Peace Now Leader: 'I Feel People Think I'm an Idiot'
June 13, 2001
Peace Now Leader:
'I Feel People Think I'm an Idiot'
In an interview last week with the Jerusalem weekly Iton
Yerushalaym, Professor Amiram Goldblum - an associate of
Peace Now's National Secretariat and the Head of the
movement's Settlement-Watch Team - discussed the
disillusionment of Israel's peace camp, supported
unilateral separation, called for the annexation of 50% of
the settlers, and opposed the Palestinian 'right of
return'. Following are excerpts from the interview:(1)
"In a full-page ad in the June 1, 2001 addition of Ha'aretz
newspaper, the Peace Now movement called on the Israeli
public to join them for a protest in Jerusalem calling for
a settlement freeze and ceasefire. That protest never took
place. Professor Amiram Goldblum explains, "Immediately
following the suicide bombing at the Tel Aviv disco club
[which killed 20 Israelis and wounded over a hundred],
hundreds of people called and said they felt it would be
too difficult to protest. This is bad timing [they said],
no one would listen to us, everyone is mourning."
Q: "But it seems that particularly now there is a need for
voices calling for ceasefire."
A: "One of the things we have learned throughout years of
experience is [the importance of] paying attention to the
street and taking its needs under consideration..."
Q: "How many people were you expecting at the protest?"
A: "Around a thousand people."
Q: "During the Lebanon war you gathered 400 thousand
A: "The truth is that there weren't really 400 thousand
protestors there. But true, there were a few hundreds of
thousands of us. Now we have to start from scratch..."
Q: "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi? [Latin: this is how the
world's glory passes?]"
A: "We are trying to become capable of sweeping a large
camp [behind us] when the time is right and when the camp
is ready. We cannot make things just happen out of thin
"Indeed thin air [the interviewer interjects]. The peace
process is at a dead end; the largest extra-parliamentary
peace movement is parked at the side of the road on its
rims. Goldblum himself attests to the feelings of
bewilderment when I asked him whether the name 'Peace Now'
is not a little out of touch with our reality, or even with
our dreams for that matter."
"The name is very problematic" Goldblum says. "Today I
would not choose the same name for the movement, but we
can't change it now. I find this name extremely difficult
and it is even a source of embarrassment for me. I can't
even put the movement's sticker on my car. I even have a
problem with our one add campaign which I used to think was
the best we ever had: 'Peace is preferable than the whole
land of Israel.' Today it is impossible to talk about
peace the same way we used to in the past. This is very
clear; to me it is very clear."
Q: "What is the difficulty?"
A: "You observe the hatred on the Arab side and you observe
the hatred on our side towards them. [You can tell that]
their hatred is much worse then ours. During a recent
Peace Now meeting, I discussed the benefits of a unilateral
separation, and one who objected to my thesis said that I
nourish [an Israeli] Apartheid and intensify the hatred.
An Arab member of Peace Now responded to that man: 'follow
me to the West Bank and witness for yourself what is going
on there, see for yourself how much you Israelis are hated
Q: "In times past, when the movement was effective, and
thus also dangerous for your political rivals, people used
to throw stones and shatter your windows with the Peace Now
sticker displayed on them. Does any one bother even
picking up a stone today [at the sight of a Peace Now
A: "I feel that people look [at the Peace Now sticker] and
say: 'what an idiot is driving this car'..."
Q: "During the peace talks with Egypt, and later during the
Lebanon war and especially following Sabra and Shatila, you
influenced, and at times even set, the national agenda
despite the fact that the Left was in the opposition."
A: "Today we are unable to set the agenda. But look at how
much has happened since the time when we where established
and called for negotiations with the PLO."
Q: "I do see what happened: we made a full circle only to
come back to the starting point, only that now the hope is
shattered or dismantled at best."
A: "It is very shattered; there is no doubt about it."
"Unlike his friends who cheered the Oslo agreement,
Goldblum thought it was an unworkable agreement, and even
today he disagrees with Peace Now's official guidelines
regarding a preferable agreement. [Goldblum says,] "I
listened to people who were talking about peace yesterday
during our meeting, these people don't understand anything.
They use a different area of the brain when compared with
people who witness the reality as it is. I don't believe in
a peace agreement that can change the situation with a
simple stroke of a pen."
Q: "Your movement keeps on supporting interim agreements;
what are your suggestions?"
A: "I think that as long as the occupation continues it
will be impossible to achieve peace. The method of
conducting peace negotiations while continuing the
occupation has reached its limits. I recommend pulling out
of the territories unilaterally and begin peace
negotiations at a point where occupation no longer exists."
Q: "As a prime minister, would you take such a security
A: "The starting point would be an airtight security
closer, a creation of a 310 Kilometers security fence along
the Green Line, an airtight closing of the border between
Jordan and the Palestinian territory, between Egypt and the
Gaza Strip, and of the Mediterranean. This closure would
be so complete that is would allow us to inspect every
mouse entering Israel."
Q: "But if we maintain presence alongside the Jordan River,
this means not bringing the occupation to its end."
A: "Hold on a second. This will first of all mean that we
end the occupation of Palestinian communities. You cease
the control of their daily lives and of their free passage
inside the Palestinian territories. Today, the IDF is
controlling 190 checkpoints of passages between A areas
[full PA control] and B areas [PA civil control and Israel
security control]. This is the problem with Oslo - it was
constructed around the existence of settlements. The
Palestinians were idiots too for agreeing to defer the
settlement issue to the final status agreement."
Q: "You are saying 'I don't want to control their daily
lives' but when you control the checkpoints between your
territory and theirs you are still very much in control of
their lives ."
A: "Excuse me, I need to protect my safety; this is my
first priority. Following the establishment of the fence,
I would pull out the settlers and the soldiers. Behind the
fences I would create a Judenrein or Israelenrein territory
- if Jews would want to live there and if they get the
Palestinian approval for it, they may go ahead and live
Q: "Only a defeat in the battlefield will bring Israel to
sign an agreement which supports a total evacuation of the
settlements. In such a case, there is not going to be a
need for Israel's agreement to it anyway."
A: "I am not suggesting evacuating all the settlements. I
have no problem what so ever with annexing 50% of the
Q: "Do you consider Gilo a settlement? [an Israeli
neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, which
has been under constant fire in the recent few months from
the Palestinian town of Beit Jallah]"
A: "Of course it is a settlement, a settlement that must be
annexed into Israel's territory. I'll be even more
pungent: I believe that we should annex the Har Homa
neighborhood, a neighborhood against which my movement
fought a stupid campaign. Har Homa has a territorial
contiguity with the state of Israel. To say that Har Homa
disturbs the contiguity of the Palestinian territory and to
turn this in to a possible cause for war is rubbish, it's
Q: "The security fence that you are proposing will not be
capable of preventing shootings at some neighborhoods in
Jerusalem and Bat Hefer. If this happens, what would we do
A: "[In my scenario,] this [the Palestinian territory]
would be a sovereign state and they will not be able to use
the excuse of ['independent'] 'Tanzim' activists shooting.
Today, it is very hard to demand of Arafat the type of
security [we could demand of him as a head of state]."
Q: "It happens that sovereign states open fire on other
A: "In that case, we would go in and take care of business."
Q: "Are you basing your argument on the assumption that a
sovereign Palestinian state would not condone shootings on
A: "I don't know. As far as I am concerned, it is
preferable to conduct a state-against-state type of war
from the international border over an ongoing occupation
and hurting of civilians..."
Q: "At Camp David, Barak agreed for the 'right of return'
of refugees, the media reported that it was agreed that 100
thousand refugees would return. Do you find this
A: "I object to the 'right of return' and I struggled with
members of my movement who tried to put forth all kinds of
formulas regarding the subject. My objection also stems
from the fact that the idea of the 'right of return' goes
against the idea of a Palestinian state. My argument is
based on the notion that nationalism is a necessary evil.
It is true today and it will remain true for the next few
centuries. Nationalism is an idea based on people living
separately and not mixed with other nations. We already
have a 20% Arab minority, and this is a very substantial
minority, almost unprecedented in normal nation states. In
our case, the situation is further complicated by the fact
that this minority is tied to the struggle of enemies from
the outside. Nations [with such internal complexities]
usually fall apart. Every refugee that we will allow to
come in here would increase the size of the minority and
exacerbate this problem..."
Q: "Will that hurt, in your opinion, the Jewish character
of the state of Israel?"
A: "...What is really important to me is that this should
be the state of the Jews, not a mixed state and not a state
of all its citizens."
Q: "Would Peace Now have rejected any agreement brought by
Barak that included the 'right of return'?"
A: "That is not what I said. Peace Now would support and
advance any agreement that both sides agreed to. I admit
that there are conceivable peace agreements that I would
feel uncomfortable with."
Q: "What do you mean by 'uncomfortable'? If the Prime
Minister will reach an agreement that includes the 'right
of return', would you sell it to the public despite the
fact that you believe it is wrong and might even be
A: "Look, a peace agreement is made of many elements.
Regarding the 'right of return', it is clear to me that no
agreement can include a significant right of return. At
best, an agreement could include family reunification of a
hundred families per year, this is nonsense..."
Q: "Would you vote against such an agreement [that includes
the 'right of return']?"
A: "No. I would support the agreement, I would support
Peace Now...In the big scheme of things, supporting an
agreement is more important..."
(1) Iton Yerushalaym. June 8, 2000.
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