As the Israel Air Force continues to hit targets inside Gaza, and Palestinian
rockets pepper the South of the country, and elsewhere, around 100 leading
personalities from the Israeli world of culture and the arts joined a petition
to put an end to the violence and begin a dialogue between the sides.
petition is called “We Have to Talk,” and the list of well-known figures
includes the likes of celebrated playwright and author Yehoshua Sobol,
award-winning writer Yoram Kaniuk, internationally acclaimed author
Amos Oz, filmmaker David Ofek, Batsheva Dance Company founder Ohad Naharin and
author and journalist Yuval Ben-Ami.
The petition opens with the words,
“Our hearts are with you, residents of the South. It is the government’s duty to
protect you, but its way is not our way.”
It goes on to call for a
long-term cease-fire and for talks, either directly or through an international
mediator, “because the residents of the South, like the people of Gaza, have the
right to look up to the sky with hope and not with fear.”
“I think we
have to strive for one thing, that this campaign should end in negotiations, and
with an agreement with Hamas, an agreement that is properly and legally signed,
with guarantors,” said Sobol.
“Experience shows that any military
campaign like this, if it achieved any lull at all, it was always temporary and,
if there is no agreement, ultimately that leads to another round of violence.”
According to Sobol, the talks and eventual agreement have to take place between
what he called the legitimate representatives of both sides. “The agreement has
to be with Hamas because they are the sovereign body in Gaza. I think we have to
do everything we can to get to that, and that has to happen through serious
Each will submit its claims and, at the end of the day, we
will get to an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.”
Ron Arad, a
celebrated Israeli designer, artist and architect who has been living in London
for almost 40 years, also signed the petition.
Arad said he was not too
hopeful that the petition will move things along, but that he felt he had to do
“If there is any possibility that something will impact on
somebody, you have to go for it,” he said.
“It is easy enough to get into
the inferno, but it is not easy at all to extricate yourself from it. We know
the military solution doesn’t work.”
Sobol said he felt it was the duty
of all artists to make their voices heard in such situations.
“There is a
danger of society taking on a bestial nature,” he declared.
“This is not
a simple war. The danger is that, with this type of war, public morals
become contaminated. I saw the talkbacks on the Internet after the four
Palestinian children were killed [on Sunday], and [those] talkbacks were
shocking. There were Israelis who were close to expressing joy over the fact
that four children were killed. The danger is not just from the missiles, but
also from our society becoming morally corrupt. We have to remember that
there are human beings on the other side, not animals. You have to end a
war with a treaty,” he continued.
“I saw a clip of a demonstration on
King George Street in Tel Aviv, on YouTube. There was the gathering of the
left-wingers on one side of the street, while the right shouted insults and
awful slogans, like ‘Death to the Arabs’ and that sort of thing. There was an MK
in there too, I don’t know his name. That was shocking.”
For Ben-Ami, the
petition is also a means of getting his voice, and those of like-minded people,
out there. Like Sobol, Ben-Ami said he was worried about what developments in
the South are doing to Israel’s moral fiber.
“At the moment, we are
seeing the almost complete disintegration of the Israeli public’s moral
When I read a survey that claims that 84 percent of the Israeli
public supports this violent and foolish campaign, I am happy that at least a
few public figures are willing to stand up to this.
There was a similar
petition during the Second Lebanon War. The calls are not exactly the same but
it is the same spirit.”