|Translation of unabridged original text of the Hebrew article
published in Ma’ariv, April 25, 1999.
"AND HOW IS MORDECHAI?"
"How is Mordechai? What are his chances of becoming Prime
Minister?" This question was voiced again and again, when my new Kurdish
friends heard that I am an Israeli. Mordechai, of course, is the first
Israeli candidate for the job of Prime Minister who is an immigrant from
That was kast wee, when masses of Kurds filled a
giant field on the outskirts of Bonn. The German police estimated them
at 90 thousand. The organizers spoke of 200 thousand. My own estimate
was 150 thousand. They came in special trains, convoys of buses and
private cars, creating giant traffic jams. At the entrance of the town
they were directed by Kurdish orderlies, wearing the Kurdish flag around
They came from all over of Germany, from France, Denmark,
Austria, even Spain. Many had been traveling for eight hours and more.
They belonged to the million Kurds living in exile in Europe, Kurds from
Iran, Iraq and even from Syria, but mostly from Turkey, speaking the
different Kurdish dialects, belonging to different religions – Sunnis,
Shiites, Alawites, Christians. Some in festive suits, many in their
Thousands of families sat on the ground – father, mother,
children, grandparents. Tens of thousands were standing on their feet,
hour after hour, facing the elevated tribune. Around the field there
stood several tents: one for collecting donations for the bereaved
families of the national struggle, one for the orphans, one for the
wounded. Tables offering Kurdish literature, both in Latin and Arabic
letters. Tables of the different Kurdish parties, of which there seem to
be a lot – the PKK, several communist splinters, several others.
A curious mixture of a national festival and protest rally. From
hundreds of posters the resolute face of Abdullah Ocalan looked out. His
kidnapping has succeeded in doing what millions of words have failed to
do: For the first time in their history, the whole Kurdish nation has
united around one leader. The lack of unity among the Kurds is
proverbial. That has changed now. The capture has united the Kurds in
the five parts of their cut-up homeland – Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and
Azerbaijan – who understand each other only with some difficulty. Many
men and woman came in their traditional national dresses. Tens of
thousands waved posters – "Apo, the Sun of Kurdistan" (Apo is the
nickname of Ocalan), "Freedom for Kurdistan" and many more. Many
portraits of Apo decorated with wreaths of flowers, a sea of national
and PKK flags. All these are prohibited by German law as the symbols of
a "terrorist organization", but after trying in vain to stop their being
displayed , the Police wisely surrendered to the deluge.
Since the creation of the State of Israel, I have not seen such
a sight in our country. The nationalist fervor electrified the
atmosphere. The national songs swept young and old with them. A singer
from Iran competed with a music group from Turkey, and the masses joined
them with passion. "Kurdistan, I am coming, I am coming, I am coming!"
Thousands of hands were waved in rhythm, as in a rock concert, but the
love sung about here is the love for Kurdistan and Apo.
When I climbed to the tribune to speak, the sight was elevating.
At my feet sat the invalids of the struggle in their wheelchairs. Beyond
the fence, lines and lines of men and women, many in their colorful
traditional dresses, who did not move from the spot during ten long
hours, in the biting cold, with minutes of a pale sunshine giving way to
an occasional light drizzle. After every sentence there was thunderous
applause, every few minutes thousands of throats shouted the slogans.
I expressed my support "as a human being, an Israeli and a Jew".
As an Israeli, I vigorously object to the Israeli-Turkish military pact,
which is being used against he Kurds. As a Jew, I fight against all
forms of genocide and mass-expulsion. I mentioned that for thousands of
years, Kurds and Jews had lived together. Thunderous applause. I
denounced the genocide on Kosovo and warned that similar things may
happen in Turkey. Every sentence was translated into Kurdish, and the
reaction of the masses was intense. They were glad to hear a voice from
Israel saying this. After me spoke Lord Hylton from England, a Bask
Leader, a Greek professor, an Italian senator.
When the masses dispersed peacefully, in exemplary order, I
wondered how the Turkish leaders can entertain the illusion that it is
possible to deny the existence of the Kurdish nation. I remembered the
foolishness of Golda Meir, who declared that "there is no such thing as
a Palestinian people". How is it possible to deny the separate identity
of a resolute nation of 15 million souls?
(Two days later, I was on a Lufthansa flight from Fankfurt to
Tel-Aviv. I was perusing the reports of the rally in German, Turkish and
Kurdish papers, when the Captain announced nonchalantly that he has not
enough fuel to reach Tel-Aviv and has therefore going to stop at
Istanbul in order to take on more fuel. If I had been paranoid, it would
have crossed my mind that here was a little imitation of the Ocalan
affair. But all passed peacefully, the plane went up again, flew over
the island where Ocalan is held and tortured, and brought me safely back
Erklärung des jüdisch-kurdischen Gesprächskreises in
Kein Grund für eine
haGalil onLine -