This blog is dedicated to tearing down the separation wall and transforming the Israeli apartheid system into a secular democracy, where Israelis and Palestinians will live as equal citizens. As an Israeli that was raised on the Zionist ideal of a Jewish state, I know how hard it is for many Jews and Palestinians to let go of the dream of having a state that is exclusively “our own.” The articles, the stories and the pictures in this blog are meant to make a single point: For the good of both nations, the Separation Wall must come down, the Israeli control over the lives of Palestinians must be defied so that a secular democracy where all Israelis and Palestinian live as equals be established in our shared homeland.
The State of Israel today is governed in a way that cannot be sustained, where the two nations it governs, Israelis and
Palestinians are used and abused and it is a state of affairs that should not be tolerated: Half of the population is governed by a radical Zionist regime that sees the struggle for control over the land as a zero sum game, and the other half of the population is governed by the security forces of this Zionist regime; one nation ruling over another while controling of the land and its resources. It is a reality where half of the population lives in what it thinks is a Western democracy while keeping the other half imprisoned by a ruthless defense apparatus that is becoming more violent by the day.
In my book, “The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine” I show how it is that the son of an Israeli General and a staunch Zionist came to these realizations. Realizing that your side of the story is not the only side to the story, and then accepting rather than fighting this realization and in the end finding that the story upon which I was raised, was a lie – now that is an interesting journey.
The following is an edited version of something was written by a friend, Iris Keltz, from Taos New Mexico who heard me speak:
“Miko Peled is a peace activist who dares to say in public what others still choose to deny. He has credibility, so when he debunks myths that Jews around the world hold with blind loyalty, people listen. Miko was born in Jerusalem in 1961 into a well known Zionist family. His grandfather, Dr. Avraham Katsnelson was a Zionist leader and signer on the Israeli Declaration of Independence. His father, Matti Peled was a young officer in the war of 1948 and a general in the war of 1967 when Israel conquered the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and the Sinai.
Miko’s unlikely opinions reflect his father’s legacy. General Peled was a war hero turned peacemaker. The general clearly stated that contrary to claims made later, the 1967 war was one of choice, and not because there was no existential threat to the state of Israel. He then dedicated his life to the achievement of Israeli Palestinian peace.
The political becomes personal with Miko’s stories. He might have learned compassion from his mother who, in 1948, refused the offer of an Arab home in West Jerusalem with the understanding that the family who lived there were now forced to live in a refugee camp. As the daughter of one of the signers of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, Miko’s mother could have used her position of entitlement to get a lovely home for herself and her family. But she said, “No.”
Miko grew up in Jerusalem, a multi-ethnic city, part of a system that conspired to keep Palestinians and Israelis separate. The Arabs of Israel, as the Palestinians are called– the laborers, janitors, cooks, etc. are indistinguishable from Arabs across the Middle East and as such had no special connection to Jaffa, Lod, Ramle, Lydda, Haifa, Jerusalem or any other part of the land of Israel. Miko had to leave Israel before he made his first Palestinian friend, the result of his participation in a dialogue group in California. He was 39.
Peled insists that Israel/Palestine is one state. Facts on the ground are undeniable and irreversible– massive investment in infrastructure, cities,schools and malls for Jews only, Jewish only highways bisect and connect ever expanding settlements on the West Bank, the separation wall and the checkpoints have destroyed the possibility of a contiguous, viable Palestinian state. The question for Israelis, worldwide Jewry and the international community is: What kind of a state do we really want to see? An apartheid state with half the population confined to intolerable bantustans, without access to proper nutrition, medical care or clean water, condemned to humiliating long lines at checkpoints?
Or, will Israel/Palestine transform itself into a secular democracy for the five and a half million Israelis and almost five million Palestinians who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. To become such a sanctuary, Israel must give up the idea of Jewish dominion over all the land and resources.
Before Miko came to hold such a vision, he had to face his fears. Driving alone in the to Palestinian towns in the Galilee or the West Bank in a car with license plates that identified him as Israeli, Miko imagined a terrorist lurking behind every curve of the winding road following the rolling hills. Heading towards the village of Bil’in for the first time, he silently questioned if he was crazy to trust “these people”? Peled was afraid but kept on driving until he found the village and was greeted by friends.
The solution might be obvious but the problem remains, how to change the existing paradigm– from fear and loathing to co-existence? At the heart of Peled’s solution lies the realization that Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace as equals in their shared homeland. At the a gathering in Taos, New Mexico, an Israeli woman who heard Miko speak told Miko that his father was the hero of her childhood, and in fact, a photograph of the general hung in their home. “It is an honor to meet the son of Matti Peled,” she said, “I had given up hope for any kind of just solution and try to stay removed from events there but I see how much you care and meeting you gives me hope.”
Those who cling to fear, mistrust or greed are under the false assumption that Palestinians and Israelis have a choice other than to live as equals. But it’s inevitable – the wall must come down, and the two people must be allowed to live as equal citizens in their shared homeland. Refusing this means condemning future generations of Israelis and Palestinians to ongoing mayhem and violence.
And Miko Peled’s family knows about that too. On September 4, 1997 they have lost their beloved Smadar, 13, the daughter of Miko’s sister Nurit and her husband Rami Elhanan to violence.
The bible tells us a great story of the patriarch Abraham willing to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac to prove his faith. At the moment of truth, when Abraham was about to kill his son an angel appeared telling Abraham not to harm the boy. In the Koran, Abraham is about to sacrifice Ishmael to the same God and the angel of God appears telling him not to harm his beloved son, Ishmael. The moral of the story is quite clear: Neither Israelis or Palestinians are called to sacrifice their sons and daughters to war, in fact, whether we are believers or not we are all called by our God or our conscience to care for our children so that they may live in peace and grow up as the equals that they are.