Most political dialogue, in fact most dialogue between people, isn't real or true. People don't want to leave the conceptual frameworks they live in, of the place they grew up in, because they know how to behave within them and how to use them. Broadening your conceptual framework, or trying to move or to accept a new angle or viewpoint, is liable to hurt the concept you have and shake up your world, change your viewpoint and the things you've constructed. We've accepted this for years, so why would we want to be confused?
In 2000 I met a religious man who is my age, and there was true dialogue and real friendship between us. For the first time I began seeing things differently. I began to think I had previously been ignoring something that was right in front of me, like making myself blind to certain colors of the spectrum. I'm talking about how I regarded the neighboring Arab population. I knew them not really as a group of people with their own lives, but rather as figures used for work. I saw them at work, as laborers, janitors, I saw them at school, as manual workers, doing the work that my parents and the rest of our parents didn't want to do.
Now I've begun to examine the checkpoints ,
to consider the meaning of the manner in which I pass them and how the Palestinians,
do. I've also begun to think about the nature of Zionism and the nature of our struggle to exist in this country. There are all kinds of questions that didn't used to bother me as they do now. Now they have become essential. I had opinions I grew up with and I didn't really ever examine them for myself; I accepted a viewpoint that was created by someone else. My conclusion is that the price that we're paying to hold these lands is so high, it's actually at the cost of Zionist existence in Israel. I think it's worthwhile [to cede them] from a practical standpoint, not from a humanist or forbearing approach. I don't think my country's army needs to rule a population that lives right next to me. That's the bottom line. I don't think it's right that when I drive to Jerusalem I pass through several checkpoints as though it's nothing, while every Palestinian has to stop for inspection. That's not the Jewish-democratic State of Israel I want to live in. Life here isn't easy, and I don't want to struggle for Israel's existence for the sake of that [military rule].
I changed because I started thinking rationally. I think it started after I considered the priorities and the manner in which we rank our values, having asked myself what takes precedence. The people of Israel's return to their land is important, as is [the people of Israel's] right to the land. These are historical and religious rights, but what is the price for these rights? What is the cost if these rights are fulfilled? Is it worth it? Every fulfillment or every achievement you seek comes with a price tag because you must give something else up. This consideration affected me. Together, my friend, who I mentioned before, and I discussed and analyzed Yeshayahu Leibowitz's position.
Yeshayahu Leibowitz spoke out against the Occupation right from the start after the Six Day War.
He said that we must withdraw because he saw we were occupying an entire population.
The conquest of land in war took place then, as it still does today. Most of the borders worldwide have been determined by wars yet the occupation of people is another matter. Usually, if land is conquered, the civilian population doesn't remain under the conquering force's jurisdiction, rather it remains under the sovereignty of the original sovereign. If you conquer civilians you have responsibilities, they must be annexed to your state; if you gain land, you also gain more citizens. I'm referring to the relation of a democratic state to people, because in a democratic state all are citizens - there are no slaves or second-class citizens, at least de jure. Leibowitz recognized this; he predicted what would happen to a state holding people by force without intending to grant them civil rights, and he wrote about it.
Suddenly I understood the viewpoint that we don't need all this land [Judea and Samaria] in order to fulfill the Zionist dream. We don't need to occupy millions under a military regime, because it's not a price worth paying. I connected with people who believe that in terms of priorities and fulfilling values, prefer to give up control over the Territories,
for the sake of not ruling another people. I prefer to live in a smaller country, but a country with borders its people agree on so we know what it is that we're defending.