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Words of Tomas Hirsch at the Providencia Forum in Santiago de Chile, seeking peaceful ways to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict
“Good afternoon to everyone. To begin, I want to clarify where I am coming from: I am speaking from the point of view of Universalist Humanism. Its main points are:
1. Placing the human being as the central value and concern, so that there is nothing above the human being and no human being is above another.
2. The affirmation of the equality of all human beings.
3. Recognition of personal and cultural diversity, acknowledging the characteristics of each human group and condemning discrimination, whether motivated by economic, racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences.
4. Development of knowledge above all prejudices accepted as absolute and immutable truths.
5. Affirming the freedom of ideas and beliefs.
6. Rejection of violence in all its forms.
If we consider this mental location it is quite easy to understand our position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict: We cannot accept the impossibility of giving a people its sovereign State, nor the existence of occupied territories and the establishment of colonisation settlements in those territories.
I agree with what was said by the young Israeli writer Nir Baram
“‘I think the Israeli occupation is a nightmare that not only destroys the Palestinian society, but also the Israeli society. In Israel no one thinks of the future. No one wonders if in twenty years there will be one state or two states. The problem of the two states is that the principal ideal is separation. And separation is a big mistake; I do not believe there is such opposition and that we are mortal enemies. I do not believe in those walls of separation, but I do not think that at this stage the idea of a single state is a good idea. This is the reason why I am participating in a negotiating group composed by Palestinians and Israelis, The Ramallah Tel Aviv Initiative, which is trying to create a novel two-state model without separation, with total freedom of movement. The Palestinians say it is much more important the ability to travel and move than the Palestinian state. That is the reason why two separate states, blocked by a border is not a good solution.”
The quote ends here.
But to go further, if we advance in the way of the two States it should be a rapid and transient process, because it solves nothing of substance. Nation states are obsolete. Today they are only devices in the hands of colossal powers that snatch the sovereignty of peoples. They must be surpassed by the ideal of a Universal Human Nation, overcoming boundaries and barriers, being multicultural, multiethnic, valuing religious and linguistic diversity.
Paradoxically, in that area, the most complex in the world, is where the opportunity arises to create a model that serves the rest of the world to surpass the old idea of Nation States. First it is necessary to move towards an effective regional integration. It is very difficult to do, too many interests involved, but if achieved, then a door of hope will open to a new way of resolving conflicts around the globe.
What is clear is that, as Cristina Fernandez said at the UN, “the path followed so far has made things worse and therefore it was wrong. A change of strategy is required, other than continuing to hammer an already bent nail”.
Too much time has been wasted by leaving the conflict in latency, “kicking” forward as if time could be responsible for solving it. The dramatic events of recent months show that it will not, it will return exploding again and again, unless dialogue and willingness to take a commitment to resolve accelerate. Here everyone has to make compromises. The world in which some win and others lose is over. Now we all win a little or we all lose a lot.
And beyond what states and governments say, here we must clarify what people have to do. We the people have to enlighten ourselves, otherwise they will go on crushing us and in an increasingly violent way.
We should not accept the blackmail that the only way to resolve a conflict is by armies, drones, invasions and murders. The State of Israel is putting itself outside the law if it does not respect the UN resolutions and deserves international condemnation against the occupation of territories; but in turn this does not justify any groups to take up arms, using the methodology of terror or violence. Anyone who murders is a disgrace and should be repudiated, whether it is Israel, Hamas or whatever it’s called.
In that sense I am absolutely represented by the statement signed by us, hundreds of Chilean men and women from the political, cultural, social and religious world.
By way of conclusion and to clarify my position let me share with you its final paragraphs:
“Chileans of Jewish and Palestinian roots and from other origins, committed to the unconditional defence of human rights, justice and freedom, we join the voices of the world to say, No more! There is no possible argument to deny and eliminate the other. Nothing justifies this slaughter.
No more racism and discrimination that corrodes every possible path to peace.
No more to the logic of fear and security, which nullify any humanity.
No more occupation of the Palestinian territory, which suffocates and kills every day the people of Gaza and the West Bank.
It’s time to stop this spiral of aggression: violence and oppression only generate more violence.
It’s time to give rise to hope: coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis is possible.
It’s time to think about the children of our children. It is feasible to recover the space of an ancient coexistence.
There is no military solution to this conflict; the resolution is political, with the main players at the table.
It is time to witness:
- Two free and sovereign states, safe territories, connected and with full mutual recognition.
- The end of the occupation, the checkpoints and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
- The full exercise of the right to self-determination in terms of a decent life for both peoples.
I close by saying that we, universalist humanists, follow the path of nonviolence, denouncing oppression. And we will seek dialogue. We know that one day we shall all sit and talk. The longer we delay this, the more injustice and death will happen. The sooner people are the ones to take the role the better.