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We Were As Dreamers

by Gershon Knispel

Each of us summarized the completion of the monument in Sakhnin in his own way. I wrote: “With my friend and colleague Abed Abdi I erected this monument to ‘drive out the evil spirit’ and leave traces… of the acts of wrongdoing, robbery, murder and dispossession for the future generations that found it hard to believe that ‘it really happened”. And you, Abed, added: Our joint work was the realization of a vision of cooperation between the two peoples in order to prevent a repetition of the tragedy…

Since then, thirty-three years have passed and our vision of erecting a monument for the future generations that found it hard to believe that ‘it really happened’, has been shattered.

Two generations have passed since its erection…

The killing of the six young men by officer cadets aroused waves of rage and protest in this country, and accelerated the erection of the monument in 1977, on which we carved the words, “to deepen understanding between the two peoples”. The mortal damage inflicted on entire quarters of Beirut and their inhabitants in the Second Lebanon War, and the tragedy of defenseless Palestinians and their women, children and aged in the Gaza War, have not brought about change in the consciousness of the citizens of Israel.

The monument did not halt the dance of atrocity, the cycle of hostility, and it remains as a warning against the rising tide of increasing nationalism. It was unable to ‘drive out the evil spirit’ because of the all-encompassing occupation.

Thirty-three years have passed and we remain isolated but true to our way, and there is no substitute for that!

Haifa, April 2010

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