnson  June 27, 2017 at 4:58 am

      Peter AG

      At this point the Israelis are not trying to be a buffer for the Victorian Empire. They are trying to establish an ethnostate for themselves, and would like it to be as big as possible, and they would like it to be in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt.

      But they don’t like Arabs.

      They have to either learn to like them and live among them as equals, or go.

      The current policy of building ever bigger walls, buying ever bigger guns, starting ever bigger wars, and telling ever bigger lies is played out — we are drowning in their refugees in Europe! It’s enough!

      If they are “from there” as they claim, then why aren’t they Arabs like the rest of the people who are actually from there? The perfumed Qataris, Fujeirah marsh people, Syrian Christians, Desert Bedouin, Lebanese street vendors, Palestinian farmers and fishermen are all Arabs. Why are these people not Arabs, if they are from over there?

      Learn to live as equals or get lost. Enough is enough! You aren’t “Chosen”.

  2. Gary Kraut  June 26, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Uri, you could have gone one more step with this article to hit the truth. Why you didn´t, and why you again only beat around the proverbial bush, I don´t know. You say things aren´t easy. No Uri, things are easy. It depends on what you want to see. Try starting to look for the truth.

    Let me join you. Uri, it is a fact that many people, worldwide, say that Jews are crazy. (With the ordinary Jewish folks we have no problem). It´s the elite Jews, they simply are not normal, in goy judgement, that is. They are mad and, simply, that´s is the problem. Therefore they have to employ people like you, to write so much mist, that one can not intelligently follow what the heck you write about, and that´s why things are not easy for you.

    72 years ago, the Jews promised peace, 72 years later, the Jews promise peace. Simply insane. That´s like telling your mama, when she lays the breakfast table one morning and runs out of milk, that you will go and fetch some. 72 years later you come back and say “here is the milk, mama” and she says “put it on the table, I´ll get the coffee.” Notice something out of the normal here, Uri? I would say that you and your mama are bongers. You will say the problem lay with the milk.
    Or, another example, you bring a girl home and say mum, this is Sarah Schlumble, and we´ll get engaged next month. 72 years later, you bring this Schlumble home again and say, mum, we have finally got our engagement rings. “Oh, how nice”.

    • Gary Kraut  June 26, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Again, I would say that you guys are thoroughly insane, while you will try to convince us, beating around the bush, that the problem lay with the rings.

      Another example: you promise the Arabs peace, and 72 years later you have got a problem with the way the word is spelled. You guys are simply bongers. No wonder things aren´t easy.

      Let us wander down the road a little bit further. There are people who say you guys warship satan. Satan is known as the destroyer. He is known to have you people lie, fight, burn, murder, steal, threaten, and do a whole number of nasty things to the goy. You people talk like we do, but you are not DOING like we do. You employ every writer from New York to Tokyo, to talk like us, but then you go and do the opposite. Who wants to deal with such people? Who wants to listen to the never ending lies and threats?

      You have had 72 years time, Uri, what did you contribute to peace? “Things are not easy” you say.
      Yes, they are, easy and christal clear, but surely not for a writer who loves to slalom the bushes. Uri, get off your plonker, open wide the window and scream as loud as you can: I WANT PEACE. Then you are my man.

  3. David Odell  June 26, 2017 at 7:36 am

    The first step to peace is the Desire to have it. The second step requires the stronger party to have humility and a mature sense of self. Integration would come after these two. They currently do not exist.
    If the people who want peace are not represented by peaceful authority, then, what the people want, does not matter. Especially when pipeline billions are involved. I do not see “countries” making decisions, I see groups. Remove the Oligarchs and the people will have their peace. The human stew is rancid and needs a heavy dose of Ida Tarbell to prevent complete spoiling.

  4. Khalid Talaat  June 26, 2017 at 6:56 am

    Yuri… you wish for both sides to Know, understand and Love the other. I call those three steps the curriculum of Allah, as Jesus would have called Him. Nice thoughts Yuri, but how can Zionists who rule Israel change from being the chosen Despotis among the goy, the wagers of war on the World by deception in order to Exploit the goy through usury, drugs and wars. These three things, Despotism, Deception for Exploitation are the curriculum of satan. How can the Zionists change from the curriculum of satan to that of Allah?

    • Khalid Talaat  June 26, 2017 at 7:05 am

      The truth is that Palestine and Ghaza in particularly are just a symbol, a harbinger of what satanic zionists plan for the rest of the World. They plan more barbecues to watch white phosphorus and DU rain down on humanity.
      You say you wish to know something about Arab Jews, Christians and Muslims. Well here it is. Arabs know that Zionists are not Jews. We know it is a satanic seed of a weed the wind of fate blew in to spread all over humanity from the Holy Land. We are guided by a verse in the Quraan, most Arab Christians know. It goes like this. “And We decreed for the Children of Israel in the Scripture: You will work corruption in the earth twice (the two kingdoms), and you will become great tyrants. 17:04
      It may be that your Lord will have mercy on you, but if you repeat your crimes, We shall repeat our punishment…, 17:08
      Yuri, get your zionist tyrants to heed the warning and go back to your homes. You could have come to the Holy Land as humans and abided by the eample of the German Templars and let the land adopt you through your good deeds but you chose despotism. The Arabs know you will be evicted sooner or later for you are tyrants in the Holly Land.

  5. Toby  June 25, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    The Oded Yinon plan (aka “plan to attack 7 countries in 5 years”) ….is sure some peace plan. Lots of mutual respect.

    • Trakkath  June 25, 2017 at 9:49 pm

      Eternal peace in a cemetry is also peace even a special one

    • Khalid Talaat  June 26, 2017 at 8:48 am

      Yuri has seen the writing on the wall and wants to “make nice” a Thalmdic term for when the zionists perceive a rebellion coming their way. The goy know.

  6. paul becke  June 25, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Wow ! What wise words. I’ve always thought of it as an intractable situation, yet Uri speaks of hope and realism, in terms of the narratives and reciprocal respect for each others history and aspirations.

    • Peter Johnson  June 27, 2017 at 12:58 am

      It’s bullshit.

      They are holding on to a tiny country by manipulating millions of people into endless wars costing trillions, with the open secret goal of forever expanding their supremacist state.

      Meanwhile they are destroying the ability to survive of what is projected to be an Arab population of 450 million by 2025. Instead of developing their economies to feed this huge population, the Arabs are busy killing each other and destroying their infrastructures. They then have no alternative but to migrate to Europe and degrade its culture, environment and etc.

      And all for what? So they can have a really big ethnically cleansed country.

      They CHOSE to live in the Middle East. They can, as equals. They can’t as an ever-expanding aggressive entity that has to destroy West Asia and Europe and increasingly possibly, Russia and the USA to accomplish this.

      The emerging cooperation zone beteeen Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon can not only absorb the coming population surplus, it can be a huge opportunity for any Jews who choose to remain. They are after all “the cleverest race”

      They need to get along as equals or get lost. They are not sufficiently “Chosen” to destroy everything for everyone else within 2000 miles.

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