Posts Tagged ‘Tlaxcala’

Over three years ago, an idea took shape. That idea was to create a network of activists that would share their material, translating things they considered important from one language, and in exchange, they would be able to circulate things translated by others. We hoped that we could contribute to a more active, involved discourse in our own milieus that would not limited by language. We believed that a good article was like a painting or a song, if it had something to communicate, it could be appreciated in a different context, and we wanted to spread the ideas around as much as we could. We already liked some of the same authors, some of the same sources, and had a common view of the major issues, not less important, we shared a bond of friendship and trust. It was intended to be “for private use”, for our mailing lists, newsgroups, blogs and personal research. We didn’t create it with the intention of making it become a site. Yet, after four months of collaboration, that group of people decided it would be a good idea to share the material we were quickly compiling in great quantity with others. There was no other solution but to open a site, which we launched officially on this day. www.tlaxcala.es

Tlaxcala at the time was a loose assembly of about 25 translator-activists who decided to pool their resources and work in a coalition by agreeing to a common ideal. There have been translation collectives before, and many sites have staff that translates, and most of us had been translating for one site or another as volunteers for a few years, so we weren’t inventing anything new when we started, but there was indeed something “different” about Tlaxcala. The difference of Tlaxcala with other groups is still quite obvious to those of us who answered that first calling to “form a group of anti-imperialist translators”. We have maintained that focus, translating a staggering quantity of material, broadening our vision as a group, but also as individuals. We are trying to keep awareness on what the struggle against “Empire” really is. Together we have discovered how the only way to support liberation from the domination of Empire (be it military, economic, cultural, social, religious, political) is to actively participate, reclaiming the miracle and the mystery of diversity, exalting it even, while making the connection between every struggle, finding their commonalities as well as discovering their unique aspects, and discovering that there are more than a few rays of hope filtering in, and the mainstream media doesn’t seem to want to let people know.

Hegemonic thinking exists in every society, anywhere there is a need for consensus. It is not necessarily damaging to the causes of liberation, and indeed, there are corners of the world where “the people” are influencing “the power elite”, and this too is important news to share. An example among many, for three days the Italian media was hounding about the “mania of dictatorship of Chavez”. The mainstream must have been convinced it was enough to paint him as a megalomaniac and dangerous demagogue, after all, they use the same “Rogue State” menu that they are taught to use by the US. Apparently, it’s easy to call someone a dictator when there is a belief that “the people would not let this happen” and it was basically a given that the Venezuelan referendum would not pass. When it actually did pass, all of a sudden there was silence, this kind of consensus doesn’t seem to find any air time between one fluff story and another. More than that, it would have created a difficult situation to handle: either implying that Venezuelans do not know what democracy is, or that our mass media was busy using a propagandistic element with the Italian public. Either way, they took the easy way out and simply made that story disappear.

Tlaxcala is a group that exists in the realm of language, one that places the struggle for freedom, peace and justice in that sphere. Language is the basis of human existence. We came into a world that was already loaded with meaning, and we learn its codes, its mores and its limits through words. Indeed, our own existence is moulded by the language that we discover, each one of us on our own. It should not be surprising that activists are not expected only to vote or march when called to do so, they are aware of the important position that discourse always has had, of how it evolves, of the way it becomes an action itself, and for an activist-translator, action and language merge their boundaries, they unite into a single instrument.

Since the founding of Tlaxcala, we have grown in number and in dedication. We have obviously fulfilled our purpose of translating material (we now also subtitle videos and have an audio-visual section on our site, in addition to coordinating or supporting international campaigns and petitions), but more than that, we have grown into “Tlaxcala”: an international group with a distinctive character. Not only that, Tlaxcala this month, due to exponential increase in its user base, is upgrading the site, which will be easier to navigate, and will integrate more language pages and with improved features. But the site is only the aspect of Tlaxcala that others see. Tlaxcala is very much more than that.

It actually is hard for me to describe what Tlaxcala really is. Without being a party, sect, social network or NGO, it has managed to create a strong community. There is a human bond and connection of respect, admiration, collaboration and commitment that is so rare it actually does stand out when it happens. I don’t believe a day has gone by when I haven’t learned something, from improving my language skills to learning about the situation in another country to finding out information that otherwise would have been very difficult for me to obtain. I don’t think I would exaggerate to say that many members of Tlaxcala can attest to the same thing. Additionally, I have come into contact with so many outstanding people, people with brilliant minds, generous hearts, a sense of humour, compassion, talent. Every new member brings a whole new patrimony to our group, it is like discovering a new branch on a family tree. Each new member is reason for celebration. This is not to say there are not passionate disputes, that we sit around the campfire singing Kumbayah, but the bond that unites us is strong enough to ALLOW room for debate, dispute and discussion. This is the private side of Tlaxcala, and it is a source of enrichment for those who participate.

Three questions were posed to our members, so that words could convey the relationship between the aspect as an activist and as a translator. Here are replies to these questions from some of our members: I asked them to reply in a language I understood, and I hope the readers of this can also understand the material that is not in English. Check the Tlaxcala site, who knows if it won’t be translated into other languages!?

1)    Do you believe that your participation in our collective has affected your own activism?

Adib: Collective work is always creative and stirs activism and new ideas, man is a social animal, thus always learns from others.  

Atenea: Without a doubt. I believe that activism is about putting your life experience and education at the service of political causes that you strongly support and believe in. Tlaxcala has become one of the key places where I have been able to combine both my profession and principles to contribute, and it has shown me many a times that collective activism is powerful and effective.

Carlos: Naturalmente que si. Primeramente, porque aprendo cada día un oficio que no me es propio, el de traductor, de muy buenos traductores de todo el mundo. Segundo, porque a través de Tlaxcala se produce un importante intercambio de información que es de gran utilidad en otras actividades que hago en redes y organizaciones, con lo que Tlaxcala transciende más allá del  grupo en sí. Tercero porque aporta un enfoque amplio en matices pero bastante estructurado que conforma un tapiz de lo que podríamos considerar una corriente universal de izquierdas en la que es posible y grato trabajar hasta el punto de lamentar muchas veces no disponer del tiempo suficiente para hacerlo. 

Cristina: Mi activismo está ya muy activado, pero Tlaxcala me permite estar al día y acceder a información que de otra manera, a lo mejor, no tenía y propagarla por el mundo.

Diego: Beh, non mi sento un attivista o, almeno, non ritengo paragonabile quello che faccio ad una qualsivoglia forma di attivismo. Detto questo, mi fa piacere far parte di una comunità di persone umane, serie ed intelligenti che, loro sì, hanno molto da insegnare e da cui sono orgoglioso di poter apprendere. Soprattutto, Tlaxcala è un modo per evadere dalla nostra miserabile condizione italiana, soprattutto per evadere dal mare di soprusi e bugie in cui affoghiamo. Tlaxcala, senza retorica, non è solo un modo per conoscere nuova gente e mentalità diverse ma, per me, è una via per far sapere alle persone degli altri paesi che qui in Italia siamo ancora molti a non arrendersi a questo declino morale e sociale che ci sta inghiottendo. In condizioni normali, le idee o gli articoli degli autori che spesso “traduco” circolerebbero senza troppi problemi attraverso i normali canali. Ma non viviamo in condizioni normali e quindi ritengo di dover fare qualcosa per fare sapere almeno all’estero che qui in Italia abbiamo tante persone che meritano di essere ascoltate. E d’altro canto, cercare di contribuire a diffondere le notizie di avvenimenti esteri che qui da noi vengono spudoratamente filtrati, manipolati o censurati. Cmq faccio tutto questo sempre nella consapevolezza che poter scrivere e fare queste cose è un lusso che probabilmente la maggioranza della popolazione mondiale non può permettersi avendo necessità di sopravvivere. E’ uno dei tanti sensi di colpa che mi tormentano da sempre: se ragionassi come molti, dovrei godermi di più la vita proprio per rispetto di chi è meno fortunato, proprio come quando i genitori rimproverano i figli che non consumano fino in fondo il proprio pasto “per rispetto ai bimbi africani”. E’ sbagliato, è come dire che bisogna consumare di più per rispetto di chi non ha niente. In realtà, bisognerebbe rinunciare concretamente ad una parte di quel che abbiamo affinché i bisogni di qualcun altro possano essere soddisfatti. Questa è l’unica via. E, a parte la rinuncia concreta che mi impongo su molte cose, Tlaxcala è un modo come diversi altri per sentirsi più vicini a quelle persone, nella speranza che mi trasmettano un po’ della loro dignità.

 

Dima: it restored my faith in collective activism…

Esteban: Yes, I’m more attentive with the various opinions.

Kourosh: Definitely. Tlaxcala has contributed to my progression immensely. Since I was invited to join the network by Manuel Talens and Mary Rizzo, I made the acquaintance of a number of mindful, intellectual, prosperous and inspirational people who are unassumingly ready for any kind of sacrifice and commitment.

Following my admission into the network, my interviews and articles, fortunately, achieved a broad feedback and reflection internationally, thanks to the constructive contribution and involvement of worldwide translators who work under the umbrella of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity.

 

As a journalist who pays a high priority to the circulation of his message and the wide distribution of his productions, I’m exceptionally satisfied that my articles, interviews and reports were translated into Arabic, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Swedish and a couple of other languages pursuant to the precious and worthwhile endeavors of Tlaxcalains. I hope this could help the world to hear our call for peace, equality, improvement, tranquility and brotherhood.

 

Manuel: Le ha dado una visión mundial y ha eliminado cualquier resto de nacionalismo que pudiera quedar en mi.

Nadia:  No sólo ha afectado mi activismo, sino que cada día le da forma, de la mayor consistencia. Tlaxcala para mi es algo más, mucho más que un grupo de activistas procedentes de distintos lugares del mundo que comparten ciertos ideales, que persiguen ciertas metas en común, es una escuela, una escuela en la que perfeccionamos nuestras habilidades linguisticas, pero además, y más importante, trabajamos para construir un mundo mejor, un mundo sin exclusiones, sin prejuicios, un mundo en el que todos podamos ver más allá de la punta de nuestras narices. 

Susanne: I am a member of the local WDM (World Development Movement) group and I have been sharing some of the articles and videos with them. The articles I read on and translate for Tlaxcala provide me with view from those that are marginalised or completely ignored in the mainstream media and that helps to inform my own activism.

2)     What feelings and thoughts come to you when you are translating and then when you see your translations published?

Adib: The world is a global village; so you have to know what your next door neighbor and friend believes in to be able to associate with him in a civil manner so as both of you benefit from each other’s work, unless that next door neighbor is an intruding enemy who plans to expand to your living and bed rooms, then kick you out and replace you in them as we Palestinians are suffering with our intruding unwanted “guests”.. Translation helps you to know both your friend, to ally with him, and your enemy, to confront him and put an end to his atrocities. Know both your enemies and friends. Unfortunately what we learned from our enemy is that he is not willing to learn from his own mistakes… We learned that our enemy is digging its grave with its own hands.

When you see your translations published you earn satisfaction as you know that your time was not wasted, on the contrary it benefits others.

 

 

Atenea: I only choose to translate those articles and essays that resonate with my political convictions and interests, so the experience is always rewarding as every time I learn and/or open new windows to further strengthen my position in specific issues. I try to stay away from well-known authors in alternative media as I find it more urgent to lend my skills and profession to convey the ideas and thoughts of those who are not so popular but equally incisive and sharp. Publication and re-publication in other sites only means that we are achieving our goal as a group: giving a voice to those who would otherwise remain unheard, offering people a view into the other side of the (hi)story, and counteracting and counterbalancing the enormous amount of mainstream so-called information that bombards the world 24/7.

Carlos: Si la conciencia colectiva de una comunidad es su idioma, el esfuerzo de traducir a otra lengua diferente de la tuya, la materna, es adentrarse en un horizonte nuevo y abrirse a una nueva mentalidad, y así es como acometo un texto, que escojo en función de varias consideraciones y no sólo de mis preferencias personales puesto que influye la actualidad, la relevancia de lo tratado, los hechos que rodean el texto, su autor, etc..

Cuando un trabajo se ve después publicado pienso en la utilidad que pueda tener y para quién puede tenerla. Busco vestigios de errores y trato de tenerlos en cuenta para la siguiente traducción y también para escoger un nuevo texto. De unos trabajos te sientes más satisfecho que de otros pero, como los temporales en la mar, el peor siempre es el último.

Cristina: Hay veces (me acaba de pasar con un tema de Venezuela) en que me apasiono e implico de tal modo que me sale una traducción con mucha vida y yo llego a emocionarme. ¡Ésas son las mejores! 
No he visto aún ninguna traducción mía publicada porque soy una novata entre vosotros.

Diego: Nell’ordine: camuffare in qualche modo la mia limitata conoscenza della lingua straniera; evitare fraintendimenti e possibili querele (che da noi sono molto di moda) sperare di non commettere troppi errori, visto che tu ed altri dovete sobbarcarvi le revisioni. Quanto alle pubblicazioni fanno piacere ma più che altro implicano la possibilità che ancor più persone possano leggerle.

Dima: I recognise the importance of what we’re doing as translators, seeing the translations on the web affirms my commitment. it’s only a shame I can’t contribute as frequently as i would like to..

Esteban: Je n’en tire aucune gratification personnelle, le seul fait de savoir que le texte d’un auteur engagé pour les mêmes idées que moi sera certainement lu par des personnes qui n’auraient jamais pu le lire et par conséquent n’auraient pas pu avoir une information parallèle ou un avis en dehors du cadre de la pensée unique m’incite à catalyser les deux parties. Tous les textes de Tlaxcala (et d’autres sites également) ne seront jamais imprimés dans la presse impérialiste, et pourtant avec Tlaxcala ils sont à la portée de tout un chacun afin qu’il s’interroge et s’aperçoivent comment les médias manipulent les consciences. Le niveau des textes étant élevé, Tlaxcala est un excellent vecteur d’information, d’apprentissage, de formation et de stimulateur à la lutte.

Kourosh: At the time of writing and translating, I just try to set focus on the job which is assigned to me; a genuine concentration. Due to the overwhelming clutter of works which usually entangle me, sometimes I can not manage to draw the projects to a close and finish up the works timely, for which I should apologize to all of the Tlaxcalains; however, that’s a source of honor and pride for me to see an abundant trust and confidence which the people bestow upon me.

Manuel: Como cualquier otro traductor implicado en un trabajo político colectivo y voluntario, escojo los textos en función de mis propias preferencias. En el proceso de traducción procuro plasmar las ideas del autor original de la manera más clara posible y con la mayor corrección estilística de la que soy capaz. El lector se merece siempre un buen texto. Cuando veo mis traducciones publicadas suelo estar ya haciendo alguna nueva, así que nunca vuelvo la vista atrás.

Nadia: Una traducción publicada es un nuevo cohete qassam lanzado en contra de la ocupación de la que somos objeto, es un acto de protesta y por ende de resistencia. Tal como los combatientes que en algún rincón del mundo elaboran rudimentarias armas para defenderse de aquellos que los oprimen, nosotros, con nuestras traducciones también reivindicamos nuestro derecho a luchar elaborando cada una de nuestras traducciones. En el proceso dejamos el alma, no hay traducción que no cuente, que no aporte, cada una de ellas representa nuestro grito de protesta, ese grito que, como decía el subcomandante marcos, se sumará al de otros en distintos rincones del mundo hasta finalmente ser escuchado por aquellos que resisten y luchan con las armas en nuestro nombre, porque todos somos combatientes, todos somos palestinos, subsaharianos, iraquíes, tibetanos, todos empuñamos la misma arma.

Susanne: Some of the articles in particular made me think about how the things are connected and how the response in the Western corporate media just doesn’t reflect the severity of some conflicts and the suffering in the world because of some powerful interests, it’s like a script being followed. I have noticed how my translations appear on a number of blogs after publication on Tlaxcala, for all those readers who want to get beyond the scripted reporting in the corporate media. It makes me happy.

3)     Have you gained in a personal way from participation in our collective, or have you lost something?

 

Adib: Definitely both in a personal and collective way. How could anybody lose in collective work. Collective efforts is like yeast that matures dough that becomes good bread when baked thus you have your fill that is consumed with pleasure.

Atenea: No original answer here: I have gained a solid network of compañeros whom I share a world and life view with, a really big thing when you actually think about it. I have lost some free time, but have become a more creative time manager!

Carlos: Aparte de algunas clases de saxofón he perdido poca cosa comparado con lo mucho que he ganado, lo más importante de todo: estar en contacto con un creciente grupo de personas extraordinarias, lo cual sería imposible de otra forma. He ganado también  aprendizaje y  posibilidades de expresión. Desde cualquier punto de vista personal la experiencia es enormemente positiva.

Cristina: He ganado el participar en un proyecto como Tlaxcala del que soy admiradora hace años.
Me enorgullece formar parte de un grupo de gente tan luchador, generoso, valiente con cuyas metas y puntos de vista coincido al cien por cien.
No pierdo nada, porque el tiempo empleado me parece un granito más de arena en la montaña que pare la injusticia.

 

Diego: Mi pare di aver risposto in parte già nella prima. Cmq, più che altro, mi pare di star “rincretinendomi”. Ma forse dipende dal fatto che è Tlaxcala stessa ad essere probabilmente qualcosa di un po’ “folle”.

 

Dima: I like being in a world-wide collective and I intend to plan some trips to countries when some Tlaxcala members have a spare bed for me to lie on (watch out everyone!)

 

Esteban: Comme j’ai dit dans la phrase en rouge ci-dessus, elle est pour moi EN PREMIER. Et donc j’ai gagné sur mon chemin personnel et j’espère encore gagner dans mon apprentissage sur les couleurs du monde, dans ma façon de penser et de réagir. Il faut dire que l’activité intense de beaucoup de militants au sein de l’association incite à aller de l’avant.

 

Je profite de ce questionnaire pour dire que : il est vrai que j’ai des préférences pour des textes et des auteurs, mais je n’ai AUCUNE retenue pour les luttes et les combats des peuples, ethnies, communautés ou individu contre l’impérialisme aliénateur. De même, il y a quelquefois des textes auxquels je n’adhère pas entièrement, alors, je m’abstiens de traduire ou de commenter ; pour autant si une majorité des membres actifs pense que ce texte peut être positif pour les luttes (même s’il n’a pas la radicalité qui me convient), alors je m’investis dans cette optique, ET JE L’ASSUME (« Je l’assume » c’est la seule raison qui me fait signer à la fin, sinon je signerais « le collectif »).

 

it’s a part of me…

Kourosh: Undisputedly, working in Tlaxcala added some new values to me. A beneficial sort of communal cooperation with a group of admirable people who are enthusiastic about their works, making new contacts with people who understand the reality of pure dedication, commitment and pledge, fueling the process of advantageous movements to help the oppressed, needy and impoverished worldwide and finally, acting upon the responsibilities which I believe are allocated to me.

Manuel: He ganado un horizonte sin fronteras y he perdido tiempo libre.

Nadia: No he perdido nada, cómo podría? He ganado mucho, he ganado un espacio de lucha y me siento privilegiada por ello, he ganado el martillo y el cincel con los que estoy contribuyendo a modelar el mundo en el que quiero vivir. 

Susanne: It’s only a short time since I have been a member, but in this time I have been very impressed and inspired by the dedication and courage of Tlaxcala’s members and friends. It is very life affirming and gives me hope that the world can be improved. 

Advertisements

This interview was made by activist, writer, translator and academic Mauro Manno. Last Friday, following 14 months of suffering, our friend Mauro was released from his agony. All those who knew him, worked together with him and who were befriended by him will miss his intellect, generosity, determination and commitment to a cause. It is with sadness and emotion that I have translated this last interview given by my friend. I realise how much our activist movement has gained from his activity and how much it will now lose without his presence and both Palestine Think Tank and Tlaxcala express deepest gratitude to him for his efforts and, (I can only say it in Italian) stringiamo davvero forte alla sua famiglia perché se noi sentiamo la sua mancanza, i suoi cari sentirebbero un vuoto incolmabile. Ciao Mauro, ovunque sei.

Tlaxcala has set up a lovely hommage to Mauro, with his translations, writings, translations others have done of him and more. Please visit it.
http://www.tlaxcala.es/detail_artistes.asp?lg=en&reference=292

Translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo and revised by Saja for Tlaxcala

by Giovanna Canzano – 06/01/2009

Fonte: Arianna Editrice [scheda fonte]

http://www.ariannaeditrice.it/articolo.php?id_articolo=23378  
 
…“What nation would have accepted the division of its own territory imposed from above, even if it were the UN (which at the time, let’s not forget, was constituted of a quarter of the current states and was under the control of the USA and the Soviet Union).

If the UN had only seen to imposing just the application of Resolution 194 that asked Israel to allow the Palestinians who had been forcefully removed to return, well, things would have gone in a very different way. But Israel rejected that resolution…” (Mauro Manno)

CANZANO – Jews “Über alles”. Since 1948, with the birth of the state of Israel,  we can see, from reading various papers, the Jewish presence in every sector of cultural and economic life: guides and wise men and “righteous men”?

MANNO – I wouldn’t say “Jews Über alles” but rather “Zionists über Alles”. Today this distinction is fundamental. I’ve been studying the politics of Zionism for years now and can say with certainty that the confusion over this point is not only erroneous, historically and politically, but it is also unfair towards those many Jews who had been the victims of Zionism. Even today there are Jews who are victims of Zionism. A few of these new victims I know personally and it doesn’t seem to me that they are “über Alles”, but instead they are certainly under Zionist scrutiny. They are ostracised, they lose their university positions such as happened to Norman Finkelstein, the author of “The Holocaust Industry” or they get isolated and put in conditions where they leave not only their university post, but also their loved ones and friends in Israel and emigrate in the West, as happened to Ilan Pappe, the author of “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”. These Jews suffer because they have the courage of proclaiming that they are anti-Zionists. This act of revolt against Zionism doesn’t constitute only the repudiation of that political ideology, but also the rejection of the historical consequences that its victory has had, that is, the Jewish State, Israel as a Jewish State. The anti-Zionists wish for the end of the state of Israel as it has been built by the Zionists and they fight for its substitution with a single, democratic state for all the Jews and all the Palestinians who are within the whole of Palestine, that is, within Israel and the Occupied Territories, Gaza included.

 

But that is not all; they also support the Right of Return of the refugees forced to leave in 1948, just as is sanctioned by UN Resolution 194, which was voted upon exactly 60 years ago (11 December 1948) but never applied.

However, there is an important point to make! Whoever knows the fate of these new victims of Zionism, the anti-Zionist Jews, must not forget the much more tragic fate reserved for the assimilationist Jews during the Second World War. They too were against Zionism, and they too were the victims of Zionism. This is the part of their story that the Zionists want to keep absolutely hidden. The Zionist battle against assimilationist Jews, conducted in collaboration with the Nazis and the anti-Semites.

 

Anything but “righteous men”, the Zionists are the political men who are the least righteous at all, towards other Jews and non-Jews alike.

 

CANZANO – Who are the Jewish assimilationists?
 
MANNO – Jewish assimilationists were those Jews who wanted to assimilate, become part of the population in the country they were born in. According to Rabbinic law, Halacha is the Jew who is son or daughter of a Jewish woman or someone who converts to Judaism. Jewishness is therefore transmitted by way of blood, from mother to son or daughter. For other religions, this is not the case: the Christianity of a Catholic or the Islam of a Muslim is not transmitted by way of blood. To conserve this Jewish peculiarity, it is fundamental towards the conservation of Judaism in general that the family does not have any mixed marriages, with non-Jews. If a Jew (not born in Israel) believes that the fact of being the child of a Jewish mother does not make him Jewish, if he rejects the Jewish religion, if he considers himself a free human being that can chose another religion or no religion at all, if he wants to live without the weight of the Jewish past of his family, then he is an assimilationist. He wants to leave the closed Jewish world and enter into the world that is more open and free that he finds outside the Jewish one. So, this person would have totally adopted the culture, language, lifestyle, cuisine, tradition, etc., of the country in which he lives. He would adopt its destiny as well. He wouldn’t feel obligated to marry a Jewish woman and in that way according to Halacha, his children would no longer be Jews. If he educates his children in the spirit in which he himself has lived, and his children also have mixed marriages, and their children and so on, after a few generations, his descendants will no longer be Jews, but they will be Italians, Germans, French, etc., in every way, shape and form. The Zionist Jabotinsky, who obviously abhorred assimilation said, “to read true assimilation… [the Jew] would have to produce, through a long series of mixed marriages, in a period of various decades, a grandson of a grandson of a grandson within whose veins runs only a slight trace of Jewish blood, because that grandson of a grandson of a grandson will have the spiritual conformation of a true Frenchman or a true German.” Mixed marriage is at the base of assimilation. Before the Second World War, mixed marriages were in strong progression, for example, in 1929 in Germany, they constituted 59% of the marriages, and pure marriages,with both of the spouses being Jewish was a 41% minority. That frightened the Zionists, who considered assimilationists something like traitors. When the Nazis came to power, the International Zionist organisations broke their necks to collaborate with them and they even made pacts with them to allow only the emigration of Zionists outside of Germany (recovering their belongings) and sending them to the Palestinian colonies. The assimilationist Jews did not interest them and they were left to their own fate. The Zionists did nothing so that the assimilationist Jews could emigrate to America or to other Western states, as a matter of fact, they blocked any efforts in this direction. Later, during the war, they extended this policy to the rest of Europe. There were killings and massacres of Jews and they were dealing only in order to save those who were Zionists and who would emigrate to Palestine, all the rest could simply be left to die. The example of Rezso Kasztner is illuminating. This Hungarian Zionist in 1944 bartered the salvation of his family and those belonging to various Hungarian Zionist organisations, 1,600 persons in all, in exchange for his collaboration and that of his followers in order to facilitate the deportation to Auschwitz of hundreds of thousands of assimilationist Jews.

 

This policy has facilitated the near extinction of non-Zionist Jews, those on the road towards assimilation. The Zionists share responsibility, together with the Nazis, of this crime. This is the reason for which most of the Jews of the Diaspora declare themselves to be Zionists and they generally marry only other Jews.

 

CANZANO – Are you saying there was an ethnic cleansing of Jews conducted by other Jews?
 
MANNO – I would hold that term, “ethnic cleansing” to describe what the Zionists did to the Palestinians in 1948. They had cleared Palestine of its antique inhabitants, as Ilan Pappe has carefully demonstrated in his recent book, the title of which refers to the ethnic cleansing. I would instead say that there was a will of the Zionists to rid themselves of non-Zionist Jews. I had spoken of the shared responsibility of the Zionists with the Nazis. It was the Nazis to bring them to their deaths, while the Zionists collaborated at various levels with the killers. During the Second World War, the Zionists, in some cases, had even killed directly, most of the time they had denounced other Jews, they often helped run the concentration camps, they had convinced the assimilationists to stay in their place, to not rebel, all of that in exchange for the salvation of their Zionist followers, their friends and their families. Regarding their followers, it is essential to note that the Zionist leaders didn’t even work on saving them all, but only the young ones, that is, those who could engage in armed combat (in prevision of a war against the English and the Palestinians), in other words, those who could work towards the development of the colonies, those who could bear children. The old people and small children only would have been an encumbrance. In 1937 Chaim Weizmann, future President of Israel, before the Peel Commission in London coldly declared: “I want to save… the young [for Palestine]. The old ones will pass. They will bear their fate or they will not. They were dust, economic and moral dust in a cruel world…Only the branch of the young shall survive…They have to accept it.” And, remember, this is a Zionist speaking. Ben Gurion, speaking in ’38 of children (children of Zionists and non-Zionists) said, “If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England and only half of them by transporting them to Palestine I would choose the second.” Ben Gurion knew that if the assimilationists and persons of good will would have wanted to choose between “saving Jews from Concentration Camps” and Zionism, “mercy” would have “had the upper hand and the whole energy of the people would be channelled into saving Jews from various countries;” then Zionism “will be struck off the agenda not only in world public opinion, in Britain and in the United States, but elsewhere in Jewish public opinion.” For the Zionists this absolutely could not be allowed to happen and they did everything possible so that it did not happen. Just think that when someone said to Yitzhak Gruenbaum, leader of the Rescue Committee (!) of the Jewish Agency in Palestine, in 1943 when the killings started said, “Don’t build new colonies (…) send money save Jews in the Diaspora,” he responded: “Zionism is above everything.” On another occasion, still in 1943, he stated, “one cow in Palestine is worth more than all the Jews in Europe.” So, it was in this way that the Zionists, allying themselves with the Nazis, saved themselves, while the non-Zionists were eliminated as a direct result of that alliance. And today the Zionists dominate over all the Jews and they greatly influence the Western governments. They determine American foreign policy (see the book by Mearsheimer and Walt). And for this, reason, Israel is untouchable and can do anything it wants to and not only to the Palestinians… but here we are touching upon the problem of the Zionist lobby.

 

CANZANO – Zionist lobby?

 

MANNO – To make it understandable, let us take the example of the Zionist lobby in America, which is the strongest Zionist lobby in the West. In the race for the American presidency, everyone had to see both Obama and his vice, Biden and the two losers McCain and Palin, run to genuflect before the organisation of the strongest of the lobbies, AIPAC. This had been foreseen by Mearsheimer and Walt and it happened without delay. The two candidates have been forced to undergo an accurate examination before the judges of the lobby concerning their proposals regarding Israel and to the command posts that would be willing to pass to Zionists (Jews or non-Jews) in their future administration. Everyone will remember how Obama was able to catch his rival off balance proclaiming that he supported the line of “a sole and indivisible Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish State.” McCain didn’t go quite so far. This line is officially condemned by the international community on the basis of a series of UN resolutions. Israel continues in its expulsion of the Palestinians (many of them Christians) of the Holy City and the West pretends nothing is happening while at the same time maintaining the official position of the UN. Now Obama, the “man of peace” has gone closer to the side of Israel than any other president has yet done. It seemed in the beginning that the determinant support of the lobby was going to go towards McCain, but then something changed. It is necessary to recall that Obama’s vice, Joe Biden, as soon as he was nominated declared himself to be “an ardent Zionist! And I would not be surprised if it was the Lobby itself that had imposed Biden on Obama. Then Obama was able to give secure guarantees, favours (and money) of the lobby all flowed his way. It was a formidable coup for the Zionists. Now the lobby will have a pro-Israel policy and a pro-Israel lobby pushed forward by a popular president and not by a shadow of Bush. The Western politicians can also make their own policies more pro-Israel and pro-USA (which is the same) without clashing very much with public opinion. The pacifist movement is completely shattered. Certainly, quite soon Obama will destroy his image of the new man, becoming like Rice or Powell, the black man that is used to serve the interests of the lobby, but this means nothing to the lobby, and why should it if they are able to get just what they want? In reality the image of Obama is already sullied. The choice of Clinton for Secretary of State, the choice of Rahm Emanuel (whose father declared that he detests Arabs and he is sure that his son will work in favour of Israel) are just the first signs. The lobby was able to obtain something else as well. After the domination that Bush had given to another wing of the lobby, to the discredited neo-cons (almost all of them Jewish), the Zionists strategists figured out how to have the same policies be carried out by non-Jews, but ones who are of proven Zionist faith. Thus, after Biden, we see the re-emergence of Clinton (with whom Obama once had clashes regarding foreign policy, and now we see him entrust that ministry to her). Hillary is another Zionist that will bring to the Secretary of State office the Jewish team her husband had: Madeleine Albright, Holbrooke, Dennis Ross, etc. The same politics of the Jewish neo-cons but officially carried out by non-Jews. The non-Jewish Zionists are fortunately very few but they are the worst traitors of their country and they send young Americans to war so that Israel can be strengthened, which is what happened in Iraq. Even we Europeans have our Zionist lobby. Let’s not harbour any illusions there.

 

CANZANO – There is a Zionist lobby in Europe?

 

MANNO – The Zionist lobby can be found anywhere in the world where there are Zionists. If they were all in Israel it would all be so simple, but there is the Diaspora and among the Jews of the Diaspora there are many Zionists. This was already in the program of the First Zionist Congress (1897) that the Zionists of the Diaspora would have to take the preparatory steps “towards obtaining the consent of governments, where necessary in order to reach the goals of Zionism.” And that is what they have been able to do. Today, after the birth of Israel, the American Zionist lobby and the various national lobbies always serve the “goals of Zionism”, that however are not the same as those when the task at hand was founding the Jewish State. 60 years since its foundation, Israel does not yet have a solid base. Its existence as a “Jewish State” is taken to task and it is maintained only with the use of force. Being an ethnic state that occupied other people’s land and oppresses the Palestinians, without any respect for international law, it is well aware that it is an illegitimate state. The lobby has the task of “making it legitimate” at least in the eyes of the West. Europe, at least on a formal level, has been involved in the Middle East in a position of equilibrium between Arabs and Israelis. We have major interests in the Arab world. In 2004 there have been the first changes. The EU Council approved the “EU-Israel Action Plan” and in spite of the horrifying record of Israel in the area of human rights, the Plan declared that “The EU and Israel share the same values of democracy, respect for human rights and sovereignty of law and the fundamental freedoms.” This is absolutely false and I am prepared to demonstrate it. However the Plan gets worse: it gives Israel the possibility of “participating in key aspects of EU policies and programmes.” We will become a Zionist colony.

 

Since 2006 the position of Europe has further changed. First there was a softening of criticism of Israel. That took place by pressure from a special “Jewish American Committee for Europe”. Within that group we find AIPAC, the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), the American Jewish Congress, which has distinguished itself from the others. Responding in a positive way on behalf of Europe as first Prodi, then Ferrero-Waldner and now Barroso. Before 2000 the EU expected Israel to pay for the damage caused within the Occupied Territories with European money and now, after Ferrero-Waldner and Barroso, the territories don’t get anything. Today in the European Parliament there is a group of approximately 200 parliament members called “European Friends of Israel” who work for Tel Aviv. This effort is sustained by Jewish businessmen everywhere in the continent as well as Jews who have been elected in the various parliaments such as, in Italy, Fiamma Nierenstein and the lawyer Alessandro Ruben. Lastly, with the French EU presidency of the Jewish Zionist (he himself declared this) Nicolas Sarkozy and the constitution of the Mediterranean Union, Zionism is now very close to obtaining the acceptance and the legitimisation of Israel in the Arab world, through Europe. Be very careful, this is not a peace policy, as the European governors keep saying. If there is the realisation of Arab legitimisation, Israel will have their hands free for a military policy, against Iran, against Hezbollah and the Palestinians, with the blessings of the Arab countries. In this framework, the Palestinian State will be a series of tiny Bantustans that are completely surrounded, just like Gaza. Only the economic crisis of the West can stop the conflict. If the economic crisis makes the corrupt Arab nations that are governing lose their power, we will see a reprisal of terrorism, revolts, revolutions and frustrated Arab peoples.

 

CANZANO – So, Israel is not a democratic State?

 

MANNO – No. No, it is not. It is an ethnocratic state. A Jews-only state. Democracy in the Jewish State is only valid for Jews. For non-Jews it is a farce. Let’s try to imagine for a moment that in a multi-ethnic country in which there is a colonial administration, a party that represents a particular ethnic group has in mind, once colonialism has ended, to constitute a democratic state over the entire country, but to kick out all the other ethnic groups. How can we say that the programme that this party has is a democratic one? For me it’s a racist programme based on ethnic cleansing.

 

Now, let’s try to imagine that once the phase of colonialism has ended, this party is allowed to make it’s own state by only on part of the territory in the country and on the condition that even on that territory there are no expulsions made on an ethnic basis. It instead happened that the state was founded immediately after the expulsion of the majority of its inhabitants on behalf of the minority, according to its initial racist programme. It’s a democratic state but democracy is supposed to involve the entire population, not just the minority that has undertaken an ethnic cleansing. Now we see that institutions that represent international law (the UN for example) are asking this ethnic state to reintegrate those who had been expelled and to give them equal democratic rights. In response, this “democratic” state (only for the ethnic group it represents) refuses to do it, instead it perseveres with its initial programme of wanting to conquer the entire territory of the country and to colonise it with people of its same ethnic group that are brought in from other countries. This new expansion and this new ethnic cleansing do not happen in a haphazard way, but rather is sanctioned within the founding documents of the “democratic” state. For example, within them we see that the entire territory of the country belongs to all of those are members of the right ethnic group wherever they are to be found (and perhaps even have been living there for thousands of years) and do not on the other hand belong to those who had been expelled just prior to the foundation of the ethnic state. Is this still a democratic state?

And that is not all. Let’s imagine that in this ethnic state there has been a small minority of the wrong ethnic group that has survived. It’s a minority with a demographic growth that constitutes nearly a quarter of the entire population. These persons are treated like second-class citizens, in economic activities, before the law, in daily life, and so on, where they have to undergo a thousand kinds of discrimination. The worst discrimination concerns the possession of land. The state has secured for itself, with another founding law by the ethnic “democracy”, that 93% of the country’s land has to stay in the hands of the right ethnic group. The sale of terrain (and that includes any property that is built upon it) is allowed only between people of this ethnic group. It is however possible to purchase new land in that 7% that was left to the minority ethnic group, in such as way so as to expand the property of the right ethnic group. Is it still a democratic state?

When confronted with these discriminations, the ethnic state concedes a limited voting right and a limited right to criticise of the discriminated minority group. Are these political rights enough when put next to the thousand discriminations to make this a democratic state?

 

I can already hear the defenders of Israel, because that is what we are talking about, object and protest against my last affirmation on the limited political rights of the Palestinian majority. Instead, that is only the way it is. Think about the fact that in Israel it is prohibited to challenge the Jewish character of the state. It is prohibited to found parties that have as a programme proposing a different kind of state, not an ethnic one, but one for all its citizens. It is prohibited to fight for the application of UN Resolution 194 that imposes the right of return of the Palestinians who had been expelled. It is prohibited to fight for the abolition of the founding law of the state that says that Palestine belongs to all the Jews of the world and in any moment any one of them may come to Palestine to occupy property that the army of the Jewish state has seen to taking away from some Palestinian of the Occupied Territories. Is this still a democratic state? Then it is established that Catholic citizens (whatever that term comes to mean now) cannot sell property to Jews, Protestants, et al., so that the land of Italy will be concentrated more and more in Catholic hands. Non-Catholics will have the right to vote, but in such a way so as to not endanger the “Catholic” character of the state. Could Italy still call itself democratic under those conditions? And I have to remind those who defend Israel that the Jews in Italy are not a quarter of the population as the Palestinians in Israel are. I remind them as well that if things continue in this direction, there is the risk not only of an ethnocratic state of Israel, but that it actually becomes a theocratic state, taking into consideration the growing importance of religious parties in Israeli politics.

 

CANZANO – In relation to what has already been said in this interview, what would your explanation be for the furious Israeli attack against Gaza?

 

MANNO – If we look at what’s happening in Gaza now within the historical framework that in some way we have traced in this interview, we must conclude that this is nothing less than a further step ahead in the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. If Israel wanted to come to a compromise with the Palestinians regarding a Palestinian state, well, there was no shortage of opportunities. The supporters of Israel insist that it was the Palestinian side that would not accept the division of Palestine in 1948. But, who would have accepted such a thing? What nation would have accepted the division of its own territory imposed from on high, even from the UN (which at the time, bear in mind, was constituted of only a quarter of the current states and it was under control of the US and USSR). If then the UN would have imposed also the application of UN Resolution 194, which asked Israel to allow the Palestinians cast off forcefully to be able to return, then things would have gone quite differently. But Israel rejected the Resolution, as it was sure of the support of the USA, which was already under the heavy influence of the American Zionist lobby. It did much more, actually. It assassinated the UN mediator Folke Bernadotte who was elaborating a new policy at the time.

 

Israel wanted an ethnically pure state and nothing else would suffice. This is Zionism. After the 1967 war, Israel would not accept Resolution 242 either, which imposed the withdrawal of Israel from the Occupied Territories. Instead, against all international law, it started to colonise these territories. Israel would accept no compromise during the Oslo Agreements and it still today forges ahead with colonisation. In 2002 the Arab states offered the recognition of Israel in exchange for the withdrawal of Israel to the confines of 1967, but Israel refused, started the construction of the wall that has claimed vast parts of the Occupied Territories from which the Palestinian population is slowly but surely being expelled from, and it still carries on with the construction of settlements and the suffocation of the Palestinians of East Jerusalem.

 

When in 2006 Hamas won the elections democratically and formed its government over all the Palestinians of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, Israel would not recognise it. Together with the complicity of the EU, it started a policy of dividing the Palestinians. This policy was supported by the corrupt Abu Mazen. To safeguard unity, Hamas accepted to reach a compromise with him and with that part of Al Fatah that backs him; together with him they formed a national unity government. Instigated by the USA and Israel, Abu Mazen, convinced that even the new government was born due to weakness of Hamas, organised a plot in Gaza to evict the military power of the rival party, but that attempt failed and it was actually the followers of Abu Mazen to be cast out of Gaza. Consequently, Abu Mazen dissolved the government, forming one with his most loyal followers and he let Israel arrest ministers, parliament members, leaders of Hamas all throughout the West Bank. He committed to an agreement for Peace with Israel (Annapolis). This obviously all came to nothing, because Israel will not give in on even the smallest detail, and it wants people like Abu Mazen who will play his part in the pretence of agreements and in the meantime keeps on building settlements and carries on with ethnic cleansing. For Israel it became therefore essential to eliminate Hamas, killing or arresting all of its leaders. This is the reason of the criminal attack against Gaza; to conquer it and give it to Abu Mazen with whom it could continue with the pretence of agreements. If Hamas resists and Israel is forced to cease the attack and to withdraw, Abu Mazen will be the first loser, but losing will also be the entire strategy of Israel and of the Americans.

     Di umili origini, Manno era nato nel Nordeuropa, dove il padre s’era dovuto trasferire per trovare lavoro. Ciò fu forse alla base del suo interesse per la germanistica, culminato con una laurea in Lingue dell’Europa Occidentale ed una lunga attività come traduttore.

 

      Coltivò, tuttavia, anche un’altra passione: quella per la storia e la geopolitica, ed in particolare studiò a fondo la questione palestinese e l’ideologia sionista, temi su cui produsse molteplici articoli, saggi e libri.

 

      Era tra i soci fondatori dell’Istituto “Enrico Mattei” di Alti Studi in Vicino e Medio Oriente.

 

      Mauro Manno seppe unire, nei propri studi e nelle proprie opere, il suo forte senso della giustizia con un’irreprensibile serietà scientifica, cosicché la prima fu temperata dalla seconda, e la seconda animata e ben indirizzata dalla prima.

 

      Tra le sue virtù, ricordiamo anche la grande modestia ed umiltà, tale da spingerlo a vergare il proprio nome sempre senza le iniziali maiuscole, ritenendo così d’esprimere quella che, a suo giudizio, era la relativa poca importanza della sua persona. In questo ci permettiamo affettuosamente di dissentire da lui.

 

      La Redazione di “Eurasia”, che s’unisce al cordoglio della famiglia, serberà a lungo il ricordo di Mauro Manno, per il contributo importante che ha dato alla conoscenza del Vicino Oriente nel nostro paese, e per la sua umanità che l’ha reso un esempio di rettitudine ed onestà intellettuale.

 

———–

 

([Al-Awda-Italia] Digest Number 3373)

Translated into English by Manuel Talens and revised by Mary Rizzo

 

During the current Israeli aggression to Gaza both the Spanish Left and Right have built linguistic fences to position themselves around the problem. The case of the Spanish institutional Left is without any doubt paradigmatic: on one side there a party now in office – the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, PSOE – whose Minister of Foreign Affairs pretends to be a personal friend of Palestinians [1], whose Prime Minister Zapatero condemned the Israeli attacks during a PSOE meeting and whose militants (some of them) demonstrated in solidarity with Palestine. But on the other side, the government issued from this same party is among the ten main exporters of weapons to Israel, its secret services cooperates with their Israeli counterparts, it maintains preferential agreements with Tel Aviv, it supports the creation of the Sepharad-Israel House in Spain and it insists that what the party does is irrelevant to both the government’s performance and its State policies, which of course are to maintain very good diplomatic relations with “the great Israeli democracy” (so defined by the current UN President, Nicolas Sarkozy).

 

If this schizophrenic performance characterizes the party in office, the case of other Spanish organizations – labour unions and other left-wing groups with institutional vocation – is no less disturbing. While they have condemned Israel for its attacks, they also have emphasized their condemnation of Hamas as responsible for what happened to the Palestinians – although without mimicking Simon’s Peres accusations, – essentially sustaining the same justificatory arguments held by the Israeli government. They all have looked for a common denominator, a common language of consent – the same one that the Minister of Foreign Affairs Moratinos requests of the Palestinians when he says that “we don’t want unity but consent” – which would allow them to simultaneously show solidarity with Palestinians and be politically correct.

 

This consent has been built upon two taboos: never to use the word genocide and never question the Israeli democracy.

 

The objective result of building consent upon the negation of genocide and accepting the farce of Israeli democracy is a continuous complicity and the blockade of any fair option for the Palestinian people.

 

The imposition of consent betrays a far-reaching political objective in Spain. Either consciously or unconsciously it has intercepted the explosions of rage and pain by both Arab and Spaniards in the country, which have been systematically excluded, reprehended and silenced by the organized groups that led the manifestations of solidarity with the Palestinian people [2]. The Arabs of Spain went massively to all demonstrations in the country but were forced to accept the conditions imposed by these groups which organized the events, wrote the manifestos and chose “what actions were authorized and what not.” The fear that the immigrant Arab population – fully identified with the Palestinian cause – could explode and that this explosion could be considered as shared by the government has forced both the government and the Socialist party to a strategy to channel and control what the Left could carry out. [3]

 

The PSOE has managed to be part of all groups that organized actions and its interest in it was clear: to “normalize” them, to “control” them and to avoid any “radicalism,” as it risked to get out of hand considering what had happened in past demonstrations during the Iraq war. Clearly the PSOE wanted to avoid being forced to call the Israeli ambassador for consultations, to officially condemn the Israeli government or to interrupt the preferential relations with it.

 

As for other groups – unions, parties, some ONGs – a “minimum of consent” was essential to sustain the image of a not-radicalized-Left (so profitable from the institutional stand) while at the same time preserving the image of solidarity and the prestige of the slogan “another world is possible.” 

 

The Israeli genocide of Palestinians

 

The task of both PSOE militants and all other groups whose priorities are institutional was clear from the start: to provide all kinds of media, legal and economic support to demonstrations of solidarity with Gaza while intercepting all initiatives susceptible to friction with the Israeli government. That’s why the use of the word genocide was rejected in banners, manifestos, etc. under the threat of breaking the coalition of forces.

 

But why has it been so important to banish the word genocide from the vocabulary on any denunciation of Israel and of any act of solidarity with the Palestinian population? Why was the consented word massacre? Instead of looking into laws or international legislations, let’s see the definition of the word genocide in the Spanish Royal Academy Dictionary (DRAE): “extermination or systematic elimination of a social group for reasons of race, religion or politics.”

 

Historian Ilan Pappe carried out an exhaustive research on Jewish sources – unclassified documents from Israeli security services, Zionist files, Department of State reports, Ben Gurion’s files, military statements – and he reached the irrefutable conclusion that from the very moment of the foundation of the State of Israel the Jews planned the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. [4] In a recent piece he refers to different researchers who “call attention on the distinction between massacres that are part of a genocide, i.e., that are planned, and the unplanned massacres that directly happen out of hate and vengeance in the general context of an ethnic cleansing.” [5] All the indications and certainties of Israel’s “new historians” point to the fact that in the case of Israel’s acts against Palestinians they were massacres that happened in the context of the ethnic cleansing designed by the Israeli State, but at the same time, the original planning, systematization and political objectives made most of these massacres an integral part of the genocide against Palestinians. So if the ethnic cleansing – the genocide of Palestinians – is implicit to the foundational act of the Israeli nation, then the very existence of this State is delegitimized.

 

According to the DRAE the word massacre implies “slaughter of generally defenceless people produced by an armed attack or a similar cause.” If we substitute the word genocide for massacre we end up with a unplanned, not even intentional act against two, three or a hundred people but not against a people as a whole; a massacre is the result of “an armed attack or similar cause”, that is to say that it can be either the result of a war or that its causal relationship is directly related to an armed conflict so that the objective cannot be neither political – intended to eliminate people for racial, ethnic or political questions – nor its objective is to exterminate the civil population but rather it can be a unwanted consequence, uncontrolled hate by soldiers, a disproportion justified by technical questions… Finally, the people killed are – according to the DRAE – “generally defenceless” but maybe not. All of this means that a single word can be paramount to characterize and politically position people whether they use it or not. Words are neither neuter nor objective. In this case they characterize a conflict and place their users in one position or another.

 

From the point of view of the political costs, most of the organizations present in demonstrations did not risk anything before the mobilized masses as these did not perceive the difference between the words genocide and massacre; so organizers opted for the most acceptable term in order to safeguard all of their institutional contacts.

 

Beyond juridical considerations and the well-known pragmatism of law professionals, the definition of the attacks on Gaza as a massacre has contributed to halt any further analysis, considering it just as a regrettable but punctual fact similar to the destruction of Jenin in 2002. Calling it a “disproportionate attack” permits the filing of the case as a new example of the wrongdoings of certain leaders who maybe one day could be prosecuted for war crimes for their “errors” and their “disproportions.” Seen from a distance, the Spaniards’ image will be that of supportive human beings moved by the deaths of innocent people who after the “massacre” will return to mend their daily business after having done all that they could. By refusing to recognize the logic of manipulating words and scrutinizing the essence of the conflict and by adapting its speech to official requirements, the good-hearted and harmless Spanish “Left” has sided again – even without realizing it – with the wrong camp. 

 

Boycotting Israel

 

Neither Spanish institutions nor certain groups either favoured or compensated by their “efforts for peace” like to speak of boycotting Israel. A boycott implies to “deprive a person or an entity of all social or commercial exchanges in order to harm it and to force it to give in.” If all solidarity groups with Palestine ask – either politely or less so – that is it necessary to request Israel to abide by the United Nations resolutions, why do they give up an instrument as effective as the boycott as happened in South Africa?

 

In the case of Israel, requesting it to abide by the resolutions is like sending a letter to Santa Claus, even more considering the zero possibility of the UN either to force sanctions to Israel by the Security Council or to force it to abide by its resolutions. On top of that let’s not forget that the origin of the problem was the UN.

 

To deprive Israel of commercial exchanges could strangle its economy; its economy is not self-sufficient and its exchanges with Middle East countries would not allow Israel to commercially survive. On the other hand, its economy is strongly militarized, it depends on the US war industry and on the plundering of Palestinian resources. Israel would have a real problem if a boycott impacted on its commercial exchanges. In Spain there are groups which don’t refuse this kind of boycott because it can be carried out on an individual basis, it depends on the will of consumers and it permits justification of the resources spent on the necessary campaigns to increase sensitivity; a boycott would not jeopardize their institutional relations either. Other Spanish groups, it is true, defend this type of boycott with total sincerity.

 

The true problem arises when we think about an institutional boycott. From a political point of view a boycott of institutional relations with Israel has unacceptable implications to the Spanish State because the target of such a boycott is the democratic legitimacy of Israel. The aim of such a boycott would not have anything to do with the modification of a particular policy, or with the recognition of Palestinians, or with certain concession to the other part in conflict but with the very essence of the “Israeli democracy” in which there are discriminatory laws that mimic the South African apartheid system and create second class Arab Israeli citizens, i.e., the Law of Nationality that establishes differences in acquiring citizenship for Jews and non-Jews; the Law of Citizenship which forbids Israeli citizens to marry a resident of the occupied Palestinian territories [6]; the Law of Return which establishes that any Jew of the world can obtain citizenship and many privileges if he/she moves to Israel; as well, there are more than 11.000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israel to whom they apply military justice and the practice of torture is accepted by Israel based upon the British Command laws, etc.

 

The boycott entertains the possibility that both citizens and institutions could carry out actions that they depend entirely on them, not on the will of Israel nor of their own governments. This would suppose the breaking, even partial, of Israeli impunity. The impotence and the discouragement that generates an International Community unable to force Israel to abide by the UN resolutions and the message of a powerful Israel against whom nothing can be done would crumble with actions controlled by citizens and institutions (universities, sport organizations, foundations, unions, parties).

 

The blockade of the words genocide and boycott by the Spanish institutionalized “Left” neutralizes and deactivates the struggle against Israeli Zionism and reduces almost all the country’s political spectrum to the role of mere spectators who watch it with “indignation” and then scratch their pockets obeying Moratinos’ order to concentrate themselves on the humanitarian aid, so politically profitable. Meanwhile Palestinians will continue being bad victims because they will prefer, even at the cost of being murdered either slowly or quickly, to continue resisting and fighting for their territory. 

 

Notes

 

[1] Today Moratinos is one of the Israeli government’s main champions in Spain up to the point of having apologized to  Minister Tizpi Livni. He says he will try to reform the Spanish legislation so that it won’t permit again the prosecution of military Israelis on the charges of war crimes, as it has just happened at the Spanish National Audience on January 29th, 2009.

 

[2] The Arabs showed up massively at the first meeting before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid (January 3rd, 2009), responding to the call of mosques. They overflowed the organizers, generating a spontaneous demonstration that walked toward the Israeli embassy and blocked important Madrid avenues. From that moment on it was clear to the PSOE that the danger of overflow had to be avoided.

 

[3] In fact, this channelling and control strategy was implemented by the PSOE just after the March 11 Madrid’s Atocha bombing in 2004: it created a federal group of “socialist Arabs” inside the secretary of social “Movements and relations with NGOs”. At the Ministry of Justice it also created the Pluralism and Coexistence Foundation to offer courses on both Islam and democratic principles, sponsor seminars on the integration of Muslims and follow-up the congresses of the Islamic communities in Spain, etc.

[4] Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld, 2006.

[5] Ibidem, “Demons of the Nakba”, Al-Ahram, May 17, 2002.

 

[6] If this happens the Jew loses all his/her rights as an Israeli citizen.

 

 

Source in Spanish: Los límites de la “izquierda” en su defensa del pueblo palestino

 

Ángeles Diez is professor of Political Sciences at the Madrid Complutense University. She has a PhD on Contemporary Latin America. She has done research work on collective action, social movements and NGOs.

 

The Spanish writer and translator Manuel Talens is a member of Tlaxcala, the Translators’ Network for Linguistic Diversity.

Moderator: I’m David Ignatius, a columnist for the Washington Post and I’m going to moderate this afternoon’s discussion of Gaza. Our discussion of Gaza follows a war there that has reminded all of us of the burden of history in the Middle East and also has reminded all of us of the fragility of the peace process. Tonight I hope we’ll put a little more substance to that process by discussing where we go now, how we put the pieces back together. We have a most distinguished panel to discuss these issues with us tonight. Let me first briefly introduce them. To my immediate right (sic) is the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. To his left is the President of Israel, Shimon Peres. To his left is the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon and to his left is the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. I’m going to ask Secretary General Ban Ki-moon from the United Nations who has been particularly focused on the humanitarian aspects of the Gaza crisis to lead off tonight with his remarks for the next five minutes. Secretary General.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: (Simultaneous translation from original Turkish) First of all, before replying to the question as to what needs to be done, I think it’s also important that we analyse the current situation because we need to do a proper analysis of the current situation in order to determine what steps need to be taken.

I’m not going to start from 40 years ago in making the situation analysis, I am just going as far back as June 2008. If we look at back then, June 2008, there was a ceasefire which was stated [agreed to] and there was no problem to the ceasefire that was to last for 6 months, but when the ceasefire ended, 6 months later there were no rocket attacks at that point, in the meantime the Israeli side was to lift the embargo, the situation had to change in Palestine, however, the Palestinian Territories are like an open air prison because it is completely isolated from the rest of the world, so it is very much isolated, sealed, so if you try to bring in a case of tomatoes from any crossing into the Palestinian territories you must get the permission of the Israeli side because it is not possible otherwise so [Looking at this,] I look at this from a humanitarian point of view and I will also say a few words as Prime Minister, I visited Israel some time ago and then I went to Palestine and as the Prime Minister I waited for half hour with my wife in the car [for about half an hour] to be able to cross into the Palestinian territories from Ramallah.

But never has a diplomat coming from Israel had to wait for that long at our borders. I think we have to look at these aspects of the situation there on the ground. I also ask Mr. Olmert if there were any deaths as a result of these rockets attacks and he told me that there were no deaths, but that the attacks were a fact, so these rockets are being used but, they don’t kill anyone, so I’m told that it’s about the rockets themselves, they are of not very good quality, but in the meantime, there were more that 24 Palestinians who were killed during the ceasefire since last June, and the power was cut off, there was no food, the electricity didn’t exist in hospitals, so there were quite a number of difficult issues and we had already started as Turkey to send humanitarian aid to Palestine, so there was already a humanitarian issue then. And let me say, I have always been a leader who expressly stated that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity, Islamophobia too, is a crime against humanity.

For me the person being Christian, Jewish or Muslim is not important if the person is under stress, to me, the common denominator is that they are all human beings and so my approach is a humanitarian one, and that has been what I have taken as the basis of my efforts, for example we tried to send humanitarian aid the Turkish Red Crescent, tried to provide aid, but it took quite a while, two weeks sometimes, to have the trucks cross the crossings. I don’t know if President Peres is aware of this but it has taken us quite a lot of time, our diplomats have had to work very hard to make sure that the aid will flow into the Palestinian Territories. Even more interesting, is that the Israeli Prime Minister was in Turkey, Mr. Olmert was in Turkey four days before the war in Gaza started. as you have mentioned, we as Turkey have taken up an intermediation role between Israel and Syria for indirect talks and there were already four rounds of talks, which have taken place, indirect talks, and the fifth round was actually carried out with Prime Minister Olmert and myself present and our special envoys present in Ankara and we sat together for five to six hours and we were discussing the issues between Syria and Israel. I was on phone conversation with President Assad and my envoy was talking to the Foreign Minister Moallem and our goal then, to see if we could move to the next phase which was direct talks between Israel and Syria, so that was what we were trying to do and our goal in trying to do all this has been to achieve peace in the region and we have been trying to bring together officials from two countries which to date have not come together. We were making quite good progress, so much so that we were having problems with a few words only, in the language that we were talking. It was decided that a few days should lapse until a final decision could be reached and in the meantime, I was talking to Mr. Olmert with my Foreign Minister with me and our special envoy and Prime Minister Olmert had his advisers as well and I said that we could work to release the captured Israeli soldier who was held by Hamas but I said, and I also made the request, I said that the reforming change Party won the election in Palestine. We are talking about democracy, we would like to see democracy take root, so if we would like to see democracy take root then we must respect, first of all, the people who have received the votes of the people of the country they are running in, so we may not like them, but we have to respect the process. And I said to Prime Minister Olmert that they held the Ministers and Members of Parliament of Palestine. I suggested also, that there could perhaps be a gesture made, similar to the gesture made to President Abbas before, they could be released perhaps. But Prime Minister Olmert said that this would make things very difficult for President Abbas. But then I said, perhaps it would be possible to release some of the women and children and that could perhaps that be done as a gesture. President Olmert told me that he would talk to his colleagues and respond back the next day, but we got no response and in about 4 days after that, by December 27 we saw the war in Gaza. What happened was more than 1,200 people were killed including women and children. More than 5,000 were wounded and this was a disproportionate use of force, so if you look at all this from a humanitarian point of view and think of the military power of Israel including weapons of mass destruction and whether or not there is anything that is similar in Gaza, whether the Palestinians have any of that kind of military power, they don’t have that kind of power. The UN Security Council met and the resolution was announced but Israel did not recognize this resolution of the United Nations Security Council as Secretary General Ban Ki Moon mentioned, the UN centre was also hit during the course of this war. Schools, mosques were also hit, but mankind or humanity as a whole did not really act as quickly as it should have to try to help people there. In the case of Georgia people acted rather quickly, I include ourselves in that effort because we too worked very hard to help Georgians as well in a difficult time. So, what I am trying to say is that we should not be judging anyone by their race or religion if they are in distress. Our goal, everyone’s goal, is to try to help people in difficulty. I visited Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and I talked to many leaders, European leaders on the phone, unfortunately this whole thing lasted 3 weeks it was covered from the very beginning, television channels, BBC for example predicted that it would take about 3 weeks, indeed the whole process or the whole war took 3 weeks and this has lead to the destruction of the infrastructure. And the figures that the UN Secretary General mentioned are not sufficient to solve the problem, we need much more, not even 1 billion or 2 billion dollars would help in trying to restore the structures there because these people there do not have any means to rehabilitate their infrastructure and they now have to be burdened.

There is a lot of talk about Hamas, but Hamas are not the only people in Gaza, there are also civilians. Hamas is also a different face of the change and transformation party. The problem here is that their democratic rights have not been recognized, respected. Where we are now, the unilateral ceasefire was announced by Israel and then Hamas the next day announced a unilateral ceasefire as well. One is talking about a year-long ceasefire process, the other one proposes a year and a half. Another issue is of course to end the isolation of the Palestinian People. Will it be possible for Israel to do that, in other words, will the crossings be open for people to come in because how will those people survive where they are, under the conditions that they are in? If we respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Conventions that are internationally accepted, those crossings, first of all, must be opened so people can experience their rights, the rights of life. There is also the issue of arms being smuggled into the area. If one end of the tunnel is in Egypt then Egypt must stop this illicit arms flow. But if we consider Palestine as a State, and I think that there is also a question there, perhaps some question marks in peoples minds, this issue of the division within Palestine, and how to breach the differences between Fatah and Hamas. If we are trying to bridge that gap then we have to consider all the parties. And I said this to Mr. Olmert too, because if it’s only Fatah who is present on the Palestinian side, that is not going to be sufficient to project the results to all of the Palestinian people, Hamas has to be taken into consideration as well because they are a part of that society, they have won an election, so they too must be included in this equation. If it’s the UN who is going to take the lead, that’s the way it should be, I hope that the UN puts it weight behind these efforts and/or the United States under the Obama administration can take an important role. I hope, I expect, President Obama to be the voice of the silent masses and to put his weight, his administration’s weight, behind a solution. He must do this not within the agreements that have been previously made by the previous administration, including the last one that was made between the then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mrs. Livni. There’s got to be a new opening and Hamas must be considered in this process. If Turkey is asked to play some sort of a role, we too would be willing to be involved, but we must be careful and we must think of the whole process when we try to define the parties involved and we must definitely achieve peace in the Middle East because that is important and necessary for global peace. If the Middle East peace process does not yield a positive result, that means that we will not have peace in the world as a whole. So I think that in the National Unity government to be established in Palestine this party of Reform and Change must be there, and that is how the National Unity government has to be established then elections have to take place and once the new government is in place, whether we or not, like them will be and should be the government of the Palestinian people because we have to respect the will of the Palestinian people.

 

Moderator: Thank you Prime Minister Erdoğan for a very comprehensive and I must say quite newsy response. Let me turn out to Secretary General Amr Moussa the same question: how do we put this peace process back together after Gaza and perhaps you could address the two things that Secretary General Ban focused on.

First, how to achieve unity among Palestinians? And second, what this new American administration can most usefully do as George Mitchell begins making his way around the region? 

Amr Mussa: Well thank you very much. Let me begin by thanking the Secretary General of the United Nations for the forceful position he has taken and for the actions he is calling for in order to save the situation in Gaza, to save Gaza after the carnage that has been committed against its people. Also I wish to commend the role played by Turkey, a very positive, courageous and clear role that Turkey, a member of the Middle East family of nations, wants to help establish peace and to help deal with the major mistakes that have been committed against the Palestinians and to ask for, work for a fair, a just peace in order for peace to be durable. Now, David, you asked me to talk about the future and how we would address it. This cannot make me sweep things under the carpet, things that belong to the near future and also to perhaps distant future. The situation in Gaza was not a reaction, the assault against the Gazans was not just a reaction for some rockets being launched against Southern Israel. And here I would open some brackets to say that we are against anything that would affect children, women, civilians be they Palestinians or Israelis. And then I continue to say that this situation in Gaza and in Palestine is a situation of foreign military occupation. So people […] and siege, a blockade. Gaza is living within a blockade, a very severe one. The West Bank is under military occupation with barriers, with colonies, that’s settlements, so the Palestinians are trying to express themselves to find a future for themselves. You cannot ask people in Gaza living in starvation and hunger because of the blockade, the very sinister blockade, and then ask them to be calm, and ask them “why do you throw stones against your occupiers?”. It is against the nature of people, against the nature of people, you strangle them, you starve them and then ask them to be quiet? And then, as has been discussed now, the question of smuggling, of course smuggling is illegal, illicit trade, illicit movement of things, commodities and so on, including perhaps arms. You strangle them, not a single window of opportunity, and then talk to them about illicit trade? If you want to prevent this, you have to open the crossing points, you have to give them food, you have to give them water, to give them medicine. It is a miserable life that the Palestinians have lived and until now are living in Gaza because of the blockade that Israel has imposed on them for three years now. Number two. Another fact: the Palestinians believed the call for democracy. There were some policies, international policies, at certain times, calling on the Middle East: “apply democracy, democracy is the solution for everything!” – and it happens that I agree with that. The Palestinians believed the advice, had elections, Hamas won, and half an hour, twenty-five minutes after the announcement of the results of the election, Hamas was served notice that aid would be suspended and then came the blockade, a severe blockade, and hence Hamas was put on the defensive. But very much as Prime Minister Erdoğan has said, the people in Gaza are not only Hamas, it as such is only an organization among other organizations, but the people, 1.5 million people of women, of children, of all people, they were attacked and they paid the price for this game that is going on between Israel and Hamas and the game that has been caused, that is being caused until now by the military occupation.

Why Hamas was listened to in the Occupied Territories, within the Palestinian ranks, in the Middle East, within the Arab world? Why? Because it has a logic. They said all right, president Abu Mazen, go and negotiate, and if there is something useful coming out of your negotiations we will certainly support you. And in fact they are on record as having said we are ready to accept the Palestinian State within the borders of 1967 but we are not going to sign any paper until we see what is the result of that. So, President Abu Mazen didn’t bring anything. Did not bring anything. Out of one full year of negotiations with the current Israeli government. That’s what he said. He is on record as having said that and in fact he said it, on this stage, last year. I believe it was the Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. So this is the situation. It is not a question of Israel reacting to some rockets, it is much deeper than that, it is an action of occupation, an action of blockade, then a reaction of resistance, then the reaction of destruction carried out by Israel. Okay. That has happened. Are we going to stop here and the end of the world will occur? No. Perhaps all of us now are called upon to save the situation. As the Secretary General has just said, there are three or four thing that have to be done: a ceasefire, a strong ceasefire, sustainable ceasefire, opening of the crossings, stopping the illicit traffic, and the conciliation between the Palestinians. That we have to do, and I want you to know that I do not absolve ourselves on the Arab side from also committing mistakes, but no mistakes, no mistake we have committed can compete with the major mistake that has been committed by Israel in destroying Gaza and killing all those people in only twenty days. Again, we tried to involve the United Nations rather than to involve shooting and more bloodshed. Unfortunately in the last several years up until this January and it was before January 28th, the philosophy was “no, keep the Security Council away, give Israel a chance to reach, to do what they were set to do”. We have witnessed that back in 2006 in Lebanon, and we witness that back in January in New York, but this is a long story I don’t think the time will allow us to do so, to explain it in full. Now, what should we do? We have a new administration in the United States. What President Obama has said is reassuring. Change. He addressed the Arab world through one of our major channels called Al Arabiya, from Dubai, addressed us, and told us. We listened, we heard, we understood. He sent his special envoy, Senator Mitchell, who is a very reasonable man, we discussed with him, we are going to discuss again with him, and I believe there are those prospects of the United States returning back to the role of honest broker, which we missed for the last several years. This is a key point for the future, that the United States gets back to the role of honest broker that listens to the sides and says “yes you are right on this but you are wrong on that”, and to the other side too, the same. This we have not seen in the last several years. Ok. Now, this is the first positive point, we hope that we are right in our assessment and in our hopes. The second is the Arab initiative. We are ready. Formally, officially, at the highest level, all of us are committed to establish peace with Israel. To recognize Israel, to normalize with Israel, and to carry on all our commitments in accordance with Security Council resolutions, the Madrid Conference decisions and whatever agreements we have signed, that have been signed between any Arab country and Israel. We are ready for that. But the point is that we have not received any answer from Israel for the last seven years. President Peres is a very eloquent man, he says that we accept, but this is just a good expression of words, there is no authorized decision taken by the government of Israel to respond to the most authorized message sent by an Arab summit held back in 2002. So our position is fully authorized, we haven’t gotten any answer, any answer whatsoever except some addresses here, we read it in some newspapers or translation from. So we call on Israel now: what is your position on this initiative? Formal position. Formal position. Not just a statement here. Formal position. As our position also was formal. If there is an acceptance, authorized acceptance, by Israel then we are on the right track. Therefore the second point is for us to receive a formal reply about the acceptance of the Arab initiative which calls on us Arabs to turn the page, turn the page of the conflict, recognize Israel, normalize with Israel and have Israel as part of the family of nations in the Middle East which until now Israel is not. But if Israel also withdraws, allows the Palestinian State to be established, withdraws from the other Territories, we see no obstacle for us and for the Israelis to live together and get our act together. When are we going to receive this message? A question mark. The third point… 

Moderator: Secretary General, we have a chance to get a response from the President of Israel and maybe this is the good time to do that since we’re running short of time… 

Amr Mussa: I know that the president is going to take all his time. So give me two more minutes, please. 

Moderator: I don’t want to bargain. [We have to have a ceasefire] We’ll be all ears to listen to President Peres. …let’s do a wrap up. 

Amr Mussa: Now. The year 2009 we lived the year 2008 with a lot of promises. And it ended up in a bloodshed. For us, to move from one administration to the other from the year 2000 to the year 2008, then 2009, then 2010, then 2011, this is a gimmick that we are not going to accept. That is why: now we are in 2009, if there’s real intention, a real work done by an honest broker, the political will will be expressed by Israel in favor of peace and progress will be done, will be made, then we are on the right track. If this year ends – we reach the day 31st of December as we did in 2008, without any result, then we’ll have to reconsider. There are a lot of other alternatives. But I believe in what Turkey is saying, Prime Minister Erdoğan has said. We cannot reach and Israel cannot reach any of its goals through military means. We need to have a political settlement, but a fair one and in the year 2009. Tank you very much.

 

Moderator: Thank you, Secretary General Moussa and now President Peres of Israel. No one has worked longer or harder on this thing we call the peace process than you have, and tell us how you think we can put it back together.

 [A woman pats down Peres’ hair. Laughter.]

Hairfalls [?]

Shimon Peres: Well, thank you Mr. Chairman, I heard the distinguished speakers talking about Israel and I couldn’t recognize the picture of the country that they know. I want to tell the beginning. It’s very difficult when a democratic country has to confront an illegal terroristic group. Whatever we do is being photographed; whatever they do, nobody sees. For example, when you throw a rocket on a settlement in Israel, it’s not being photographed. You cannot see the mother trying to defend her child the whole night, and their sleepless night. Did you ever see on television a sleepless night?

I must respect for you Mr. Prime Minister, but I must put things as they really are. Let me start with democracy. First of all, who was elected by the Palestinians, but Mr. Abbas, who is called Abu Mazen. Sixty-two percent of the Palestinians voted for him to be the President of the Palestinian people, and we negotiate with him. Hamas participated in the elections but have a very unique idea about democracy. They think a democracy is a story of one day in four years you go through the election. After the elections you can start to shoot and kill and threaten. Finish. Democracy is not a matter of elections. It is a civilization and I want to conflict to your words by quoting from the Hamas; I won’t be going to interrupt the stories? But Hamas concerns us; Hamas published a charter; let me just read two lines, three lines from it, from the Hamas Charter. “The day of judgment will not come about until the Muslims kill the Jews, when the Jews will hide behind stones and trees, there is no solution for peace initiative, proposals, international conferences are all a waste of time.” This is an official charter. I don’t know about which Hamas you are talking?

Now about the proportions. In the last eight years, well I mean, I hate to say it, but since you mentioned it, let me give the other picture, too. Israel lost hundred, thousand hundred sixty-seven lives from terrorists, eight thousand five hundred were wounded. It wasn’t done in twenty days, it was done in several years. We restrained all the time. And then since the last four years when Hamas took over Gaza, 5500 rockets, and 4000 mortars, shells were fired upon civilian life in Israel at random: they didn’t care if it was a kindergarten, if it’s a [ ]we didn’t answer. For that reason, the ceasefire idea, Mr. Prime Minister, was very strange in our views. We never started fire. And we told the Palestinians time and again, “Don’t fire, and there won’t be fire; we are not doing we never started!” And who broke…and oh by the way, we didn’t have a formal agreement about the ceasefire, they announced, and the Palestinians said, “It’s over.” They broke it. And when the Prime Minister was at your place four days before the operations started, the government of Israel didn’t yet to decide to take actions against it.

Now let me… I want you to listen because you watch all of your television, I can understand your feelings.

“Israel left Gaza completely, no occupation. We took out all of our soldiers from Gaza, all of our civilians. People are talking about settlements, we took out from Gaza all the settlements and all the settlers, fifteen thousand of them. Nobody forced us, it was our own choice. We had to mobilize forty-five thousand policemen to bring them back home, at the cost of 2.5 billion dollars.

I want to understand why did they fight rockets against us? What for? There was not any siege against Gaza. All the passages were open. Not only that, we participated in investing money in Gaza, to develop a, an agriculture. We at Peres Center, we ourselves put in twenty thousand dollars, twenty million dollars, sorry, to build green houses, to develop strawberries, the export of strawberries, excellent strawberries, flowers.

Jimmy Wolfensohn who was representative of the Quartet, took from his own pocket 5 million dollars to participate in it. They destroyed it. Why? They bombed all the passages. Why? Why did they fire at us, what did they want?” We didn’t occupy, there was never a day of starvation in Gaza! By the way, Israel is the supplier of water daily to Gaza, Israel is the supplier of fuel to Gaza, the only thing we didn’t permit to bring in was rockets from Iran! And they build tunnels to do it! And you know, we also have women and children, and they want to sleep at night. Do you know what it means, every day, almost hundred rockets falling at random, a million people have had to be under shelter. They came to the government and said “What happened to you? We want have security, why do you permit to happen it? ” And I want anyone telling me, clearly, what were the reasons for the attack? What were the purposes of the attack? Peace? We make peace with Egypt, not by arms, by agreement and negotiation, and we met all of the requests of Egypt. We made peace with Jordan the same, we gave back all the land and all the water. We opened with the Palestinians, and we told them, that we are for a Palestinian state, I started in Oslo, against the majority maybe, of our people that didn’t agree And all the time, you know Mr. Prime Minister, while you have had to wait, because many busses that came from the West Bank to Jerusalem were full of dynamite. I was then Prime Minister, I saw it with my own eyes, the blood and the bodies. You know, I don’t have to watch television, and when I came in there were thousands of people shouting at me “Traitor, killer, look at what you did to us!” You must, there are many details you have to know. Israel is sixty-years old, do you know any other country, that in sixty-years has had to go through seven wars, two Intifadas, an ongoing boycott? What, why? And in spite of it, we made peace with Egypt. I have the highest respect for President Mubarak. By the way, President Mubarak accused Hamas, not us. And President Mubarak knows the situation not less as you Mr. Prime Minister. And President Abbas knows the situation not less than you do, and he accused Hamas not us. And then mothers and children came to the government and asked what will happen? A million people every night have had to hide themselves in shelters, mothers with sleepless nights, what do you really mean? By the way, I have never saw anyone demonstrating against those missiles! That was ok Nobody said a word. And we didn’t answer, a day in and a day out, a year in a year out, there’s a limit to it. And by the way, I have much respect for the Secretary General, he used to be and I hope we’re still a friend, I appreciate very much the Arab initiative, but there is a problem in it, I don’t want to hide it. The problem is not the Arab world, the problem is the Iranian ambition to govern the Middle East. They supplied the rockets to Hezbollah, they supplied the rockets to Hamas, they are controversially the Arab making, and you know we didn’t have a choice. The leader of Hezbollah, Nasrallah says: “Would I know that Israel will react so strongly, we wouldn’t have started”. Thank you very much. And then come the Mashaal, the leader of Hamas and said: “Israel reacted too strongly.” What did you expect us to do, I don’t understand? What would any country do? What would you do if it you would happen in Istanbul every night ten rockets, a hundred rockets? And we never gave up, all my life as you said, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it, I am fighting for peace, what we did is not…the thing that we wanted to do… It’s not our choice, our choice is peace. What we did is because the lack of a choice, we were threatened with a choice. Would you vote for such a convention, to kill the Jews? OK, those are words, but to kill the Jews and send rockets to kill them. What you want us to do? We started to negotiate with Mr. Arafat, with much respect, it wasn’t simple. The PLO was in the beginning a terroristic organization. Mr. Arafat agreed to stop terror and go on to negotiations. By the way, what ever was achieved peacefully, positively, was achieved not by rockets, not by force, not by power, but by negotiations. It takes time, it takes time. It’s a very complicated country. It’s a small country with three religions, with a lot of history. With different ethnicities, it’s not simple. We made peace, once, twice, now we are negotiating with the Palestinians. There was a crisis among the Palestinians, we don’t intend to be the one that decide that the Palestinians be united or not. As long as Hamas did not rebel against the Fatah, it was not our business, we didn’t say a word. You know what? I am talking about Israel, look what the people, of the Palestinian people, the Secretary General of Fatah is saying about Hamas, three days ago.His name is Yasser Abd Rabbo, a Palestinian, a secretary general of the PLO, of the executive committee, and I quote him, I quote him three days ago: “Hamas has turned Gaza, Gaza schools and mosques, all universities into centers of detention, interrogation and torture and torture. Dozens have been shot in their legs, beaten savagely, and had their bones broken, broken. Hamas plundered trucks bringing …and distributes it only to…the food.. only to the supporters of their movement.” They didn’t give the food to the people of Fatah. They killed hundred leaders of Fatah in full daylight. They throw them from the roofs. What do you really mean? Is that the matter of definitions? Israel does not want to shoot anybody, for us all children are as important as one can think of. I created the Peres Center, all the money we have collected went to the cure of children. Palestinian children. They didn’t have insurance, they didn’t have hospitals, in five years we have brought to Israel 5500 Palestinian children and their mothers to be cured. By the way, there is no hospital today in Israel that does not have Arab doctors, so the children can communicate with the doctors in the Israeli hospitals. That is our choice, to touch a child. But if you put a child, if you put bombs in the kindergarten, and if you hide yourselves behind innocent families, and before we shell, we, before we try to shell anybody, we try and telephone the people, we say, please leave the place. We don’t want to hurt you. We made during those twenty days, 250,000 telephone calls before we shoot. What could we do, what was our choice? And what would any government do?I am very much sorry Mr. Secretary General about the United Nations’ building, according to our records, not by your knowledge, they started to shoot from there, and by the way, Europe, you bombed Kosovo, and you hit the Chinese embassy, did you want to? And hundreds of civilian people were killed in the bombing to, That’s Ok. So please, I want to speak clearly, Israel does not need a ceasefire, because we never started a bullet and we shall never do it.

And we shall never do it, and the minute they stop shooting there will be a ceasefire, we don’t need anything else. Every moment, every day we are not interested in fire; we are not interested in hurting or killing anybody. Now about the peace process. First of all I want to say that it was a great move on the side of the Secretary General of the Arab League to introduce the Arab Initiative. I think that was a very positive move in a bitter history of misunderstanding and confrontations. The problems we will facing well the following: a) we started to negotiate directly with the Palestinians. President Mubarak told me, “Look, finish you negotiations with the Palestinians we shall consider as the first move to an overall peace.” We are negotiating and I think we made headway in extremely complicated issue. They call on this issue of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is not a piece of land. Jerusalem is fire. There are three different religions and there are different streams in every religion, and people are fighting about every window, every door. It’s easy to say “make an agreement,” we are trying to find the way. We told the Palestinians that we are ready really to accept [unintelligible], which means ready to return most almost all of the land of the West Bank to them. Gaza we left completely. What is there to fight? So the ceasefire is as far as this is concerned is not a problem for us. We never started, we should never start fire and when they fired against us we replied, but after a great restrain and thousands of people were killed too. They weren’t killed in a concentrated manner. So what? It doesn’t matter. I think that what we have to do, and by the way I’m for the restoration of Gaza, we have nothing there wasn’t a day that we didn’t supply water and oil. I personally read every week a report about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. If something is missing the government and myself we’re intervening to make sure there will be fuel and food. The tragedy of Gaza is not Israel, it’s Hamas, who decreed a dictatorship, a very ugly one and they build the problem of the crossing, now is not because we want to control the supply of food or building material or medical. They build a tunnels to bring in those missiles and they build an underground system of tunnels, well by the way the leaders hide themselves there and they forgot the people. I think, yes, we would like to see Gaza flourishing- Gaza is a small place with an intelligent people. When I started to talk with Mr. Arafat we took as an example Singapore. Gaza together with the West Bank are nine times larger than Singapore and Singapore there are more people than in Gaza and the West Bank. Today the problem is not land but really education and Gaza is not our enemy, and the people in Gaza are not our enemies, and we want to live with them in peace. We don’t have hatred and we don’t have plans for that reason we left Gaza and we are for restoring the life in Gaza but without dictators and without shooting not only us but the people of Fatah… 

Moderator: We might end there… Just one minute 

Shimon Peres: And then want to renew negotiations with the authorized Palestinian authority. We made headway. We want to start right away, we want to do it with the Quartet, we want to do it straight away, we don’t want to waste time. Our aim is peace not war and when we win a war we don’t consider it as a victory. For us victory is peace not war. We have power we should never use power unless we don’t have another choice and when we have a choice we want peace and I think that Hezbollah has learnt the lesson they stop shooting, nobody stop them to shoot but our reaction. I hope that Hamas will also have lesson they will stop shooting and start talking everything that we can achieve is by talking not by shooting and that was and that is and that will remain the position of Israel.

Thank you sir.

Moderator: This has been a powerful and passionate debate. It’s a debate that tonight can go on for hours but we have already gone well past our closing time. I mean…

Erdogan: One minute.

 

Moderator: Mr. Prime Minister…. with apologies to Mr. Prime Minister Erdogan…

 

Erdogan: One minute, one minute, one minute…

Moderator: Well, I…

 

Erdogan:  One minute! It can’t be! One minute! One minute!

 

Moderator: Ok, but I’m gonna hold you to the one minute please.

 

Erdogan: Dear Mr. Peres, you are older than I am. And you have a very strong voice.  I feel that you feel guilty and that’s why your voice was so loud. My voice is not going to be so loud because you know what I’m going to tell you. You know very well how to kill. I know very well how you killed and murdered children on the beaches [of Gaza]. There are two people, two former Prime Ministers of your country, who said something very significant to me. One of them said: “When I entered Palestine in a tank I was happy.” When the tanks entered Palestine they were happy. That’s how some of your Prime Ministers felt. Here you’re talking about figures.  I can give you names, perhaps some of you feel curious. I condemn the ones who applaud cruelty. Because applauding these people who have murdered children is a crime against humanity. We can’t overlook that reality. Look, here I have taken many notes [about Peres intervention] but now I don’t have the possibility to answer them all. I only will tell you two more things about this issue. The first one…

 

Moderator: Prime Minister, we can’t start the debate again.

 

Erdogan: Excuse me. The first one, the first one…

 

Moderator: I’m sorry…

 

Erdogan: Don’t interrupt me.

 

Moderator: We really do need to get people to dinner.

 

Erdogan: The Torah’s 6th Commandament says: Thou Shalt Not Kill. But they have killed Palestinians. The second thing, look, is very interesting. Gilad Atzmon: “Israel’s barbarity is way beyond cruelty.” He’s Jewish.  Then, there is international relations professor from Oxford University Avi Shlaim, who served in the Israeli army. He has said the following in the English newspaper The Guardian: “Israel is a rogue state”.

 

Moderator: Prime Minister, Prime Minister. I wanna ask to our host. Thanks.

 

Erdogan: I also want to thank him as for me it’s finished. For me, for me Davos is finished. I will not come back again to Davos, you should know, here is finished. You don’t let me speak. He’s been talking for 25 minutes, and I only could talk 12 minutes. It can’t be. [He gets up and goes away, the Secretary of the Arab League shakes his hand]. 

 

Source: La Repubblica http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2009/01/20/la-barbarie-strategica.html

 

Translated from Italian by Diego Traversa and revised by Mary Rizzo, members of Tlaxcala www.tlaxcala.es