My friend Nir Baram is angry. Also about himself. Just one day before, there was a knife attack at the sea promenade of Tel Aviv. One man killed. The bubble life of the city continues as if nothing has happened. How can Israelis buy appartments and raise children although they have lost any idea of how the israeli-palestinian conflict can be solved?
"I'm afraid. Now I have a son, eleven months old. And last time when on Dizengoff the attacker disappeared, I felt totally different from any stage in my life. To be honest: Until they found the terrorist, I didn't want to take my son out of the house. I wasn't afraid myself. But I have a baby now. I understand now better this kind of fears. Is it possible to continue on this route? I think it's only going to get worse. Like someone says at the end of my new book: There will be violence and quiet and violence and quiet and then bigger violence and - quiet. This ist the future."
His new book is a milestone in the peace discussion. In Israel a no 1 bestseller, it's the best book I have ever read on the "Land der Verzweiflung" (Hanser) how the german edition is called. We meet in Nir's favourite café, the café in which we met also for the first time in Tel Aviv, eight years ago. The name of the place is Nechama Vechatzi, "consolation and a half". Here you can find your consolation in many forms of alcohol, in full or half pints of beer. But regarding the peace process in the Middle East, there is still not enough alcohol for consolation. Anyway, already eight years ago Nir Baram was on his mission for a one state solution, a democratic state in which Jews and Arabs live side by side. And although - or: because nothing has changed in the meantime, he keeps on fighting for this mission, maybe a bit more angry but definitely as vivid as ever.
"Since 1967 the Israelis interfere in every aspect of palestinian life, in Gaza, in the Westbank. Do you know that every Palestinian in the Westbank can get arrested for twenty or forty days without any serious process? Do you know that 800.000 Palestinians were in jail for one day, two days or twenty years? 800.000! You cannot see how the palestinians can change the reality. It depends on Israel. I understand all these problems but who is the force to change them? Were we generous enogh? Did we really want peace? Did we try to understand the palestinian narrative, the palestinian will?"
Nir has a half of glass of Whiskey and is completely focused. For his new book Nir has travelled for two years through the Westbank and East Jerusalem, talking to people from all sides. And he's more convicted than ever: The two state solution is dead. Israelis and Palestinians already live in a post-two-state-status-quo that can never be changed again. - But listen, Nir, most of the Israelis would say: 'There is no peace with the Palestinians. We gave them Gaza and they keep on sending rockets. They get so much money from the international community but it doesn't go to the poor people. It goes to weapons and the corrupt system.'
"First of all, the security concern of the Israelis is something I respect and understand. I don't think we should overlook the existential feelings of the Israelis. Secondly, the palestinian authority is a corrupt system. I think, most of the Palestinians understand: The palestinian authority don't lead the Palestinians in a very brave or visionary way. And the Hamas is the Hamas. I don't deny reality. I'm saying: Right now with the palestinian authorities and the Netanjahu government there is no reason for any discussion or negotiation. It's totally fruitless. But - you have to ask yourself: In the end of the line who is responsable for changing the situation? Is it the Palestinians or the Israelis? And my answer is: It's totally the Israelis."
Nir wants a complete paradigma change. The israeli left, he says, is completely fixed to 1967. But the wound of all the Palestinians is not 1967, it's 1948. The Nakba. And it's not only too late to withdraw the israeli settlers from the Westbank (where they created already their one state solution with the Palestinians), the desperate wish of the Palestinians is also to be freed from the prison walls they feel around themselves and to be able to return to the places from which their families have been forced away in the Independence War. Is Nir Baram aware that he's attacking the core of the jewish nation? One state and equality for all, that's the only solution for peace, Nir Baram says in his brilliant book: Israel must start to talk about 1948.