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Israeli Left-wing Journalist "Fed Up" with Arafat

On May 26, 2000, Aryeh Caspi - an Israeli journalist and commentator for the left-leaning newspaper Ha'aretz, a well-known figure of the Israeli peace camp, and a fervent supporter of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state - voted his growing disapproval of and anger with Arafat's violent tactics. In a fictitious personal address titled "Not by Force," Caspi writes to Yasser Arafat:

"Shalom Mr. Chairman,

It is a bit strange to greet you with the word 'shalom' these days (Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace), but this is the customary greeting in both Hebrew and in Arabic. I usually write to the everyday ordinary people. Not to world leaders...But this time I decided to write to you since I am fed up with you."

"You, of course, may say that another worthless racist Jew and an Arab-hater is trying to dictate to you what to do. However, Mr. Arafat, I am a fervent supporter of your cause, regardless of the spin you will try to put on my words. Ask your friends, study my background, read some of the articles I published on the (Israeli-Palestinian) negotiations, on the Palestinian issue, on Jerusalem... I am one of those (Israelis) who truly and sincerely believe that we should compromise with you because you justifiably deserve it. However, now you are getting on my nerves."

"Our official spokesmen claim that you initiated the latest riots. (I refer to) those same riots you guys have labeled 'protests.' I am usually extremely suspicious of any kind of official statements, but this time both objective testimony and statements made by your own people confirm the conclusion that of all statements it is ours which fit the truth. The IDF has exercised much restraint against the bands of bullies you sent, these are your soldiers, some in uniform (i.e. the Palestinian Police) and others without."

"I am familiar with all the excuses (for the riots). Initially, they spoke of the Nakba - the 'disaster' or the 'Holocaust' of the establishment of the state of Israel. This term that you are using does not make me happy, but I can understand it. I sympathize with your cause but I have a problem with the way you express it. We, like other nations, have our own days of mourning as well. We lost more than 6,000 people in the 1948 war, however, you do not see us beating up Arabs on our Memorial Day. Even on Yom Ha'shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) we never throw stones and shoot at the German Embassy..."

Following the Nakba came the first round of the 'days of rage,' then came the second, then came the third and the fourth and who knows how many more we should expect. One of your assistance told Israeli television: we will not live in a situation in which our fighters serve jail sentences (in Israeli prisons). You better tell them the truth. That is precisely the agreement (that we concluded). In the framework agreement, you agreed to compromise on the prisoners' issue and you knew very well what it was that you were giving up on. You can also tell them (i.e. prisoners) that their issue is likely to be one of the toughest (to resolve) in future negotiations. There is a difference between those who have been serving (sentences in Israeli jails) for extended time periods and those who (just in the recent past) laid bombs inside (Israeli) commuter buses after the Oslo agreement."

"Time is running out, you say, (and you tell us that the Palestinians) 'are running out of patience.' We are also running out of patience. I am afraid you had an optical illusion. You saw the events in Lebanon, you heard about the arguments in the (Israeli) government, and you thought: these are signs of weakness. A chance for a show of force." "Well, forget about these signs. It is a mirage. Western democracies sometimes show false weakness that misleads those who do not understand their internal logic. This was Hitler's mistake in 1939, Gamel Abdel Naser's in 1967, and Saddam Hussain's in 1991. Do not be mistaken, Mr. Arafat. We did not conclude agreements with you so that you would lose your patience with us during every time we disagree. We will not agree to live with a peace process in which your stone throwers and policemen attack our soldiers. And I assume that there will be more disagreements in the future. An agreement, you know, is not a mathematical equation. New, unpredictable problems always emerge. The Nakba day will certainly be repeated every year and it is unacceptable (for us) that it become 'The holiday of stones.' The Koran does not command the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails on May 15th. If I am not mistaken, it (May 15th) is actually a date in the Christian calendar... I feel confident that, if you invest a little thought, you can find a thousand and one non-violent ways to protest."

"The use of violence characterizes the greatest anathema for many people in Israel, both on your side and on ours - those people are precisely the individuals who are closer to accepting your positions. I think (Israel) should leave most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, save those areas that have evolved into dense urban (Jewish) communities like Ma'ale Adumim. I think you should be compensated for those small areas from which (Israel) will not redeploy. I think that every Palestinian should have the right of return to a future Palestinian state. I think (Israel) should pay financial reparations to those Palestinians who will not be able to return to Israeli territory. I think you have a claim to Jerusalem and a right to control its Muslim areas. And I admit that we committed several offenses during those years we controlled you. You see, I accept most of your demands. Without your stones, your shootings, your Nakba day and your thousand other days of rage. I accepted most of your demands before the first stone of the Intifada was thrown back in 1987. I sincerely think that the state of Israel caused a great injustice to the Palestinians, and that most of your demands could be fulfilled without a negotiating process. But for heaven's sake, not by force." "You see, in 1948 we were a beaten and desperate people that held on to this land with no consideration of the consequences to the Palestinians. Two generations have come to pass since that time. Now we are strong enough, not just militarily, but in every other sense as well and this creates out ability to make generous concessions. It is not only true that we can agree on a Palestinian state, but we can also assist in its creation. Do not ruin this hope, because we will all sink into a swamp of blood and violence..."

"Believe me, deep in their hearts, most Israelis feel the way I do. Those maps Barak is presenting to you are only his opening positions. In negotiating school he was taught that one should not begin at the end, so he will have some bargaining chips left to utilize during the final state of the negotiation process. I believe that you probably know this as well as I do. After all, you took the same negotiation course Barak took, and you are using the same tactics. It is only a pity that you are playing this game since we both have already used all possible starting points. Now there are only the concluding positions left to deal with."

"In order to arrive at the desired end game (i.e. peace) of this process, we Israelis have to go through a divisive internal debate. This is the real price that we will pay in exchange for the final peace agreement, not the redeployment from territories. I am willing to pay this price only if you and your people truly choose peace. But every time one of your people throws stones or Molotov cocktails, and every time your soldiers in uniform shoot at our armed forces, you lose a considerable amount of the understanding and good will that my friends and I still have for you."

From: The Middle East Media Research Institute

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