De zoon van de generaal

Het verhaal van Miko Peled, op deze film, duurt een half uur. Het is erg de moeite waard om voor te gaan zitten. Peled is geboren in een bekend zionistisch gezin, in Jeruzalem in 1961.

Zijn grootvader Avraham Katsnelson was een van de ondertekenaars van de Israelische Onafhankelijkheidsverklaring. Zijn vader Matti Peled was in 1948 een jonge officier, en een generaal in de oorlog van 1967 toen Israel onder andere de Westoever en de Gazastrook veroverde. Maar tegelijk wist zijn vader al in 1967 dat Israel de historische kans had om mee te helpen een Palestijnse staat op te richten, en dat het slecht af zou lopen als ze die kans lieten schieten – en hij heeft erg gelijk gekregen.

Ook zijn moeder, hoewel overtuigd zioniste, stelde grenzen aan wat ze acceptabel vond. Zo was ze getuige van de plundering van de huizen van welgestelde en hoogopgeleide Palestijnen in Katamon, in Jeruzalem, en zag de soldaten de tapijten wegslepen. Zij weigerde om in een van die mooie Palestijnse huizen te gaan wonen van een familie die niet meer terug mocht keren en verder moest leven in een vluchtelingenkamp.

Miko Peled heeft zelf meegemaakt wat het kan betekenen om deel uit de maken van een bezettingsmacht. Zijn nichtje Smadar, dochter van zijn zuster, kwam om bij een Palestijnse aanslag. Toch heeft hij zich niet tegen de Palestijnen gekeerd. Hij gelooft in een gedeeld land, een seculiere democratie met gelijke rechten voor alle burgers, jood en Palestijn.

In het lange interview vertelt hij over zijn zoektocht naar de feiten, de mythen die moesten worden opgeruimd. Over de etnische zuivering van 1948 dus, die niet valt te ontkennen. Ook over het feit dat 1967 geen verdedigingsoorlog was. En over de niet de accepteren misdadige aanval op Gaza. Een integer man. Zijn boek heb ik nog niet gelezen – ga ik wel doen – maar je krijgt al veel te horen als je naar hem luistert.

The political becomes personal with Miko’s stories. He might have learned compassion from his mother who, in 1948, refused the offer of an Arab home in West Jerusalem with the understanding that the family who lived there were now forced to live in a refugee camp. As the daughter of one of the signers of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, Miko’s mother could have used her position of entitlement to get a lovely home for herself and her family. But she said, “No.”

Miko grew up in Jerusalem, a multi-ethnic city, part of a system that conspired to keep Palestinians and Israelis separate. The Arabs of Israel, as the Palestinians are called– the laborers, janitors, cooks, etc. are indistinguishable from Arabs across the Middle East and as such had no special connection to Jaffa, Lod, Ramle, Lydda, Haifa, Jerusalem or any other part of the land of Israel. Miko had to leave Israel before he made his first Palestinian friend, the result of his participation in a dialogue group in California. He was 39.

Peled insists that Israel/Palestine is one state. Facts on the ground are undeniable and irreversible– massive investment in infrastructure, cities,schools and malls for Jews only, Jewish only highways bisect and connect ever expanding settlements on the West Bank, the separation wall and the checkpoints have destroyed the possibility of a contiguous, viable Palestinian state. The question for Israelis, worldwide Jewry and the international community is: What kind of a state do we really want to see? An apartheid state with half the population confined to intolerable bantustans, without access to proper nutrition, medical care or clean water, condemned to humiliating long lines at checkpoints?

Or, will Israel/Palestine transform itself into a secular democracy for the five and a half million Israelis and almost five million Palestinians who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. To become such a sanctuary, Israel must give up the idea of Jewish dominion over all the land and resources.

Before Miko came to hold such a vision, he had to face his fears. Driving alone in the to Palestinian towns in the Galilee or the West Bank in a car with license plates that identified him as Israeli, Miko imagined a terrorist lurking behind every curve of the winding road following the rolling hills. Heading towards the village of Bil’in for the first time, he silently questioned if he was crazy to trust “these people”? Peled was afraid but kept on driving until he found the village and was greeted by friends.

The solution might be obvious but the problem remains, how to change the existing paradigm– from fear and loathing to co-existence? At the heart of Peled’s solution lies the realization that Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace as equals in their shared homeland. At the a gathering in Taos, New Mexico, an Israeli woman who heard Miko speak told Miko that his father was the hero of her childhood, and in fact, a photograph of the general hung in their home. “It is an honor to meet the son of Matti Peled,” she said, “I had given up hope for any kind of just solution and try to stay removed from events there but I see how much you care and meeting you gives me hope.”

Those who cling to fear, mistrust or greed are under the false assumption that Palestinians and Israelis have a choice other than to live as equals. But it’s inevitable – the wall must come down, and the two people must be allowed to live as equal citizens in their shared homeland. Refusing this means condemning future generations of Israelis and Palestinians to ongoing mayhem and violence.

And Miko Peled’s family knows about that too. On September 4, 1997 they have lost their beloved Smadar, 13, the daughter of Miko’s sister Nurit and her husband Rami Elhanan to violence.

The bible tells us a great story of the patriarch Abraham willing to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac to prove his faith. At the moment of truth, when Abraham was about to kill his son an angel appeared telling Abraham not to harm the boy. In the Koran, Abraham is about to sacrifice Ishmael to the same God and the angel of God appears telling him not to harm his beloved son, Ishmael. The moral of the story is quite clear: Neither Israelis or Palestinians are called to sacrifice their sons and daughters to war, in fact, whether we are believers or not we are all called by our God or our conscience to care for our children so that they may live in peace and grow up as the equals that they are.

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3 gedachten over “De zoon van de generaal

  1. Ben ook erg benieuwd naar het boek van zijn zus Nurit dat dit jaar moet verschijnen. Over indoctrinatie en ideologie in het onderwijs.

    De video komt volgens bij overeen met de tekst van een speech die hij hield.
    Een klein stukje vast, want dit had ook van mijn favoriete Boze Man Chris Hedges kunnen zijn.
    ‘So, those of you who wish to associate yourself with Zionism and AIPAC and drape yourselves in the Zionist flag, the flag that has come to symbolize intolerance, hate, racism and brutality, feel free to do so. But know this: When the trials begin, when the tribunals take their seat, when the “truth and reconciliation” commission begins its work and when you are finally shamed into admitting that you are wrong, remember to go down on your knees and beg for forgiveness of the people you so blatantly wronged. You will not be able to claim that you “did not know” because we watched you dance as others were counting their dead.’

  2. Waren er maar veeeel meer van dit soort moedige mensen. En kwam er maar eens een aan de macht in Israel…

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