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  1. Yigal Elhanan – Bereaved Families for Peace

    Yigal’s speech at the demonstration against current violence 10.10.15 in Jerusalem

    Let me open this speech with an apology. I have no hope to give. I have no answers but I have many questions, hopefully poignant ones, hopefully helpful.
    And for that I shall ask your forgiveness.
    Forgive me for not having words that would sustain you in these bleakest of times. I am sorry but we don’t have any more “camps” to join in these terrible days of loneliness and cold. Loneliness because in this battle, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, all of us are left alone. Those who are supposed to lead us behave like beheaded snakes, moving their bodies frantically from side to side without knowing or caring whom they are hurting. Sometimes this body kills a 19 year old boy in Silwan, and sometimes it burns a whole city.Forgive me.

    Today I stand before you as a Jew who sees his own people being stabbed in the streets. As an Israeli citizen dumbfounded by the voices of our elected leaders who preach incitement openly from every stage, against whole populations.

    I observe with horror the extrajudicial executions that should bewilder every one who has eyes in his head and a shred of humanity in her heart and yes, even if those who are executed have committed crimes.

    I stand before you as a Jerusalemite whose mayor calls upon half of the residents to take arms against the “other ” half. As a human being who sees the his city blinded by the high flames nourished by Bentsi Gupstein and hi neo-fascist organization Lehava (flame).

    But most of all I am speaking to you today as the broher of Smadar Elhanan. As the 5 year old bother of this 14 year old girl who was nipped at the bud before she could bloom. My sister Smadar was killed by a Palestinian suicider 18 years ago, was ripped off from her family, along with 6 other people, less than a 100 meters from where we are standing now. Smadar went downtown with her friends, in her city Jerusalem. With her came two youngsters who were destroyed by despair, by rage, by hate and by the uncontrollable wish to take revenge. These youngsters chose to shed their despair along with their own blood and my sister’s blood on the pavement of Jerusalem that has long grown indifferent to blood.

    I will not defame the memory of my sister by attributing a purpose to her death. This I leave to the State. I will only tell you what she didn’t die for. In the name of what she had not been taken from us and what cased her and so many other children to be taken violently and ruthlessly from their families.

    Smadar was not killed for the name of God, she was not killed for the security of the Nation, she was not killed in order to make us live, and not even for the holiness and wholesomeness of Jerusalem.

    Smadar was killed because of the silence that was roaring around her.
    Smadar was killed because no one dared scream and rage around her. No one bothered to cry out in this crazy city against the suffering, the daily torture and the colossal theft.

    Smadar was killed because it is easier, for all of us, to keep our silence.
    Every day there are new members who join our dysfunctional family – the family of the bereaved. More and more members are pouring in. Most of them we, as Israelis, will never get to know. We will never know their name or notice their existence, not because it is impossible but because we prefer not to know.

    The present cycle of violence was more than foreseen, The writing has been on the wall and still is, painted in blood letters that have been glaring at us for almost 50 years.

    But our senses have gone numb. Our sense of survival has gone numb. And our sense of criticism and immediate alert has gone numb. We have buried our heads in the sand, and as reality is becoming more bleak and more hard to bear we burry our heads even deeper. Stubborn ostriches we have become, and as the letters on the wall become thicker so does the cover on our eyes. As reality becomes more and more corrupt we add more and more layers of denial on our eyes, until we become totally blind.
    The taste of hope is long forgotten , along with the taste of peace and security. They have all been replaced by the taste of fear and revenge. These are the only tastes we are still able to feel.

    These times are indeed dark. And unsurprising. Imagine being inside a pressure pot that is constantly bubbling. Every minute in the last 48 years has increased the heat and the height of the flames. Every word of incitement that was uttered has increased the temperature of the furnace.
    But violence is not the only reason why these days are dark. Because today our faces have been blackened with shame. We have lost face because we have kept silence while violence has been raging around us.We have kept silent every day while suffering, oppression, killing, murder, torture and theft have been raging around us. Every day we had the opportunity of looking reality in the face. Every day we could become informed, join the militant action and call occupation by its name.

    But we chose to keep silent.

    The current violence has been bought by our silence. Our silence let it come to our homes, through incitement and racism. The easiest thing is to teach revenge. The easiest thing is to make one Truth the sole sovereign. And I would like to ask the teachers of violence, the question of our great poet Dalia Rabikovitch:

    What do I have now
    That all the roads are open
    And the earth is hardened?
    Revenge blooms in silence

    Revenge is an intoxicating drug. Its taste seems sweeter than anything and its consequences are more bitter than anything Satan has ever created.

    “The people demand revenge” cried neo-fascist Jews under my window the other night. And I was overwhelmed by despair. I wanted to go down to them and tell them and scream and cry and wave my arms and shriek. But at the same time I just wanted to burry my head under the blanket. Another sin of silence, though I know there is no better fertilizer to revenge than silence.

    No child is born with a knife in his hand, and no one is born with hatred in her heart.

    The terrorist who murdered my sister has not been nourished hate with the milk of his mother, and the boys who burnt Mohamad Abu Khder have not received a lighter and gas from their mothers, to play with.

    The knife, the bomb, the lighter and the Molotov bottle are given by despair, by humiliation, and by racism.

    Hate is germinated from seeds of despair, fertilized by incitement and violence and grows by a very careful enflaming of racism.

    The walls between us are not made of concrete only. Thicker are the walls of denial and forgetfulness, of estrangement and alienation between a man and his neighbor, a woman and her co-resident. And this distance leads to ignorance, ignorance leads to fear and fear breeds racism, incitement and murder.

    I would like to dedicate these words now to the memory of:

    Nehemia Lavi-Levi may he rest in peace

    Abd el Rahman Abdallah may he rest in peace

    AhmedKuteiba may he rest in peace

    Aharon Benet may he rest in peace

    Fadi Samir Mustafa may he rest in peace

    Ali dawabshe may he rest in peace

    Naama Henkin may she rest in peace

    Saad Dawabshe may he rest in peace

    Riham Dawabshse may she rest in peace

    Eitam Henkin may he rest in peace

    Shadi husam may he rest in peace

    Abd Al Wahidi may he rest in peace

    Muhamad Al Rakab may he rest in peace

    Musa Abu Alayan may he rest in peace

    And to all those who will rest in peace tomorrow and after tomorrow and in the days to come.

    Because tomorrow the inciters will stand again on the stages and take again the microphones and shout again their hateful stupidities. And the boy in Damascus Gate will be humiliated again by a policeman and the boy in west Jerusalem will hear his father damning a whole nation and the knife will be taken out and the bridge will be burnt and the abyss will open and we will stand dumbfounded and withered and will shake our heads in shock. And when we raise our heads from this usual shock and when we open our eyes the same question will reverberate: how long are we going to wallow in silence?

    Nurit Peled-Elhanan
    October 15 at 2:44am ·


    Gareth W R Smith
    Palestine Liberation Centre

    “Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire

    George Orwell, ‘Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.’

    “The sleep of reason produces monsters.” Goya

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