Diario Judío México - Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, has issued a public call from his home in Poland for Palestinian fighters to lay down their arms and make peace with Israel.
Edelman, 76, a cardiologist, human rights activist, Solidarity strategist and Bundist Leader published his appeal August 1 as an open letter in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborca, with a French translation appearing days later in Le Monde, the Paris daily. The full text appears in this week’s Forward in English for the first time.
One of the only prominent Jews to remain in Poland throughout the communist era, Edelman emerged as a leading voice for democracy and human rights in recent decades. In recent years he has joined in several international appeals for human rights in Kosovo and elsewhere.
The letter prompted an angry rebuke from the Warsaw office of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which replied in Gazeta Wyborca that Edelman had unfairly saddled the Palestinians with the bulk of the blame for the continuing violence in the Middle East, ignoring Israel’s role as an occupying power.
Shortly afterward, Edelman told the Forward, he was visited at his home in Lodz by the chairman of the Polish-Arab Friendship Society, Omar Faris, who praised him for his initiative and offered to help move it forward.
It was not clear whether Edelman plans any further action beyond publication of his views.
His letter speaks of plans to seek support in his appeal from former president Bill Clinton, former French health minister Bernard Kouchner and German political activist Daniel Cohn-Bendit, but he declined to say what steps, if any, he planned to take.
Edelman sought to have his letter published in English this week after Israeli and Palestinian leaders concluded a fragile, partial cease-fire agreement, which appeared to confirm his view, articulated in the letter, that the success or failure of politicians’ efforts would be determined in large part by the actions of gunmen on the ground.
“I do not make any distinction between terrorist and partisan,” Edelman told the Forward. “The terms are interchangeable. A partisan or terrorist can be either moral or immoral. Bolivian partisans, for example, are involv ed in drug trafficking. Palestinian partisans engage in the intentional killing of women and children. I have no respect for this. It is immoral. And since it is immoral, it is bound to fail. The Palestinians themselves are beginning to realize this.”
‘Neither Can Your War Attain Resolution’
Below is the text of Marek Edelman’s August 1 public letter to the Palestinians.
To all the leaders of the Palestinian military, paramilitary and guerrilla organizations;
To all the soldiers of Palestinian militant groups:
My name is Marek Edelman. I am a former deputy commander of the Jewish Military Organization in Poland, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Insurrection. In the memorable year of the insurrection ? 1943 ? we were fighting for the survival of the Jewish community in Warsaw. We were fighting for mere life, not for territory, nor for a national identity. We were fighting with a hopeless determination, but our weapons were never directed against the defenseless civilian populations, we never killed women and children. In a world devoid of principles and values, despite a constant danger of death, we did remain faithful to these values and moral principles.
We were isolated in our fight, and yet the powerful opposing army was not able to destroy these barely armed boys and girls.
Our fight in Warsaw lasted several weeks. Later we fought in the underground and in the Warsaw insurrection of 1944.
Yet nowhere in the world can a guerrilla force bring conclusive victory, nowhere can it be defeated by heavily weaponed armies. Neither can your war attain resolution. Blood will be spilled in vain and lives will be lost on both sides.
We have never been careless with life. We have never sent our soldiers to certain death. Life is one for eternity. Nobody has the right to mindlessly take it away. It is high time for everybody to understand just that.
Just look around you. Look at Ireland. After 50 years of bloody war, peace has arrived. Formerly deadly enemies have sat down at a common table. Look at Poland, at Lech Walesa and Jasec Kuron. Without a shot being fired, the criminal communist system has been defeated. Both you and the State of Israel have to radically change your attitude. You have to create a better future for your loved ones, for your children. I know from my own experience that the current unfolding of events depends on you, the military leaders. The influence of political and civilian actors is much smaller. Some of you studied at the university in my town ? Lodz ? some of you know me. You are wise and intelligent enough to understand that without peace there is no future for Palestine, and peace can be attained only at the cost of both sides agreeing to some concessions.
I am also asking former president Bill Clinton, former French health minister Bernard Kouchner and German parliamentarian Daniel Cohn-Bendit to support my appeal. I want to remind you of our common stand in the matter of the war in Yugoslavia. Perhaps this war, the war which cannot be won, can likewise be interrupted and replaced by talks leading to an agreement.
Perhaps we should look for a mediator who does not have to be a politician, but rather a person of unquestioned moral authority, who places life with dignity and peace for everybody over any political objective.