Wednesday, 24 July 2013
Sikap Positif Anak Bekas Tentera Israel
Transcript of television interview by Jessica Mutch on TVNZ One's Q + A programme, 23 June 2013:
JESSICA Miko Peled, thank you very much for your time this morning.
MIKO Thank you. It’s a pleasure.
JESSICA You are the son of an Israeli general, and you’re now fighting for a free and democratic Palestine. What was the turning point for you?
MIKO Well, you know, these things don’t happen as a result of one thing. It’s always a gradual process. But probably the strongest thing that drove me was my sister’s daughter was killed in a suicide attack. And more than anything, probably, that drove me in the direction of looking into the other side, meeting the other side, speaking to Palestinians and so forth to better understand what this conflict is about.
JESSICA You write in your book about how you were watching CNN at the time. Can you walk me briefly through that story?
MIKO Well, I live abroad. I live in the US. And when you live in the US, especially in the second half of the 1990s, there was a lot of violence going on, and typically there would be an act of violence and I would call home and make sure everybody’s OK. This time, I got a call from home, which was very strange, and I was watching this unfold on CNN and I could see a girl on a stretcher, which I didn’t think anything of it, you know. Of course, I didn’t see the face. And then my mother told me – it was my mother on the phone saying that she had — my niece was missing. And by the end of the day, we knew what had happened.
JESSICA And that for you was one of those turning points that just got you thinking? Is that what happened?
MIKO Well, after this — You know, this is big news, obviously, always. But in Israel this was even bigger news, because she was the granddaughter of a well-known general and a general who had also made a name for himself as an advocate for Palestinian rights after he retired. And then when my sister finally came out to speak to reporters and so forth, she was asked the usual questions about revenge, retaliation and all of that. And she said, “First of all, no real mother would want to see this happen to any other mother. The idea of killing people in response to the death of someone is repulsive and absurd.” And she quoted a well-known Jewish poet who said, “There is no revenge or vengeance that’s appropriate for the death of a child.” And as for who’s responsible, she said, “Well, the Israeli government’s responsible, because these two young men were driven to do this horrific act as a result of years of a brutal oppression and a brutal occupation that has brought them to this place where they took their own lives and the lives of others.” And this had a huge impact on me, besides what had happened. But her words had a huge impact on me. When I returned to the US, I looked for ways to get engaged and I began becoming engaged.
JESSICA Another thing you mentioned in the book about really what engaged you was a story about your mother, and the Israeli Army would go through and confiscate houses, and some of the most beautiful houses they would give to high-powered families like your own. Your mother refused to take on one of those houses. What impact did that have on you?
MIKO A lot of confusion. She was talking about 1948, and as Israelis we grew up learning that 1948 was an act of heroism. This is when the Jewish people rose like the phoenix from the ashes and so on and established a Jewish state and it was an act of heroism and the fighting we took on, you know, we were defending ourselves and so forth. And we made sure to do the right thing, we didn’t hurt women and children, we didn’t steal, we didn’t loot, because we don’t do these things. My mother told a story. She was a young mother in 1948. She was living in a small apartment with her parents. And when the Palestinian communities in Jerusalem – not the Old City but, you know, outside the Old City – these neighbourhoods were taken by the Israeli forces, the Zionist forces. They were forced to leave, and these homes were made available to Israeli families, like you said. And she told me this story, and then she went on to say, “How could they possibly think I would take the home of another mother? How could I take the home of another family?” And she would say – and she still talks about this today. She's 86 years old, and she says, “And to see the looting, to see the Israeli soldiers looting and all this, it was terrible.” And this was very troublesome to me, because this stands in the face of the national narrative – that we were heroes, that we were attacked, that we do not loot, we do not do these things. We took the homes only because we asked the Arabs to leave and they didn’t— we asked them to stay and they left anyway. And for many years, this was in the back of my mind, and this was the first crack in that wall of myth that Israelis have built around themselves to justify what really was a terrible act of terrorism and land theft that took place in 1948 and at the end of which the state of Israel was established.
JESSICA Because you mentioned that your father was a peace activist later in his career as well.
MIKO Yes, yes.
JESSICA When he first started exploring that and you did too, what were those initial conversations like for you? That must have been really difficult.
MIKO Well, I was rather young and he was rather knowledgeable, so he knew what he was talking about. He was quite convincing. But he maintained that the safest thing for Israel would be to allow the Palestinians to establish a state in the West Bank in Gaza and then move on, otherwise we would become a bi-national state. At this point – and this he said while still in uniform at the end of the 1967 war – but as he was saying this, the Israeli state went on to destroy towns and villages in the West Bank, like they did in parts of Palestine after ’48, and massively build for Israeli Jews only in West Bank, again on Palestinian land. So as he was saying this, Israel was actually integrating the West Bank into Israel, and this became— the rift between him and the establishment became greater and greater with time.
JESSICA And that brings us nicely to our next point. Our Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, has just returned over the last couple of days from meeting with the Israeli prime minister and also with the Palestinian president as well. We, obviously, in New Zealand – our government supports a two-state policy. You are speaking out on behalf of one. Why is that?
MIKO Well, the whole idea of a two-state solution is really code for allowing Israel to continue to oppress the Palestinians, to continue to steal their land, take their homes, to maintain policies where Israel has thousands of political prisoners and to pretend that Israel is a democracy, but there's really not a partner and they just need to work things out. This is not the case, and all of Israel’s supporters, like the US and its followers in the West, allow Israel to continue doing this by talking about this two-state solution, which everybody knows is non-existent.
JESSICA You mention in your book – I’ll read out a quote for the audience: “Both Jews and Palestinians as equals living together in a state that is neither Jewish nor Arab.” Is that not a little bit simplistic?
MIKO It’s not simplistic at all. Today the state of Israel is neither Jewish nor democratic. They claim it’s a Jewish democracy. It’s neither Jewish nor democratic. Half of the population under Israeli control is not Jewish. You have six and a half million Israelis and around six or a little over six million Palestinians. Israel governs Israeli Jews under one set of laws, Palestinians who are Israeli citizens under a different set of laws, and the Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza who have no citizenship at all with no laws to protect them at all. They are at the mercy of the Israeli military, which shoots to kill, destroys homes and so forth on a regular basis with impunity. So to support the state of Israel means to support a racist state. There's no question about it. And the reality is that when Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967, it became a bi-national state, but with no intention of ever allowing it to be a democracy, because of course then it would not be a Jewish state, which of course I think is a racist idea which I think most Jews have never bought into.
JESSICA Well, look, that’s a nice place to leave it. Thank you very much for your time this morning. I really appreciate it.
MIKO Thank you.