The Olga Appeal
The Olga Appeal: For Truth and Reconciliation, For Equality and Partnership
Sunday, July 25th, 2004
Alternative Information Center
In the last 3 weeks an interesting political exchange is taking place between left Israeli activists and scholars (primarily in Hebrew) around a new initiative called "The Olga Appeal," of which AIC board member Michael Warschawski is part. Below please find
(1) the Olga Text translated from Hebrew;
(2) A list of first endorsers; and
(3) A letter from the 7 “Olga-Appeal” initiators to Palestinian friends in Israel, the Occupied Territories and the diaspora.
(1) Text of the Olga Appeal:
The State of Israel was supposed to grant security to Jews; it has created a death-trap whose inhabitants live in constant danger, the likes of which is not experienced by any other Jewish community;
The State of Israel was supposed to tear down the walls of the ghetto; it is now constructing the biggest ghetto in the entire history of the Jews;
The State of Israel was supposed to be a democracy; it has set up a colonial structure, combining unmistakable elements of apartheid with the arbitrariness of brutal military occupation.
Israel, 2004, is a state on the road to nowhere. Fifty-six years after its establishment - notwithstanding its many achievements in agriculture, science and technology, and albeit a great regional military power, armed with doomsday weapons - many of its citizens are heartsick with existential worry and fear for their future.
Since its foundation Israel has lived by its sword. An incessant succession of "retaliations", military operations and wars has become the life-support drug of Israel's Jews. And now, almost four years after the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada, Israel is up to its neck in the mire of occupation and oppression, while it goes on extending the settlements and multiplying the outposts, repeating to itself ad nauseam that "we have no partner for peace".
Ten years after the Oslo Accords, we are living in a benighted colonial reality - in the heart of darkness. Thirty-seven years after Israel conquered the last of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, over three and a half million Palestinians under its rule are penned up in their towns and villages. The term "Palestinian State" - which for years embodied the peace option - is being used by many Israeli politicians as a mirage phrase, a spin on the reality of occupation: "In the future," they whisper with a knowing wink, "the Palestinian entity in the Territories may be called a 'state'." And meanwhile Israel is amplifying the devastation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as if determined to pulverize the Palestinian people to dust.
In the face of the large Israeli camp of supporters of the separation walls - those, both right and left, who are terrified by the demons of demography, constantly counting the populace to find out how many Jews and Arabs are born and die every week, how many Jews and Arabs live in the entire country and in each of its districts every month - it is vital to pose an alternative outlook, based on the following principles:
Coexistence of the peoples of this country, based on mutual recognition, equal partnership and implementation of historical justice.
We are united in a critique of Zionism, based as it is on refusal to acknowledge the indigenous people of this country and on denial of their rights, on dispossession of their lands, and on adoption of separation as a fundamental principle and way of life. Adding insult to injury, Israel persists in its refusal to bear any responsibility for its deeds, from the expulsion of the majority of Palestinians from their homeland more than half a century ago, to the present erection of ghetto walls around the remaining Palestinians in the towns and villages of the West Bank. Thus, wherever Jew and Arab stand together or face each other, a boundary is drawn between them, to separate and distinguish between the blessed and the cursed.
We are united in the recognition that this country belongs to all its sons and daughters - citizens and residents, both present and absentees (the uprooted Palestinian citizens of Israel in 48' ) - with no discrimination on personal or communal grounds, irrespective of citizenship or nationality, religion, culture, ethnicity or gender. Thus we demand the immediate annulment of all laws, regulations and practices that discriminate between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, and the dissolution of all institutions, organizations and authorities based on such laws, regulations and practices.
We are united in the belief that peace and reconciliation are contingent on Israel's recognition of its responsibility for the injustices done to the indigenous people, the Palestinians, and on willingness to redress them. Recognition of the right of return follows from our principles. Redressing the continued injustice inflicted on the Palestinian refugees, generation after generation, is a necessary condition both for reconciliation with the Palestinian people, as for the spiritual healing of ourselves, Israeli Jews. Only thus shall we stop being plagued by the past's demons and damnations and make ourselves at home in our common homeland.
For many years now, Israeli leaders have been exerting themselves to depict the Palestinians as sub-human; and their exertions have been seconded and assisted by members of the cultural elite, media barons, vain functionaries and light-scribblers, right and left. We reject this racist arrogance with disgust, knowing that the Palestinians, as all other people, are neither devils nor angels, but just like us, are humans, created equal.
We are convinced that if we approach peace and reconciliation with the Palestinians with an open mind and a willing spirit, we shall find in them what we bring with us: an open mind and a willing spirit. For we are brothers and sisters, not eternal enemies as the well-poisoners profess.
It is pointless, now, to guess the material future form of the vision of life together: two states or one?! perhaps a confederation?! or maybe a federation?! and what about cantons?! In any case, the primary condition for advancing the vision of living together is self-evident, both as a supreme moral imperative and as a practical matter of the here and now: an immediate end to the state of occupation.
Only in this way will the Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip be rid of the yoke of settlements, the nightmare of apartheid, the burden of humiliation and the demons of destruction employed by Israel unremittingly, day and night, for 37 years. Only when they are totally free will the Palestinians be able to discuss and decide their future.
We believe that adoption of the principles stated above will lay the foundations on which the people of this country can set up the proper common frameworks for life together. We are not talking of fantasies or of a miracle move that would lead us from our living hell to a heavenly paradise.
We are talking of a road that has not been tried hitherto: being honest with ourselves, with our neighbours and particularly with the Palestinian people - our enemies who are our brothers and sisters. If we muster within ourselves the appropriate honesty and requisite courage, we will be able to take the first step in the long journey that can extricate us from the tangle of denial, repression, distortion of reality, loss of direction and forsaking of conscience, in which the people of Israel have been trapped for generations.
Whoever has eyes to see and ears to hear knows that the choice is between another “hundred years of conflict” ending in annihilation, and a partnership among all the inhabitants of this land. Only such a partnership is capable of turning us, the Jews of Israel, from foreigners in their country to its real inhabitants.
We do not intend to start another movement against the occupation, or another party (platform, institutions, leaders). We seek to start off a genuine public discussion about the Israeli blind alley in which we live and the profound changes needed in order to break out of it. Every Israeli knows that this is not a matter of political trifles, but concerns the fate of the peoples of this country.
Giv`at Olga, June 2004
(2) The Olga Doc – list of supporters 23.7.2004
Prof. Zalman Amit
Dr. Yossi Amitay
Dr. Ariella Azulay
Talma Bar Din
Dr. Shiko Behar
Prof. Joel Beinin
Nirit Ben Ari
Smadar Ben Natan
Prof. Zvi Bentwich
Dr. Shimshon Bichler
Prof. Anat Biletzki
Prof. Daniel Boyarin
Prof. Victoria Buch
Dr. Sami Shalom Chetrit
Dr. Raya Cohen
Aim Deuelle Luski
Dr. Diana Dolev
Dr. Avishai Ehrlich
Prof. Ariella Friedmann
Avi Gibson Bar-El
Dr. Daphna Golan
Dr. Neve Gordon
Prof. Uri Hadar
Dr. Talma Hendler
Prof. Hannan Hever
Rachel Leah Jones
Dr. Orit Kamir
Dr. Katlin Katz
Prof. Baruch Kimmerling
Dr. Daphna Levit
Prof. Bezalel Manekin
Dr. Abraham Mansbach
Dr. Ruchama Marton
Dr. Nina Mayorek
Prof. Judd Ne'eman
Prof. Adi Ophir
Prof. Avraham Oz
Dr. Nurit Peled Elhanan
Dr. Dan Rabinowitz
Dr. Nitzan Rabinowitz
Dr. Uri Ram
Dr. Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin
Prof. Yehouda Shenhav
Prof. Nomi Shir
Dr. Tali Siloni
Dr. Allon Uhlmann
Michel ( Mikado) Warschawski
Dr. Haim Yacobi
Prof. Oren Yiftachel
Prof. Moshe Zuckermann
(3) A letter from the “Olga-appeal” initiators to Palestinian friends in Israel, the Occupied Territories and the diaspora.
Very dear friends,
A few weeks ago, we made public an appeal to the Jewish-Israeli public opinion, under the title For Truth and Reconciliation, For Equality and Partnership (enclosed) . This appeal aims at changing the political discourse in Israel, adding the historical dimension of the conflict, and raising the structural political, ideological and cultural changes needed to reach, in the future, a true reconciliation.
Intentionally, we wanted our first call to be a call by Israeli-Jews to Israeli-Jews. Such a “tribal approach” was supposed to be the first one and the last one: our perspective is rooted in the rejection of tribalism and the promotion of a true partnership by all the “children of this land”, residents as well as absentees. In our eyes, an internal Jewish-Israeli debate is a first important step and we hope that Palestinian participation and contribution can be the next step.
In ten days, our appeal received unexpected support from more than one hundred Israeli Jews, and a passionate debate has developed among dozens of supporters of the Call around the right of return, historical responsibility, bi-nationalism etc.
We address you our original appeal for comments and criticism. However, we would very much like to discuss the principles of our document with you, Palestinian sisters and brothers, citizens of Israel or residents of the 1967 occupied territories, or members of the Palestinian Diaspora whenever you find it appropriate.
Michael (Mikado) Warschawski
(Yehudith Harel will be our contact person at firstname.lastname@example.org