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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Gaza. Ury Avnery : « Nous sommes totalement, résolument contre cette guerre »

by Interview conducted by Françoise Germain-Robin

Ury Avnery : « We are entirely, resolutely against this war »


Translated Tuesday 20 January 2009, by Kristina Wischenkamper

In an interview given to our daily newspaper, the Israelian, Ury Avnery, co-founder of the organisation Gush Shalom (Israeli Peace Bloc) underlines his reasons for demonstrating every day with his friends against the massacres.

How is the Israeli Peace Bloc, of which you are one of the founders, reacting to the prolongation of the offensive against Gaza?

Ury Avnery: We are entirely, resolutely against this war and have been since the very first minute. Three hours after it started we organised a first demonstration at Yitzhak-Rabin Square in Tel-Aviv. And ever since, every day we have demonstrated to tell the government to stop this massacre, and we will continue to do so as long as it continues.

Do you think there is a chance of seeing Israel finally accepting a cease-fire?

Ury Avnery: At the moment the Israeli cabinet is debating whether to continue and enter into Phase 3, that is to say whether to engage in combat in the most densely populated zones, or to stop now and declare victory over Hamas. And it’s electoral concerns that are dominating the debate. Those who want to stop the war are afraid of being blamed by the others for not having seen it through to the end.

How do you explain that the Israeli public opinion, according to the polls, is largely in favour of the war?

Ury Avnery: It is always like that in Israel: in every war, public opinion supports the government and the army. Remember the war in Lebanon two years ago. And this continues as long as there are not too many deaths on the Israeli side. War has always been used as a means of reunifying the nation.

Isn’t public opinion shocked by the images of carnage coming out of Gaza?

Ury Avnery: No, because the Israelis are very badly informed. They don’t see the images of the suffering being inflicted upon the population of Gaza. All the Israeli media, without exception, are involved in the government’s propaganda operation. There isn’t a single Israeli reporter on the ground. The only images being shown on the television are those supplied by the army. And here people don’t really watch foreign television stations. There is a black-out on the horrors being inflicted on the Palestinian civilians.

What could make Israel decide to stop the carnage?

Ury Avnery: There would have to be heavy external pressure, notably from the Western world, the United States or the European Union, to force the government to accept a cease-fire. But for the moment there is no pressure at all coming from those countries. Only public opinion is making itself heard around the world, and it’s a very important form of pressure, which counts for a lot and which is considerably embarrassing for the Israeli government. But it’s still not sufficient to sway them. I’m afraid that the only pressure that can make a difference would need to come from the United States. Over here, we are hoping that Israel will stop the war before Obama takes up office, to prevent him having to begin his term in a showdown with Israel.

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