Response and Critique to Uri Avnery's June 14, 2008 Essay "An Apology"

by Barry Weiss (June 18, 2008)

Dear Mr. Avnery,

I have to take issue with your suggested "Apology" on behalf of Israel to the Palestinian community, which "Apology" I believe is less than candid or adequate in many respects.

First, a somewhat quibbling point. You assert that most Zionists were unaware that they were seeking to dispossess another people from their homeland in order to establish a Jewish State in Palestine. While some benighted folks in the Jewish community who were not deeply involved in the Zionist movement may have been unaware of this fact, leaders of the Zionist movement were well aware of this issue from the outset and dispossession was a major feature of the movement.

More importantly, however, you cite a number of examples and biblical verse to justify your so-called "Apology", without having the candor to state that these were all examples and verses of APOLOGYS FOR PAST WRONGS, NOT CONTINUING WRONGS. Zionist Israel continues to this moment to occupy and oppress Palestinians--those in Gaza and the West Bank, those who constitute 20% of the citizenry in pre-1967 Israel and those who were dispossessed from their homes in 1948. I suggest to you that an apology from the US to its Japanese American citizens while they were still incarcerated in concentration camps, an apology from the US to its African-American citizens while segregation and second class citizenship was still in force, an apology from Germany to the Jews of the world while the Nazi regime was still in power, and an apology by Czechoslovakia to its German citizens while it was still expelling them, would all have fallen on deaf ears and rightly so. Why can you not accept the fact that ending occupation and oppression is not a matter of negotiation in order to achieve continued exclusivity for a Zionist State? It is a matter of unilateral action that should be done now without pre-conditions.

And this Zionist State that you seek to preserve behind its pre-1967 borders, which you admit was created with great injustice--what will be the nature of that State? Will 1.2 million Palestinian citizens, 20% of its population be "encouraged" to leave for the newly created Palestinian State, or will they be welcomed as citizens with full rights as they never have had up to this point? And "full rights" means full rights in a democratic secular society, not second class rights in a one ethnic religious society. Such rights include equal immigration rights with the Jewish population and could one day result in a non-Jewish majority in your Zionist State. Is this acceptable to you? You certainly have not dealt with any of this. And what about those Palestinians who desire to return to the homes they lost in 1948 which are in your Zionist State? Are we merely to dismiss those rights which are guaranteed by the Declaration of Human rights of the UN and by specific UN Resolutions? Are we to "negotiate them away" with non-representative, non-democratic Arab States who may not be representing the affected Palestinians? Again, your "Apology" has not dealt with this.

I have merely scratched the surface, but this is why I believe your "Apology" falls far short of what needs to be done to achieve justice. Let me end with another quote, since you seem to be fond of them:

     "Physician heal thyself!"

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