March 5, 1996
Israel is our homeland; Palestine is yours. Anyone who refuses to live with these two simple facts is either blind or evil.
Two and a half years after signing the Oslo Accords you and we have still to agree about the terms of peace. We still have to work hard, negotiate, persist with some issues, make concessions on some others. But, after three generations of fighting each other, we have at last agreed to start healing the wounds. This is what Yasser Arafat meant when he spoke at the ceremony in Washington about the “Peace of the Brave.”
Yitzhak Rabin was a brave man: he paid with his life for his effort. Shimon Peres is a brave man: both his life and his political future are at stake. Now is the time for Yasser Arafat to demonstrate that he too is a brave man—or to give his place to someone braver than him.
There are hundreds of clauses and sub-clauses to the Oslo Accords, but the essence is clear and simple: we stop ruling over you and suppressing you, and you recognize Israel and stop killing us. But up until now we have delivered and you haven’t. Israel is no longer controlling the lives of 85 percent of the Palestinians in the territories. The Palestinians, for their part, have not stopped killing us. In fact, more Israelis are being killed by Palestinians after the agreement than before. The symbol of your recognition of Israel—the cancellation of the Palestinian Covenant calling for our destruction—is still delayed. And this, after all, is a crucial part of the Oslo agreement. If Palestinians will not stop killing Israelis, the Oslo agreement will collapse, and Israel will have to ignore it—or some of it—and defend itself by force.
I know: the injustice, the humiliation, the misery, and the loss which your people have experienced, and for which both your people and mine are responsible, are not yet gone. But then the injustice and the losses inflicted on us Israelis by your fanatic and uncompromising leaders for many decades cannot be undone either. The purpose of peace is not to erase all past sufferings but to prevent further suffering. We must both choose now: either we learn to live with the traumas of the past and overcome them, or we go on fighting, thus creating even more traumas.
For fifty years now, Arab governments have tried to use the entire Palestinian people as a suicide bomber, sending your people to commit suicide in order to destroy us, while watching from their armchairs, rubbing their hands. Now most of the Arab governments are making peace with us, without shedding a tear over your plight. Are the Palestinian people really going to volunteer once more to be a living bomb, and to commit suicide—this time on behalf of fundamentalist Iran and its proxies?
No, my friend, I have not forgotten the fact that hundreds of thousands of…
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Copyright © Amos Oz, 1996