Monday, June 7, 2010

Interview with Uri Avnery

Israel Trying to Get Gaza People to Overthrow Hamas


Interview with Uri Avnery


By Mazal Mualem Haaretz (Israel) June 7, 2010


Benjamin Netanyahu is lying when he says the Gaza

blockade exists in order to prevent the transfer of

weapons to Gaza, veteran peace activist Uri Avnery

tells Haaretz


Journalist and former Knesset member Uri Avnery is one

of the most prominent political activists identified

with the Israeli peace camp. As has been the 86-year-

old's habit for decades, he did not miss the leftist

demonstration in Tel Aviv, on Saturday night - this one

protesting the government's handling of the Gaza-bound

flotilla incident last week.


The interview:


All told, only 6,000 people took part in the

demonstration. Is the Israeli peace camp in

fact just a negligible minority?


That number is wrong. There were at least twice

as many demonstrators, and that is a huge amount when

you take into account the unprecedented brainwashing

the country experienced during the week, when a a

near-totalitarian propaganda machine repeated a single

picture and a single story, and prevented citizens from

seeing or hearing anything else. We hardly saw anything

except for a few minutes shot and edited by the Israel

Defense Forces spokesman's office, which confiscated

the films shot by journalists. The question may be

asked: Why? What are they afraid of?


The photos published by the IDF and the Turkish media

clearly show Israeli naval commandos being

attacked,thrown from the deck and bleeding. Are you

saying those photos were fabricated?


The gap is created when you see only two minutes [of

footage]; you don't see what came before or after, and

so it is possible to get the impression that the Turks

attacked a Jewish ship. Imagine if Jews were in

distress, attacked on the high seas, with dead and

wounded - just imagine the uproar. Not only the Turks

see this as an Israeli attack, but the whole world does.


Are you convinced this was an aid flotilla?


There is no doubt. The intention of the Israeli

government is to create a crisis that is so terrible

that the people of Gaza will overthrow Hamas.

Meanwhile, four years have passed and Hamas is stronger

than it was. What is the siege for? Who is it good for?

If the Israeli government hadn't sent the poor soldiers

to attack the ship, just as the cabinet secretary [Zvi

Hauser] suggested, all of this could have been

prevented. They could have stopped [the ships],

examined them and let them go on. It seems we have to

protect IDF soldiers from [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak

and [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu.


When Netanyahu calls it a flotilla of hate, is he lying?


Not only Netanyahu, the ministers, too, in addition to

a few people in uniform: the army chief of staff and

the commander of the navy. In any well-run country, the

head of the navy would have resigned that same night.

The operation itself reflected an astounding and

disastrous lack of military capability. What is the

nature of an army whose admiral personally commands

such a stupid undertaking? I was a soldier and I don't

remember any of my commanders ever putting me in such

an idiotic situation. A person who can give such an

order cannot command our soldiers.


And the mounting evidence that the flotilla was a

provocation by terrorists fails to convince you?


The story begins with the fact that Israel attacked a

Turkish ship because it was bringing aid. The ship was

attacked and [the forces] did what they did. After all,

we experienced this ourselves with the Exodus, when

British soldiers attacked and the illegal immigrants

defended themselves any way they could. Three

immigrants were killed and dozens were injured. That

was the beginning of the end of the British Mandate

just eight months later.


Continuing this parallel that you are making, what

does this say about us?


Parallel? Then there was a British government minister

named Ernest Bevin who was stupid and coarse, and now

we have a defense minister who is stupid and coarse. We

are led by a gang of idiots. After last week a big

change has taken place en route to ending the

occupation and the siege on Gaza, which is a siege

based on lies and wrapped in stupidity.


Benjamin Netanyahu said the siege exists in order to

prevent the transfer of weapons to Gaza. This is a lie.

He prevents the entrance of noodles, fruit, children's

toys and paper for books. The damage caused to Israel's

standing this week is greater than that caused by

Operation Cast Lead [in Gaza, in December 2008-January

2009]. I am receiving messages from liberal Jews

[abroad] and they see this as a disaster. We are moving

forward with the blindness of the people of Sodom -

struck blind and going on, increasing the wave of

hatred against Israel.


Is it possible that something good can come from this

low point, as it did with the Exodus incident?


In Goethe's "Faust," Satan appears and says: I am the

power that always wants evil, but causes good. It might

happen that, paradoxically, something good comes out of

the bad.


Who will lead? After all, the peace camp has no

political leadership.


All of the disasters in Israel began with Ehud Barak

declaring himself the head of the peace camp. He went

to Camp David unprepared and failed. When he returned

he did not say that the negotiations would continue.

Instead he said: I have turned over every stone on the

way to peace; we haven't got a partner. These words

caused a disaster we haven't yet recovered from.


But perhaps now, because of this incident, people who

have been standing on the sidelines will understand

that we have an existential problem. I see the

demonstration [Saturday night] as a new awakening. We

have a long way to go. We are in a situation in which

the political system is split wide open. Last week in

the Knesset we saw that Kadima is not a different

version of the Likud; it is even worse. I was a Knesset

member for 10 years and I don't remember any disgrace

that came even close to this: physical attacks [on Arab

MKs] by nearly all the Jewish members accompanied by

the shouting of racist and sexist remarks.


And the Arab MKs did not take part in the uproar?


There is polarization on both sides. Actions create

reactions. There's a vicious cycle here when the

parliament descends to such a nadir. I am looking for

the right word: parliamentary rabble. It terrifies me

anew. It is a death blow to parliamentary democracy.


Did [Turkish Prime Minister] Erdogan incite the region?


That is part of the stupidity. We have had one very

important friend in the Middle East for decades: the

Turkish army. Turkish politics has been changing over

the last two years; Turkey wants to position itself as

a Middle East superpower, and wanted to mediate between

Israel and the Moslem world. And let's assume we didn't

like the fact that Turkey moved closer to Iran. What

did we do? We united all of Turkey in hatred for

Israel. Was it worth it?



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