Ex-Minister's "Affidavit to The Hague"
GUSH SHALOM pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033
Ex-Minister's "Affidavit to The Hague"
[We have held quite some disputes with Meretz members about our rejection, not only of the route of the wall, but of the idea of a separation wall altogether. In the following article Yossi Sarid, after years no longer the Meretz leader, expresses somehow regret that he has been among those who favoured the building of a fence, though not the existing one. But the reason to forward it is above all: his speaking via the Haaretz pages to the International Court in The Hague.]
My affidavit to The Hague
By Yossi Sarid
Ha'aretz, Wed., January 21, 2004
Lately, I've been wondering what I would do if the International Court in The Hague, on its own initiative, asked for my opinion on the separation fence. I find these thoughts oppressive. On the one hand, every human being with a conscience has to do everything he can to topple this bad fence. On the other hand, even those who, like me, feel the Sharon government is an Israeli tragedy, are usually also infected with the patriotic germ, which dissuades them from collaborating with outside parties in the struggle against the evils committed by the government of Israel.
The International Court does not have any authority to subpoena me against my will, of course. Nor is its moral jurisdiction on especially solid footing. However, our silence would not be considered moral, either - not in our own eyes, and not in those of others. What should I do?
When the idea of the fence was first raised, I hesitated about taking a stand, in either direction. For a while, I "fence straddled." The idea in itself is correct and effective, and no one is entitled to deny the citizens of Israel protection from terrorists. But I took into account the gloomy fact that it was not me who was going to build the fence and determine its route, but Ariel Sharon. And as I know him, his character and his plans, I presumed that this essential fence would come out crooked. If Sharon is able to take something straight and twist it out of shape, he will unquestionably do so. At the time, I even warned Haim Ramon and the other fence advocates that, when it was built, they would have a hard time recognizing their original intent, and that we would come to regret our support for it, just as many people have come to regret their support for various Sharon initiatives over the years, having always come out on the short end of the stick.
While engaged in my fence straddling, I was confronted by many fine people: if, as has already been proven, the fence prevents terrorist attacks and saves lives, how do you allow yourself to oppose it; and they were right , I had no ready response. And what would I say in the face of all the murdered victims of terrorism - that I am by nature suspicious, that Sharon doesn't deserve any trust, that this fence may begin with protection but e nds with a brutal attack on Palestinians who have committed no sin, that the roots of the fence may be "separation" but that it ends in annexation? The terrorist attacks grew more frequent, the pressure grew more intense, and then I drafted the Meretz platform, exactly one year ago, writing the following:
"During the interim period and until the situation calms down, Meretz supports the accelerated construction of a complete, encompassing and sophisticated separation fence. This fence would be a protective measure against acts of terror. It is preferable for Israel that the route of the fence not include Palestinian population or territories. In addition, Meretz demands that during this period of time, the settlements on the other side of the fence and all of the illegal outposts be dismantled immediately. In the Gaza Strip, all of the settlements would be evacuated, as well as the Jewish settlement in Hebron, which is a recurring, dangerous focus of sever e lawlessness."
In an accompanying article, I wrote, in the interests of greater clarification, that the fence should follow along the 1967 lines. I admit that even in my worst nightmares, I never imagined that Ariel Sharon would go so f ar as he has in his fencing efforts. Sharon is larger than our nightmares: not the `67 lines, not even anything that resembles `67, but an invasive eruption by a brute without inhibition or tether, one suited to serve as prime minister of South Africa in the blackest days of the apartheid that conceived the reprehensible Bantustans.
Now a Palestinian awakens in the morning, every morning, and sees the monstrous wall that separates him from members of his family, from his fields and orchards, from his business dealings; separates his children from the ir school, sees his destitute piece of land robbed from him, his world closed up, dark and devastated, and he certainly blames us, as well, who were a party to the despicable undertaking of building the fence. How can you explain to him that this is not the fence we intended, that we intended a completely different fence, and that our good intentions led to his hell. An apology is in order. It is stated in the Talmudic tractate of Gittin: "It was not the thief who stole, it was the hole that stole," and we will say, it is not the fence that is stealing the land and the basic human rights, but its route.
Without a doubt, on the basis of the concepts that I know and accept, Sharon's fence is a crime against humanity. There is no other way to define it. I will not make my way to the International Court in The Hague, due to the "disease of patriotism" from which we are unable to cure ourselves. But this is the written affidavit of a member of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, a former minister of education in the State of Israel, a Zionist without "post." My testimony is translated in this newspaper into English (an unpatriotic act), and if it is brought before the judges, I would not change it one iota. Maybe I will first bring it before the justices of our High Court of Justice. To this I sign my name.
The writer is an MK and the former chairman of Meretz.