TEL AVIV, 14 JUN – ‘Dove’ par excellence and a leading exponent of the Zionist left, Abraham Yehoshua was a fan of political debate, an ‘enfant terrible’ who did not hesitate to displace both the rivals of the nationalist Right and the pacifists. “His attitude – observed the documentary maker Yair Keidar, who filmed him for a long time – was that of a Sioux, with his ear glued to the ground to promptly warn the slightest movement”.
In the seventies, in the Israel of Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan, in the Labor house he was already engaged in frontal polemics with party comrades who expressed themselves instead for a ” Great land of Israel ” between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. When power passed into the hands of Menachem Begin (Likud) in 1977, Yehoshua admitted that he was “in shock”.
Now the ‘dove’ Yehoshua had to compete with other political rivals, including the dynamic movement of the settlers of the Gush Emunim which – located at the exact antipodes of the ‘two-state formula’ – advocated the systematic colonization of Judea-Samaria (West Bank): both for historical-religious considerations and to prevent a future government from giving up those lands. Of a fiery temperament (but also very expansive) he did not shy away from skirmishes with national-religious who, he observed, having matured in rabbinic colleges had a great capacity for argument. With those circles it was necessary to keep channels of communication open, he theorized, to avert the risk of a civil war that could occur if a leftist government one day tried to dismantle settlements. But in 1995 a terrible cold shower would ensue, when a national-religious militant himself assassinated Labor Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in an attempt to derail reconciliation with the Palestinians.
To deal a further blow to Yehoshua’s faith in the ‘two-state formula’ would have been in 2000 Yasser Arafat’s refusal to accept the proposals of Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (“Those who don’t suit him, can drink the sea water of Gaza “, Rais would have said after the failure of the Camp David summit), and then the armed intifada.
“The dream of peace, which seemed within reach, had collapsed,” Yehoshua would have said. “I was in shock.” But that would not make him stop fighting for an agreed separation between Israelis and Palestinians. Meanwhile the Likud was briskly changing the demography of the West Bank by multiplying the number of settlements and settlers. Gradually Yehoshua began to elaborate alternative formulas, which would have confused those on the Israeli left who remained identified with the two-state formula.
According to the writer, evacuating 500,000 settlers was no longer possible, and on the other hand it seems to create a ‘leopard-spotted’ Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza made no sense anymore: “We are already in a single state, in conditions of apartheid.
And this apartheid will poison us. ”So it had to be eliminated.
In one of the latest interviews, a few weeks ago, Yehoshua warned: “We are heading towards a binational state.
I blame myself and my companions. We have not fought enough for peace and against settlements, which bind our hands. We have not been able to neutralize the apartheid tumor in the West Bank. I am leaving this world shortly, but I feel anxious about Israel’s future “. (ANSAmed).
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