Uri Avnery’s Vision for the Future of Israel & Palestine

avneryUri Avnery

March 28, 2015

The Israeli Salvation Front

THE 2015 election was a giant step towards the self-destruction of Israel.

The decisive majority has voted for an apartheid state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, in which democracy will slowly disappear.

The decision is not yet final. Israeli democracy has lost a battle. It has not yet lost the war.

If it does not draw the lessons, it will lose the war, too.

All the justifications and alibis of the Israeli Left are useless. It’s the bottom line that counts.

The country is in existential danger. Not from the outside, but from the inside.

An Israel Salvation Front is needed now.

We have no other country.

FIRST OF ALL, the full extent of the debacle must be acknowledged and full responsibility must be taken.

The leaders who lost must go. In the struggle for the life of the state, there is no second opportunity.

The struggle between Isaac Herzog and Binyamin Netanyahu was a match between a lightweight boxer and a heavyweight.

The idea of a National Union government must be rejected and roundly condemned. In such a government, the Labor Party would again play the contemptible role of a fig leaf for the policy of occupation and oppression.

Now a new generation of leaders is needed, young, energetic and original.

THE ELECTION pitilessly exposed the deep chasms between the different sectors of Israeli society: Orientals, Ashkenazis, Arabs, “Russian”, orthodox, religious and more.

The Salvation Front must encompass all sectors.

Every sector has its own culture, its own traditions, its own faith(s). All must be respected. Mutual; respect is the foundation of the Israeli partnership.

The foundation of the Salvation Front needs a new authentic leadership that must emerge from all sectors.

The State of Israel belongs to all its citizens. No sector has exclusive ownership of the state.

The huge and growing gap between the very rich and the very poor, which which largely parallels the gap between the ethnic communities, is a disaster for all of us.

The salvation of the state must be based on a return to equality as a basic value. A reality in which hundreds of thousands of children live under the poverty line is intolerable.

The income of the upper 0.01%, which reaches to the heavens, must be brought down to a reasonable level. The income of the lowest 10% must be raised to a humane level.

THE ALMOST total separation between the Jewish and the Arab parts of Israeli society is a disaster for both and for the state.

The Salvation Front must be based on both peoples. The chasm between them must be eliminated, for the good of both.

Empty phrases about equality and fraternity are not enough. They lack credibility.

There must come into being a sincere alliance between the democratic forces on both sides, not only in words but in actual daily cooperation in all areas.

This cooperation must find expression in frameworks of political partnership, joint struggles and regular joint meetings in all areas, based on respect for the uniqueness of each partner.

Only a permanent joint struggle can save Israeli democracy and the state itself.

THE HISTORIC conflict between the Zionist movement and the Palestinian Arab national movement now threatens both peoples.

The country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is the homeland of the two peoples. No war, oppression or uprising will change this basic fact.

If this conflict continues without end, it will endanger the existence of both peoples.

The one and only solution was and is their co-existence in two sovereign states: a free and independent State of Palestine side by side with the State of Israel.

The two-state solution is not a recipe for separation and divorce. On the contrary, it is a recipe for close co-existence.

The 1967 borders, with mutual agreed changes, are the basis of peace.

The co-existence of the two states in the joint homeland does necessitate frameworks of partnership at the highest level, as well as open borders for the movement of people and goods. It also needs solid security arrangements for the good of both peoples.

Jerusalem, open and unified, must be the capital of both states.

The painful tragedy of the Palestinian refugees must find its just solution, agreed upon by the two sides. This solution will include return to the Palestinian state, a limited symbolic return to Israel and the payment of generous compensation by international funds to all.

Israel and Palestine shall work together so as to achieve a return of Jewish property left in Arab countries or the payment of generous compensation.

The State of Palestine will keep its affinity with the Arab world. The state of Israel will keep its affinity with the Jewish people in the world. Each of the two states will have sole responsibility for its immigration policy.

The problem of the Jewish settlers in Palestine will find its solution in the framework of agreed border changes between the two states, the inclusion of some settlements in the Palestinian state with the agreement of the Palestinian government and the re-settlement of the rest of the settlers in Israel.

Both states shall cooperate in the creation of a democratic regional partnership, in the spirit of the “Arab Spring”, while resisting anarchy, terrorism and religious and nationalistic fanaticism throughout the region.

The masses of Israelis and Palestinians will not believe in the chances of peace and co-existence if there is no real and open partnership between the peace camps of both peoples.

To establish such a partnership, organizations and individuals of both sides must start right now to conduct joint political action, such as constant consultation and joint planning on all levels and in all areas.

THE JEWISH character of the State of Israel finds its expression in its culture and its affinity with the Jews throughout the world. It must not express itself in its interior regime. All citizens and all sectors must be equal.

The democratic forces within the Jewish and the Arab public must join hands and work together in their daily actions.

International pressure by itself will not save Israel from itself. The salvation forces must come from within.

World-wide pressure on Israel can and must assist the democratic forces in Israel, but cannot take their place.

BASIC VALUES do not change. However, the ways of talking about them with the public must change.

The old slogans are ineffective. The values must be re-defined and re-formulated in up-to-date language, in line with the concepts and language of a new generation.

The two-state vision was defined after the 1948 war by a small group of path-blazers. Since than, huge changes have taken place in the world, in the region and within Israeli society. While the vision itself remains the only practical solution of the historic conflict, it must be poured into new vessels.

There is a need for political unity, a unifying salvation front that brings together all the forces of peace, democracy and social justice.

If the Labor Party is able to re-invent itself from the bottom up, it can constitute the basis of this camp. If not, an entirely new political party must be formed, as the core of the Salvation Front. 

Within this front, diverse ideological forces must find their place and engage in a fruitful internal debate, while conducting a unified political struggle for the salvation of the state.

The regime within Israel must assure complete equality between all Jewish ethnic communities and between the two peoples, while safeguarding the affinity of the Israeli-Jewish public with the Jews in the world and the affinity of the Israeli-Arab public with the Arab world.

The situation in which most of the resources are in the hands of 1% of the population at the cost of the other 99%, must come to an end. A reasonable equality between all citizens, without connection with their ethnic origin, must be restored.

There is no social message without a political message, and there is no political message without a social message.

The Oriental Jewish public must be full partners in the state, side by side with all other sectors. Their dignity, culture, social status and economic situation must be accorded their proper place.

The religious-secular confrontation must be postponed until after peace is achieved. The beliefs and ceremonies of all religions must be respected, as well as the secular worldview.

The separation of state and religion – such as civil marriage, mass transportation on Shabbat – can wait until the struggle for existence is decided.

The protection of the judicial system, and above all the Supreme Court, is an absolute duty.

The various associations for peace, human rights and social justice, each of which conducts its laudable independent struggle in its chosen field, must enter the political arena and play a central role together in the unified Salvation Front.

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1 Response

  1. Poo says:

    Uri Avnery’s Vision for the Future of Israel and Palestine is, as usual, myopic, poorly reasoned and completely wrong. The 2015 election was not “a giant step towards the self-destruction of Israel.” Nor did the “decisive majority” vote for “an apartheid state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.” Avnery dislikes democracy. The outcome is never what he wants. Stupid voters. Avnery does not want democracy. He wants a dictatorship, dictated either by him, which is preferable, or heavily influenced by him, less preferable but all he can dream of. As luck would have it he has created The Avnery Manifesto out of the ashes and trite phrases of the Utopian Socialists or Karl Marx. It is hard to know which, probably both.

    “The leaders who lost must go. In the struggle for the life of the state, there is no second opportunity.”……..”Now a new generation of leaders is needed, young, energetic and original.”…”All the justifications and alibis of the Israeli Left are useless.” Can this truly mean that we have finally heard the last from the verbose vanity of Avnery himself? Or is the “Salvation Front” merely the next venture to vault him ever closer to the one thing he truly cares for, Avnery in charge. ‘The All Avnery All Day Party’. Sounds like a good name for a pre-school.

    Poor, sad, bitter man. He has apparently never seen a political campaign before. Hell, the Narcissist in Chief (henceforth to be known as the NIC) promised the world to American blacks and Latinos but what happened? Oops, a reversal of fortune, greater black unemployment, increased numbers of blacks in jail and record number of Latinos deported. Politics is politics everywhere, I guess.

    “The 1967 borders, with mutual agreed changes, are the basis of peace.” Ah yes, just “mutual agreed changes.” What could be simpler or more naive? Why did no one but Avnery think of it? Maybe “open borders for the movement of people and goods.” Yeah, ‘freedom of rockets’ we could call it. I particularly like the need for a “generous compensation by international funds to all.” Karl had the same idea, it was called ‘other people’s money’. Arab countries offering a “generous compensation” to the Jews completes the fantasy. What is it with the Left (Avnery’s word) that the solution to everything is “other people’s money”? Every communist state has failed amidst mountains of debt, corruption and death. A line by line analysis of this latest drivel from Avnery would be an insult to drivel.

    The Left believes that the prospects for peace are now dead because Netanyahu has declared there will be no Palestinian state while he is the Prime Minister of Israel. And we were so close before. Well, there won’t be. Duh! Get used to it. Just ask the Palestinians. Read the Hamas Charter. The US, Canada and the EU among others classify Hamas as a terrorist organization. Even Twitter suspended the Hamas account last year because the organization used it to spread messages of terror and hate. Yeah, there will be peace during Netanyahu’s term with those people. Try getting real. At least Netanyahu admits it.

    Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, both left of Likud Prime Ministers, offered the Palestinians their own state in 2000, 2001 and 2008. They offered a capital in Jerusalem. They offered to uproot every Israeli settlement in this new Palestine. They were rudely rejected. But it’s Netanyahu’s fault. Right. There will be no 2 state solution on his watch. The Palestinians don’t want it. They never have and never will sign a final peace settlement dividing land with a Jewish state. And without that, no Israeli government of any kind will agree to a Palestinian state. Hamas wants to wipe Israel off the “face of the earth.” Not what you might call the ‘makings of a deal.’

    I try to imagine Jews living and working peacefully in the Gaza Strip, having their own political party and voting. Hard to picture isn’t it? Yet Arabs can and do enjoy all these rights in Israel.

    Neither side is ready for serious peacemaking in any case. If the NIC can stop his foot stomping and rein in his hissy-fit for a moment, he might just get the message. So what is the message? Why is a deal so remote? Why will neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis play ball with the NIC or his Socialite of State? The biggest stumbling block, of course, is Hamas though it is showing signs of vulnerability. It has failed to deliver anything meaningful to its constituents in the Gaza Strip. The fall of its major financial and political ally, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, make its prospects bleaker. Iran is supposedly trying to wind down supplying weapons to Hamas as it attempts to make a silk purse out of its sow’s ear of a nuclear deal with the desperate NIC. Just look at the comical, green “legacy” deal with China. They’re still laughing.

    Abbas the Billionaire sits astride any deal. He sees the restoration of Fatah’s control over Gaza and the reunification of the Palestinian people as his sole priority, next to enriching himself that is. It is what he does best. The demographics favor Abbas as the birthrate of the Palestinians far exceeds that of the Israelis. Netanyahu continues to see Israel in a strong position to negotiate a deal on favourable terms. Unlike in past years under the Socialists, the country is economically strong. And, politics aside, the Labour Party has promised to support the government on a vote in parliament on any peace deal. This adds a level of security to Netanyahu that has been absent for decades.

    Despite the left leaning rhetoric, the biggest plus Netanyahu had going at the polls was an economic one. Avnery et al simply cannot stand this. Netanyahu led Israel on a march to freer markets. In their hearts, the Israelis voters understood that they were better off with Bibi. Under the rule of the socialist parties, Israel was a quagmire of incompetent state control and Big Labour. The Histradrut Labour Federation represented 85 percent of all wage earners throughout the 1980s hence Israel’s lack of competitiveness. Netanyahu tackled both the social safety net and the vested corporate interests. Most western countries are now forced to deal with this very same problem, the inability to support social election promises. In spite of socialist fantasies, the money simply isn’t there. Thanks to the NIC, U.S. debt now stands at over $150,000 per taxpayer. No one alive will have great-grandchildren able to pay it off. France will have 2 people working for every one who is not within 25 years. Can you spell Greece?

    Netanyahu’s liberalization of the economy attracted foreign capital and made Israel an entrepreneurial destination of choice. The Economist stated that Israel has the world’s highest density of start-ups. Next to Silicon Valley, Israel has the largest number of total start-ups. High tech companies now beat a path to Israel’s door. An astonishing 250 U.S. companies have made Israel the new home to their R&D centres. End-of-year reports by accounting firm Price Waterhouse-Coopers and Ethosia Human Resources showed that 2014 set records for Israeli high-tech and biotech start-ups. 52 of them sold for some $15-billion. 18 IPOs were worth another $10-billion. 2015 looks to be even better. January alone saw foreign giants such as Microsoft and Amazon pay $900-million for companies rich in Israel’s highly skilled and inventive workforce. A country needs an influx of money like this in order to support social programs and infrastructure growth. I know the Left prefers simply to tax the rich but sadly, there just aren’t enough of them. Some people have to work, really.

    Al-Araby al-Jadid, a London-based Qatari daily, explained developments thusly: “Israel’s advanced technology developments have become its most prominent soft power tool for boosting diplomatic ties and improving its position in the world, enhancing its own security in the process.” Think trade, investment, economic growth!

    Israel’s technological prowess is a natural by-product of Netanyahu’s policies. The Kulanu party leader, Moshe Kahlon, was elected on an unabashedly pro-business, pro-competition “economic freedom” platform. He is dedicated to reducing the size of government while at the same time breaking up Israel’s remaining public monopolies and private oligopolies. He is Netanyahu’s choice for Finance Minister. Has Avnery fainted yet?

    Bibi’s victory is a repudiation not only of Avnery and his ilk but of Western leaders who funded the “anyone-but-Netanyahu” campaign that tried to install a compliant leftist party in his place. NIC operatives and Democratic Party workers were sent to assist Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni who were gratefully expected to endorse the NICs policies of Appeasement. This is in violation of American law. While it is true that Democratic and Republican operatives have always been active in Israel, never before have they been sent by the President and his donors.

    As for Israel’s alleged isolation in the world? Look who they are isolated from. Not us. Not the U.S. Just the West Wing and the non-aligned members of the U.N. So who cares? The U.N.is a corrupt and useless waste of money. The U.S. Congress will wait out the NIC for any other President regardless of Party affiliation. Foreign policy cannot get worse and the debt, well it will be greater than what has been assembled by all, count them all, previous presidents. Sadly for the taxpayer, no one will touch that until the country hits the wall, which it will.

    Actually, for the first time Israel has allies of sorts in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and relationships with leaders of the Arab Sunni world in Africa like Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda. Free trade deals are in the works with India and China both of whom are turning to Israel for weaponry and high tech. Trade is also expanding with Japan. Relationships with countries of the former East Bloc, including Russia, are developing. Australia is firmly in Israel’s corner; Canada’s commitment is at an all-time high; America’s remains as strong as ever, the NIC and the American left notwithstanding.

    Let’s just look at the Mid-East facing Israel as it is under the NIC’s foreign policy (?) since the so called Arab Spring or as I called it 4 years ago, ‘The Christian Winter.’ Only the criminally optimistic could overlook the caustic instability of the entire Middle East and its impact on any peace agreement between the Arafat created Palestinians and the Israelis. The oddity is that the former dictators in the region were easier to deal with than the terrorists.

    Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Tunisia are all in various stages of unrest, protest or civil war. American policy in the Middle East is in ruins. No one believes in the NIC who loves to talk, draw red lines and then do nothing or too little too late. The fact that the Middle East is a swamp of religious warfare, bad governance, oil politics and foreign interference is undeniable. The NIC’s Middle East policies have clearly been disastrous. He might get a (bad) nuclear deal with Iran, but he will also have left Tehran’s ayatollahs in charge throughout the region with Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen operating as mere colonies. Libya and Yemen are failed states. Other rulers had been forced from power. There is war in Iraq and Syria. Major protests have broken out in Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Sudan. Minor protests have occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti and Western Sahara. There has been war between Israel and Palestine. Fighters returning from the Libyan Civil War stoked a simmering conflict in Mali. Boku Haram (now affiliated with ISIS), Al-Shabab and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are growing in Africa. All in all a fine catalogue of Foreign Relations coups for the NIC. And you wonder why Netanyahu disagrees with the NIC and his vision of Appeasement?

    From Mali to Iraq, everything is in flux. Amid this mayhem, by what magic would the West Bank, riven by a bitter Fatah-Hamas rivalry, be an island of stability? What would give any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement even a modicum of durability? Abbas commands no one. Why do you think he is in the 11th year of a four-year term, having refused to hold elections for the last five years? Because he’s afraid he would lose to Hamas. The West Bank could fall to Hamas overnight. At which point, when it suits Hamas, the rockets would begin to rain down on Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and the entire Israeli urban heartland just as they now do in southern Israel. Palestine has become a terrorist state, another fine neighbor.

    Any Arab-Israeli peace settlement would require Israel to make daring, dangerous and inherently irreversible territorial concessions on the West Bank in return for promises and guarantees. Under current conditions, such guarantees would be written on sand, in a blowing wind.

    Israel is ringed by jihadi terrorists in Sinai, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, ISIS and Iranian proxies in Syria and a friendly but highly fragile Jordan. Israelis have no idea who will end up running any of these places. Will the ISIS advance to an Israeli border? Will Iranian Revolutionary Guards appear on the Golan Heights? No one knows, not even Avnery.

    Avnery believes that Israel could be given assurances, guarantees if you will, through hugs, chit chat and the “forces of peace, democracy and social justice.” Guarantees? Like Ukraine’s “territorial integrity” or the red line in Syria or the U.N. resolutions declaring any Iranian enrichment of uranium to be illegal? Does he mean like those guarantees? Netanyahu thinks not. I’m with him. Avnery? He just likes to hear himself talk. The ballot boxes have shown he is in the minority.

    Peace awaits three things: Eventual Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state and a Palestinian leader willing to sign a deal based on that premise. A modicum of regional stability that allows Israel to risk the potentially fatal withdrawals such a deal would entail. There is zero chance such a day will come on Netanyahu’s watch, no matter what he says or does. I doubt it will come in my lifetime.

    The crushing disappointment of the NIC’s administration at Netanyahu’s spectacular success was palatable. They loathe him. They loathe themselves for their inability to oust him. But blaming Netanyahu for prolonging peace is a mindless inanity only Avnery could love.

    U.S./Israel relations are unlikely to improve at the Presidential level but they are fine outside of the West Wing, like in the U.S. Congress and with the American public. Petulant NIC, stamps his little foot and “congratulates Netanyahu on his “plurality” rather than what it is called in Israel, “winning.” And it took him 2 days to that little. Pout, pout.

    To his credit Netanyahu refuses to downplay the reality that is Iran, the world’s largest exporter of terror. His victory and outspokenness further emboldens the U.S. Congress to vigorously oppose the NIC’s negotiations with Iran for a nuclear deal. The NIC might be able to use his executive powers to sign a weak deal any successor would undo. Some deal. Some Legacy and that is all it is about for the NIC. The real question is, why would Iran sign it unless the NIC has promised them money and nuclear power? For the record, Iran continues to resist IAEA access to military installations, including the facility at Parchin, where observers have long suspected that nuclear weapons research has taken place. Also again for the record, we threw them and their spies out of the country.

    Israel is also making friends throughout the Middle East and Africa with Netanyahu’s principled stand against an Iranian nuclear deal. The Saudis suggest that if Iran is permitted to keep its potential nuclear bomb-making capacity, they will be obliged to move in that direction as well. So might the Egyptians. Both are friendly with nuclear Pakistan and both nations are buying arms in huge quantities. For their part, the Saudis are expected to spend almost $10 billion in 2015. This will make them the largest purchaser of American arms. That somehow does not bother the NIC. Methinks the Middle East is simply too confusing for him. They think that too. They’re right.

    No threat scares Iran though Saudi efforts to keep oil prices low and production down does cripple Iran’s treasury. Iran has seen its influence expand enormously in the region on the NIC’s watch. Iranian arms and soldiers are flowing to Shia Iraqis. Iranian senior officers and units are leading the battle against the Islamists. Iraq is well on its way to becoming an Iranian fiefdom. In the end, Assad may be may be less odious than ISIS. Could that be the NIC’s plan?

    Two years from now, the NIC will be gone, thankfully. Who can afford any more? He will be remembered as the worst American president in memory perhaps the worst in history. That depends, of course, on how future generations rate the plethora of drunks and whore mongers that preceded him. Prime Minister Netanyahu will still be there in spite or perhaps because of whiners like Avnery. I prefer to think it is because of him. The irony is just too delicious.

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