Transcript 2002 Wilberforce Lecture Dr Hanan Ashwari

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The Prospect of Peace and Emerging Global Realities

Dr Hanan Ashwari:

Pre-emptive intervention to prevent conflicts, either from breaking out, or from degenerating into recent situations of zero… We’re seeing the emergence of an old concept, I don’t know if you’ve heard Wolsey talk about it lately from the, the ex-CIA had the strategic doctrine of pre-emptive strikes. Now we were talking about pre-emptive intervention, when you see the symptoms, when you see poverty, when you see inequality, when you see a situation of injustice, you intervene constructively to rectify poverty, disenfranchisement, illiteracy, disease, all the global enemies and not nation, or identifying enemies.

But now you have intervention in the new strategic doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, which again is a euphemism for, and a convenient excuse for the waging of wars, I believe, where the powerful would give themselves the right to intervene, because they anticipate…it reminds me in the late sixties, early seventies, when Israel coined the phrase – what was it – pre-emptive defensive strikes, because you don’t want to say you’re an aggressor, so you say you are in a state of self defence, or you strike in order to pre-empt a possible conflict, because you have foresight.

Now when people have foresight like that, people who have lethal weapons and tremendous power, and they decide that they have the right to define enemies and friends, and that they have the foresight to anticipate anticipatory strikes as it was called, enemies and so on. Then, again, this is the licence to wage war, and to legitimise unilateralism and militarism, instead of dealing with the causes, to empower the weak, to end victimisation, occupation, to curb the arrogance and excesses of power we’re seeing, power given more licence.

In Palestine, I can give you many examples of issues like the security wall, separation. When we were talking about separation earlier on in the seventies, we were talking about ending the occupation in order to legitimise the two state solution. When the Palestinians accepted 22% of historical Palestine, which is the West Bank, including east Jerusalem and Gaza, as the territorial dimensions of Palestine, that was a major historical compromise. I don’t know why collectively people developed amnesia these days. There was a Palestine that had boundaries. For a long time Palestinians rejected Israel, yes, and they felt it was an injustice, and it’s an imposition, and it was, I mean it started all here of course, not in Holland, but in the UK, with the famous anti-Palestinians notorious Balfour declaration, remember that one?

So, in a sense, a state was created in Palestine, and at the expense of the whole nation. Now it took us decades, it took us decades to accept the existence of the state of Israel. I’m being very frank with you, it was very painful. To Palestinians, it’s not easy. If you put yourself in my shoes, you wouldn’t find it easy to give away a large portion of your land to establish a new and foreign state, because Israel did not emerge from all this, of course, it was imposed on Palestine. But we did, and we did that systematically, and we did that through painstaking and sometimes even painful political discussions and talks.

I wrote in my book, and you didn’t plug my book Patrick, you forgot to plug my book. I said my father, who was a real humanist, and who was, in 1948, was in the Palestine army. It wasn’t called the British Army, it was called Palestine, but he was a medical officer, he wasn’t a combatant. And he used to tell me – you know, later on, I was a baby during the war, so you know my age anyway – but later on he was telling me, when I accepted the two state solution, he said does that mean you are denying my history, does that mean you are denying my past, my legality? I said no, I’m trying to give my daughters, my children, a future. We had a homeland, nobody can take that away from us, that’s our history, our past, but we want to survive. And a state is different from the homeland, and the future has to be based on the recognition that now we cannot have an either/or situation anymore.

It’s not an all or nothing. Palestine, unlike maybe, this can be said, it’s a piece of land, and no matter how committed you are, and how deep rooted you are, and I’m very proud of the fact that we are the oldest standing Christian tradition in the world, I’m very proud of that. And it’s a sense of identity of culture, which I will get to later, but that is a source of some pride. So we did accept to share Palestine. We did accept the two state solution. There are many who find that still unfair, unjust, who will attack us for saying it, but we don’t only say it, we took resolutions, we entered the peace process on that basis, and that is an historical compromise, it must be recognised.

Instead, now of course, we’re getting – and I’ve always said this, Zionism taken to an extreme will self-negate – we’re getting, in Israel, you have Government with the Sygons [ph] and the Molfazas [ph] and the Netinyaroes [ph] of this world, who are going to such an extreme that they want to deny us altogether, they want to negate, eradicate the Palestinian identity. There are now people in civilised circles are talking about transfer, which is an euphemism of course for ethnic cleansing, the expulsion of the Palestinians.

This is not done, because you go to that extreme, you want to continue taking over our land, we’re not going to disappear, no. And therefore you make the two state solution impossible, and therefore you negate Zionism, which is based on having either a purely Jewish or a predominantly Jewish state, because the Palestinians are going to say there, this is not ‘48, we cannot be expelled or massacred or terrorised into leaving, and we’re going to stay. So what do you do?

Israel had the chance to legitimise itself through the Palestinians, through the two state solution, by having extremists, and extreme ideology in the Government, and the military combination, that refused to recognise, not just parity of rights, but Palestinian rights as an intrinsic and legal and human right, or self-determination for existence. They’re trying to create, they’re going to make the one state solution an inevitability. We will be locked in an ongoing conflict, at a tragic cost for both people, but ultimately the establishment of a Palestinian state is rapidly becoming an impossibility, because it’s been fragmented, more land has been taken, more settlers are being introduced, more bypass roads, and now we have a wall.

When the world – this is aggressive again – when the world is happy at destroying walls, the Berlin Wall and so on, we’re seeing what is called a security fence, which is a huge wall, being built on Palestinian ground, taking more land, destroying the agricultural land, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, as a separation, which is creating a situation of Apartheid, in a post-Apartheid era, on occupied territory. This is incredible, and I think this is policy. This is a recipe for disaster and conflict forever.

What will happen is, if you blur the divide between the two state solution, for the two state solution, between the two states, you will end up with a one state solution. It may be bi-national for a while, but then the greatest nightmare of Zionism will come into effect, which is the demographic argument. You create an Apartheid situation, and one or two generations, the Palestinians will ask for one person, one vote. And of course, that’s a democracy isn’t it, then you won’t have an exclusive state, you will have a state for all its citizens. And I’ve already voiced the same, okay, they want to take our land, they want to swallow us up, instead of living in isolated disadvantaged towns, and in these prisons and so on, no, give us Israeli citizenship, let’s all become Israelis, and then democracy will take over as a factor of demography.

But I still believe that the two state solution is still possible, if there is positive constructive intervention, if settlement activities stop, these bypass roads are stopped. The most racist roads in history, they steal your land, they build roads to bypass your reality, so the settlements can be connected to each other, and to Israel, that can have extra territoriality in the West Bank and Gaza, it’s amazing the convoluted logic. But anyway, you will end up with a situation of Apartheid, and Zionism will certainly gain.

This is the opportunity that the extremists now in Israel are missing. They’re very glib about talking about Palestinians missing opportunities. Now we gave them an opportunity to have a two state solution, they’re very glib about talking about that’s not compromising. We have compromised, a very painful compromise, by accepting 22% of Palestine only. These things must be looked at with courage, and with candour, and must be addressed, not with short sighted, immediate gratification of power and control and domination, but in the long term, what is going, what are the implications and the ramifications of current policies. And of course, what about the stability of the region, and what about global ramifications and consequences?

Anyway, I will try to be brief, I know I talk too much. The statutory for peace that we are looking for now must be firmly embedded in several issues. One, a peaceful transition to democracy, not a powered transition to democracy, not by war, not by dictate, not by force, and from the base up, with the proper conditions and with constituency. We must have also a human based integrated development policy and plan, that would also recognise the new global enemies we talked about among you.

When you deal with illiteracy, it knows no boundaries, as if when you deal with poverty, when you deal with disease, when you deal with the excluded and the disenfranchised, when you deal with discrimination, particularly against woman, since I’m one, I know that. This is one way of preparing the conditions and a strategy for peace as well, getting a system of participatory governance, to empower the weak.

And, of course, you have to have an unwavering and non-selective respect for human rights and the rule of law, without the convenient excuse of culture and subjectivity. It’s not that some people are more deserving of democracy, or some people are more deserving of human rights, and others are more deserving of freedom, they’re universal, they’re absolutely universal. As individuals, of course, we deserve them, and collectively as groups, if you want nation states, whatever way we wish to define ourselves.

And, of course, we must redefine security, this is the great god security, it must be defined in human terms, and multi-faceted. It’s not just military security. And it is not exclusive, it’s not exclusive domain of the strong, or it is not the exclusive right of one side, the stronger side, at the expense of the other. And this may come as a surprise, but I always say, there is no such thing as a secure or safe or pleasant occupation. You cannot enslave a whole nation, and expect to be secure and happy. The victims are not happy, and the occupiers are not very happy, the oppressor will not be secure or happy.

And security is not a prerequisite for peace, but it comes as a result of peace. If we were all feeling secure and happy and fine, then we wouldn’t need the peace process, we wouldn’t need this intervention. We need this in order to put an end to a situation of insecurity and conflict, and the mutual infliction of pain, and mutual engagement.

A journalist asked me today, why do you shy away from the word process? I said because we’ve had enough of processes that led nowhere, but let’s talk about the pursuit of peace, you need a mechanism, a mechanism, concrete, to pursue peace, based on legality, with clear terms of reference, with defined objectives, and with incremental steps.

And it must have substance, legality of course, must be convincing, and must have applicability. It must be applied, it must transform reality, it must change reality, you cannot have an abstract process, without any relationship to the other ten people have to behave in a way which is consistent with that, so that it becomes in itself an instrument of change, and it can have its own credibility and legitimacy, leading to the formation of a constituency for peace.

If you lose your constituency for peace, you’re not going to be able to affect peace, because people have to own the agenda. It’s not the agenda of the few, it’s not the self interest of a few leaders of regimes that will produce security, it’s when, that will produce peace, it’s when people own the agenda, and there is a momentum and a drive for peace, that you will bring it about, with a constituency, therefore, it can last, because these are the people who will sustain peace, and these are the people who will pay the price of the absence of peace.

And it’s not just government, I will tell you, when we asked for, when we were pleading for intervention, for protection, for forces on the ground, for troops and so on, not a single government responded, but I’ll tell you who responded. This morning we talked about two groups; the International Solidarity Movement, and the Grass Roots International Protection for the Palestinian People, these were individual human beings, whether from the UK or Britain, or whether from the States or Holland or Africa, people who decided that when governments fail, they will take upon themselves the job.

And they took it away from the governments who were talking about the boycott of the Apartheid system, the same thing, divestment programme. But these are individuals who really took the risks, who acted on the basis of the principles, and who said, if our governments fail, we won’t, and they came by the hundreds, by the thousands, and they’re still coming. Many are getting beaten up or imprisoned, some have been shot and wounded.

The person who died was not, just before I came two days ago, Iain Hook, he’s British, but he was with UNRWA, he was rebuilding the Jenin refugee camp, that was destroyed, if you remember. But there was also an Irish young woman who came with the Grass Roots International Protection, she was wounded. It’s not a strange situation, but that’s where true mettle is tested, where people are willing to come and be with you, and put their money where their mouth is, no, put their lives at risk for the sake of peace.

Now I’m not inviting you to come and die there, I want, I’ve always said, people have to live for a cause, rather than die for a cause, that’s what I tell suicide bombs, that’s what I tell people who believe and martyr them, that if the cause is important enough, you live to serve it, you live to be able to vindicate it, to bring about justice. So I hope that you will live in order to be part of the bringing about of a just peace here.

Now you also need a mindset and an attitude that is conducive for making peace. With some people you cannot talk, definitely, I know that, I’m a firm practitioner of dialogue, I like to engage, I like to talk, I like to, not negotiate so much, but have a human communion. But still, with some people, there is no way in which you can reach any kind of agreement, but you need the mindset and the attitude that is conducive to peacemaking.

You cannot superimpose the mentality of occupation on negotiations or peacemaking, you cannot come with a take it or leave it attitude. Do you remember the myth of the generous offer in Camp David, it is still prevalent in some blessed circles. It has been totally debunked, but it betrayed an attitude of total condescension and patronage, you know, here we are, giving the natives part of their land, and a few rights, provided we can control the crossing points, we can bestow retro active legitimacy on settlements, we can take away parts of that land, we can take away most of East Jerusalem and so on.

This is a generous offer given to the natives, and you are not, you haven’t behaved like good little boys and girls, because you weren’t grateful for that generous offer, this is not how you make peace. Either you recognise that there are inherent and equal rights, and you understand that there are basic requirements for peacemaking, or if you continue that mentality and exploitation of the weakness, of the weaker party or the victim, then you are preparing the ground for further conflict. If you really want to end the conflict, you deal with all the causes, and you solve them in a way in which people can embrace the solution, can live it, and can use it to build on a different dynamic, a different logic, and a different set of relationships.

So in the same way as you cannot make peace by coercion, or by domination, or by threat and intimidation, or by blackmail, either you accept what we have to say or we’ll bash you into submission, you cannot also impose the mentality of revolution on the process of nation building, they’re totally different logics. Of course, you need also sustainability and continuity of peace. The post agreement responsibility, to ensure that agreements are implemented, and are honoured, that signed agreements have a way of becoming a reality, and that you can generate a logic and a culture of peace, not one of exclusion and racism, and that is based, of course, on mutuality and parity.

But that logic and culture of peace must be naturalised, internalised and institutionalised to become real, cannot be just a philosophy, and everybody talks about justice, it’s wonderful, like a vision, but how do you make it into an operative principle, this is important. And of course, it needs comprehensiveness, for it to be sustainable, it must be comprehensive. The Arab initiative, we can talk about that later if you will, but it’s a good initiative for, flawed like all others, but at least it gives us a handle to actually reach peace.

Now militarism, of course, is a counter force. There is no military solutions, especially to our conflict. And we’re trying to reach a win-win situation, not a win-lose situation that comes out of war. Aggression can never be accepted, even if you use the term self defence, these are the lessons of the past. As I said, we were trying to get into the Colonial situation, but the Colonial lessons should be that no army, no matter how strong, can defeat a people.

Armies will defeat other armies, but the will of a people bent on getting their freedom, and their dignity, and their independence, on their own land, cannot be beaten, no matter how brutal you may be, no matter how many who come, and although they have over 2,000 in the last two years only, over 30,000 people wounded, we have the largest number of, percentage of people with permanent injuries and disabilities. But the will of the Palestinians has not been broken, that’s the issue.

The lesson of the Colonial era has not sank in yet; a nation cannot be defeated by military minds. You may defeat other armies, they may demolish all the security buildings, not that we have any army, but when the Palestinians, for over five decades now, have been engaged in, not just a battle for survival, but in a battle for the recognition and legitimacy of our identity, our history, our culture, because we have been the victims of a myth.

We were told we didn’t exist, ours was – you British should know more because you were there – ours was a land without a people, to be given to a people without a land. Now with one glib statement like that, it eradicated my very existence, my history, my whole nation. How do you fight a myth, that’s the problem, we have been victims of a myth.

So we started by, first of all, affirming our very existence, that we do exist. Until now, there are some people, like [?], if I ever gave him a degree, I would take it back certainly, there is such a thing as academic integrity anyway, but I don’t think he took his degree in history or culture. But anyway, there are still people who are, who dare say that the Palestinians don’t exist, or reinvent our history or where we came from and so on. So there has to be that recognition, and the recognition that we are a nation who will be free, and we have the right to be free. It’s not a gift, it’s not bestowed, it’s not condescension, it’s not a compromise, it is a right.

Now once we have our state, then we can engage with others on the basis of parity and freedom. We won’t be indulging in the tragic, I told people we’re very tired of having to fight the forces of fate, we want to be ordinary human beings, we don’t want to be making statements when we say we’re Palestinians, we don’t want to provoke the accents of either, you know, that [unclear] of pity and fear, the pitiful Palestinians or refugees or the fearful terrorists. No, we want to be just ordinary, even boring people, let’s get to that point, then we’ll be very grateful where we can have a routine to our lives. So that is the kind of spirit, it seems to me that that will not be defeated until lessons of history could be learned. And of course, ideology, absolutism, polarisation and … activity will go down easily there, equation, they’re not right. I’ll tell you frankly, this is not God’s war, and do not bring God into the conflict.

When you decide that this is an ideological war, and that you have divine dispensation, and that God told you to do it, again, this is a licence to do anything you want to others and to get away with it. I think the last religious wars we have seen, even though they are described as religious wars, the Crusades, were really motivated by very secular reasons don’t you think?

Most people who involve the name of God and the geopolitical realities and conflicts, are people who feel insecure in their arguments, and therefore they say that God gave me the right. Well that makes God very subjective, because if your Allah told you something, your Jehovah told you something, and your Lord and God told you something else, then which God is right? God is subjective, that’s the problem. God did not tell people to wage war, God did not dispense pieces of land in contemporary third millennium geopolitical reality.

This is a political conflict with human dimensions, with emotional dimensions, existential dimensions, with territorial dimensions, we have human made, I don’t say man made, human made instruments to solve it, you need the will to do it. But do not bring God into it, nor the devils and angels, nobody has divine dispensation. And of course, nobody has the right to distribute stereotypical labels on one side or the other, and ultimately there has to be a recognition of identity, I said that, but this is a statement of culture affirmation, particularly in global reality.

But I don’t believe globalism is not a monolithic reality, globalism has to involve, globalisation has to involve a recognition of identity, and the rich fabric of human reality, cultural identities, interaction, diversity, these are things that we should value, because it’s not about human community, inclusion. So, so long as you refuse, or you reject, or you deny my identity, and if it is a source of my own self value and evaluation, and my presentation, then you and I will not be at peace, and I will be defending my identity constantly.

There is a consistent effort now by the current Israeli Government for the systematic and deliberate eradication of the Palestinian identity, else why destroy historical sites, very ancient and nebulous, the most ancient parts of the… Why enter the Ministry of Education and destroy the records, and the hard disks, and the computers, education, higher education. The Minister of Culture, the cultural centre in Ramallah, [unclear], why destroy art, why destroy records of our collective memory, and plans for our future, and landmark that is significant to Palestinians, why?

And why fragment us, without any continuity, into population centres, so that we won’t have an organising principle that is inclusive, so we would regress back to tribalism or community based sources of security and authority. Anyway, if you deny the identity of the other, you cannot have any legitimacy for your own identity, that is very clear. Either it’s mutual, or it’s for neither, and I’ve always said the legitimacy of Israel depends on the recognition by Palestine.

Now, of course, in the shadow of the war, we are all concerned that there may be drastic actions taking place, whether in the form of ethnic cleansing, a transfer, which is of course now gradual, because there are people leaving Palestine. Palestinians leaving out of desperation, out of poverty, out of loss of hope, and we don’t want to see that become the reality. We are losing also a brain drain because we are losing the people who have other options.

But we’re worried that if there is a war, that there will be drastic action in Palestine to bring out either the massive expulsion of areas, particularly the areas near the so called security wall, the Apartheid wall, or massive insurgence into Gaza, the most densely populated part of the world, that would lead also massive expulsions. So we need to keep our eyes open if there should be a war.

Now as we are unfortunately still locked in this fatal embrace of occupying and occupied with mutual infliction of pain, we really need to disengage, not through a wall of separation, but with third party help, we need to separate into two states. As I said, we need to disengage so that we can re-engage as equals, as good neighbours. Disengagement comes by ending the occupation, by removing the settlements, and by recognising the legitimacy of the Palestinian identity and rights.

And in the midst of these adverse forces, we talked about Israel, or in the US, or even in Palestine, and of course the weakness of the Arab world and the defensiveness, and the global realities that are in a state of flux now… We need to, the likeminded people must inject a new dynamic, we need brave people to speak out with a new discourse. You, we look to you for that. And people like Mandela and Desmond Tutu, yes, we’ve had them, you have people here.

We need these people to set a new agenda, to challenge the prevailing wisdom, to challenge the status quo that is so destructive, and to introduce a new dynamic, a discourse of commonality and shared system of values – I may be old fashioned enough to talk about a code of ethics, but I still believe in a code of ethics – and to introduce a concept of limits, limits on human behaviour I would say, on how far you can go. But limits in Arabic means for good, which means also boundaries.

Of course, in the future, we would like to transcend boundaries, we would like to establish commonalities, but right now, Israel and Palestine need the concept of limits and boundaries, regrouping, so that there will be no more aspirations towards greater Israel, and the taking away of all of Palestine, and of course, the Palestinians will have the recognition that once, now and contemporarily I think we have our own state, and our own sovereignties, and our own boundaries.

And of course, we have to revalidate justice as an essential ingredient of decision making as an operative principle. Pain and victimisation always generate motives of revenge and retribution, and feed extremism. We need to provide hope as an alternative. And I’m told that Sheree Blair said something like that in the paper. Okay, we need to inject hope, and we need to ensure that this hope is a mechanism, is a reality, and not just a distant promise.

And of course, it is a collective responsibility, it’s not just the responsibility of power, but it’s the responsibility of the human will and the human spirit, I still believe that peace remains the most compelling, the most pervasive and the most essential human right. Thank you very much.


Thank you Dr Ashwari, at this point it’s question time, if you do have one, be very brief, and the plug for the book, of many publications, Dr Ashwari wishes to remind you of This Side of Peace, published in 1995, This Side of Peace.

So quick questions, and you’ll get quick answers, then we have to make a presentation which Dr [?] will follow up with tomorrow. So a couple of quick questions, it’s going to be two, one, two, well we’ll take three then, one, two, three.


Dr Hanan Ashwari:

Three questions, time to do exactly what I always avoid, personalising the issues. I believe in genuine democracies it shouldn’t be based on the individual, but of course, individual makes a difference, certainly, especially in situations where there’s not a great deal of democracy. In Palestine, Yasser Arafat has been an historical figure, a symbol, and that’s what gave him so much charisma and power, his history, his leadership.

Now I have very serious disagreements with him when it comes to the nation building process, yes, as I said, you don’t superimpose the mentality of revolution on nation building. And I believe that a great deal of the problems we are in are a result of domestic realities and violations. In terms of the peace process, of course he made the decisions, not alone, but with, I remember when we went to the peace process, when the PLO was excluded, and we went as the people under occupation, to negotiate with our occupiers, remember? We went, we had about 40% support, when we came back and with town meetings, and with discussions, and with debates and son, and after Madrid we had 57% support, that was amazing, that’s, as I said, you need a constituency for peace.

But ultimately, I mean it was the PLO and the executive that took the decision to enter the peace process, particularly when they were recognised as the Palestinian leadership. I believe in the normal course of events, all the leaders should make room for younger generations, and there is in Palestine a younger, unfortunately the older generation has stayed in for two generations, so the middle generation now is beginning to feel old, and there’s still a younger generation coming up, that is vital and so on.

But one thing I can tell you with [unclear] is Arafat never wavered from his commitment to peace, despite the fact that he’s a very convenient scapegoat now. Blame him for everything. But he didn’t change his commitment, on the contrary, Edward Said accuses him of being too conciliatory and too big, and therefore willing to please the Israelis and the Machans at the expense of his own people. And at one point, the peace process was sort of self-negation for Arafat, as you know, his popularity went down, his support went down to below 30% for the first time in history, until of course the Israelis targeted him, and then made the Palestinians rally around him.


Dr Hanan Ashwari:

Papa Doc, yes, he calls him many names, I know. Edward is a friend of mine, and a mentor actually, he was the reader on my dissertation and I respect him, and I respect his opinion. But I always try to stay away from personalising, because without accountability, and without the power, people feeling confident enough, empowered enough to stand up to either Sharon or Nathinyaro or Arafat or anybody, and to say no, this is wrong, I will not accept this, or I will not accept your appointment or, you know, I will not give you a vote of confidence.

Unfortunately, I have a negative record; I’ve voted against the last two governments that I refused to join repeatedly, I’m one person who keeps turning down jobs in the Government. But you need to be able to work within democratic systems, and then you cannot impose, what you need to do is ensure there are institutions, and there is a democratic active system that will bring about change.

And if you say it is Arafat’s fault, that would be over-simplifying, and it won’t be true entirely. And when it comes to peacemaking, actually he’s been the most, I would say giving, or the most conciliatory I think, to be diplomatic, as opposed to everyone’s description of Arafat. Sharon has a totally opposite ideology, that’s the difference, Sharon was elected democratically, Arafat was elected, I cannot de-legitimise him, in the same way as I cannot de-legitimise Sharon.

But I know who Sharon is and what he stands for, I know his ideologies, anti-peace programme. I know that he doesn’t want, from day one he said he will end the Oslo process if it’s the last thing he does, he will not implement signed agreements, he doesn’t want a peace agreement, he wants a series of temporary interim arrangements, so that we can become docile natives, how to run our lives, collect our garbage and so on, but without an independence or sovereignty. We know what he stands for, and we know his history.

From the 1950s and the notorious 101 unit, there could be a massacre, and he’s not repentant, that’s the problem, he’s proud of this history, that he killed men, women and children personally. And he said it had to be done, Qibya massacre, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, that the Israeli Kahan Commission found him indirectly responsible for to the incursions into the Gaza camps, the cleaning out of Gaza, he says, to what’s happening now.

There’s no other word for it, I mean this man is single-handedly a force against this, but what’s worse is that he has raised fears, all extremist governments do that, they raise fear and insecurity in their own constituency, in their own public, and they exploit that fear and insecurity to stay in power, by saying, I can deliver security. Well he has neither delivered security, nor peace, he has brought about more death and destruction for both sides, for both peoples, than anybody in the history of Palestine and Israel. And for that, he will be held accountable I hope sooner or later. And now you have this Government with the … [unclear] and Sharon, and you also have in the army now Moshe Yaalon, … Yaalon who also advocates massive killing and transfer. What do you do, this is not a recipe for peace.

Now since we didn’t appoint him, we can’t remove him, but we have to address the Israeli public. Now you have Mitsna who came out, Amran Mitsna from labour primaries. He’s speaking a different language. It has resonated among the Palestinians, it needs to resonate among the Israeli public, there has to be a clear alternative to the morally and politically bankrupt policies of extremists like Sharon and [?]. There has to be a voice that will reconstitute the peace camp, that will give the Israelis hope, because the despair is a result of this exploitation of fear, and the failed policies of thinking you can bash and batter the Palestinians into submission, this isn’t going to happen. Nobody is going to say I love the occupation and I want you to be my masters forever, and please take away my land and my livelihood, no Palestinian will do that, or will become a Zionist.

So the only way is to reach out to the Palestinians with an agenda of peace, with a constituency, and I believe that if the Labour Party finally overcame the problems with Barak, and the problems with Shimon Peres, the legacies that they left are very difficult. I don’t want to talk about Barak now, because that’s another story, but by accepting to be in the Coalition Government, what Shimon Peres did, and [?] accepted to be apologies for the most hard line extremist government in history. And not only that, they undermined the peace camp, and they fragmented their own party.

I’ve known Shimon Peres for years, and I think what he’s done for the sake of maintaining a position in Government has cost Israelis a great deal, the Labour Party and the peace camp. And by becoming an apologist for Sharon, he lost, within his party more than he lost among [unclear], we didn’t elect him. But I don’t think you will find many people who will look towards Peres for any kind of immoral vision of peace, or a political strategy for peace.

But there are new voices coming out, and I think people like Mitsna and others, and of course there are many people in Merets and there are people outside, if you ask me, I will go to [?], I will go to people like that who are in the activist peace camp, who have taken the risk for peace, who have actively fought the occupation. These are people of courage and principle, but they are not the mainstream, they are not into the game of power politics, while Peres and people like him are at the core of power politics, willing to sacrifice principles in order to stay in the Government, that was exactly anti… to what they claimed they believed in. And they lost a lot of respect in their own constituency and public.

So I’m not entirely desperate, no, I do believe that there is a chance, but we need to have the courage, again, to speak to each other, to speak to each other’s constituencies, and to forge a new and different agenda, and I said, a new and different discourse, that is not motivated by narrow self interest, and political opportunism, or self serving alliances and… Thank you.


Right, thank you for your presentation, your lecture and answering our questions. If I can get a plug in now, on behalf of all the Wilberforce Lecture trustees, we’re still negotiating over – Colin still here? – still negotiating over two things. One is to try and get the President of East Timor to come and speak to us, bearing in mind our first lecture was on East Timor given by Hugh O’Shaughnessy And secondly … Anti Slavery Association, which was founded by Wilberforce way back, and is still in existence, for them to come and talk about their current campaigns. Again, some of these will be at very short notice, I apologise for that, but that’s just the nature of the exercise.

And as I said earlier, I’m not making any comeback, I’m here because the Deputy Prime Minister is on other business, but tomorrow morning, or tomorrow afternoon, John Prescott will be presenting Dr Ashwari with the medallion, but tonight, in your presence, I will present the citation, so it’s a two part process, as often many things are, including peacemaking, yes.

So this is a two part process, so in your presence, it gives me great pleasure to present to Dr Hanan Ashwari this citation on behalf of Wilberforce Lecture Trust, and tomorrow, hopefully, John Prescott will be handing over the medallion somewhere in London.

So once more, many thanks indeed for coming, many thanks for the presentation, I didn’t interrupt, because I thought it was both, I thought you should carry on in full flow, and I wouldn’t dare to have interrupted.

Dr Hanan Ashwari:

You did them an injustice, they had to sit through an hour long, or an hour and a half long.


Well you’ve been a professional lecturer, so you won’t have done these things, so as I said, on Robin’s behalf, I hand this over, it gives me great pleasure, and I hope that the medallion will be given to you tomorrow.

Dr Hanan Ashwari:

Thank you.


And if it’s not given by John Prescott, Colin…

Dr Hanan Ashwari:

Thank you very much, thank you.


Thank you. And just one more announcement, I should have said earlier, but before you leave, if you wish to have a cup of coffee, cup of tea, available in the reception room behind the, down that side passage, the one where you came in. So please stay behind if you wish to have tea or coffee, many thanks for coming, and I hope you’ll come to our next lecture whenever that will be, and I hope there will be less of a gap than between 1999 and 2002, many thanks for coming and goodnight.