Dear Mr. Kehrmann,
Please excuse my tardy reply to your letter, I am currently on tour in Europe and it was only recently drawn to my attention.
I unreservedly condemn the brutal murder of the Fogel family in Itamar. I entirely agree with you that they deserved the same basic human rights as everyone else.
In my view the killing of any civilian anywhere, anytime is wrong.
With reference to your daughter, as a father myself I cannot imagine what it must have been like for you to lose your child. It is in solidarity with all the mothers and fathers and uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters who have lost loved ones in Israel and Palestine, no matter what side of the religious, ideological or political fence, that I enter this debate.
You suggest that I am a victim of misinformation, bias and propaganda, without pointing to any specific flaws in my argument that might lead to such a conclusion. I might level the same accusation at you, but to what purpose?
I try to gain access to as many facts as I can and interpret them as sensibly as I can. We live and learn.
On the subject of misinformation, in your letter you describe The Wall as "running along the pre-1967 border between Israel and the West Bank". Your assertion is wrong, it does not. Large sections of The Wall annex portions of the West Bank, approximately 12%. This is a huge problem as this is land that will need to be part of Palestine in any two State solution.
The continued annexing of land by Israel, seems to be something of a blind spot when you make your argument.
As far as the control Israel exercises over Gaza and whether or not it is draconian, since 2005 Israel has variously banned the import into Gaza of light bulbs, matches, candles, books, musical instruments, cars, crayons, clothing, mattresses, sheets, blankets, shoes, pasta, tea, coffee, chocolate, nuts, refrigerators, cement, wood, tinned fruit, cilantro, the list is endless. In the wake of the deaths of the protesters on the MV Mavi Mamara in 2010, and the subsequent outcry in the international community, the Israeli government lifted their import ban on, among other things, Cilantro. Cilantro?
The ship recently boarded by the IDF and found to be carrying arms was bound for Egypt, though, you may well be right in your assumption that the eventual intended destination was Gaza.
As you rightly say, my call to fellow musicians and artists is to support the non-violent resistance by the Palestinian Civil Society to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza. I do not support violent attacks on Israelis, by Hamas or anyone else, but to expect no violent resistance at all to an occupation that has lasted more than forty years is naïve.
All that being said, I thank you for your letter, and have to ask you this question, would you agree with me that it is our duty as, thoughtful men, to try to advance the cause of peace in general and in particular to encourage a two state solution to the Israel/Palestine problem, so that future generations of fathers and mothers are not required to sacrifice their children on the altars of faith, prejudice and real estate?
If you do agree, I would encourage you to use your best endeavors to persuade your government to start making genuine attempts to negotiate peace, starting perhaps with the thorny issue of settlements. I would direct you to David Remnick's recent article in the New Yorker where he quotes the Justice Minister, Yaakov Shinshon Sha-pira, from a record of the first Israeli Cabinet meeting after the 1967 War: "In a time of decolonization in the whole world can we consider an area in which mainly Arabs live, and we control defense and foreign policy?....Who's going to accept that?" The answer is ultimately, no one.
PS: Since writing, we have news of the deaths of nine Palestinians, including two young children killed by IDF artillery, whilst playing soccer, and also news of a bomb attack in a Jerusalem bus station where a British woman died and a number of injuries were sustained by Israelis. We must continue to strive for a just and lasting peace..