We were staggered to learn of the sudden death of our friend Tanya Reinhart, yesterday in New York (she had a stroke). Words fail us because we are so stricken by the loss of our friend, of this great lady, of this indefatigable militant against the policy of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians, of this warm woman who never stopped denouncing injustice and lies, through her articles, her books, and her actions.
Ii is particularly difficult for us to speak of Tanya in the past tense. Tanya, who gave us so much pleasure when she came to the opening of the Résistances book-shop in Paris on 7th December last, when she gave an extraordinary address with her companion, the great poet Aharon Shabtai. Tanya, who took part in all the battles against the colonisation and the occupation of Palestine, and who was one of the most lucid analysts of the criminal policy of her government.
Tanya Reinhart could have been content to be a brilliant linguist and to perfect her university career in Israel. But she made the choice of denouncing and resisting pressures. In her weekly column in the Israeli daily Yediot Ahoronot, as in her books, "Destroy Palestine" and "Sharon’s heritage", she systematically painted a picture which made no concession to the terrible situation created by the rulers of her country, with a rare faculty for anticipating the future.
"Destroy Palestine" (in French "Détruire la Palestine" published by the Editions La Fabrique) is a masterly description of all the stratagems always used by the Israeli rulers to avoid engagement in a genuine peace process, and to make believe that this was the sole fault of the Palestinians. Tanya Reinhart especially examined in detail the 7 years during which the "Olso agreement" lasted and showed the contrast between what was presented as being the "generous offer" of Ehud Barak, and its reality. This was to show how the vice was being closed around the Palestinians during the same period (between 1993 and 2000), and the totally inacceptable "proposals" put forward by the Israelis, since they allowed for no viable Palestinian state which would instead find itself in pockets, without territorial continuity, and deprived of East Jerusalem.
More recently, Tanya Reinhart was the first to denounce the "red herring" of the announcement by Sharon of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, in which she never believed. "Behind the smokescreen of the ’withdrawal’ from Gaza can be seen the transfer of the Palestinians", she wrote, while our rulers praised the "great man of peace".
Tanya was also one of the rare Israeli opposition personalities to support the boycott of her country’s institutions, especially the Universities. "We shall stop having to worry about the boycott when we respect international law", she replied not only to the Israeli establishment, but also to that timid, supposedly pacifist, Israeli "left-wing" which accepted the impunity from which the state of Israel and all its institutions benefitted. Tanya Reinhart did not hesitate to give her support to the Paris 6 University, when its Administrative Council, in 2003, voted to surpend its special relations with Israeli Universities.
During her last lecture in France, on 7th December last at the Résistances book-shop, she violently denounced the embargo imposed on the Palestinian people, explaining that the European countries, including France in which we live, had no right to cut off food supplies from the Palestinians. "It was not an act of generosity which Europe could either carry on or not", she explained. "It was a choice which had been made to take on the obligations imposed by international law on the Israeli occupier to see to the well-being of the occupied populations. Europe chose not to oblige Israel to respect its obligations, and preferred to pay money to the Palestinians. When it put an end to this, it breached international law".
Tired out, Tanya "apologised" for not having the strength to remain in Israel where, she let it be known, physical repression against genuine opponents had become more and more brutal. She had therefore decided to go to teach in the United States and had just settled in New York.
This marvellous woman, whom we had the joy of welcoming to several of our meetings and concerts, is going to be terribly badly missed by us. We express all our sadness and our sympathy to her companion, Aharon Shabaï, a man with a great heart and talent.
We’ll organize an evening in her honour in Paris, at the Bookshop "Librairie Résistances" on the 27th of March, from 7 pm.
-English text translated by Robert Thompson (CAPJPO-EuroPalestine)