Uri Savir 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The following “chat” could very well have taken place on Facebook among young
Israelis, Palestinians and Egyptians. It is inspired by real Facebook
David: Good morning Amer, this is David from Tel Aviv. How is the
weather in Ramallah today?
Amer: Not different from Tel Aviv, David. We are just
one hour away, not on the moon. I am on my way to work at the Palestine
Bank. We have more banks here than money! By the way, how was that giant
demonstration yesterday night?
Dalia: Morning Amer, this is Dalia, we walked for
3 hours with 300,000 young people, and we all yelled our lungs out – “the people
want social justice!” – or “Bibi, go home.” By the way, he happens to
have a home. I met all my student friends from Tel Aviv University.
Morning all, this is Mona from Jenin, I have to ask, but what about peace?
Dalia: The people are concerned not to appear “political.”
them, peace is not politics.
David: I do tell them Mona, yesterday at my
start up company, I told my colleagues – no peace, no social
justice. Without peace all resources go to the security and settlement
Amer: Yes David, but no end to occupation – no
David: I know, but you will blame the occupation for everything,
even for bad weather. By the way, when will Palestinians start demonstrating,
when is the Palestinian spring? Amer: Walla, we should. But we don’t know
yet against whom or what! Bibi, occupation, Abu Mazen, Hamas, America?
Hi, this is Ahmed from Cairo, I have been away for two days, looking for a job.
We knew very well against whom and what we made the Tahrir
David: Ahalan Ahmed, no doubt you are in the lead. But now we
also have an “Israeli Spring”.
Mona: Seriously, in my views it is not
important what we demonstrate against. Everything here is bad. We need to
understand the power of the young to affect through Facebook and demonstrations.
The politicians everywhere are useless and hopeless! So we need to demand and
work for freedom and normal lives!
Amer: And jobs too! Money not just for the
millionaires in the villas in Ramallah.
Dalia: You sound just like David.
But we need to decide what societies we want to live in
David: I want to live in a society that is fair – where everyone gets a good and
free education, can afford health services, and in which we all have decent
housing and employment. A society free of prejudice and racism, free of fear of
war and terror.
Amer: And of occupation! The politicians will not allow
it. They will always help the wealthy, tax the poor, and dictate to the people,
not serve them, evade difficult decisions.
Dalia: To hell with them!
Ahmed: One is on his way…
Mona: We all want the same, but we Palestinians are
different. We have no state, no freedom, we are living under the brutal
force of occupation – at every checkpoint, on every road, in every trip we want
to have, any goods we want to trade.
David: True Mona, but much of it is
the fault of the Arab world. If you would not have rejected us in 1948 – we
would have two states by now. Instead your leaders engaged in rejection, hate,
Amer: Cut it out! My family lived in Jaffa for 500 years – until the
Zionists came and colonized the land and the people. The Nakba put an end to our
Dalia: Hey friends, stop arguing about the past. Each of you has his
right to his narrative. You cannot agree about the past, agree about the
Mona: We say, “Illy faat maat” – the past is dead. I think it’s
an Egyptian saying, Ahmed.
David: Give us young people the mandate, and
there will be agreement in a short time. Most Israelis don’t want the West Bank,
don’t care about the settlements. They want security, and they don’t
trust you. They also want the refugees to return to the Palestinian
Amer: We want an end to occupation, settlements and a free state.
Security we can achieve together. Security is not just soldiers and tanks. It’s
a state of mind of reconciliation and respect, and a state of a growing
David: Peace will have to wait for our generation to take
Ahmed: Cairo agrees. But it needs to happen soon!
Mona: We must and
can create a different future for our children, so they will live in a just
society and in peace.
Dalia: And it is only people like us, people of our
generation, who can bring about this change. Speaking of change, I’m off
to Rothschild Boulevard – demanding social justice.
Ahmed: Meet me at the
corner of Tahrir Square. It is where social justice and peace
Dalia: I know, believe me, I know. Let’s chat again
This chat did not really happen.
It is inspired by
recent events in our region. I have studied the discourse in Cairo, Tunisia,
Ramallah and Tel Aviv and found many commonalities.
It is in many ways a
similar generation all over the Middle East – a similar language; a similar
disillusionment with traditional politics; similar grievances, and a similar
sense of empowerment of the young generation.
I was able to test these
common traits on a Facebook movement I recently created, titled “YaLa – Young
Leaders,” which has been joined so far by many thousands of Israelis and
Such dialogues indeed take place, sometimes pleasantly, sometimes
with contention. But the similarity among the rebellious young generation cannot
and should not be overlooked.
I know that many of the courageous youth on
Rothschild Boulevard do not want to be identified with political positions
regarding peace. Yet, they must accept, in their quest to achieve social goals,
that our society and the Palestinian one are interdependent.
be social justice in the one without peaceful coexistence with the
The moral, financial and personal cost of an ongoing conflict is
simply too dear.
For more affordable living and social justice, we
Israelis are in need of a new order of priorities, which will include cutting
security and settlement budgets. This is not a matter of “Left” or
It’s a matter of our society, our country and its very future. A
courageous society demanding change – an Israeli spring.
Uri Savir is the
president of the Peres Center for Peace, and served as Israel’s chief negotiator
for the Oslo accords.