Moroccan Writer and Israeli Filmmaker Speak Out

Moroccan novelist, poet, and essayist Tahar Ben Jelloun has an op-ed in Le Monde about the war in the Middle East, titled “These friends that push Israel toward the abyss.” Here is an excerpt:

Israël tombe aussi, mais consentant, dans l’engrenage de la politique désastreuse de G. W. Bush. On sait que de tout temps, l’Amérique a été le soutien indéfectible de l’Etat d’Israël, mais il faut parfois choisir ses amis. Or Bush ne peut pas faire du bien pour cette région. Il n’a, contrairement à Jimmy Carter et Bill Clinton, aucun désir de voir se concrétiser un projet de paix. Bush est hanté par la haine du monde arabo-musulman parce qu’il est incapable de le comprendre et encore moins de le respecter. Il faudra qu’un jour la justice se penche sur les crimes commis au nom de la politique de ce président ; son arrogance et son fanatisme ont fait des centaines de milliers de victimes en Irak et, aujourd’hui, par son appui systématique à la politique de Sharon et à présent de son successeur, il est aussi responsable des centaines de civils morts sous des bombes qu’il a fait acheminer vers Israël.

Here is my translation, for those of you who do not read French:

Israel falls also, but willingly, in the cycle of George W. Bush’s disastrous policies. One knows that America has always been an indefectible supporter of the State of Israel, but one must sometimes pick one’s friends. Bush cannot do the right thing for this region. He has, contrary to Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, no desire to see a peace project become reality. Bush is haunted by the hatred of the Arab-Muslim world because he is incapable of understanding it, much less respecting it. One day it will be necessary for justice to look at the crimes committed in the name of this president’s policies; his arrogance and his fanaticism have made hundreds of thousands of victims in Iraq and, today, by his systematic support for the policies of Sharon and now his successor, Bush is also responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths under the bombs he had sent to Israel.

Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai also contributes a piece under the title “Ruined hopes in the camp of the moderates” to the Point de Vue section. A snippet:

Pour nous Israéliens de gauche, la guerre que nous vivons en ce moment est particulièrement complexe sur le plan politique. Depuis des années, par des articles, des livres ou des films, nous cherchons à démontrer que la solution est le retrait des territoires occupés. Or Israël s’est retiré de Gaza et du Liban, et c’est exactement là où le Hezbollah a frappé. Dans la partie du Golan qui est toujours occupée, en revanche, tout est calme. On sait ce que la droite israélienne va dire : se retirer n’était pas la solution. Pour ma part, je crois toujours qu’Israël devrait continuer les retraits, et même que la coexistence pacifique n’est pas seulement un espoir lointain : elle finira par se produire. Mais en attendant, la lutte contre le Hezbollah n’a pas de solution “politiquement correcte”.

And here is my translation:

For us, leftist Israelis, the war that we are living through at the moment is particularly complex on the political level. For years, through articles, books, or movies, we have sought to demonstrate that the solution is withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. Israel has retreated from Gaza and Lebanon, and yet that is exactly where Hizbullah has struck. In the part of the Golan that is still under occupation, however, everything is calm. We know what the Israeli right will say: Withdrawal was not the solution. For my part, I still believe that Israel should continue with the withdrawals, and even that peaceful coexistence is not only a far-off hope: It will end up happening. But in the meantime, the fight against Hizbullah has no “politically correct” solution.

Only one problem with that stance: Israel did not simply sit on the sidelines after its withdrawals. For example, since Barak’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, the IDF conducted numerous “incursions” into Lebanese territory. I’m just saying.

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