Uri Avnery strikes back

Posted: March 22, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Human Rights, Israel, Own Articles, Palestinians, Peace Process
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Gush Shalom leader, Uri Avnery

Gush Shalom leader, Uri Avnery

You might have heard of Uri Avnery. He is an Israeli journalist and a ‘peace camper’, criticizing Israel for years. Avnery has been a part of Jewish organization Irgun prior to the establishment of the Jewish state, and now calls himself a ‘terrorist’.

Avnery for Arabs is Walid Shoebat for the Israelis and the Americans. A man, who once fought the Arabs, now fights for their rights with the help of self-created radical-left Gush Shalom (‘Peace Bloc’) organization. Gush Shalom, mind you, is one of the most radical Left-wing organizations, together with Shalom Ahshav (‘Peace Now’) headed by Yariv Oppenheimer.

Gush Shalom basically sets its aims at the very usual for the Left camp: creation of the Palestinian state within 1967 borders, an open-borders policy between the two states, and dividing Jerusalem. By the way, on both its Hebrew and English websites Gush Shalom tries to use evasive terms in order to confuse the casual reader, not familiar with terminology. For example, on its Hebrew-language website, the creators point out they wish for the East Jerusalem to be the capital of the Palestinian state, together with the ‘Mosque Plaza’, while the English website calls this same place Haram al-Sharif, or ‘The Noble Sanctuary’. While casual reader would not necessarily understand the meaning of these two terms, Gush Shalom actually speaks of the Temple Mount – considered to be the most sacred place for Jews and third sacred site for Muslims.

Gush Shalom – and Uri Avnery – have protested a lot against ‘Israeli occupation’ together with Israeli Arab members of the Knesset, for example. While in itself not representing any problem, Gush Shalom activists were never seen protesting murder of innocent Israel civilians. Avnery does not believe in violence, but in peace. Uri Avnery loved being with Yasser Arafat – but you will never see him supporting the settlers.

Avnery likes hanging out with members of Palestinian terrorist Fatah organization (for example, he writes about his nostalgic memories here); yes, same Fatah to which Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas belongs and which even today does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Reminder: Fatah considered a ‘pragmatist’ movement.

Thus, it comes as no surprise when Avnery writes for websites like ArabNews (where you can find first-page headlines such as ‘Judaization of Jerusalem‘), offering Arab public his opinion on Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a recent one, Avnery presents his view of the current situation, wordily venting about Israeli public preoccupied with the indictment of former President Moshe Katsav (indicted for rape and several other sexually-related crimes), instead of noticing the just as heinous crimes of the Israeli lobby in the US, which has recently pushed out a recently-appointed Charles Freeman as head of National Intelligence Council. There is a reason, why Avnery likes Freeman, and this is why:

[Chief of National Intelligence] Adm. [Dennis] Blair could not have chosen a better person than Charles Freeman, a man of sterling character and uncontested expertise, especially about China and the Arab world.

And that was his undoing. As a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Freeman is an expert on the Arab world and the Israeli-Arab conflict. He has strong opinions about American policy in the Middle East, and makes no secret of them.

In a 2005 speech, he criticized Israel’s “high-handed and self-defeating policies” originating in the “occupation and settlement of Arab lands,” which he described as “inherently violent.”

In a 2007 speech he said that the US had “embraced Israel’s enemies as our own” and that Arabs had “responded by equating Americans with Israelis as their enemies.” Charging the US with backing Israel’s “efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations” and to “seize ever more Arab land for its colonists,” he added that “Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians.”

Another conclusion is his belief that the terrorism the United States confronts is due largely to “the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that has lasted over 40 years and shows no signs of ending.”

Avnery found a soul mate within Charles Freeman, and became very disappointed with Israeli media’s lack of understanding and attention towards the important appointment. Avnery’s disappointment grew, as the ‘Israeli lobby’ has forced Freeman off position:

Public denunciations were composed, senators and congressmen pressed into action, media people mobilized. Freeman’s integrity was called into question, shady connections with Arab and Chinese financial interests “disclosed” by the docile press. Adm. Blair came to his appointee’s defense, but in vain. Freeman had no choice but to withdraw.

Avnery believes this was the first round between newly elected President Barak Obama and the Israeli ‘lobby’ in Washington – in which Obama lost.

Call me crazy, but I am having a hard time believe a person who – according to quotes brought by Avnery himself – sees Israel as the root of conflict in the Middle East, would be objective enough to deliver peaceful and fair solution to both Israelis and Palestinians.

By the way – or not by the way – Avnery also shows his distress regarding the recent ‘rude’ ban of English group ‘Independent Jewish Voices’ from the Jewish Book Week in Israel. The IJV declares its principles of upholding human rights in Israel and in Palestinian-controlled territories, ‘unbearability’ of racism and most importantly – the impossibility of Jewish ‘institutions’ in Great Britain to speak for all Jews of GB, while they are actually not speaking for the members of IJV. Instead, ‘Jewish Voices’ wish to present their ‘broad spectrum of opinion’ – translated to regular English, as ‘we are Jews who support appeasement in face of Palestinian terrorism’. Note, however, that unlike Gush Shalom, IJV focuses on both sides of the issue, ‘demanding’ peaceful lives for both Palestinians and Israelis.

The IJV or Avnery never mention Yasser Arafat’s refusal to take the chance for creation of the Palestinian state (including capital in Jerusalem) in 2000.

Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve peace. It is unfortunate that Avnery and the like misunderstand their actions, playing into the hands of anti-Semites, instead of actually promoting peace.

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