Mitzna’s victory a sign of hope but the tone still set by violence
Press Release, GUSH SHALOM – http://www.gush-shalom.org/
November 21, 2002
In what could be called a silent mass demonstration for peace, tens of thousands of Labor party members decided this week to give the newcomer a chance. The not so cautious Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna had challenged the hawkish Ben-Eliezer as well as the balancing Chaim Ramon with a more outspoken peace agenda than we remember ever anybody having succeeded with – in the race for the Labor Party leadership.
Amram Mitzna is, as so many before him, a former general but after his army career ten years ago he became the mayor of Haifa. And he displayed exceptional courage and wisdom in this binational Jewish-Arab town during the ethnic strive in the beginning of this Intifada. All in all we wish him success and hope that with the same daring and opennes he displayed so far, he will succeed to open up more Israelis – all those who show themselves to be rather dovish in theory -as appears from the polls – but who never heard the truth from a politician whom they were willing to trust.
However, the fact of Mitzna’s success inside the Labot Party is the first and so far also the last good news. In spite of the many non-violence events – such as the near-daily joint olive harvest of Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals, or – on other occasions – the joint non-violent resistance to the bulldozers – by barring their way with not more than one’s body, it is still those who use violence who set the tone.
Today’s busblast took the lives of eleven old and young, men, women and of children on the way to school. It was the work of a 23-year old from Bethlehem -this means revenge on the town of Bethlehem and is it now looks also on the Gaza Strip – as it was claimed by Hamas which have there their stronghold.
Before, during and after each Palestinian suicide attack there is the routine brutality of the occupation: no day without some renewed 24-hour curfew, no day without announced or implemented house demolitions; actually there passes no day without killings which don’t make headlines and whose victims are mostly Palestinians.
The Israeli and the Palestinian people are stuck in a murderous vicious circle: On the one hand, the Palestinians will not be intimidated into submission and the terrorism will not end without the occupation be lifted. (Sharon personally this week warned the soldiers in Nablus that “Palestinians are willing to give their lives in order not to be defeated.”)
On the other hand, those in power in Israel use terrorism as an excuse not to end the occupation. Until now they got the support of those who ultimately want a two-state solution but for the time being don’t want to “reward terrorism.”
Let’s hope that before we all drown in this quagmire enough people of the latter group will again remember that wars are not decided by who has the best weapons, nor by who uses the more”legitimate” way of killing, but by the one who is fighting for a just cause.