"Death to the Arabs!"
TOMORROW WILL BE the 32nd anniversary of the first "Day of the Land" - one of the defining events in the history of Israel.
I remember the day well. I was at Ben Gurion airport, on the way to a secret meeting in London with Said Hamami, Yasser Arafat's emissary, when someone told me: "They have killed a lot of Arab protestors!"
That was not entirely unexpected. A few days before, we - members of the newly formed Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace - had handed the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, an urgent memorandum warning him that the government's intention of expropriating huge chunks of land from Arab villages would cause an explosion. We included a proposal for an alternative solution, worked out by Lova Eliav, a veteran expert on settlements.
When I returned from abroad, the poet Yevi suggested that we make a symbolic gesture of sorrow and regret for the killings. Three of us - Yevi himself, the painter Dan Kedar and I - laid wreaths on the graves of the victims. This aroused a wave of hatred against us. I felt that something profoundly significant had happened, that the relationship between Jews and Arabs within the state had changed fundamentally.