Victory for Us Is to See You Suffer: In the West Bank with the Palestinians and the Israelis

Victory for Us Is to See You Suffer: In the West Bank with the Palestinians and the Israelis

Victory for Us Is to See You Suffer: In the West Bank with the Palestinians and the Israelis

Victory for Us Is to See You Suffer: In the West Bank with the Palestinians and the Israelis

Synopsis

Ami Ayalon, a peace campaigner and member of the Knesset, was asked if he stood by his oft-quoted remark that the Palestinians and the Israelis hate each other. "I cannot say that I hate Palestinians, but I think, as a nation, as a society, yes, most Israelis hate Palestinians and most Palestinians hate Israelis...I had a very interesting meeting in London during the intifada. A Palestinian friend approached me [and said] 'Ami, we won. We Palestinians won.'... I asked him, 'Are you crazy? What do you mean "We won"? You are losing so many people... and we are losing so many people. What is the whole essence of victory?' He said, 'Ami you don't understand us. Victory for us is to see you suffer. This is all we want. Finally, after so many years, we are not the only ones who suffer in the Middle East.'"... It was a double-edged sword. Ayalon added, "In a way it is the same for us. We suffer, we lost many people, and [at] a certain point we were looking for revenge." Book jacket.

Excerpt

Some years ago, when reporting on the troubles in Northern Ireland, I was interviewing an Irish republican above a seedy bar in West Belfast. the man was describing in lurid detail the alleged torture of his grandfather by British security forces as though it had happened the week before. Something about people’s ages and the time frame wasn’t adding up. I asked him when the incident had occurred. “It was October 1916, so it was,” he said. So it was and so it remains, the long memory and abiding sense of grievance in human conflicts.

More recently, I listened as a Palestinian in Jerusalem vented his anger over a letter that U.S. president George W. Bush wrote in April 2004 to then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. the letter signaled tacit White House approval of “existing major population centers,” Israel’s controversial settlements in the West Bank, and Bush’s view that a return to the 1949 armistice lines was unrealistic. “It’s another Balfour Declaration!” the Palestinian raged, referring to British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour’s 1917 letter to Lord Rothschild declaring support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” There certainly were similarities in the sentiments and intent of both documents.

The history of the Middle East is a long continuum, and to extract and view a segment it’s helpful to understand something of what went before. Books and papers only about the struggle for Palestine could fill many library shelves. One could embark from a number of milestones, for instance the wave of Jewish migration to Palestine in the 1880s; that British declaration of favor in 1917; the increase in Zionist settlement in the 1920s . . .

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