JERUSALEM -- The following is excerpted from remarks delivered last night at a Peace Now rally in Tel Aviv. Amos Oz is an Israeli novelist whose most recent book is a nonfiction work, "The Slopes of Lebanon."
Let us state loud and clear: the massacre of seven Arab workers in Rishon last Sunday was not committed by the people of Israel. Moreover, it is utterly wrong to put the blame or the responsibility for it on our caretaker government, this miserable failure of a government. One should reject unequivocally the wicked, demagogical attempt to blame the whole of Israel or the disastrous government or even the Israeli hawks for the act of the mad-dog murderer from Rishon. This attempt is nothing but a dangerous, destructive incitement.
The government and the right wing bear the historical responsibility for the prolongation of the cycle of violence and for the postponement of a peace process, a process that can be started now under fair, reasonable and promising terms.
But they are not responsible for this particular crime.
We have assembled here tonight, first and foremost, to express our deep feelings of sadness, horror and anger, and our condolences to the bereaved families as well as our wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured. I believe that the entire people of Israel, Jews and Arabs, doves and hawks, are united in these feelings. Except, perhaps, the lunatic fringes on both sides -- those lunatic fringes for whom each drop of blood is useful fuel for the fire of hatred and fanaticism.
We have also assembled here tonight to call upon each and every individual in this country: no vengeance; not an "eye for an eye." Haven't we all learned the hard way that hatred begets hatred, madness begets madness, massacre begets massacre? Those who now scream "death to the Jews" are no better than those who scream "death to the Arabs." Each Arab racist is a twin brother to every Jewish racist.
But above all, we have gathered here tonight to vow that we shall not rest, we shall not be silent, and we shall not give in until Israel switches onto the road that has been opened before us at long last, after 70 years of siege: the road of negotiation, of compromise and of peace.
The tragic status quo between ourselves and the Palestinians, as it existed from 1967 to 1988, was shattered by the PLO's implied recognition of Israel. Everybody knows this; even those who stubbornly refuse to know it still know it in their heart of hearts. From this shattered status quo we may not retreat back to the Arab effort to exterminate Israel, to the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. All of us must attempt to break through toward the one and only solution, the unvoidable solution to the cycle of violence between ourselves and the Palestinians: recognition for recognition, sovereignty for sovereignty, security for security, good neighborliness for good neighborliness.
From this place, we call tonight upon the Arab citizens of Israel and, indeed, upon the future citizens of the independent state of Palestine: despite all the pain and the fury in your hearts, think -- for God's sake -- of the future, not of the past, of the sacredness of life, not of death rites. Yes: restraint.
For dozens of years now, we have been calling upon our own people to exercise restraint, to put the vision of the future above the horrors of the past. We did so after each and every massacre of Jews by Arabs, from Hebron in 1929 to Munich in 1972 to Ras-Burka in 1987. Even amidst the emotional fires which fanatics on both sides are now attempting to fan, we are obliged -- all of us, Jews and Arabs -- to remember well: the day will come, and not in the distant future, when both our peoples shall live as equal nations, proud and free, side by side in this beloved homeland. The flag you have been trying in vain to trample underfoot and the flag we have been trying to pull down from every rooftop in the West Bank and in Gaza -- both will soon wave side by side in the same breeze.
But it's not for me to conduct, here and now, Arab soul-searching. Let me say tonight a few words of Jewish soul-searching.
First and foremost: there is no meaning, no validity, no root in our own sources to the term "Jewish blood." Nowhere in the entire written Jewish heritage can we find even a single reference to this terrible expression. There is no "Jewish blood," and there is no "Arab blood." There is only "innocent blood," "the blood of innocents." And there is: "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." And indeed, there is also: "Your hands are full of blood."
Two weeks ago, Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neriah uttered the following horrendous words, and I quote: "This is not the time to think, but the time to shoot left and right."
I hope and believe that Rabbi Neriah had not anticipated in this monstrous expression the mad massacre in Rishon, which occurred a few days later. Nevertheless, under no circumstances, in no context whatsoever, can there be any excuse or justification for such a savage expression. Not even during the worst battles, not even during Israel's most bitter wars, had anyone ever dared to preach that thinking ought to cease and be replaced by indiscriminate shooting "left and right." Never, in any situation, should any human being cease to think. Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea for that particular rabbi to start thinking, for a change; to ask if, out of their passion to expand the boundaries of the country, he and his ilk have not long ago broken all moral boundaries. Perhaps Rabbi Neriah and his ilk may have to hasten now to their synagogues to beg pardon and forgiveness.
The painful shame that makes us lower our eyes today is not for the one villain who emptied his stolen weapons and butchered innocent people in a spot which even decent people have accustomed themselves to call, without choking, "the slave market of Rishon." No. The shame is for the widespread indifference which is gnawing at us and debilitating us and eating away at our humanity. The shame is for the leniency of punishment given by our courts of justice to murderers. The shame is for the reckless pardons that are sometimes granted here to murderers. The shame is for some abominable expressions which forfeit the blood of anyone who stands in someone's way or just happens to be crossing someone's path. The shame is for the fact that in the state of Israel, the homeland of an oppressed and humiliated people, the murderer could simply "arrest" human beings to his heart's content, and line them up to his heart's content, and collect their identity cards to his heart's content, and no stone hath cried out of the wall. All this even before he butchered them to his heart's content.
The poet Natan Alterman writes in "The Plagues of Egypt": "My son, my firstborn son, the water hath turned blood -- for blood was spilled in town, and the town did not tremble."
For this have kingdoms collapsed, for this have nations disintegrated: for blood was spilled in the town, and the town did not tremble.
I repeat: neither the people of Israel nor its nasty government, nor even the hawks are guilty of the spilling of the innocent blood last Sunday morning. It could have happened just as well under a good, peace-seeking government. But all of us -- indeed some more than others -- all of us are part of the fact that "blood was spilled in town, and the town did not tremble."
It is now the duty of us all to broaden, deepen and intensify the struggle for peace, until the government of Israel finally resolves to accept, at long last, its own peace initiative and gets down right away to the business of negotiating peace with any enemy who is willing to negotiate peace with us.
Moreover, it is our duty to change more and more hearts. If each of the demonstrators gathered here tonight succeeds in winning over just one single member of the peace-fearing camp in Israel and have him or her join the ranks of those who have the courage to move toward a fair compromise with the Arabs -- this will be sufficient to open the gates of peace.
And only then will the twin monsters, fanaticism and indifference, be driven away from the gates of our town. And the dawn of a new day could at long last shine on all of us.