It was in the beginning of the eighties. We were cooperating with the Communist Party and its fronts in “The Committee for Solidarity with Bir Zeit” and “The Committee Against the War in Lebanon”. Usually we would agree on a common platform between their two-state position and our conviction in ODS. But, at that specific occasion, they decided to make a leaflet calling explicitly for “two states for two peoples” – so I told them I wouldn’t take part in its distribution.
The leaflet had to be distributed at “Beit Ha-Kranot” in the middle of “Herzl St.” – not exactly “Tahrir Square”, but at the time it was regarded the place most likely to see some spontaneous gathering in the middle of sleepy Haifa.
I don’t remember what drove me to Beit Ha-Kranot at the designated time, maybe I just passed by or I felt uneasy to leave the comrades alone…
As I arrived there, I saw that only one comrade was leafleting. He was almost fifty (at the time I thought it was an old age), a respected professor from the Technion. I knew him as a very calm and peace loving person.
He was surrounded by a small crowd that clearly didn’t like the message in the leaflets. People shouted at him. Some young guys were teasing him, closing on him and tried to prevent him from distributing the leaflets.
I pushed my way into the crowd, trying to use my supposed neutrality to defend him. The crowd was becoming ever angrier and the scene could become really violent at any moment.
To say the truth, I was relieved when the cops came. Maybe some of the cops recognized me, or maybe my neutrality was not so convincing, as they arrested me also.
As we climbed into the police van, I sat near the professor. He was clearly stressed, but now he stretched his body, as much as you can do inside a police car, and smiled at me:
– I was so afraid…
Well, I thought I understood him very well. But he continued:
… I was afraid that I would beat them!
I could not hide my astonishment.
He told me that while he was a student in the US he made a living as a professional boxer. Later he became a pacifist, avoiding any violence. He was satisfied that he endured this experience without beating his attackers.
I told him that if I knew that the only danger was that he might have beaten those right wing racists, I wouldn’t bother to intervene.
I hope I was wrong.