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November 1, 2000 Special Dispatch No. 145

Egyptian Peace Activist on Intifada

November 1, 2000
Egypt, Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 145

Since the outbreak of the Intifada, only a handful of Egyptian peace activists have appeared in the Egyptian and Arab media. Some "repented," for their peace approach others declared that peace is the default option due to the strategic disparity in strength with Israel. Most of them announced their support for the Intifada and Hizbullah. The one clear exception is renowned Egyptian playwright and peace supporter, 'Ali Salem, who stated publicly that recent events did not change his beliefs. Following is an interview he gave to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram Al-Arabi on Oct. 21, 2000:

Ali Salem: "In Israel there are millions of peace supporters but you [i.e. the Arab world] think justice is only on your side and the others are criminals."

Question: "Do you think otherwise?"

Ali Salem: "We are in a state of war only in our minds and we refuse to listen to the voices of peace in Israel. However, the right perspective is that all parties are responsible for what has happened and is still happening. It is futile to describe Israel as the only one who is wrong."

Question: "Did you see the picture of the child Muhammad Al-Durah when he was killed in his father's arms?"

Ali Salem: "Of course, but I also saw the picture of the three Israeli soldiers that were butchered, and their corpses burnt. I also saw the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon. Why do you ignore this? The violent approach has eventually won!!"

Question: "Do you compare the two events? Can the actions of the occupation be compared with those of the Resistance?"

Ali Salem: "The violence must stop and we should try to establish peace. This is what I know. The debased action of the media that inflames the crisis and warms up the public is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. Of course, you didn't expect this from me; you expected that Ali Salem would announce, through you, his repentance of his peace-guilt. However, I still insist that nobody has the right to inflame a war because after our peoples are exiled and our infrastructure is destroyed, we will sit to cry and talk peace."

Question: "Is it possible that the defeatism has reached this level?"

Ali Salem: "Defeatism? You don't know the meaning of war. We in the peace movements have failed. We admit failure and now you can have your war."

Question: "Israel is the one who actually seeks war..."

Ali Salem: "That's it. I apologize for failing in what annoys you, we failed in establishing peace. You want me to talk about the Israeli violations and you want me to repent. Well, I have no repentance for you. If you want war, enjoy your war. That's it. We cancel the peace, and be blessed in your war!!"

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