Monday, February 9, 2009

Barenboim’s Statement in the Wake of the Gaza Campaign

When Richard Silverstein and I went to the New York Review of Books to publish, or publicize, our jointly-authored statement on Gaza, the editor replied that the NYRB was already publishing a statement by Daniel Barenboim. Well, with all due respect to Richard and me, I think Barenboim trumps Silverstein and Haber. And when I read the statement, I thought it worthwhile to reproduce it, especially since NYRB's online access is limited, although you can find it elsewhere.

If you compare his statement and ours, you will see that they are very different. Ours is first and foremost a cry of pain and shock as Jews, a "Not-in-Our-Name" sort of statement; his is a sober comment that does not dole out blame but looks to the future.

But the bottom line of both statements is not that different. He calls for a new initiative

which demands of all sides a common responsibility: to ensure equal rights and dignity to both peoples, and to ensure the right of each person to transcend the past and aspire to a future.

Ours says that

We affirm the rights of both Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination and self-defense, as we affirm the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This, friends, is indeed the central point. It is not a question of "one state, or two states, or no states, or blue states." Not a question of federation or union, and certainly not subordination or transfer. Not the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, or, for that matter, the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own. All these political frameworks are means to an end, but the end is as Barenboim or we say it: equal rights and dignity to both peoples, without any privileging of the other side.

Once the end is accepted, the question then – and only then – will be what is the best political framework to achieve this end. A two-state solution in which one side dominates and controls the other is no better than a one state solution in which one side dominates and controls the other.

Until people of good faith can agree on this bottom line, and get a significant segment of the both the Israeli or Palestinian peoples to buy in, then all the wearying talk of a peace process will be doomed.

There are preconditions to successful outcomes – and the principle underlying both our statements is one of the preconditions for this one.

 

 

Listen, Before It Is Too Late'

By Daniel Barenboim

To the Editors:

Your readers may be interested in the following statement by Daniel Barenboim and the list of those who have supported it.

Dina Haidar
Ilona Suschitzky
Emre Ülker

Paris, France

For the last forty years, history has proven that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict cannot be settled by force. Every effort, every possible means and resource of imagination and reflection should now be brought into play to find a new way forward. A new initiative which allays fear and suffering, acknowledges the injustice done, and leads to the security of Israelis and Palestinians alike. An initiative which demands of all sides a common responsibility: to ensure equal rights and dignity to both peoples, and to ensure the right of each person to transcend the past and aspire to a future.

Daniel Barenboim

Adonis, Etel Adnan, Alaa el Aswany, Dia Azzawi, Agnès B., Ted Bafaloukos, Russell Banks, Tahar Ben Jelloun, John Berger, Berlin Philharmonic, Bernardo Bertolucci, François Bayle, Idil Biret, Christian Boltanski, Pierre Boulez, Jacques Bouveresse, Alfred Brendel, Peter Brook, Adam Brooks, Carole Bouquet, Daniel Buren, Ellen Burstyn, Huguette Caland, Jean-Claude Casadesus, Carmen Castillo, Patrice Chéreau, William Christie, Paulo Coelho, J.M. Coetzee, Roger Corman, Jean Daniel, Régis Debray, Robert Delpire, Jonathan Demme, Plácido Domingo, Umberto Eco, Elliott Erwitt, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Rupert Everett, Michel Faber, Carlo and Inge Feltrinelli, Ralph Fiennes, Filarmonica della Scala, Jodie Foster, Eytan Fox, Fab 5 Freddy, Bella Freud, Martine Franck, Mary Frank, Eduardo Galeano, Jean-Luc Godard, Richard Gere, Gamal Ghitany, Amos Gitai, Edouard Glissant, Jean-Paul Goude, Nadine Gordimer, Günter Grass, Jürgen Habermas, Michael Haneke, Donald Harrison, Milton Hatoum, Sheila Hicks, Bill Irwin, Steven Isserlis, Philippe Jaccottet, Elfriede Jelinek, Samih al-Kassem, Naomi Kawase, Ya¸sar Kemal, Rachid Khalidi, Edouard Al-Kharrat, Michel Khleifi, Gérard D. Khoury, Abbas Kiarostami, Stephen King, William Klein, Abdellatif Laâbi, Jacques Leibowitch, Jemia and J.M.G. Le Clézio, Stéphane Lissner, Radu Lupu, Yo-Yo Ma, Amin Maalouf, Claudio Magris, Issa Makhlouf, Florence Malraux, Henning Mankell, James McBride, John Maybury, Zubin Mehta, Waltraud Meier, Annette Messager, Duane Michaels, Anne-Marie Miéville, Marc Minkowski, Thomas Mitchell, Ariane Mnouchkine, Sarah Moon, Edgar Morin, Jacques Monory, Fernando Morais, Jeanne Moreau, Georges Moustaki, Oscar Niemeyer, Jean Nouvel, Kenzaburo Oe, Orhan Pamuk, Clare Peploe, Michel Piccoli, Maurizio Pollini, Christian de Portzamparc, Simon Rattle, Alain Resnais, Claudia Roden, Arundhati Roy, Moustapha Safouan, Walter Salles, Susan Sarandon, Fazil Say, Elif Şafak, George Semprun, Hanan Al-Shaykh, Pierre Soulages, Wole Soyinka, Ousmane Sow, Staatskapelle Berlin, Salah Stétié, Juliet Stevenson, Meryl Streep, Elia Suleiman, Peter Suschitzky, Tilda Swinton, Sam Szafran, Zeynep Tanbay, Uma Thurman, Desmond Tutu, Shirley and Charlie Watts, Abdo Wazen, Jacques Weber, Wim Wenders, Debra Winger, Daniel Wolff, Neil Young

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

What about AbuKhalil's comment ? http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2009/02/to-daniel-barenboim-take-your-piano-and.html

Anonymous said...

What do you think about AbuKhalil's comment that can be found here : http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2009/02/to-daniel-barenboim-take-your-piano-and.html

Jerry Haber said...

Anonymous, I read it quickly, and I agree with most of what he said. If you are familiar with this blog, you will know that I agree with the Palestinians that the problems didn't start 40 years ago, but with a Zionist movement that thought it could redeem its land from the natives by land deals, and then take it by force. And Abu Khalil would find less fault with our statement (though I can tell you every line that he would not like.)

Barenboim is right that violence won't solve the Palestinian's problem, but that is simply because Palestians are too weak, not because violence doesn't get you anywhere.

Maybe I was more charitable, but I noticed that Barenboim called for "new ideas" -- and to me, that means not going back to the failed "peace process".

Anyway, thanks for sending me the link. Maybe I will send AbuKhalil some of my stuff.

Mike said...

Jerry,

AbuKhalil also says: "I would have no problem in signing this statement once we defeat Zionism and liberate Palestine and ensure the return of the Palestinian refugees. Only then I would sign it."

Do you agree with this statement? Do you think it leaves any space for discussion?

Is it what you call a quest of "new ideas"?

I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

yeah, put AbuKhalil's remarks in the main body of your article, or at least a link and a precis.

Barenboim's statement is nothing much, and if yours is not even as good as that, more shame on you.

Also forget about the New York Times and the NYRB - these things are the enemy, not the solution. Chomsky gave up on these, when? 1973? "We understood each other", isnt that what Noam said?

How long will it take you to understand?

Jerry Haber said...

Anonymous, you wrote,

"If yours is not even as good as that"

If you haven't read our statement, then why are you bothering to comment?

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2009/01/15/join-american-jews-in-condemning-gaza-war/


Mike, you wrote:

AbuKhalil also says: "I would have no problem in signing this statement once we defeat Zionism and liberate Palestine and ensure the return of the Palestinian refugees. Only then I would sign it."

Do you agree with this statement? Do you think it leaves any space for discussion?

Is it what you call a quest of "new ideas"?

I don't think so."

Actually, I do think so. Abu Khalil and I agree that the Palestinian refugees should be allowed to be repatriated/resettled into Israel.

Where we disagree is as follows: if he thinks that the only just solution for Palestine is ridding it of five and a half million Jews, then I disagree. And so does Edward Said. And so does, le-havdil, Ahmadinejad. And so does Hamas. For none of them have called to return Israeli Jews to their country of origin. Even Ahmadinejad, who suggested that if the Jews want a state, it should be somewhere else, in Alaska or Canada or Europe, did not call for the physical removal of the Israeli Jews. On the contrary, he allows them to be part of a Palestinian state.

But if Abu Khalil has a problem with statist Zionism, and the Zionist Entity, then so do I. And we certainly have the basis for discussion.

It boils down to this. Even you think that the mass immigrations to Palestine on from the 1920s on were illegal, because they set the grounds for Jewish claims to self-determination in Palestine, even if you claim that the Jews have no right to self-determination, certainly none in Palestine, the question is what do you do with the settlers and the settlers descendants? My view is that that the majority of the Palestinian people -- including, of course, those who were expelled from their lands -- would come to terms with the physical presence of Jews in Palestine provided that certain conditions would be met, including the return of the Palestinian refugees.

Anonymous said...

Abu Khalil is not an Arab chauvinist or anti-Jewish, whenever he posts a picture with a Palestinian or Lebanese flag, he writes a disclaimer about his distaste for naionalisms.

He is, however, a very angry Arab, and he is not inclined to appreciate Barenboim's kind of statement.

Mad Zionist said...

Jerry, Gaza and the arab "West Bank" are now under Sharia Law. Should the arabs gain majority control over Israel after full "right of return" is granted, Sharia would assuredly be the rule of law in "Palestine", too. Because you reject the rights of Jews to have settled Israel, would you also advocate for the rights of arabs to impose Sharia Law over "Palestine" if that's what they desire?

Also, if an arab majority were to determine it is in the best interests of peace to resettle the Jews to a country other than "Palestine", would you support their right to enact such a law?

Brant said...

"All these political frameworks are means to an end, but the end is as Barenboim or we say it: equal rights and dignity to both peoples, without any privileging of the other side. Once the end is accepted, the question then – and only then – will be what is the best political framework to achieve this end."

I understand your/Barenboim's point, but I also feel like at the end of the day one needs to come clean on what kind of a political solution one supports. It's all well and good to say we all need to get along. I think most would agree with the notion that all people are worthy of respect, dignity, rights, etc. But I don't see how this message will ultimately be compelling unless it is grounded in some semblance of a political vision.

To put a finer point on it, sooner or later Jews who care about this issue will have to face the truth about whether or not political Zionism as it has we have come to understand it has a viable future or not. And if not, what will do we think should take its place?

Jerry Haber said...

Brant, you misunderstood my position. The two-peoples position I articulated is not some kumbaya, let us all get together and respect each other. My position entails, for example, that in a two state settlement, the Palestinian army is as powerful as the Israeli army. Or that there is one common army.

How many Israelis do you know who support that? How many fingers do you have on one hand?

Whatever framework best ensures the sort of parity I am looking at will get my vote. If the peoples of Israel and Palestine want two states, fine with me; if they want one state, fine with me; if they want no state, fine with me -- provided that my conditions are met.

The problem with the current situation is that people say they support two states or one state, but the Jews who want two states want the Palestinians to have no real state, whereas the Palestinians and Israelis who talk about one state, just want to ensure their groups's domination.

Why is this so hard to grasp? I think it would be better to argue the virtues and defects of both only after the ground rule is accepted.

And that ground rule is parity.

Jerry Haber said...

Now, if you ask me what best ensures parity (and maximizes self-determination), I think a federal system in which there is one army, one foreign policy, and one economy, with a constitution that provides some mechanism to weaken the dominance of the Jews over the Palestinian would be a great idea.

I am willing to entertain others.

Tikkunknitter said...

As always, thanks for sharing both Barenboim's remarks, and your insightful response. The importance of your leadership cannot be overstated.
Leslie

Margaret said...

Details matter, Jerry. Resend your statement for the next edition; you can add my name.