Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

The 6 items below begin with infuriating news!  The US apparently wants at all costs to stop the upcoming flotilla, and to this end will supposedly offer Turkey a deal: hold a peace conference but stop the flotilla.  Hopefully Turkey will refuse.  A peace conference is likely to go nowhere right from the beginning, as have all those till now, and not because the Palestinians always refuse!  If Turkey does agree, Netanyahu will insist as a starter that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, which the Palestinians will refuse to do.  Obama, however, seems hell-bent on doing everything to make sure that Israel remains a power or perhaps I should say ‘the’ power in the ME.  To this end, I presume, is Rahm Emanuel’s op-ed in June 3 Washington Post on Obama’s commitment to Israel —

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obamas-commitment-to-israel/2011/06/02/AGj0NZHH_story.html

An utterly disgusting piece that wants all for Israel but nothing for the Palestinians.  Apparently this piece represents things as they are, not as we would wish them to be!

In any event, to return to the flotilla, I repeat once again, the main purpose is not humanitarian aid but breaking the blockade!  How can Obama justify the blockade—the imprisonment of over a million people in Gaza, people like you and I who just want to live a normal every-day life with a bit of hope for the future.  How can the world close its eyes and turn its back on Gaza?

Item 2 reports that 2 Palestinian youngsters were badly burnt apparently by white phosphorus in a canister left by the IOF near Hebron.  On top of this Israel refused the boys treatment at an Israeli hospital.

Item 3 shows once again how undemocratic Israel really is.  Two people born in Jerusalem do not have equal rights if one of the two is a Muslim the other a Jew.  A Jew who is born in any part of Israel aside from Jerusalem, and who leaves the country for several years, can return to Israel and settle in Jerusalem with no problems.  But a Palestinian who is born in Jerusalem and who goes abroad or leaves Jerusalem for any length of time loses his/her rights to reside in Jerusalem. Imagine Jews being so treated in any country!

Item 4 reports the intentions of Israel’s government to build a Jewish town in the Negev on the lands of two Bedouin tribes. What will happen to the Bedouins of these tribes, whose homes, by the way, are not tents but actual buildings?

Item 5 is ‘Today in Palestine,’ whose summaries I hope that you will read.

Item 6 is one of the most beautiful tributes that a spouse can give to one’s other who has died.  I think that this must be one of Uri Avnery’s finest, if not the finest piece.  It’s not newsy.  It won’t inform you about what is happening here.  But it is beautiful.

All the best,

Dorothy

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1.  Ynet,

June 3, 2011


Turkish Marmara ship. Ready for sail Photo: AP

US: Peace summit instead of flotilla

Turkish newspapers say Washington considering asking Ankara to host Israeli-Palestinian conference in exchange for stopping Gaza-bound sail, ending diplomatic crisis with Jerusalem

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4077939,00.html

Ynet

The American administration is considering offering the Turkish government a deal, which would see Ankara hosting a peace conference attended by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in exchange for restoring its relations with Jerusalem and stopping the Gaza-bound flotilla planned for late June, Turkish newspaper Zaman reported Friday.

According to the flotilla organizers, vessels from several European countries will leave Turkey towards the end of June.

Eight Turks and an American national were killed last year as Israeli Navy Commandos raided a Turkish ship attempting to reach the Gaza Strip. In response, Turkey recalled its ambassador and demanded that Israel apologize and compensate the victims.

Turkish daily Hurriyet quoted sources as saying that the United States would officially ask Turkey to host an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit in exchange for stopping the flotilla and ending the diplomatic crisis with Israel.

According to the offer, the summit will continue previous gathering held in the past, including the 1991 Madrid Conference and the secret Oslo negotiations in 1993.

A US State Department spokesperson said Wednesday that his country had raised its concerns with the Turkish government regarding any flotilla sailing towards the Gaza Strip.

According to the US, any flotilla would be considered an act of provocation since there is already an effective protocol to transfer humanitarian aid into Gaza.

‘Irresponsible and provocative actions’

State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner raised the issue during a daily press briefing in Washington, saying that in recent conversations with the Turkish government the US warned against organizations planning to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

“We’ve raised our concerns with the Turkish Government as well, and we’ve also met and said publicly as well as privately, meeting with some of these NGOs, about the risk for attempting to break this blockade,” said Toner.

“We have made clear through the past year that groups and individuals who seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that entail a risk to their safety. I think I’ve talked about this specifically.”

Toner reiterated that “there are established and efficient mechanisms for getting humanitarian assistance through to Gaza, and that’s been our message consistently”.

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon called on governments last Friday to discourage pro-Palestinian activists from sending a new aid flotilla to Gaza.

In letters to Mediterranean governments, Ban said all aid for Gaza, which is blockaded by Israeli forces, should go through “legitimate crossings and established channels” – which in practice in recent years has meant through Israel.

But he also called on Israel to “act responsibly” to avoid violence.

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2.  [forwarded by Rupa]

Israel accused after Palestinian boys burned by mystery canister

Military experts say unidentified devices found in West Bank may have contained outlawed white phosphorus

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/03/israel-palestinians-west-bank-canister?CMP=EMCGT_030611&

Conal Urquhart in Buweib

The Guardian, Friday 3 June 2011

Eid Da’ajani, 15, suffered severe burns after picking up a mysterious silver canister close to his home Link to this video

The Israeli army has been accused of leaving dangerous munitions near Palestinian homes after two boys were seriously burnt when they picked up a mysterious silver canister which exuded toxic white fumes.

A second canister, discovered nearby less than a week later, was destroyed by the army in a controlled explosion

The army does not deny leaving the devices, but would not identify them and suggested they were left over after training exercises. But the area where they were found does not feature on an army map of designated training areas and the canisters appeared new and unweathered.

Eid Da’ajani, 15, found the canister on 20 February, around 100 metres from his home in the village of Buweib, south of Hebron. The device, around 20cm (7.9 ins) long and 5cm in diameter, was lying in a scrubland where the boys were watching the family’s goats.

A metal canister found by Mohammed and Eid Da’ajani near their home. Photograph: Conal Urquhart for the Guardian

Eid showed it to his cousin, Mohammed, also 15, who said that it might be a bomb, but Eid picked at the tube’s foil-like covering, causing it to emit dense white fumes. The boys ran away but the gas clung to them and burnt their clothes, melting their shoes and burning their skin.

“The moment the smoke came. I dropped it, but the smoke followed us. When we escaped that’s when the pain started, ” said Eid.

Military experts consulted by the Guardian said the effect of the smoke was similar to that caused by white phosphorous but could not speculate on the nature of the devices from photographs alone.

One suggested that it could be chaff – projectiles fired from an aircraft to decoy enemy missiles – which had not ignited.

The use of white phosphorous in civilian areas is banned by the Geneva conventions yet it is often used by armies for marking and creating smoke screens. Israel used white phosphorous in civilian areas during the Gaza war in 2008-2009 but stopped after international criticism.

Khalid Da’ajani, the boys’ grandfather said that 10 people in the area had been killed by discarded army bombs. “We knew it was the army [which left the cannister] but we had never seen anything like this. The burns seemed to spread along their bodies and all we could do was pour water on them which didn’t seem to help,” he said.

Both boys were taken to the local hospital in Yatta, but when contacted by Eid’s father the Israeli army showed little interest until told that there had been an explosion. Soldiers then questioned the boys and doctors eventually gave them an intravenous transfusion which eased their pain. The family’s request to receive treatment in an Israeli hospital was denied, but two days later, the boys were taken to hospital in Hebron where a team of visiting Italian doctors spent three hours cleaning their wounds.

The hospital report states that boys suffered first to second degree burns to their faces, hands, ankles and legs due to “the explosion of a foreign body”. They were then referred to a burns unit in Nablus, around 60 miles from their home, rather than to an Israeli hospital less than half the distance away.

But last week, Lo’ai, Mohammed’s younger brother discovered an identical canister not far from where the first was found.

He ran away and his family contacted the army. After inspecting the device, troops piled rocks and explosives around it before blowing it up.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Israeli army said: “The area under discussion served in the past as a training field and is no longer in use. The young men were treated on site by a military medical team. Because their injuries were light, they did not require evacuation to an Israeli hospital, and they were evacuated by the Red Crescent.”

Almost two weeks after the event the boys have stopped vomiting and suffering from headaches. Large parts of their skin remain bleached white and blistered. Both seem to be recovering but still find it hard to walk.

A spokesman for Physicians for Human Rights and Israeli non-governmental organisation said that the incident represented a violation of the Palestinians’ right to the health by the Israeli army.

“Leaving bombs unattended on the lands of Palestinians where children and others spend most of their time is a violation of human rights. Worse, is the fact that the army denied these children a better treatment in Israeli hospitals despite the fact that they admitted it was a bomb they had left in the field,” the spokesman said.

Physicians for Human Rights have said that they have written to ask the army for answers about the incident and will take legal action with the family if the army does not explain how two of these dangerous devices appeared in village lands that are regularly frequented by children, adults and animals.

=========================

3.  Haaretz,

June 03, 2011


From residents to prisoners

The logical and moral thing would be for the Interior Ministry to differentiate between residents who were born here, and should thus always be allowed to come and go as they wish, and others who immigrated here and whose status may be considered conditional.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/from-residents-to-prisoners-1.365651

By Ronit Sela

I share my office space in Jerusalem with Mahmoud, a colleague at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Regardless of our enormously different backgrounds and upbringing, we get along well and enjoy working together. We both live in Jerusalem: Mahmoud was born and raised in Silwan, just south of the Old City, while I was born in Kfar Sava and relocated to the city about a decade ago.

Looking ahead to the future, I can anticipate living elsewhere some day, knowing I can return to the city later on. My Jerusalem-born colleague, on the other hand, knows that if he were ever to live abroad for a period of seven years or more, he would run the risk one day of only being allowed to enter the country on a three-month tourist visa. He would no longer be able to live in the city, work here or raise his future children near his parents and extended family. As Jerusalem Day was marked here this past Wednesday, what caught my attention was the division that exists between us two residents of this professed unified city.

The Interior Ministry has made it a policy, since the city’s reunification in 1967, to try to block the return home of people who, like Mahmoud, were born in Jerusalem, but who have relocated elsewhere, temporarily or permanently. The majority of Jerusalem’s 300,000 Palestinians have permanent resident status. According to Interior Ministry regulations, there are two conditions that serve as grounds for revocation of residency, which together ostensibly prove that the person has moved “the center of his life” elsewhere: that he or she has not resided in Israel for a period of seven years, and has acquired citizenship or similar status in another country (this includes receipt of a green card ). A full-fledged citizen who chooses a similar path does not face the same threat.

Palestinians born in East Jerusalem technically fall into the category of “permanent residents” – but not in essence. They are in fact non-citizens in a city that is also their hometown, and therefore the reality of their lives is unique. Unlike other people with permanent residency status, they did not choose to relocate here but rather were born into an area that was annexed to Israel. By and large, they do not feel they are part of the State of Israel. Neither they nor the Israeli government wish to see them all pledge their allegiance to Israel and become full-fledged citizens. However, the residency status, though it allows them to remain in their homes, in effect turns them into prisoners who are not allowed to freely leave their small corner of the world. For Mahmoud, even a decision to relocate to Jerusalem’s surrounding areas that are under the control of the Palestinian Authority could theoretically cost him his rights, as it would mean that the “center of his life” has been moved to a different country.

I, on the other hand, as a citizen, can choose to move overseas for as long I wish and acquire another national citizenship, and still be allowed to return at any time to the city that has gradually become my home.

In 2008, a peak was reached, in which 4,577 Palestinians who were born in Jerusalem and were at the time living in other locales, including the West Bank, had their permits revoked by the Interior Ministry. Since 1967, Israel has revoked the residency status of over 13,000 Palestinians from Jerusalem, turning them from natives to foreigners. Israel could have easily chosen to renew their permits. Unfortunately, it decided instead decided to block their return.

The logical and moral thing would be for the Interior Ministry to differentiate between residents who were born here, and should thus always be allowed to come and go as they wish, and others who immigrated here and whose status may be considered conditional. The unique legal status of East Jerusalem and its residents makes this a necessity.

ACRI and Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual petitioned the High Court in April demanding that this differentiation be anchored in law so as to safeguard the basic rights of Palestinians living in Jerusalem. The petition listed Mahmoud as a petitioner, an example of a young man whose life is still ahead of him, who wishes to enjoy all the possibilities his future can hold, including the mobility so many other young people enjoy, without having the natural course of modern life cost him an unbearable price.

For many Jews, June 5, 1967, marks the breaking of the walls and barriers that for two decades made West Jerusalem a small and isolated capital. Four decades later, however, the walls of the legal ghetto imposed upon a third of the city’s residents are only getting higher.

Ronit Sela is a spokesperson for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

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4.  Haaretz ,

June 03, 2011


Jewish town to be built on Bedouin land under Negev relocation plan

Bedouin residents did not squat on the land, but were transferred there in 1956 by the direct order of the military administration in place at that time, but now, their lands lie within the master plan of the Be’er Sheva metropolitan area.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/jewish-town-to-be-built-on-bedouin-land-under-negev-relocation-plan-1.365666

By Jack Khoury and Yanir Yagna

The land of one of the Bedouin communities slated to be evicted under a proposed government plan will be used for the construction of a new Jewish community, documents revealed by Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, and obtained by Haaretz show. In the coming weeks, the cabinet is expected to approve the forcible relocation of some 30,000 Bedouin to new neighborhoods of existing Bedouin towns.

Residents of the community in question did not squat on the land, but were transferred there in 1956 by the direct order of the military administration in place at that time. But now, their lands lie within the master plan of the Be’er Sheva metropolitan area.

The community comprises about 1,000 people, all members of the Abu Alkiyan clan. They reside in two villages, Atir and Umn al-Hiran, located near Wadi Atir, close to Route 316 and east of the village of Houra.

Until 1948, the clan held the land now used by Kibbutz Shoval. After the war, it traveled across the Negev looking for new land, but did not find any, because most was already claimed by other tribes. In 1956, it approached the military administration and was transferred to the Wadi Atir area.

A classified military administration document dating from 1957 says that the clan received 7,000 dunams of land near the wadi. It then split into two hamlets that shared the land. Unlike in many Bedouin communities, the houses in Atir and Umm al-Hiran are built of stone.

In November, Haaretz reported that the Prime Minister’s Office had prevented Atir and Umm al-Hiran from being recognized as legal townships, contrary to the recommendations of a professional committee of the National Planning and Building Council. The residents have appealed their eviction orders, and some appeals have already reached the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a plan to construct a new Jewish community, to be called Hiran, has been submitted to the regional planning and building committee, which has already heard the Bedouin residents’ objections. The Interior Ministry told Haaretz a detailed plan for the first neighborhood of Hiran is already being discussed.

The government agency responsible for regularizing Bedouin towns in the Negev said the Abu Alkiyan clan was moved to this area by the British High Commissioner before the establishment of the state, but has since invaded state lands. It said the state was preparing new neighborhoods suited to the clan’s needs in the town of Houra.

“We came here in 1956, after the state decided to move us from Beit Kama,” said one resident, Salim. “We don’t want to move away; we have nothing to look for in Houra. They want to build a Jewish community on this land and call it Hiran. We have no problem with being annexed to Hiran as long as we stay on our land.”

“If anyone in the government thinks they can evict us, they’re mistaken,” another family member said. “If they demolish our houses, we’ll live in tents. If they take our tents, we have no problem living under the open sky. We’re not going to use force against anyone, but we will not leave our lands.”

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5.  Today in Palestine latest

http://www.theheadlines.org/11/02-06-11.shtml

==================================

6.  Dear friends,

As a personal favor, please abstain from reacting to this

article by messages to me. Thanks.

Shalom, Salamaat,

uri

———————————————————–

Uri Avnery

June 4, 2011

RACHEL

I HAD the unqualified blessing of living with Rachel Avnery

for 58 years. Last Saturday I took leave of her body. She

was as beautiful in death as she was in life. I could not

take my eyes off her face.

I am writing this to help myself accept the unacceptable. I

beg your indulgence.

IF A HUMAN BEING can be summed up in one word, hers was:

empathy.

She had an uncanny ability to sense the emotions of others.

A blessing and a curse. If someone was unhappy, so was she.

No one could hide their innermost feelings from her.

Her empathy touched everyone she met. Even in her last

months, her nurses were soon telling her their life

stories.

Once we went to see a film set in a small Slovak town

during the Holocaust. A solitary old woman did not

understand what was happening when the Jews were summoned

for deportation to the death camps; neighbors had to help

her to the assembly point.

We arrived late and found seats in the dark. When the

lights came on at the end, Menachem Begin got up in front

of us. His eyes, red from weeping, locked with Rachel’s.

Oblivious to everybody around, Begin walked straight up to

her, took her head in his hands and kissed her on the brow.

IN MANY respects we complemented each other. I tend to

abstract thought, she to emotional intelligence. Her wisdom

came from life. I am withdrawn, she reached out to people,

though she valued her privacy. I am an optimist, she was a

pessimist. In every situation, I sense the opportunities,

she saw the dangers. I rise in the morning happy, ready for

another day’s adventures, she got up late, knowing the day

would be bad.

Our backgrounds were very similar –  born in Germany to

Jewish bourgeois intellectual families, who believed in

justice, freedom and equality, coupled with a profound

sense of duty. Rachel had all these in abundance, and more.

She had an almost fanatical sense of justice.

The first words Rachel ever spoke, when her family had fled

the Gestapo to Capri, were “mare sch?n”, Italian for sea,

German for beautiful.

She never read nor wrote German, but learned the language

perfectly from speaking with her parents – she even

corrected my German grammar.

Rachel, alas, lacked Prussian punctuality. It was a

constant source of friction between us. I feel physically

ill if I am not on time, Rachel was always, but always,

late.

THREE TIMES I met her for the first time.

In 1945, I founded  a group to propagate the idea of a new

Hebrew nation,  integral to the Semitic region like the

Arabs. Too poor to rent an office, we met at members’

homes.

At one such meeting, a 14-year-old girl, the daughter of

the landlord, came in to listen. I noticed fleetingly that

she was beautiful.

Five years later I met her again when I was running a

popular magazine aimed at revolutionizing everything,

including advertising: girls instead of the usual dull

text.

We needed a pretty girl for an ad, but there were no

professional models in the new state. One of our editors

ran a theater group.  He introduced me to a member called

Rachel.

We took some pictures by the sea, and I took her home on my

motorcycle. We fell off in the sand and just laughed.

The third time was at the same experimental theater. There

she appeared again, and at some point she tried to guess my

age, pledging a kiss for every year she was wrong. She

guessed I was five years younger than I was, and we made a

date for settling the account.

We continued to date on and off.  Once I was to meet her at

midnight in a cafe. When I did not arrive, she went to look

for me. She found a crowd outside my office, and was told I

was in hospital. Some soldiers had attacked me and broken

all my fingers.

I was helpless. Rachel offered to help me out for a few

days. They lasted 58 years.

We found that living together suited us. Since we despised

religious weddings (there being no civil marriage), we

lived happily in sin for five years. Then her father fell

seriously ill. To set his mind at rest, we married in a

hurry, in the private apartment of a rabbi. We borrowed the

witnesses and the congregation from another wedding, and

the ring from the rabbi’s wife.

That was the last time either of us wore a ring.

FOR 58 YEARS, she inspected every word I published. That

was not easy. Rachel had strict principles, and stuck to

them. She covered some of my pages in red ink. Sometimes we

had bitter arguments, but in the end, one of us usually

conceded – generally me.  On the rare occasions we could

not agree, I wrote what I felt like (and more than once

regretted it).

She struck out all personal attacks she considered unjust.

Exaggerations. Every weakness of logic – she would spot

contradictions that had escaped me. She improved my Hebrew.

But mostly she added the magic word “almost”.

I tend to generalize. “All Israelis know”, “Politicians

are cynical” – she would change that to “Almost all

Israelis “, “Most politicians” We joked that she was

sprinkling “almost”s on my articles as a cook sprinkles

salt on food.

She never wrote an article herself. Nor gave interviews. To

such requests she would respond: “What did I marry a

spokesman for?”

BUT HER real talents lay elsewhere. She was the ultimate

teacher, a calling she pursued for 28 long years.

This happened quite unplanned, after she was sent on an

army course for teachers.

Before the course finished, she was practically kidnapped

by an elementary school principal. Long before she received

her teacher’s certificate, she was a legend. Parents with

connections pulled strings to get their children into her

class. There was a joke that mothers planned their

pregnancies so that the child would be 6 years old when

Rachel taught the first grade. (She agreed to teach only

the first and second grade, as the last chance of shaping a

child’s character.)

Her pupils included the children of illustrious artists and

men of letters. Recently, a middle aged man called to us in

the street “Teacher Rachel, I was your pupil in first

grade! I owe you everything!”

How did she do it? By treating children as human beings and

nurturing their self-respect. If a boy couldn’t read, she

put him in charge of tidiness in the classroom. If a girl

was rejected by prettier classmates, she would be the good

fairy in a play. She drew satisfaction from seeing them

open up like flowers in the sun. She spent hours explaining

to backward parents their children’s needs.

During the school holidays, her children were raring to get

back to class.

SHE HAD a purpose: to instill human values.

There was the story about Abraham and the burial site for

Sarah. Ephron the Hittite refuses money. Abraham insists on

paying. After a long and beautiful exchange, Ephron winds

it up: “The land is worth four hundred shekels of silver.

What is that betwixt me and thee?” (Genesis 23). Rachel

told the children that this is still the Bedouin way of

doing business, leading up to the deal in a civilized

manner.

After the lesson, Rachel asked the teacher of the parallel

class how she explained this episode to her pupils.  “I

told them that this is typical Arab hypocrisy! They are all

born liars! If he wanted money, why didn’t he say so

directly?”

I like to think that all of Rachel’s children – or almost

all of them – have turned out as better human beings.

I followed her experiments in education closely, and she my

journalistic and political exploits. Basically we were

attempting the same: she to educate individuals, I the

public at large.

AFTER 28 YEARS, Rachel felt that she had lost her edge. She

did not believe a teacher should continue after their

eagerness has been blunted.

The final push came when I crossed the lines in Beirut in

1982 and met Yasser Arafat. It was a world sensation. With

me were two young women on my editorial staff: a

correspondent and a photographer. Rachel felt left out of

one of the most exciting events in my life, and decided to

change direction.

Without telling me, she took a course in photography. Weeks

later, pictures of an event were laid before me. I chose

the best – which just happened to be hers. The secret was

out. She became an enthusiastic photographer, with a

remarkable creative talent – always focused on people.

IN EARLY 1993, when Yitzhak Rabin deported 215 Islamic

activists across the Lebanese border, protest tents were

erected opposite his office. We camped out for 45 wintry

days and nights. Rachel, the only woman who was there the

whole time, struck up a beautiful friendship with the most

extreme Islamic sheikh, Ra’ed Salah. He really respected

her. They joked together.

In these tents, we founded Gush Shalom. For her, the

injustice done to the Palestinians was intolerable.

She was the photographer at all our events. She took

pictures of hundreds of demonstrations, rushing around,

taking shots in front and behind, sometimes in clouds of

tear gas – despite her doctor’s warnings. Twice she

collapsed in the burning sun, crossing harsh terrain to

protest against the Wall.

When the Gush needed a financial manager, she volunteered.

Although it was completely against her nature, she became a

meticulous administrator, with a Prussian sense of duty,

working on the kitchen table late into the night. She much

preferred her unofficial function – maintaining human

contact with activists, listening to their problems. She

was the soul of the movement.

SHE COULD be very abrasive, too. Far from being a starry-

eyed do-gooder, she detested liars, hypocrites and people

who did wrong.

She never liked Ariel Sharon, even during the years when we

visited each other’s homes to talk about the 1973 War.

Lili Sharon loved her, Arik liked her too. There is a photo

of him spoon-feeding her with his favorite dish (food was

unimportant for her). Rachel did not let me show anyone the

picture. After the 1982 Lebanon invasion, we broke contact.

Once, Sharon’s confidant, Dov Weisglas, whom she could not

forgive his nasty remarks about the Palestinians, spotted

me in a restaurant, came over and shook my hand.  But

Rachel left his hand dangling in the air.  Embarrassing.

When she liked people, she showed it. She liked Yasser

Arafat, and he liked her. We went to see him many times in

Tunis and later in Palestine, and he treated her with

utmost courtesy, allowing her to take pictures of him at

any time, showering her with presents. Once he gave her a

necklace and insisted on putting it on her himself. With

his poor eyesight, he fumbled for a long time. It was a

wonderful sight, but his official photographer did not

react. Rachel was furious.

When we served as a human shield for the besieged

Palestinian President, Arafat kissed her on the brow and

led her by the hand to the entrance.

FEW PEOPLE knew that she carried an incurable disease –

Hepatitis C. It lay like a sleeping leopard at her

doorstep. She knew that it could wake up any minute and

devour her.

The unexplained infection was discovered more than 20 years

ago.  Every doctor’s appointment could have meant a death

sentence. She collapsed five months ago. There were many

signs of this approaching, which I ignored but she clearly

saw.

During these five months, I spent every minute with her.

Every new day was like a precious gift for me, though she

was inexorably sinking.  We both knew, but pretended that

everything was going to be alright.

She had no pains, but increasing difficulty eating,

remembering, and, towards the end, speaking. It was heart-

rending to see her struggling for   words. For two days she

was in a coma, and then she slipped away unconsciously and

painlessly.

She had insisted that nothing be done to prolong her life

artificially. It was a terrible moment when I asked the

doctors to stop their efforts and let her die.

In accordance with her wishes, her body was cremated,

against Jewish tradition. Her ashes were scattered on the

Tel Aviv seashore, opposite the window where she had spent

so much time gazing out. So the words of William

Wordsworth, which she loved and often repeated, do not

strictly apply:

“But she is in her grave, and oh,

The difference to me.”

ONCE, in a moment of weakness exploited by a film-maker,

she complained that I had never said “I love you”. True

enough: I find these three words incurably banal, devalued

by Hollywood kitsch. They certainly are not adequate for my

feelings towards her – she had become a part of me.

When she was fading, I whispered “I love you”. I don’t know

if she heard.

After she died, I sat for an hour with my eyes fixed on her

face”. She was beautiful.

A GERMAN friend sent me a saying which I find strangely

comforting. It translates as:

“Don’t be sad that she left you,

Be glad that she was with you for so many years.”

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