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STAY HUMAN - Akiva Orr interview

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Concern for other human beings... If you are not concerned about other human beings - you are not human. Any human being! Not family or wife... Blacks in Africa, the oppressed. I divide the world... You know when I was in London... I lived 26 years in London. When I was in London I used to demonstrate outside the Israeli embassy... ...with friends, other Israelis, against what the Israelis were doing to the Palestinians. And some English Jews used to come and say "Why are you with the Arabs?" "Why are you not with us?" And I used to say: "You divide the world into Jews and non-Jews, I divide the world into oppressed and oppressors. I am always with the oppressed against the oppressors". I don't care who the oppressor is. If the oppressor's Israeli I am against Israelis. If the oppressor is Jewish, I will be against. Not because he is Jewish - because he is an oppressor. If I see a man oppressing a woman, I will be against him not because he's a man, because he's an oppressor If I see the woman oppressing a child, I will be against the woman not because she's a woman because she's oppressing the child. And if I see an Israeli oppressing a Palestinian, I will be against him not because he's an Israeli because he's an oppressor. I am against oppression. And I will always fight oppressors even if they are Jews or Israelis. "You", I said to the... "You will not. You will support oppressors if they are Jews. I won't." It's a difference dividing the world. I divide oppressed-oppressor, you divide Jews-non Jews. That's it. And they used to go away, they never answered. Never answered. And to be human it means to recognize the equality of all human beings, all... Men, women, black, white, yellow... and to be concerned about what happens to them. This is what I mean to be human. It's elementary. You know, it's a difficult question, I don't have an easy answer... Basically, most people are not bad people, even the oppressors. They are not bad people, they obey. They are conditioned to obey. And what you have to make people understand, or not understand - behave... that they will become critical of what they're doing. And most people right now are not critical. They're being told: "Do this!" and they do this. And I say no. You have to teach the people or to show them that it is possible to ask questions, you have the right to ask questions... ...and if you feel that something is wrong - you don't do it. Even if it is an order. There are orders which you do not obey! It will take time... ...but I think the situation will change, I think the situation will change. You know, many times, soldiers are behaving very badly... civilians. Israeli soldiers say... but it is not because he is sadistic, it is because he doesn't want to be there. And he basically feels "Because of you I have to do this fucking job!" You see what I mean? So you have to tell him: "Listen, you don't have to do this fucking job". Yes, he is there and you are here but you don't have to do the job. But sometimes... many of the Israelis are afraid of the Palestinians, do you know why? Not because of what the Palestinians do. But because the Israeli says to himself: "If I were in his situation, I would not be a very good boy. I would behave very badly." So sometimes it's the feeling of guilt... ...which makes you fear the other side. Because you say: "If I was in his situation, I would have reacted much more violently." So you see, most people are not sadistic. But they find themselves in a situation where they are like in a prison... ...and they lack the mental courage to break out of the prison. You have to behave in a way... ...that will show people it is possible to break out of this mental prison. It is possible. Difficult... Maybe your friends will not talk to you. Maybe your family will not talk to you. If you are in Gaza like he (Vittorio Arrigoni, Ed.) describes, and somebody says "Shoot this man!" and you say "No, I will not shoot." Maybe your friends will not talk to you, maybe your parents will not talk to you... But... have to do it. If you want to remain human - you have to do it. And slowly... the number of people who are like this is growing. It's small, but is growing. Because it's a way of staying human. Look, you have to say what you feel is necessary to say, even if the people don't listen. I once came to a school in 1960. In Jerusalem, a high school named Gymnasium. And I spoke to the children and I said: "The conflict in Palestine is not between Israel and Egypt, the conflict is between Zionist colonization... ...and the Palestinian peasants, it's a local conflict." The children didn't say anything. 10 years later I was in London... ...and i get a telephone call, somebody says to me in Hebrew: "Aki, you remember me? I was in that class in Jerusalem, the Gymnasium, when you said that the conflict is between the Israelis and the Palestinians." I said to him: "Ah, I remember. Yes. And what did you think then?" He said: "I didn't understand anything." But in 1967 he was a cameraman for the general who was in Nablus, the Israeli general who conquered Nablus. And he said: "We went with the cameras behind the general." The general was in a tank or in a jeep and we went with the film and shot. And suddenly I looked and saw all the people in the houses" and Nablus is a big town, "and I said who are these people?" And then he said: "I remembered! Aki said Palestinians. Here, these are the Palestinians"... ...and he completely changed his views, for something which he heard 10 years before... ...and he didn't pay attention to, he didn't understand also. It didn't fit into the context but it remained somewhere. And then suddenly... worked. It worked... But it takes time and patience, and you have to remember that even the chauvinist and the nationalist... ...they are not bad people, they are not negative, they have a certain conception... ...of egoism or nationalism etc. and you have to break through it. It's possible, it goes slowly but it's possible. It will change. I am positive 100%. Look, when I was in England in 1967... ...I was a student. Do you know what was my field? Cosmology. I studied cosmology. I knew many Palestinians and they said: "Aki," in 1967, "everybody is for supporting Israel!" In 1967 the world supported Israel. I said: "Wait". And today? Everybody is criticising Israel. Slowly, it takes 50 years, but after 50 years... ...people saw the picture of what was going on. That the oppressed are the Palestinians, not the Israelis. But it took 50 years! And many killed. So you have to have a long term vision... ...not to think what will happen tomorrow or the day after. Maybe you have to have a vision of 10 years, 20 years... Look at South Africa! For many years we thought the whites will always be in power, but no. I knew people who were friends of Mandela and... ...they were fighting against racism in South Africa... ...and it looked as if it was a lost case in 1980. And yet, they won! They won. And in Israel it will be the same thing. Look the Israelis don't really hate the Arabs, they are a bit afraid because they know what they do is wrong. But if there will be some kind of rapprochement, they will like this in 5 years. And then the whole country will be a traffic jam, because everything will be full of cars....

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes and 30 seconds
Country: Israel
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Views: 379
Posted by: stayhuman on May 9, 2013

Akiva Orr (Berlin, Germany, 1931 – Moshav Tnuvot, Israel, 2013) - Human rights activist, politician and writer

An extra content for
STAY HUMAN - The Reading Movie
A film by Fulvio Renzi - Directed by Luca Incorvaia - Written by Vittorio Arrigoni

‘Stay Human – The Reading Movie’ features the reading of the book 'Gaza - Restiamo Umani' (‘Gaza - Stay Human’) in its entirety. Written by Vittorio Arrigoni (1975 - 2011) this daily journal documents the massacre that occurred during the military attack known as ‘Operation Cast Lead’. Undertaken by the Israeli government against the Gaza strip civilians between the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, the attack resulted in over 1200 civilian casualties and 400 murdered children.

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