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Appeal for Peace in the Middle East

To the Editors:

The Middle East is threatened with a hundred years’ war, a conflict that cuts across all political camps, dividing and inflicting wounds upon all of us. After years of violence and confusion, there is today the danger of public indifference to what is happening. Meanwhile, governments, political parties, and individual passions feed the conflict with arms, money, and propaganda. Yet we know that, in the Middle East, as elsewhere, the state of war must sooner or later give way to a state of peace: through direct or indirect negotiations, concessions agreed upon or imposed. If this is to be the outcome, why should there be further years of slaughter? We feel that we must speak out.

To the Arab governments and their peoples: We know your thirst for justice. But your attempt to exact it from Israel alone, we suggest, causes you to forget that there exist striking examples of injustice in other countries including your own. Whatever alliances you make, an attempt to win an open war against Israel would be futile and tragic. Must you really sacrifice your progress and happiness to a mirage—that Israel will disappear in the coming century? Your determination to recover the territories that have been occupied since 1967 is legitimate, as is your refusal to submit to have your lands ruled by foreign law. To discuss these claims peacefully, we suggest, would not be a defeat. As history has often shown, such discussions can even lead to another kind of victory. It would then be possible for you to undertake, in peace, consolidation of the Arab peoples’ economic, cultural, and political contribution to the modern world.

To the Israelis: Today your security is not threatened and we think you must know this. Your territorial annexations and alliances seem to us to betray the ideals of your own pioneers. Your toil has transformed the desert into cities, yet today you are led to bomb the camps of refugees. You have left your ghettos to build a fortress, whereas your safety lies in a country with open borders. The path to peace, we believe, does not lie in confrontations with the Arab governments but in recognition of the Palestinian people, in order that they, in turn, may accept your own nationhood. Your home will not be truly your own until the Palestinians have theirs. This is the price of peace.

To the Palestinians: You can no more destroy the State of Israel than the Arab states can. Surely you must realize this. For the immediate future you have no other choice than to build the country to which you have legitimate claim beside that of Israel. All other choices will only result in exile, sporadic guerrilla warfare, or else in spectacular acts of violence with no future. Before the 1967 war, you were used as an alibi by the Arab politicians, who left you in refugee camps, excluded from Israel. You have become a cause to which the Arab masses have rallied. The Great Powers make use of you and the Arab governments merely to tolerate or slaughter you. The Jews have known for centuries the humiliations you feel today. They would rather be killed outright than leave the land on which they live. You have the opportunity to reverse the dreadful trend of history, in which compromise too often becomes possible only after men have been killed. The struggle to create a new Palestinian state is, we believe, a legitimate and realistic aim; it is in no sense a surrender.

With the exceptions of the wars that ended for lack of fighters, all wars, even the most unjust and absurd, have ended around the table of a peace conference. Let us be the artisans of this peace.

By writing as we do we do not intend merely to launch another petition or to preach. We hope rather to frankly clarify and dispel the distortions that have plagued the positions of all sides in the Middle East and stand in the way of settlement. Few people would have difficulty accepting one, or even two, of the propositions we have stated here. And yet we believe that all three must be seen as inseparable.

The signers of this text promise:

—To support and make known these three propositions as widely as we can and to help organize meetings, at every level, among Arabs, Palestinians, and Israelis.

—To support a mission, to be chosen by the signers, that will present these three propositions to the Arab, Palestinian, and Israeli governments and to political organizations.

This call is being published simultaneously in different countries. Those who support it and want to add their signature should write to: Appeal for Peace in the Middle East, 15 rue des Minimes, 75003 Paris, France.

Hannah Arendt; Wolfgang Bauer, Austria; Michel-Antoine Burnier, Editor of Actuel, France; Ernst Bloch, West Germany; Jean Cassou, France; Noam Chomsky; Maurice Clavel, France; Claude Estier, Editor of L’Unité, France; Jean-Pierre Faye, Co-editor of Change, France; Jürgen Feifert, Hanover University, West Germany; Roger Fisher, Harvard Law School; Guido Fubini, Director of PSI, Turin, Italy; Günther Grass; Clara Halter, Co-editor of Eléments, France; Marek Halter, Painter, France; Friedrich Heer, University of Vienna; Fred Hermantin, Vice President, MRAP, France; Paul Jacobs; Daniel Jacoby, Secretary-General, International League of Rights of Man, France; Walter Jens, Tübingen University, West Germany, Louis Kampf; Alfred Kastler, Nobel Prize winner, France; Georges Kiejman, France; Bernard Kouchner, France; Heinz Kuby, West Germany; Simone Lacouture, France; Jean Lacouture; Robert Lapoujade, Film maker, France; Henri Lefebvre, Nanterre University, France; Ricardo Lombardi, Deputy, PSI, Italy; Daniele Loschak, Amiens Law Faculty, France; Salvador Luria, Nobel Prize winner, USA; Clara Malraux; Jacques Madaule, President of L’Amitié Judeo-Chretienne, France; Gilles Martinet, France; Everett Mendelsohn, Harvard; Arnold Metzger, Munich Law Faculty; Paul Milliez, Dean of Medical Faculty, Paris; Edgar Morin, France; Serge Moscovici, France; Sally N’dongo, President, Senegalese Workers Union, France; Günther Nenning, Editor of Neues Forum, Vienna; Nerio Nesi, Regional Adviser for Piedmont, Italy; Maria Magnani Noya, Deputy, PSI, Italy; Henri Paeschke, Editor of Merkur, Munich; Bernard Pingaud, France; Yves Person, Sorbonne, Paris; Henri Ridder, Law Professor, Giessen, West Germany; David Riesman, Harvard; Fernand Rohman, Philosophy Professor, Paris; Pasteur Henri Rosen, France; Claude Roy, France; Rolf Schroers, Director, Theodor Heuss Akademie, West Germany; Jorge Semprun, France; C.P. Snow; I.F. Stone; Umberto Terracini, Communist Senator, Italy; Mikis Theodorakis; Alain Touraine, L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes, France; Pierre Vernant, Medical Faculty, Paris; Pierre Verstraeten, Philosophy Professor, Brussels; Mike Wefter, Hanover University, West Germany; Oswald Wiener, University of Berlin, West Germany; Angus Wilson; Peter Weiss, USA; Richard Wollheim, University College, London; Ilios Yannakakis, University of Lille, France; Aldo Zargani, Official of Italian Radio, PSI, Italy; Jean Ziegler, University of Geneva, Switzerland; Howard Zinn; Robert Zittoun, Medical Faculty, Paris.

(Affiliation for identification purposes only)

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