The General’s Son
Remarks to a Salon of the Committee for the Republic with Miko Peled
Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (USFS, Ret.)
Senior Fellow, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University
Washington, D.C., September 17, 2018
I’m Chas Freeman. I chair the loose, transpartisan coalition known as the Committee for the Republic. I want to welcome our members – especially the contributors who sponsor these salons and make it possible for us to air important issues that would otherwise go publicly unaddressed.
One such subject is the state of affairs in the lands governed by Israel. This is a matter of rising concern to people of conscience in America and Europe. What Israel is doing to itself and the Palestinians it terrorizes and tyrannizes has the strong support of the United States and a significant segment of the American Jewish community. This adversely affects the reputations of both. It has a strong bearing on prospects for a secure future for both the United States and the world’s Jews as well as for Palestinians. No matter.
As our speaker tonight quotes the distinguished journalist, Charlie Glass, as discovering: “you cannot write even simple facts about what Israel was doing if your editors cannot accept that Israel would do such things.” Such censorship aside, to discuss Israel and its policies honestly subjects one to vicious attacks from self-appointed thought police, ostracism by former friends, and a ban on entering Israel and Israeli-ruled Palestine. To our shame, few Americans are willing to stick our necks out on behalf of a future for Israelis and Palestinians free of self-destructive racism and the violence it fuels.
But some brave Israelis are. One personal hero of mine and, no doubt, many others here tonight was the late Uri Avnery. Israeli President Rivlin eulogized him as a contrarian with unorthodox views. But that belittles him. Uri Avnery was a great Israeli patriot whose ceaseless advocacy of justice and self-determination for all in the Holy Land kept hope for both Israel and peace alive. He was a friend and collaborator with another brave Israeli, General Matti Peled, a man of unflinching honesty who was the father of our speaker tonight, Miko Peled. Of course, being Israelis, they didn’t agree with each other, but they shared a determination to correct the ills that prevent Israel from being the strong and free society they each believed in.
As a third generation Israeli, Miko Peled feels an intense obligation to hold his government accountable to the high moral standards of Judaism. To bring lasting peace to Palestine, he advocates the rule of law. To compel an end to the tyranny of Israeli Jews over Palestinian Arabs, he backs the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and calls forthrightly for the creation of a single democracy with equal rights for all in historic Palestine, regardless of race, religion, or national origin
Those of you who have read Miko’s first book, “The General’s Son,” will know him as someone who was raised to see the truth and stand up for it. When Miko’s sister died in a terrorist attack, he sought to understand why this had happened before considering vengeance. The journey he began then is dramatic, so much so that his book is now under option to become a film. A movie production company is now lining up actors and producers. Speak to Helena Cobban, Miko Peled’s (and my) publisher about that if you are interested.
Those of you who have not yet read “The General’s Son” or Miko’s latest book, “Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five,” have moving experiences ahead of you. So does this gathering tonight. If Demosthenes were still wandering the world in search of an honest man, he would want to be here tonight to hear Miko Peled speak, and maybe to learn the spiritual side of karate while he was at it.
Please welcome Miko Peled to the podium.