Talk to Ismail Haniyeh?
Photo: Fiona Yaron Field
The pathology of generations of Israeli governments is making us citizens to pay the awful price of life without vitality. Like Clint Eastwood's embarrassing spectacle with the empty chair during the US election campaign, by assassinating Ahmed Jabari the Israeli government is trying to confirm to itself once and again that there is no one to talk to on the Palestinian side.
It has already become a tradition in our enlightened and democratic country to assassinate any strong Palestinian figure who may lead the Palestinian people and the Israeli society to reach some sort of agreement on the way of life here, in this split and torn region. Just like the assassination of Abu Jihad in Tunisia and the imprisonment of Marwan Barghouti, this time – in Gaza – the Israeli government is doing everything in its power to destroy any possibility for the creation of a real Palestinian leadership.
Islamic Jihad-affiliated website reports that Hamas presented its demands for halting rocket fire at Cairo meeting
The empty chair declared by Israel's governments time and again is mainly a grim reflection of our unworthy leaders. They don't dare look us citizens straight in the eyes and demand that they take real responsibility for the people whose lives depend on them and on their decision. The hysteria over Iran, the horror from new Egypt, the fear of the Arab Spring and the pathology when it comes to the Palestinian people are not the way to lead, unless the leadership's goal is to create constant fear and dependence, sanctifying a government that considers itself democratic and enlightened.
A real leader is the person who will take real responsibility and demand civilian courage from himself to talk to Hamas in order to recreate life here. But our leaders are hiding behind tons of bombs cast from the sky by an advanced air force, armored and artillery forces, warships and infantry brigades, which are all comprised of civilians who are losing the ability to understand the meaning of civilness and of a vital life.
In a conversation with children who have been living in the Gaza vicinity all their life, under the threat of the Color Red alert, I said naively that perhaps if a rocket hit Tel Aviv (and truly I hope there will be no more rockets anywhere) it would make our leaders start talking to Hamas.
It is possible that as long as the rockets hit southern or northern communities, Israel's governments have an excuse to use us – the citizens living on the borderline – as victims justifying cruel attacks on a civilian population and targeted killings of key figures, who may have led real moves between the Israeli and Palestinians societies. Perhaps now the empty-chair policy will no longer be justifiable, as we will have to talk face-to-face rather than "format Gaza", as the senior home front defense minister said.
You owe us the preliminary and most basic thing – talking to Hamas – if you wish to gain our trust. You have tried out all the weapons in the world. The only thing you haven’t really tried out is the simple, required dialogue. Now is your chance if you still wish to remain relevant in our eyes.
Dr. Avner Fainguelernt is an educator and independent filmmaker, who was born and lives in a Gaza vicinity kibbutz. He is the director of the Television and Cinema Arts Department at the Sapir Academic College and the founder of the Cinema South Festival in Sderot