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Web of Stories offers you the chance to listen to some of the greatest people of our time telling their life stories.

Arab-Israeli tension reaches breaking point

Uri Avnery

Social activist

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Supporting Palestinians

Uri Avnery - Social activist

So we were there for a lot of demonstrations, with a lot of tear gas. I remember once we went with several buses from Tel Aviv to a demonstration in al-Ramm on the border between Israel and the occupied territory. A soldier came to see who was on the bus, smiled at us broadly and said: 'Good luck' or something like that. It seemed strange to me, I was not used to this. Indeed, as the demonstration began, an attack was launched against all of us, the like of which I have rarely seen: tear gas from all directions, rubber bullets and all that stuff. Rachel had taken refuge in some store. Rachel – as I think I've already mentioned, because of her disease, the liver disease – was not supposed to breathe in the tear gas as it was life-threatening for her. So she ran into a store, and the shop workers immediately took her in. Then she sent one of the protesters to me to say that I should also come into the shop.

Unfortunately, after Rachel died, my contact with al-Ramm weakened. Saleima Sirhan was elected mayor of al-Ramm and the wall was built so that it separates al-Ramm from Jerusalem. For a while we found a breach in the wall and were able to infiltrate through it, but I think they also closed the breach. And al-Ramm is today, like being 'outside' of Israel. Once we held a demonstration, a 'garbage' demonstration. The garbage dump of al-Ramm faced towards Qalandia, and the people wanted to separate the dump from the city, the town, and there was no other place for the garbage. So we held a garbage demonstration in the garbage dump. All this was before Bil'in became the centre for our demonstrations. But I have a very soft spot in my heart for al-Ramm, which is always proof… all these things have always proved to me how easy it is to connect with the Palestinians, how easy it is to connect with the struggle, how easy it is to create personal friendships. And those who talk about two states in order to separate… the separation leads, as if the concept is of two states. This is complete nonsense. The two-state solution requires, in my view, a connection between the two nations, and the connection is only possible if each of the two peoples feel that it has its own independent home, secure. Then, with an open border – and I am absolutely certain of this, based on the experience of so many years – that once the two countries and the border will be open, there will be a connection between the two peoples at all sorts of levels. First of all in commerce, industry certainly, but also in the creation of friendships and connections, and it's a shame that everything is being done to spoil this.

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