Em Português

Boaventura de Sousa Santos

Letter to Frank
25 July 2006

Dear Frank,

My heart is heavy as I write to you. I defer cold analysis to the cynical reason that dominates western political commentary. You are one of the most progressive Israeli Jewish intellectuals I know. You call yourself an Israeli Jewish intellectual because you never forget that one fifth of Israeli citizens are Arabs. I was delighted to accept your invitation to participate in the conference you are currently organizing at the University of Tel Aviv. Your proposal to carry out one of the sessions in Ramalah moved me very much.
I write to you today to let you know that, in good conscience, I cannot accept your invitation. As you know, I maintain that Israel has the right to exist as a free, democratic country, the same right I claim for the Palestinian people. I "forget", with some bad conscience, that the UN 181 Resolution of 1947 called for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state (55 percent of the territory) and an Arab state (44 percent), as well as an international zone (the sacred places of Jerusalem and Bethlehem). The Europeans would thereby atone for their heinous crimes against the Jewish people. I also "forget" that, as early as 1948, the share of the Arab state immediately shrunk, as 700.000 Palestinians were expelled from their lands and homes (carrying with them the keys that many of them faithfully keep to this day). The Arab territory went on shrinking in the course of the following decades. Nowadays, it is no more than 20 percent of the territory.
For the past few years I have been steadily gathering doubts that Israel will ever actually accept the two-state solution. Consider the proliferation of the colonates, the construction of infrastructures cutting the Palestinian territory to smithereens to serve the colonates (roads, water and power systems), the check points, and, lastly, the building, since 2002, of the Sharon Wall (designed to steal more land from the Palestinians and bar them from access to water; indeed, designed to put the Palestinians into a huge concentration camp). After the recent attacks on the Gaza strip and the invasion of Lebanon, all my doubts are gone. Everything falls into place and makes sense now.  The invasion and devastation of Lebanon in 1982 took place when Arafat was giving signs that he was willing to initiate negotiations. The same is true today: the current invasion took place when Hamas and Fatah agreed to engage in negotiations. Now as then, the excuses for war were forged. Aren’t there thousands of Palestinians kidnapped by Israel (including ministers of a democratically elected government)? How many times in the past was prisoner exchange negotiated?
My dearest Frank, your country does not want peace. It wants war, because definitely it does not want two states. It wants, rather, the destruction of the Palestinian people. Or, which is the same, it wants to have the Palestinian people splintered into scattered groups of politically disarticulated serfs, wandering, uprooted and stateless, over heavily watched strips of land. To accomplish as much, Israel dares to destroy a whole country a second time and unpunishedly commit war crimes against civilian populations. After Lebanon, Syria and Iran will follow. And then, inevitably, it all backfires and it will be your Israel’s turn. Meanwhile, your country is the new rogue state, excelling in state terrorism, supported by a vast communication lobby — which suffocatingly controls my country’s newspapers as well — and with the blessings of the Washington neocons and the disgraceful passivity of the European Union. I know you share many of my thoughts and I do hope you understand that my solidarity with you and your struggle compels me to boycott your country. This is no easy decision. But, please, believe me: treading on Israeli soil I would feel the blood of the murdered Gaza and Lebanon children cluttering my steps and choking my voice.

  Center of Excelence - Assessment of Research Units carried out by the Ministry of Science and Technology, 2005
  CES Center for Social Studies