31/12/1990

Acceptance speech – Felicia Langer

Because we Jews know what it is to suffer, we must not oppress others.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to express my profound gratitude to the Jury of the Right Livelihood Award for granting me the Award this year and to everybody who contributed to it.

The noble, pioneer idea to introduce Right Livelihood Award, referred to by the public as an “Alternative Nobel Prize”, for vision and work contributing to making life more whole healing our planet and uplifting humanity is a ray of hope and trust in the spirit of man.

My family, my friends and all the loved ones enabled me to proceed in the way, from 1967 on, defending the defenseless and building bridges between our two peoples, until this very day here, in Stockholm.

I am carrying in me the dead of my family, victims of fascism and Nazism, who had never a grave and the victims of tyranny and oppression of all continents.

I am carrying in me the pain and the sorrow of the Palestinians, oppressed upon the orders of the government of my homeland. This government, which like its predecessors betrayed our dead.

I am proud of those thousands of our sons and daughters who refuse to oppress, who prefer prison cells instead of serving in the army in the occupied territories, who demonstrate and solidarize with the oppressed. They are the conscience of Israel, faithful to the bright traditions of the Jewish people, not ready to betray our dead.

Today is an extremely meaningful date, the third anniversary of the Palestinian uprising, the Intifada, which political message was and remained: no to the occupation, yes to independence, to peace with Israel, through establishing a Palestinian State in the occupied territories, alongside Israel, a message officially introduced in Algier, on the 15th of November 1988 by the P.L.O.

So clear, so logical, so legitimate, according to the right of self-determination of peoples, which we have claimed and have executed. Millions through over the world are supporting this message of peace, among them many thousands of Israelis.

But our consecutive governments, and in particular the last one, leading us to catastrophe, is determined to continue the belligerent occupation, contrary to the Law of Nations, and to break the Intifada, mercilessly. They did not succeed, because the Intifada is circulating like blood in the Palestinian flesh, but they are not sparing that flesh. Their “achievements” are 800 dead Palestinians, tens of thousands of wounded, among them, hundreds of women and children, legions of disabled without hope of rehabilitation in the framework of the neglected and oppressed Palestinian health system, thousands of detainees, hundreds of demolished houses, thousands of uprooted trees; an abyss of hatred and cruelty.

Among the victims were those shot to death, as an almost daily occurrence, those who were beaten to death by soldiers, those so called “wanted” who were executed, and others, suffocated by gas; victims of smaller or bigger massacres.

I have documented the death of many of them in my files, succeeded even to receive a permit to reopen some graves for a second autopsy, in my futile attempts to do justice by punishing the killers. But the justice of the occupier was reduced to nothing more than to an additional instrument of whitewashing the oppression, another token of our moral decay, another proof of losing our soul.

I understand, that the granting me the Award is an omen, that the Palestinian tragedy, which is now our tragedy too, is regarded as one of the most important topics on the international agenda, that it is unbearable to ignore the human suffering of a whole people, denied basic human rights in the last decade of our century, a whole nation without any protection. Blood is spilled daily all over the occupied territories and in Israel too, sometimes of innocent Israelis, who are falling victims of Palestinians’ revenge for the government’s atrocities; a vicious circle of violence, turning us into a nation of killers and killed, a new Sparta of the Middle East, where the fathers are burying their sons.

Today, the one of the most meaningful and solemn days of my life I would like to repeat the pledge I made in 1967, on the site of the three villages in the Latrun area, Yalu, Beit Nouba and Amouas, which were destroyed by the Israeli army in 1967, without any military necessity; their inhabitants were expelled, without to allow them to take with them their belongings. Standing at the site, where I have for the first time understood the meaning of the expression “not a stone remains”, I took an oath to defend relentlessly the rights of the oppressed Palestinians. I have fully understood already then that the wrongdoers against the other people are the enemies of our people too.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart, that by granting me the Award you have helped me tremendously to go on in fulfilling my oath.




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