We Still Believe
Even when the earth shakes beneath our feet – especially then – we look directly at the painful reality, and affirm our commitment to peace, equality, ending the occupation, and personal friendship and political partnership between Jews and Palestinian Arabs, in Israel proper, and on both sides of the green line.
Enormous harm to innocent civilians – in the Gaza strip or in Israel – is never justifiable.
Years-long deliberate neglect, as well as corrupt governmental aggressiveness, give rise to rage, and rage tends to manifest in uncomfortable ways. But even justified rage cannot justify the targeting of innocents in mixed-population cities and elsewhere, nor should it be allowed to uproot a delicate system of living together.
Even facing such hard circumstances, we remain clear-eyed: The circumstances we find ourselves in are the result of politics, of racist, violent, special-interest-driven politics. We will not give in to such politics. We refuse to regroup along national or religious lines and be each others’ enemies.
Just as these circumstances are the result of politics, so too changing them will be the result of politics: Over the short range, of a new government that will seek to calm things down and to cope with the difficulties by working together with all those committed to peace and equality; and over the long run, of a joint social-political struggle of all the forces for peace, justice and equality throughout this land, a long and complex struggle no doubt, but one we should not despair on. Not even now.
We aspire to a democratic state, based on the values of justice, freedom and peace. And yet the structural discrimination against the Arab Israeli citizens and the ongoing occupation are inconsistent with these values. Furthermore, the substantive democratic framework of the state is being destroyed by a nationalist, racist and corrupt government at an accelerating pace. In order to change this trend, it is not enough to replace this specific government. We need a new way.
An egalitarian political partnership between Jews and Arabs is te way forward. Such partnership is called for by the values of equality and justice, and it is a necessary condition for the existence of a real and stable democracy in Israel.
The Joint Democratic Initiative consists of Jewish and Arab (indeed, Palestinian) citizens, enjoying the wide support of activists, public intellectuals, scientists and artists, acting to establish a joint, egalitarian Jewish-Arab political front, one that will clearly, unapologetically, and uncompromisingly strive for the implementation of the following principles:
A commitment to full equality for all the country’s citizens, to the repeal of the “Nationality Bill”, to abolishing all manifestations of racism, and to reinstating Arabic as an official language.
A commitment to ending the occupation and to bringing about a peace agreement, based on two independent sovereign states and on the 1967 borders.
A commitment to the principles of the welfare state, to strengthening the Israeli periphery and disadvantaged sectors, and to ensuring a dignified life for each and every citizen.
Bank Hapoalim (12), Branch no. 778 (Avivim), account no. 542491