Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Congratulations, first of all, to Gilad Shalit, who will at long last come out of captivity, from darkness into light, from total isolation into the maelstrom of politicians and the media. (It is to be hoped that he would be given a bit of time to be in private with his family, and that he would once upon a time get the chance to live the normal life of an ordinary young person.)

Congratulations also to his parents, brother and grandfather, the devoted and stubborn family members who refused to give up and struggled and demonstrated and mobilized masses and eventually managed to move even the government of Binyamin Netanyahu.

Congratulations also to a thousand and twenty-seven Palestinian prisoners who will also come out of captivity, from darkness to light, and to the families who missed their sons and daughters no less than did the Shalit Family, and demonstrated again and again for many years and stood in public squares waving signs and photos (and were almost never seen in the communications media of the State of Israel).

Congratulations to all of us, that an agreement was signed which makes many hearts glad in Jerusalem as in Gaza, Tel Aviv and Ramallah. A practical, empirical example that a "Zero Sum Game" is not the only game in town. That there could well be an agreement which is acceptable and welcome to both sides. "We did not surrender to Hamas, nor did we force them to surrender" were the words of Yoram Cohen, head of the Shabak Security Service.

Congratulations to all of us, for having gotten a practical demonstration that it is possible to negotiate - not only with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, but also with Hamas - and reach a successful conclusion. It is possible – if we seriously mean the negotiations to succeed and end with an agreement and that the agreement will be implemented in reality. Not what we have seen so many times: a show of negotiations, handshakes and photo opportunities for the media and announcements about a "Peace Process" which never gets anywhere, while the reality of the occupation continues and the oppression deepens, and the settlements expand.

If we seriously want to reach results, the show can be dispensed with. No need of photographers, it is not even indispensable to sit around one table. It would be enough for an Egyptian or German mediator to pass from one side to the other, deliver proposals and counter-proposals. If we really want to achieve a result, this is quite enough – today we have the proof.

If we really want, there can be peace between the sovereign State of Israel and the sovereign State of Palestine. And with peace, there would be no reason for Palestinians who were released from prison to commit acts of violence against Israel (also not for Palestinians who hadn't been in prison). And Palestinians would also be able to stop worrying about armed Israeli soldiers and settlers, and of tanks and drones and fighter planes and gunboats. And it would be possible to implement very deep cuts in the defense budget and divert a great deal of money to social causes, and no longer would officers and politicians be able to cry out at such cuts and threaten us with grave and terrible dangers.

Not realistic?

It will only happen when we make it happen. When we demand it with loud voices from many, many throats.