Gil Scott-Heron boycotts Tel Aviv, sends powerful message to Israelis

Posted: April 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media, The Left, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , , | 33 Comments »

This is a translation of my article regarding the cancellation of spoken words artist Gil-Scott Heron‘s gig in Tel Aviv. His show was scheduled for late May, but it was later removed from Scot-Heron’s site and though there was no official statement yet, it seems to have been canceled for political reasons.

The original Hebrew version of the article was posted Wednesday on the web magazine The Other.

scott heron

A small commotion erupted this week among the public that appreciates black music in Israel upon learning that ground-breaking artist, poet and musician, Gil Scott-Heron apparently canceled his Tel Aviv show for political reasons. There was no official statement; However, following protests of some of his pro-Palestinian fans during a show in London on the weekend, Scott-Heron announced from the stage that he would not be coming to Israel. The show, planed for May 25, was removed from the line up on his site.

Scott-Heron is a political man. He came out against US presidents, preached against nuclear energy, and asked the new generation of Hip-Hop artists to write meaningful lyrics rather than merely attach words to music. His most famous piece, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, is considered the anthem of alternative culture. I assume these and similar reasons made Scott-Heron appeal to a couple of hundred Israelis. The only surprise is their ability to make a U-turn the moment that protest was directed at us.

In the last few days, Israelis who awaited the show in Tel Aviv filled Scott Heron’s website and Facebook pages dedicated to the issue with angry comments. The arguments were of the type common to such occurrences: one shouldn’t mix music and politics (“music brings people together; politics pulls them apart”); one must distinguish between the government of Israel and the citizens; it is hypocrisy and double standards to boycott Israel when there are so many more horrible governments and deadlier regimes in the world.

But beyond the usual arguments, an offended tone sneaked in: “Why should we, music lovers, who love GSH also because of the place we live in, should be blamed for the occupation or apartheid?” writes one Israeli on Facebook, and added elsewhere, “to cancel the show, it is to spit in the face of the leftists in the crowd.”

“In Israel there is a true music scene,” comments another Israeli on Scott Heron’s site. “For me, music represents peace and love, not war and hate. If you come to Israel you will see it with your own eyes”. Avi Pitshon wrote in Haaretz in relation to a similar incident, in which a few Israelis joined a call to the Pixies and Metallica to skip playing in Israel, “the radical left cannot hurt the powerful, those who shape policy, and is therefore trying to hit whoever is under the spotlight: music loving citizens.”

It seems that what hurts Pitshon and the other Israelis most is not the anti-Israeli stance of Scott Heron and others like him, but the choice to specifically boycott them, the public who is for peace, loves Soul and Hip-Hop, and sees itself more in touch with Detroit and Chicago than the Tomb of Rachel and Elkana. After all, the voice of these embittered music lovers didn’t rise when a pretty effective boycott was organized in the EU against produce from the settlements: the settlers are the bad guys in this story. But to boycott us, us who took part in three Peace Now demonstrations and two events commemorating Rabin? What is the world coming to?

The Israeli left (and yours truly included) is deeply longing to be part of some global communion. People here imagine themselves through American culture, Italian cuisine and French novels, as if we were born to a bourgeois family on Paris’ Left Bank and our life project is to confront the feelings of alienation inherent in human existence. Tel Aviv and its suburbs are arranged with their face towards the West and a wall separating their back from all the turmoil in the East: the settlers in the territories, the Ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem, and also these Palestinians. The occupation is such a boring and tedious story, the making of a stupid government and wicked right-wingers. Clearly, we are not part of this madness.

A worldview so detached leads to many disappointments. So we are shocked to discover that the Palestinians hate us just as much as the hate the right-wingers, we are insulted when the reception clerk in a Spanish hotel lets a curse out behind our back, and cannot understand why an old rapper, who has seen a few things in his life, would tell us that, on second thought, Tel Aviv doesn’t suit him right now. What the hell? We blow a fuse. What’s the connection between the Barbie Club and the territories? After all, they are at least a 20 minutes car ride away!

To the credit of the Israeli Right one should say that it is much more consistent and well argued. From the Right’s perspective, these conflicts with the world are the price for our clinging to parts of our historical homeland and our survival in a hostile region. The Right doesn’t try to evade taking responsibility for sitting on top of Palestinians, and if someone, whether Obama or Scott Heron, doesn’t like it, there is no choice but to bite the bullet.

In contrast, “the enlightened camp” is busy with the endless theatrical performance of their moral difficulties, whose real purpose is to create a barrier between them and all those action for which they refuse to take responsibility. Thus, when the order arrives, the leftist climbs into the tank without a second thought, but later he will do an anguished film about it for the Cannes festival. Thus the obsessive persecution of settlers. Thus Tel Aviv behaves as if it were a Mediterranean suburb of London while in a spitting distance from it eastward and southward lies an immense jail holding millions of people without rights for over half a century.

The self-pity tops itself with the absurd claim that such cancellations will benefit the occupation, because they would discourage those most in favor of two states solution. As if the role the world is to caress Tel Aviv’s residents’ back until they draw the courage and convince the right, to please stop building villas on the hills of Samaria and abstain from kicking Palestinians out of their houses in East Jerusalem. Beyond the fact that this method has been completely discredited by history–the Israeli Left doesn’t even convince itself anymore–the theory doesn’t hold water: excited or depressed, these thousands of peace and love and music lovers do not show up in Bil’in or Sheikh Jarrah, whereas the few dozens of human rights activists who do go there are begging the world for a little international pressure to save Israel from itself.

A few years ago, the dynamics surrounding Roger Waters (ex Pink Floyd) visit’s to Israel recalls somewhat the current case. Waters didn’t boycott, but he said a few words about peace and ending the occupation. Immediately, a few of the “enlightened camp” ordered him to focus on the guitar and stop lecturing us. There is something really bizarre with our ability to sing about another brick in the wall while forgetting about the miserable Farmers whose fields are behind our wall. (As it is hard to understand Israelis who return from Berlin with “an original stone from the wall” when the improved local version stands for free in our living room.) Considering the deep disconnect between the Israelis and the protest anthems that they are humming, it seems that Scott-Heron did us a favor by reminding us that in a place where pregnant women give birth at checkpoints and people are locked in their houses, even music doesn’t cross borders.

33 Comments on “Gil Scott-Heron boycotts Tel Aviv, sends powerful message to Israelis”

  1. 1 RTB612 said at 2:09 am on April 30th, 2010:

    Hi, I ve been reading some of your posts. I agree at some points, disagree at others, some posts I like, some I do not. I would like to know, are you or are you not in favor of the boycots against Israel? Couse if you are, it sheds a different light on your writings.

    I too, think democracy and freedom of speech are in great danger in Israel, I too, think the occupation must end. Not becouse I pitty the palestinians who brought many of their misfortunes upon themselves (yeah, I know, Israel has its huge responsability cuote too), but becouse I love my country, and want it to remain both jewish and democtratic.

    Even if agree on Sheikh Jarah or Silwan, I wont take part on a demonstration where the Israeli flag is casted out as the “flag of the ocupation”, and PLO flags are rised instead. That is why those demonstrations are so marginal, becouse most leftist still love Israel and cant so easily join those who alienate themselves from their nation. We have let them take over the left, a bad thing. Eldad Yaniv is wrong on many things as you wisely pointed out, I dont like his hate speech against mishtamtim, his conditioning of civil rights, etc. But he is right on one point, the israeli left became marginal couse it swaped its love to the country for self hate.

    Checkpoint and the barrier are a sad reality, but not as sad as seeing fellow israelis die in the kind of terrorist attacks that the barrier decreased so dramatically. ¿Do you really pitty them more than you care about israeli citizens right to live? Yeh, that sad situations must end, we must work towards the end of the ocupation, international preasure on our goverment may help. But it doesnt depend only on us, and meanwhile we have the right and the obligation to defend ourselves.

    The palestinians, at least dont alienate thmselves from their newly formed nation. We shouldnt alienate ourselves from our ancient one.

  2. 2 Extremist Jew said at 3:14 am on April 30th, 2010:

    Welcome to the world of the anti-Israel “progressives”. I am sorry to tell you this, but the struggle is “all or nothing”. You can argue that Jews shouldn’t live in Silwan or Hevron because you favor partitioning the land on practical grounds, but if you say that it is “immoral” for Jews to be there, then it is also immoral for Jews to be in TEL AVIV. If a Jew has a right to live in Tel Aviv, then he has a right to live in Hevron, and if he doesn’t have a right to be in Hevron, then he has no right to be in Tel Aviv. It’s that simple. Like I said, we can, as Zionists, discuss whether we are willing to relinquish our rights to Hevron in the name of peace (something I don’t believe in) but we can’t say we have no right to be there. It is because of the ancient Jewish connection to Hevron that the modern Jewish yishuv throughout the county was built, not on anything else. You are now seeing that those who boycott Israel oppose the entire Zionist enterprise and, unfortunately there is a small, but noisy minority of Jews that deligitimize Israel. You, as a concerned Israeli, are now called on to take sides. The question is not “are you for settlements” but rather “are you for Israel”? Period.

  3. 3 Jillian C. York said at 5:57 am on April 30th, 2010:

    Thank you for this; it heartens me to see that the boycott has had its intended effect, at least for one.

    “Extremist Jew,” while it’s true that I oppose Zionism, I believe that Jews who live in Israel now have every right to live anywhere…as do Palestinians. I would rather see a secular Israel/Palestine (call it Israel, I don’t care) where everyone can live happily than see any more violence.

  4. 4 Extremist Jew said at 7:14 am on April 30th, 2010:

    And what “multicultural, multiconfessional” Middle Eastern state do you provide as an example for us Israelis in order to encourage us to give up our state and merge with the Arabs and then “live happily ever after”? Lebanon? Syria? Iraq? Are you kidding?

  5. 5 Ian McKellar said at 8:48 am on April 30th, 2010:

    @Extremist Jew,

    How about Israel? It’s already a culturally and religiously diverse country. The mix of indigenous Jews, Christians, Druze and Muslims from the Middle East with European and African Jews isn’t always comfortable but it’s not working too badly. The political system is fragmented along religious and ethnic lines (eg: Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu), yet governments can form. I think more than any country in the world Israel is uniquely qualified socially and politically for this kind of change.

  6. 6 Confused said at 5:06 pm on April 30th, 2010:

    Now I’m confused. If Israel is such a model, it is precisely because of what makes it different from all of the other countries in the Middle East. That would be the fact that it’s a Jewish state built on democratic ideals.

    You can’t claim, for example, that Palestinian democracy is similar because Hamas men drop Fatah men from rooftops in Gaza, and Fatah men get Israeli soldiers to arrest Hamas men in the West Bank.

    While the writer of this blog wants you to accept that all Israelis deserve some sort of collective boycott to make them come to some epiphany about peace, he doesn’t say what would bring about peace. He has to make a case that the Palestinians would accept peace without trying to become part of Israel or without taking the Temple Mount for themselves. He can’t make that case. In fact, he can’t make a case for any agreement they would accept because the only guides we have are the two charters of the two main Palestinian groups – Fatah and Hamas. They both call for the destruction of the Zionist entity and the liberation of all lands from the occupier.

    Does the author of this blog have some solution that hasn’t been made public? If hs solution is that Israel should be boycotted by musicians and presumably actors, academics, businesses, and the like, then he advocates weakness for Israel but not a solution.

    For a solution, he has to get the Palestinians to agree to something. Anything, at all, for that matter (other than what their charters agree on).

  7. 7 Benny said at 8:24 pm on April 30th, 2010:

    A consistent theme from certain quarters is “The Palestinians Don’t Want Peace!” or “There is No One to Talk To!”

    Yet the plain reality is that right now it is the government of Israel which is putting obstacles in the way of the peace process.

    If they really believe the Palestinians don’t want peace, then what is the harm in delaying building construction for a few more months – until the Palestinians prove their alleged perfidy?

  8. 8 RTB612 said at 3:38 am on May 1st, 2010:

    Extremist jew:

    I dont think its in inmoral for a jew to live in Hebron, I think it is inmoral for jews to rule over another people under a military ocupation regime. I am in favor of the partition not only for peace, which the partition may not achive, but mainly for the zionist enterprise which the military ocupation together with settlers movement has led astray.

    The yshuv leaders, even the religious ones, where in favour of the partition plan. Ben Gurion was one of the first israelis to advocate against holding the territories conquered during the six day war. The yshuv worked the land of Israel for the sake of the people, what the settlers do today is just the opposite. Golda Meir said about arabs something along the lines of “they hate our children more than they love theirs”, something similar happens with settlers, they love the land more than they love their children.

  9. 9 Confused said at 2:51 pm on May 1st, 2010:

    “Yet the plain reality is that right now it is the government of Israel which is putting obstacles in the way of the peace process.”

    Do you have any evidence of this? Building in Ramat Shlomo does not negate negotiations. Netanyahu has openly and repeatedly asked for negotiations. He has put a moratorium on construction outside of Jerusalem. He has protected the PA from its enemies.

    He even agreed not to press on the “Israel is a Jewish state” pre-condition to the talks.

    What more do you want from him? These are supposed to be negotiations, not an Israeli give-away.

  10. 10 noam said at 12:31 am on May 2nd, 2010:

    RTB – without going into the origin of the conflict, one can say that in the last decade Israel never had a better opportunity to leave the WB than now. there is no terrorism, there is what seems like a relaible partner on the PLO side, and all there left is to wonder why Israelis are still unwilling to do something.

    I’m not impressed by the fact that our PM declared his support for the two state solution. action matters, not word.

    the issue i tried to deal with here is the unwillingness of all those “supporting” withdrawal to do something about it. there are always excuses not to act, but it all leads to our continuing presence in the WB.

    btw, there are no Palestinian flags in the demonstrations in Sheikh Jerrah (not that i would mind them too much). there are no israeli flags as well, just as you won’t go to demonstrate in Bilin or Hebron with an Israeli flag.

  11. 11 noam said at 12:37 am on May 2nd, 2010:

    Confused – the issue is not peace (or at least, most of it is not). the problem is the fact that Palestinians don’t have civil rights. this is what leads to the Apartheid claim against Israel.

    here is some more on this:

    as for solutions, I’ve written about them many times. In short, I’ll support whatever the parties will go for: Two states or One state.

    I wonder what your solution is.

  12. 12 Confused said at 8:15 pm on May 2nd, 2010:

    The claim of apartheid against Israel is spurious.

    The issue of Palestinian civil rights would not exist if they negotiated and made peace. There is no explanation that makes sense about their rejection of the Olmert plan. If they had accepted it, they would have a state of their own and you wouldn’t be complaining about civil rights just like you don’t care enough about Saudi civil rights to complain about their apartheid state.

    I think they don’t want to make peace because it suits them to be victims of “civil rights violations” by Israel. Look at the sympathy they get from the world. And from you. All they need to do is sign on the dotted line. What more can Israel offer than what Olmert offered?

    As for my solution, it’s really simple: Clinton/Barak. You want to share Jerusalem? Fine with me. Jews want to live in Judea? Those in the borders outlined by Barak will stay in Israel and those beyond those borders will live in Palestine. Palestinians inside Barak borders become Israeli citizens and if they don’t want to be, they can be residents or move to Palestine.

    It won’t happen, but Israel and the new Palestine should move the large Arab villages inside Israel near the northern West Bank to the new Palestine. Otherwise, in about 20-30 years, they will ask to secede anyway. It’s already started, as Adalah’s activities show.

    I will add one more detail of my acceptable peace deal. Any peace agreement should indicate clearly that if rockets or terror attacks are launched at Israel from the new Palestine, not 8000 of them, but a few dozen indicating a pattern that the Palestinian government won’t or can’t control, Israel will plow through and make uninhabitable any villages between the Israel-Palestine border and where the security fence is today. This would become no-man’s land.

    Any objections, Noam?

  13. 13 noam said at 10:22 pm on May 2nd, 2010:

    Confused: while I think that the Clinton parameters are a good starting point, I believe we should avoid the mistake of negotiating with ourselves again (as both Barak and Olmert did), and ending up thinking that’s it’s all a problem of Arab rejectionism (I can right a book about Israeli rejectionism, but that’s not the point).

    Shaul Arieli has a very good op-ed in Haaretz today on the the issues you mentioned:

  14. 14 RTB612 said at 1:37 am on May 3rd, 2010:

    Noam, I got your point, but you didnt answer my question, which is a simple one: are you or are you not in favor of the boycots? Which reminds me Gadi Taubs explanation on Zeeva Galons (which I voted for) refusal to answer a similar question:

    Call it an excuse if you like, may be it is. But to me it makes a huge difference, what you are really demonstrating for. Wether you demonstrate for a two state solution or against a jewish state. Often it appears to be the later. And as long as thats the case, most israeli leftists, who are still zionists, wont show up. Sure, its our foult if we dont stand up. But it is also the current demonstration organizers foult, for making them so uninviting to almost all the potential demonstrators.

  15. 15 Confused said at 2:13 am on May 3rd, 2010:

    I read that op-ed right after I wrote the last comment. It’s actually not a very good op-ed. It’s a ridiculous op-ed. I like the fact that he ignores 242 entirely and makes false claims about Palestinian offers and consent to Israeli proposals. The Palestinians, to date, have not made any offers and have not consented to Israeli proposals.

    I think that, like you, Arieli has internalized a sense of guilt over Israeli actions to such a deep extent that he thinks Israel is in the wrong and the Palestinians are in the right. The only way to find peace is to give up more and more, according to both of you.

    “Negotiating with ourselves” is not what Olmert or Barak did. Olmert negotiated with Abbas. Barak negotiated with Arafat. “Negotiating with partners who negotiate in bad faith with no intention of coming to an agreement” is a more apt description of what Barak and Olmert did.

    Neither had a serious negotiating partner and it is not because Israel needs to fall on its knees and beg the Palestinians to ignore international law as Arieli would have you believe. 242 gives Israel every right to adjust borders and demand that it be accepted and permitted to live in peace.

    The problem is that Israel does not have a serious negotiating partner because the “partner” has never accepted or offered a deal that establishes a two state solution with one of the states being a Jewish one.

    You could claim that the 2002 Arab League peace initiative accepts two states, but they want 194 to be part of the deal, and that’s just more of the same sneaky attempt to get around Israel staying a Jewish state.

    1937, 1947, 2000, 2001, 2008. Not one time have the Palestinians accepted any deal, but you and Arieli would have Israel capitulate even more. Give up even more in negotiations that will end with the Palestinian leader claiming the “gaps were huge.” What’s left to give? They get Gaza, they get the West Bank except for 3-4% which is replaced with Israeli land on a 1:1 basis, they get reparations, they get to share the holy part of Jerusalem and keep the Arab sections to themselves, they get to keep their new army, they get to have a state, they get to have peace.

    That’s not enough? You and Arieli want to give more. What’s left to give?

    I think it’s enough. It’s more than enough. You and Arieli can encourage artists to boycott Israel or countries to treat Israel like a war-criminal state. It makes your position immoral. Not Israel’s.

    Tell me, Noam, what is moral about encouraging international pressure on the country that has offered peace? Isn’t the moral, and logical, action to punish those who won’t agree to a deal or offer a deal of their own? Let them be cut off. Cut them off from UNRWA and international donations until they agree to a peace deal. Cut their diplomatic channels until they negotiate in good faith. Step up scrutiny of the Palestinian leadership and how they live as long as they refuse to have serious talks.

    Maybe some pressure will make them come to peace. You believe in pressure, obviously, so why apply it to the side that has offered to settle? Apply it to the Palestinians until they agree to compromise.

  16. 16 noam said at 4:24 am on May 3rd, 2010:

    RTB: currently I don’t call for boycott but I won’t oppose it either.

    regarding a Jewish state, my answer is even more complicated. In short, I don’t think that a state can be entirely “Jewish”. Therefore, I believe in a Jewish homeland, but I want the state apartus to be ethnicity-blind.

    all this have nothing to do with political activism. all the left can join hands in demonstrating against the settlements, because we all agree on their damage. we don’t have to agree on the solution to do that, only on the nature of the action we engage in. for example, if Meretz chose to join the Sheikh Jerah protest, it could ask not to have Palestinian flags in the crowd.

    for some reason, the “none-radical” left prefer to do nothing these days but complain about Netanyahu. I can only regret this.

  17. 17 noam said at 4:32 am on May 3rd, 2010:

    confused: Israel never agreed for 1:1; UNGAR 194 is not part of the Saudi offer for the best of my knowledge, though i might be wrong on this one. but even if it is, the question is why not come to the table and negotiate this issue. Israel never bothered to answer the Arab league peace initiative, btw – so much for Arab rejectionsim.

    I understand your solution is that the Palestinians except the peace terms we dictate them, or stay second class citizens forever. I don’t agree, and luckily, the rest of the world is not happy with this arrangement either.

  18. 18 Confused said at 9:56 am on May 3rd, 2010:

    My solution is not to “dictate” terms, but to acknowledge that Israel has already proposed many fair elements of a deal and really has little more negotiating room. On the other hand, you prefer to pressure Israel even more even though you can’t show where the Palestinians have agreed to anything other than the same old 1949 armistice lines including all of the Old City and full right of return.

    I don’t have any interest in having Palestinians as second class citizens. Why do you say that? Is it because I support Israel’s peace proposals that would give them their own state?
    I support the peace deals and they reject them. If my support of these peace deals indicates, according to your last comment to me, that I want the Palestinians to remain second class citizens, we have to agree that their rejection of these peace deals indicates the same. They want to remain second class citizens.

    Since you support the Palestinian position and the boycotting of Israel, it seems to me that it is you who supports the status quo of them being second class citizens. You and they think that it won’t be forever, however. You both believe that at one point time will buy them the advantage over Israel and then it will become one state – an Arab one – and then the Palestinians won’t be second class citizens any more. Of course, there’s a good possibility you might become a second class citizen, but you will then justify that outcome on the basis of the evil Israel did to the Palestinians in making them second class citizens.

    I blame both sides, but acknowledge that Israel has offered peace and two states a number of times. You blame Israel and blame it for insufficient offers that lead you to support a boycott of Israel so it would give up more.

    I propose that your position is immoral.

    In response to your other comments, I believe Olmert’s offer was 1:1 land exchange, except that I think he includes the Gaza-West Bank tunnel as part of that exchange. I am including Olmert’s plan and below it the Saudi plan and below that, Israel’s response.


    “On the 16th of September, 2008, I presented him (Abbas) with a
    comprehensive plan. It was based on the following principles.

    One, there would be a territorial solution to the conflict on the basis of
    the 1967 borders with minor modifications on both sides. Israel will claim
    part of the West Bank where there have been demographic changes over the
    last 40 years.”

    This approach by Olmert would have allowed Israel to keep the biggest Jewish
    settlement blocks which are mainly now suburbs of Jerusalem, but would
    certainly have entailed other settlers having to leave Palestinian territory
    and relocate to Israel.

    In total, Olmert says, this would have involved Israel claiming about 6.4
    per cent of Palestinian territory in the West Bank: “It might be a fraction
    more, it might be a fraction less, but in total it would be about 6.4 per
    cent. Israel would claim all the Jewish areas of Jerusalem. All the lands
    that before 1967 were buffer zones between the two populations would have
    been split in half. In return there would be a swap of land (to the
    Palestinians) from Israel as it existed before 1967.

    “I showed Abu Mazen how this would work to maintain the contiguity of the
    Palestinian state. I also proposed a safe passage between the West Bank and
    Gaza. It would have been a tunnel fully controlled by the Palestinians but
    not under Palestinian sovereignty, otherwise it would have cut the state of
    Israel in two.

    “No 2 was the issue of Jerusalem. This was a very sensitive, very painful,
    soul-searching process. While I firmly believed that historically, and
    emotionally, Jerusalem was always the capital of the Jewish people, I was
    ready that the city should be shared. Jewish neighbourhoods would be under
    Jewish sovereignty,
    Arab neighbourhoods would be under Palestinian sovereignty, so it could be
    the capital of a Palestinian state.

    “Then there was the question of the holy basin within Jerusalem, the sites
    that are holy to Jews and Muslims, but not only to them, to Christians as
    well. I would never agree to an exclusive Muslim sovereignty over areas that
    are religiously important to Jews and Christians. So there would be an area
    of no sovereignty, which would be jointly administered by five nations,
    Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Palestinian state, Israel and the United States.

    “Third was the issue of Palestinian refugees.” This issue has often been a
    seeming deal-breaker. The Palestinians insist that all Palestinians who left
    Israel – at or near the time of its founding – and all their spouses and
    descendants, should be able to return to live in Israel proper. This could
    be more than a million people. Olmert, like other Israeli prime ministers,
    could never agree to this: “I think Abu Mazen understood there was no chance
    Israel would become the homeland of the
    Palestinian people. The Palestinian state was to be the homeland of the
    Palestinian people. So the question was how the claimed attachment of the
    Palestinian refugees to their original places could be recognised without
    bringing them in. I told him I would never agree to a right of return.
    Instead, we would agree on a humanitarian basis to accept a certain number
    every year for five years, on the basis that this would be the end of
    conflict and the end of claims. I said to him 1000 per year. I think the
    Americans were entirely with me.

    “In addition, we talked about creating an international fund that would
    compensate Palestinians for their suffering. I was the first Israeli prime
    minister to speak of Palestinian suffering and to say that we are not
    indifferent to that suffering.

    “And four, there were security issues.” Olmert says he showed Abbas a map,
    which embodied all these plans. Abbas wanted to take the map away. Olmert
    agreed, so long as they both signed the map. It was, from Olmert’s point of
    view, a final offer, not a basis for future negotiation. But Abbas could not
    commit. Instead, he said he would come with experts the next day.

    “He (Abbas) promised me the next day his adviser would come. But the next
    day Saeb Erekat rang my adviser and said we forgot we are going to Amman
    today, let’s make it next week. I never saw him again.”

    Arab peace plan:

    The Council of Arab States at the Summit Level at its 14th Ordinary Session, reaffirming the resolution taken in June 1996 at the Cairo Extra-Ordinary Arab Summit that a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East is the strategic option of the Arab countries, to be achieved in accordance with international legality, and which would require a comparable commitment on the part of the Israeli government.

    Having listened to the statement made by his royal highness Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in which his highness presented his initiative calling for full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, in implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, reaffirmed by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the land-for-peace principle, and Israel’s acceptance of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel.

    Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:

    1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.

    2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:

    I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
    II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.

    III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

    3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:

    I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.
    II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.

    4. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.

    5. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighbourliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity .

    6. Invites the international community and all countries and organisations to support this initiative.

    7. Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union.


    As for the Saudi plan, Israel has responded officially. The Plan is included as one of the foundational elements of the Road Map ( and Israel first accepted the Road Map under Sharon with 14 official reservations, and then it was approved again in 2009 by Netanyahu, with one key reservation regarding settlement construction.

  19. 19 Nos Vemos said at 10:29 pm on May 3rd, 2010:

    “But to boycott us, us who took part in three Peace Now demonstrations and two events commemorating Rabin?”

    -Five events, really? How about getting out there, getting your feet wet and dirty, and stopping that bulldozer from destroying a few more homes in East Jerusalem or Al Khalil?!

    “The occupation is such a boring and tedious story, the making of a stupid government and wicked right-wingers. Clearly, we are not part of this madness.”

    -Sorry to hear that the occupation is boring for you. Boredom is far worse than complete despair and devastation, say Gaza or Deheisha. You played your role in the army, you pay your taxes, you are part of this madness!

  20. 20 RTB612 said at 12:20 am on May 4th, 2010:

    Another thing, your claim that your main concern is palestinians civil rights puzzles me. You dont seem that worried about Hamas, Fatah, Egypt and other arabs countries violating palestinian civil rights. An Israeli pull out may worsen their situation on that field. But its not about them, its about us, if they want to keep killing each other, enforce Islam rule, supress freedom of speech or mistreat their women, so be it. You should be more honest with yourself and your readers, couse you are right, its about us, its our own freedoms and wellbeing that the occupation threatens, theres nothing wrong with worrying about that without really caring for the palestinians.

    About joining to demonstrate on a common ground, you are invited:!/event.php?eid=113535535353767

  21. 21 noam said at 12:46 am on May 4th, 2010:

    RTB – you miss the point: it’s not about the fact that some regimes may treat their people badly, and even the fact that Israel is occupying land is not the unique. many people view themselves as under occupation, and not every nation in the world is independent.

    But the Israeli occupation is unique in the sense that it doesn’t make the people under occupation its citizens. China occupied Tibet, but it made its people full citizens. the same goes for the Kurds in Turkey , the Basks in Spain, and any other example I can think of. The fact that Israel is keeping the Palestinians under a separate system, sending them to be tried in military courts, etc., is the heart of the matter. in this sense “our” occupation is unique. the only regime the West Bank is similar to is South Africa’s Apartheid, but this is an analogy most Israelis refuse to accept.

  22. 22 noam said at 12:53 am on May 4th, 2010:

    cunfused –

    you call giving an offer to the other party and saying “take it or leave it” a fair proposition. I call it dictating.

    BTW, Olmert was a political corpse when he made his offer, with Netanyahu and Liberman declaring they would not respect it. so the Palestinians were right not to take it.

    Israel responded to the road map (and failed to fulfill its part in it), not the Saudi the best of my knowledge, Israel is yet to respond to the offer itself.

    “Just solution for the refugees”, though mentioned in UNGAR 194, is not the heart of the resolution. the offer is based on 1967 lines, which are not the same as 194 lines. and “a just solution” is not necessarily a return.

  23. 23 Confused said at 9:00 am on May 4th, 2010:

    Noam, just because the Palestinians don’t negotiate beyond a non-compromise (in other words, they won’t settle on return of Palestinians – not refugees, but any descendant of a Palestinian or on the part of Jerusalem holiest to Jews) while keeping their charters declaring destruction of Israel and their public statements denying a Jewish connection to Israel, that doesn’t mean that Barak and Olmert were “dictating.” Actually, as you know, there have been years of negotiations and meetings between Palestinian and Israeli diplomats alongside the leaders’ meetings.

    The excuse that Olmert was a “political corpse” is just that, an excuse. If Abbas had said yes, Israel and the international community would have ensured the deal would have been closed. Most Israelis would have accepted Olmert’s offer, as we know from the fact that he won the election after Sharon’s death by running on a platform of Israeli disengagement from the West Bank.

    Instead of inventing excuses like “it’s dictating” or “Olmert was a lame duck,” why not simply say what is obvious: the Palestinians have rejected two serious peace offers that would have given them a state with Jerusalem as its capital, reparations, 100% of Gaza, 95% of the West Bank and additional land inside Israel.

    Compare what I’m saying to what you’re saying and tell me which one of us has the weaker argument, the one who is talking about real offers or the one who is justifying the rejection of these offers by saying they were “dictates” or given by weak Israeli leaders?

    Imagine if these were the criteria in 1948 when Israel accepted the Partition Plan.

    As for the Road Map, neither side has fulfilled their part. However, the Saudi plan is listed in there and Israeli PMs from the Right have said they would follow it. Regardless, the Saudi plan does include 194 in it and the qualification of a “just solution” may satisfy you, but if that’s what they are seeking, they can write a paragraph that asks for the same without bringing in 194. They know they can’t assert 194 because it’s a GA resolution, so they’re trying any way they can to turn it into a resolution with teeth. If Israel agrees, it essentially agrees to a right of Palestinians to move into Israel wholesale.

    Anyway, the 1967 lines, as you know, exclude the critical part of Jerusalem to Jews. These lines would also create a much larger problem in that now instead of moving 50,000 Israelis out of Yehuda and Shomron, you will have to move 500,000 out of Yehuda, Shomron and Jerusalem. Good luck with that.

  24. 24 Confused said at 9:02 am on May 4th, 2010:

    I meant Sharon’s coma, not death.

  25. 25 RTB612 said at 5:19 am on May 6th, 2010:

    You seem to have a very selective memory. No need to got all the way to Southafrica, let me give you two closer examples: Gaza under Egyptian occupation and the West Bank under the Jordanian occupation. Not to mention the status of palestinian “refugees” in every single arab country.

    We are not like the Southafrican Aparheit but like Egypt and Jordan, which is bad enough, no need to make it look worse with ill-intended demonizating comparisions. Keep in the same line and youll compare Israel with the Third Reich if you havent done so yet.

  26. 26 noam said at 8:19 am on May 6th, 2010:

    RTB: this is such an absurd argument, I never heard an Israeli raising it before. are you actually using the people Israel kicked out to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as evidence that the ones left here are not entitled to citizenship?

    let me remind you, Palestinians are natives here (i.e. there were here before the state was born).Even if we forget the reasons which brought them to other countries, they are refugees in there, and thus can receive citizenship depending on the good will of the hosts (whereas in their homeland they are entitled to one).

  27. 27 Confused said at 12:46 pm on May 6th, 2010:

    Israel did not kick out most of the people who are today called refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. You should read Palestine Betrayed by Ephraim Karsh. You do know there are historians who reject the Morris/Shlaim/Pappe school of history. Even Morris himself is going back on what he wrote in the past.

    In addition, the people who are refugees were part of the people who launched a war against Israel. The reason many of them ended up in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan is that they had a place they could run to, but the Israelis had nowhere to run.

    Finally, with respect to the “Palestinians are native here” argument, in actuality, whether you like it or not, the vast majority of Palestinians are not refugees as the UNHCR for refugees defines refugees because only the first generation are refugees. Second, over 65% of Jewish Israelis were born in Israel. Those who deserve Israeli citizenship, have it. Those who don’t qualify don’t have it. The only exception are the Jerusalem Palestinians and they don’t have citizenship by their own choice.

  28. 28 RTB612 said at 1:44 pm on May 6th, 2010:

    No, I never said they are not entitled to citezenship. They are not entitled to israeli citizenship, they may have palestinian citizenship once they became an independent state. What I did say, which you chose to ignore, is that Egypt and Jordan did the same in the exact same territories. They did it not only with the refugees but also with the palestinian who alredy lived in the land they conquered during the 48 war. The point is that ocupating a land without giving citizenship to its natives, is not unique to Israel and Southafrica as you falsely claimed.

    I thought you were above the whole childish “who was here before” argument. That all you really cared for is civil rights, not for setting who are the good guys and the bad ones, as if our reality were a western movie. That you could undestand that jews and judaism are not enriely foreign and newcomers to this land, same as arabs and Islam are not entirely native. The emphasis on “entirely”.

    I find it disturbing that when it comes to Israel, you say civil rights are an obligation, but when it comes to arab countries, you say civil rights are only a matter of good will. I guess that palestinian groups lowered their terrorist activities on the west bank only becouse of their good will, but they are on their right to resume killing israeli citizens anytime they want.

  29. 29 RTB612 said at 5:23 am on May 9th, 2010:

    Did you reject my last comment?

    It was a long one…

    Mainly saying, that jews are not entirely newcomers and arabs are not entirely native, rejecting the childish “we/they were here before” argument, as if the conflict was a western movie. I thought you were above that.

    I never said palestinians are not entitled to citizenship, they are not entitled to israeli citizenship, they may have a palestinian citizenship once they have their own state. What I did say, is that the situation in the west bank is not unique as you falsely claimed, jordans and egyptians did the same, not only with the refugees but with the population that alredy lived there before the war.

    I also pointed out that you seem to see civil rights as an obligation of the jewish state, and only as a matter of “good will” for arab regimes. Disturbing.

  30. 30 noam said at 5:36 am on May 9th, 2010:

    rtb- your comment was automatically rejected by the spam control, I don’t know why. I was able to locate it now, and approve it manually. sorry about that.

    (btw, if a comment does not appear immediately it doesn’t mean it was rejected: in most cases i have to approve it manually because of a link or a “suspicious” word or phrase. as for myself, I have a very liberal comments policy).

    i will comment on the topic you raised later today. just wanted to clarify this for now.

  31. 31 noam said at 8:11 am on May 9th, 2010:

    confused: I don’t see how by saying that 65 percent of Jews were born here, you prove that Palestinians are not natives here. I think it actually shows that they are more “natives” than we are.

    RTB:you are right: I don’t care for the “who was here first” debate. I do say, with regards to the claim that Palestinian refugees don’t have citizenship in other countries, that the international norm doesn’t say you need to give citizenship to refugees, just host them (in case they can’t go back). the argument for natives is different: you can’t hold to the West Bank forever and not give citizenship to the people who were there before you came.

    I think the moment has come to israel to chose: either stop settling the West Bank and evacuate the settlements, so that the Palestinians can have their own state, or give them blue cards. there is not “middle way”, and we had enough time – more then 40 years – to think what we want to do. it’s time to act (and please don’t answer that we accepted the two states idea. talking is easy).

  32. 32 Confused said at 12:43 pm on May 10th, 2010:

    No, Noam, far less than 65% of the Palestinians were born in what is now Israel.

  33. 33 noam said at 10:15 pm on May 10th, 2010:

    I meant the ones living under Israeli control.