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Jüdische Weisheit

The following article is extracted from the April 1997 issue of THE OTHER ISRAEL. The publisher encourages unrestricted distribu- tion with acknowledgment of source.


The idea for a manifesto arose when Gush Shalom activists took part in several joint Israeli-Palestinian demonstrations at the protest encampment opposite Jebl Abu Gn'eim ('Har Homa') on the eve of Netanyahu's fateful decision. The purpose was to ring the alarm and try at the last moment to prevent the bloodshed -- and the breakdown of the peace talks -- which we knew would inevitably follow the start of construction work. In order to dramatize the appeal, it was decided to have the shortest possible text: "At the last moment: STOP THE BULLDOZERS!" It was also decided not to identify the appeal officially with Gush Shalom, so as to enable members of all organizations or parties and personalities of different views to join the effort and sign. (And indeed, the petition got the support of prominent members in Peace Now and in the Meretz, Communist and Arab Democratic parties, as well as in the dovish wing of Labor.)

The work of gathering signatures, mostly by phone, was done by volunteers under hectic conditions, between demonstrations -- and would have become hopelessly mired in chaos but for the enormous efforts of Rachel Avnery who coordinated the work.
The response was generally positive, refusal to sign very rare, and many of those approached made an effort themselves to get additional names -- in marked and puzzling contrast to the disappointing low turnout in demonstrations held in the same period.

The three lists of signatures, published in the respected Ha'aretz, on March 17, 19 and 26, included altogether 788 signatures. At the time of writing, a fourth ad including a thousand signatures is being prepared, which is due to appear on April 9.

Eva, Uri und Rachel
Eva Ehrlich, Uri und Rachel Avnery

+++ Nearly half of the signatories are members of the academic community: 91 professors, 105 doctors and many lecturers and researchers.

+++ The list includes 15 laureates of the Israel Prize, the highest civil distinction in Israel: writers (S. Yizhar, A.B.Yehoshua, Amos Oz, Yehoshua Sobol); poets (Nathan Sach, Yehuda Amichai); sculptors (Danny Karavan, Menashe Kadishman); actress (Hannah Meron, herself severely wounded in a terrorist attack); composer (Arik Shapira); stage director (Ram Levi) and professors (Hava Lazarus-Yafeh, Yehoshua Arieli, Yehudit Shuval, Dan Meron).

+++ Among the signatories are three former ministers (Shulamit Aloni, Victor Shem-Tov and Ya'ir Tzaban), four former Knesset Members (Uri Avnery, Charlie Biton, Mordechai Bar-on, Me'ir Pa'il) and eighteen present KMs (former Speaker Shevach Weiss, Ya'el Dayan, Ran Cohen, Haim Oron, Taleb A-Sana, Naomi Hazan, Azmi Bishara, Abd-el-Malek Dahamshe, Tamar Gozanski, Abd-el-Wahab Darawshe, Walid Tzadek, Anat Ma'or, Taufik Hatib, Hashem Mahamid, Nawaf Masalha, Dedi Zucker, Salah Salim and Ahmed Saad).

+++ Other well-known Israelis: veteran peace-activist Ruth Dayan, former wife of Moshe Dayan; the religious feminist Alice Shalvi; Rabbis David Foreman, Arik Asherman, Jeremy Milgrom, Binyamin Hollander; the peace hero Abie Nathan, joining the action despite frail health; Professors Ze'ev Sternhell, Moshe Zimmermann, Benny Moris, Michael Harsegor, Elihu Katz, Menachem Brinker, Moshe Zuckerman, Ariel Hirshfeld, Moshe Maoz, Avishai Margalit, Gershon Shaked, Avraham Oz; musicoligist Michal Smora; the heart surgeon Daniel Gur; writers David Grossman, Yoram Kaniuk, Sammy Michael, Amos Kenan, Yehoshua Knaz, Nathan Shacham, Yitzchak Ben-Ner, Amos Aricha, Orli Kastel-Blum; poets Dalia Ravikovich, Siham Daoud, Dan Almagor, Yitzhak Llaor, Maya Bajerano; painters and sculptors Dan Kedar, Ig'al Tumarkin, Zion Shimshi, David Rib, Ruth Schloss; stage directors Sinai Peter, Shmuel Bunim, Benny Horowitz, Benny Barabash, Vardit Shalfi; Dr.Ruchama Marton, founder of Physicians for Human Rights; Israel's no. 1 television personality, Yaron London; lawyers Amnon Zichroni and Leah Tzemel; sea captain Nimrod Eshel; Jerusalem town planner and former city councillor Sarah Kaminker; veteran social worker Thea Nathan, a long-time 'Honor Citizen of Jerusalem'; Beduin activist Nuri al-Ukbi; the widely respected Oriental Jewish scholar, Prof. Shlomo Elbaz; historical researcher Ya'akov Sharett, son of the late prime minister; actors and singers Oded Te'omi, Gila Almagor, Yossi Banai, Asher Tzarfati, Elisheva Michaeli, Israel Gurion, Hannah Roth; journalists Haim Baram, Haim Hanegbi, Silvie Keshet, Meir Shnitzer, Boaz Evron, Avi Katzman, Ziva Yariv and Yoram Sadeh (son of the famous 1948 general Yitzhak Sadeh and himself a peace activist since 1967); kibbutz movement general secretaries Amiram Efrati and Avshalom ('Abu') Vilan.

(The above listing does not do justice to the hundreds of other signatories of equal importance.)

Because of a severe lack of funds, the lists were published only in Ha'aretz. There were no funds to publish in an English-languague paper, nor for placing ads in the (far more expensive) mass-circulation papers Yediot Aharonot and Ma'ariv, which would have brought the message to hundreds of thousands exposed almost exclusively to the official propaganda. As it were, the Ha'aretz ads were more or less covered by contributions from the signatories, but there was no surplus left for further actions -- while the reason for them remains as urgent. Contributions to: Gush Shalom, POB 3322, Tel Aviv 61033 -- fax: 972-3-5271108

THE OTHER ISRAEL is the newsletter of the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, P.O.Box 2542, 58125 Holon, Israel.


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