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Rabin Square Now!

worldisround.com

worldisround.com

It was a warm, full-moon July night in which I went to bed late, with the image of Tahrir Square embedded firmly in my mind. The large demonstrations in Egypt continued, with pro the deposed President Mohammed Morsi going to the streets in Cairo and Alexandria, and the pro-democracy, pro-military coup, gathered in the many thousands in Tahrir Square. Whatever one might think of what had transpired lately in Egypt, and whether it’s a coop; if it walks like a duck, and… you know how the saying goes, then it must be a coup. It was a grassroots of individuals, a small group who started this latest movement that, eventually, swelled in that square into a massive tsunami wave that swept Mubarak and his almost 30 years dictatorship away, and ushered in this new, shaky as it is democracy. It hasn’t work so well yet, and the end result of this revolution is not at all clear. But it has been proved yet again that “People Power,” more than any other power, is what spins the wheels of history forward.

On that particular night, or rather early before dawn the morning after, I woke up from a disturbing dream. I found myself planted in the midst of a large demonstration, in a big square. It was very hard to move around, and I was pushed and knocked around a few times, trying to make my way to the front of the crowd. People were shouting all around me, waving flags and hitting drums. I thought they were speaking Arabic, and were cursing me for being a Jew. But when somehow I winged my way forward, I was surprised to hear Hebrew being spoken more and more. It also became a somewhat quieter, better organized demonstration. And then, of all things, it seemed the people were singing together. I couldn’t understand it, at first, since I was sure I was still, inexplicably in Tahrir Square. So why should they speak Hebrew? And why, in a flash, the song they were singing became so familiar to me. How come they were all singing, of all songs, the Israeli song, “Song for Peace”? Then, suddenly, I bumped into a familiar face. It belonged to an old man, who began laughing at me when I asked him if I was in Tahrir Square. “No, stupid,” he said, “you are in Rabin Square!”

I woke up just then, and I lay awake in bed for quite a while. I was trying to solve the riddle of my dream, as hints of morning light were drifting through my window’s blinds. It was a warm night, as I mentioned before, and my bedroom window was wide open, allowing cool dawn breeze to drift in and sooth my throbbing head. With eyes only slightly open, at first, and then shut again, I was trying to find out who that old man was, because I thought he was familiar to me. And mostly, why my dream had started in Tahrir Square, and ended in Rabin Square. Soon, dream unsolved, I fell back to sleep.

But later that day, occupied with other urgent matters, suddenly – truly, out of the blue skies – I remembered who that man was. I forgot his name now, but remembered his beard very well. And remembered that he was the editor of a magazine called “New Outlook,” when I was a young filmmaker in Tel-Aviv. He was also involved in the film and television business, and I was hired by him to write a documentary film about Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president. And it was there, in his office, on a rainy March evening in 1978, that I was introduced by him to a small group of activists who were collecting signatures for a petition. A letter it was, in fact, from army reserve officers of combat units addressed to the then Israeli PM Menachem Begin, urging him to make “Peace Now” with Egypt. I gladly signed that letter, as I was a paratroop officer in reserve. This letter gave birth to the “Peace Now” movement, and was followed by many large, spontaneous, people-powered demonstrations in what was then City Square. Now Rabin Square. Peace with Egypt was achieved, in no small measure, due to that wave of people power.

The day after I woke up with that dream playing in my head, came the announcement from Secretary of State John Kerry that the Israelis and the Palestinians had agreed, in principle, to resume direct peace negations. First they will “talk about the talks” in Washington, and will move forward from there, with the release of some long held Palestinian prisoners already agreed upon. Skeptical as I am of the chances of success for these new negotiations, I was still overjoyed. To be frank, on the scale of one to ten – i.e., a peace agreement resulting between the two sides that will be based on the premise of Two-State Solution, two nations living side by side in peace – I give it only one chance of success.

However, I am ready to go back to the streets again, in order to see this “ten percent chance” succeeding. Once again, it is up to the Israeli people to rise up again for the occasion. PM Netanyahu, even with all the pushes and shoves of the Americans and the Europeans, will not be able to make this peace come true on his own political will and power. It is time for People Power, yet again. Like in Tahrir Square. Like the City Square back in 1978. As President Obama himself had said in a speech in Jerusalem, while on his visit there earlier this year, the people of both nations must push their leaders toward taking bold moves for peace. Leaving it to their own devices, those leaders will not make it happen. Just as we did when Begin was Prime Minister, the people of Israel, young and old, must rise up to the occasion and push Netanyahu to once and for all solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is time again now, for People Power to march on to Rabin Square.

* Appeared first on “The Times of Israel.”

* “Leave a comment” link is the last tag, in blue.

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3 Responses

  1. Hillel: By only focusing on the need to “push” Netanyahu, you reinforce the perception that the failure of prior peace efforts was due to Israel’s intransigence, and only if Israel would find the will now, we would have peace. You make no mention of the need for the Palestinian people to want peace and to accept Israel’s right to exist in a Jewish state, and you make no mention of two major obstacles to peace: the continued hate and demonization of Israel and Jews by the Palestinian government and government-controlled media, and the fact that someone who voices a dissenting opinion in the Palestinian territories is subject to persecution. Israel is not without its faults, but you do a real disservice to Israel and yourself when you contribute to the pile-on and the unbalanced portrayals of the situation.

    • Hillel’s dream was very real. It represents Israel’s continuing crises in values.

      All Israeli governments have abetted settler encroachments on Palestinian land, on the grounds of manifest destiny.

      Rabin was assassinated because he believed in changing the dynamics – to settle for a fair two-state solution, guaranteeing security.

      It is also tragic that American Jewish communities have been pressured to support Israeli policies, right or wrong. This is ironic because Americans don’t apply the same standard re the U.S. government.

      The most recent test of Netanyahu’s commitment is his appointment of Ron Dermer, a hard liner, as the new ambassador to the U.S.,

      History demonstrates that ORGANIZING is the only way to change policies. It is critical that Israelis and the American Jewish communities, organize to foster the two state solution, with Israelis and Palestinians maintaining peace and progress.

      • P.S. J St. reported this morning:

        “Just last week, 4,200 members of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) gathered in Washington to hear their leader, Pastor John Hagee, denounce the idea of a two-state solution and urge rejection of Secretary Kerry’s efforts.

        “Mr. Kerry, restarting the peace process with the Palestinians is fiddling while Rome is burning,” Rev. John Hagee, CUFI’s founder and president, declared. “How can you make peace with someone who wants you to unilaterally accept defeat by accepting the ’67 borders?”

        For some reason, senior leaders of the American Jewish community and Israeli officials gave credence to these views by appearing at CUFI’s conference, as did a long procession of American lawmakers.[1]”

        DOES THAT REASSURE YOU?

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