Tikkun grieves and mourns the passing of the founder and leader of Israel’s peace movement, Gush Shalom, Uri Avnery.
Until the last moment he continued on the way he had travelled all his life. On Saturday, two weeks ago, he collapsed in his home when he was about to leave for the Rabin Square and attend a demonstration against the “Nation State Law”, a few hours after he wrote a sharp article against that law.
For several decades, Avnery was a columnist for Tikkun magazine, sharing his wisdom and insights with our Tikkun readers. When I met with him in Tel Aviv I found him to be a wise and passionate and sensitive human being, capable to seeing the humanity of the people who criticized him and capable of seeing the faults of his allies in both Israel and Palestine.
Avnery devoted himself entirely to the struggle to achieve peace between the state of Israel and the Palestinian people in their independent state, as well as between Israel and the Arab and Muslim World. He did not get to the end of the road, did not live to see peace come about. We – the activists and supporters of Tikkun magazine, as well as the members of Gush Shalom as well as very many other people who were directly and indirectly influenced by him – will continue his mission and honor his memory.
On the day of the passing of Uri Avnery, the most right wing government in the history of Israel is engaged in negotiations with Hamas. Ironically, the same kind of demagogic accusations which were hurled at Uri Avnery throughout his life are now made against right-wing extremist Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
In the history of the State of Israel, Uri Avnery will be inscribed as a far-seeing visionary who pointed to a way which others failed to see. As Adam Keller, Avnery’s closest ally in Gush Shalom, put it in a statement, some of whose words I’ve copied in this note:
It is the fate and future of the State of Israel to reach peace with its neighbors and to integrate into the geographical and political region in which it is located. As Avnery’s greatest opponents will ultimately have to follow in his footsteps – because the State of Israel has no other real choice.
We in the Tikkun community and in our interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives, salute all those in Gush Shalom, in the remnants of the Israeli peace movement (tens of thousands of whom demonstrated against the new “Nation State Law” which Avnery was on his way to protest), and to Jews and people of all faiths who continue to support those of us who insist that the path to safety and security for the Jewish people and for Israel is a path of generosity, repentance, open-hearted reconciliation, and justice for the Palestinian people and a deep respect for the humanity that continues to emerge in all people on this planet despite the forces of violence and repression that are temporarily in ascendency. It is in maintaining that vision that we can best honor the memory of this amazing and wonderful human being whose passing from our world we grieve today.
Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun.