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WHEN I first met Yasser Arafat in besieged Beirut, in the summer of 1982, Abu Mazen was not present. But when I met him again in Tunis, a few months later, he asked me to meet Abu Mazen, too.
Abu Mazen, it transpired, was the Fatah leader in charge of Israeli matters.
MY FIRST impression of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) was that he was the exact opposite of Arafat. He looked like a schoolmaster.
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YEARS AGO, when I was a member of the Knesset, I decided to stage a demonstration in the plenum hall.
I put on a T-shirt with the slogan "Peace is greater than Greater Israel". In the middle of the debate I took my jacket off, displaying the slogan.
After a few minutes, an usher approached me and said politely: "The Speaker would like to see you in his office."
The speaker was Yitzhak Shamir, a former commander of the Lehi terrorist underground. He received me with a broad smile, asked me to be seated and said: "Uri, you have made your point. Now I ask you to take the t-shirt off and return to your seat!" Of course I did so.
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MANY YEARS ago, right after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, I was asked to write a book about the events. Rachel took the photos, I wrote the text. The book, which appeared only in Hebrew, was called "Lenin Does Not Live Here Anymore".
When we visited Warsaw, we were astonished by the many places in the city with metal plates announcing "(Name) was executed by the Germans at this spot". Until then we had no idea that the Polish resistance had opposed the Nazis so fiercely.
Bassem Tamimi, the father of imprisoned Palestinian teen activist Ahed Tamimi (and the husband of Nariman Tamimi, imprisoned alongside their daughter) issued a powerful message on his Facebook account on 2 February, greeting his daughter as she turned 17 on 31 January.
Palestinians and solidarity organizers around the world held demonstrations, celebrations and gatherings demanding Ahed’s freedom as well as that of her fellow Palestinian prisoners – and Palestine itself. Further events and actions are planned in the coming days.
Bassem Tamimi himself has spent years in prison – including as an Amnesty International recognized prisoner of conscience – for his role in the indigenous land defense movement in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, targeted for repression and land and water confiscation by occupation forces and settler colonial Zionism.
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An Israeli? A Jew? A peace activist? A Journalist? An author? An ex-combat soldier in the Israeli army? An ex-terrorist? A…?
All of these and more.
OK. OK. But in what order? Which is the most important component?
First of all, of course, I am a human being, with all the rights and duties of a human being. That part is easy. At least in theory.
Then I am an Israeli. Then I am a Jew. And so on.
AN AUSTRALIAN man of English extraction would have no trouble answering such a question. He is first and foremost an Australian, and then an Anglo-Saxon. In two world wars he rushed to the aid of Britain, for no practical reason. But in the second war, when his own homeland was suddenly in danger, he rushed back home.
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The first time I went to Jenin was when we did the Walking the Wall project – to hike the length of Israel’s wall in the West Bank. When we started, I was hugely worried about it all – we didn’t know whether we could do it, we didn’t know what the experience would be. We walked each day with translators and a lot of them didn’t understand what we were trying to do, which was partly our fault for not explaining it properly, but also because rambling isn’t a big pastime in the West Bank.
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PITY THE almond tree, especially when it is in full bloom.
The bloom of the almond is, in German, Mandelblüt. That is also the name of Israel's chief legal official, called "the Legal Advisor of the Government".
The Legal Advisor is appointed by the government, but is supposed to be completely independent. He is in practice the Attorney General, the person who has the final say about indicting people, especially the prime minister. That is now his unhappy lot
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