At some point, I should probably get over my fear of public transportation. I spent the last half-hour checking and re-checking the bus schedules from here to the central bus station in Haifa, because my bus to Eilat leaves from there at 11:30 and I can’t miss it. This fear stems from some absurd constant internal struggle between my American-ness, needing things to be on time and structured and predictable, with wanting to live and thrive in the carefree, time-free Middle East.
When I first arrived here, I was asked by a stranger what I was doing here. I told him I worked for a human rights organization. “I hope you work for us, not them, “ he said.
While then I had not realized that “human rights” could be applied to one human or another, this sentiment has come out in many conversations about what I do and why with acquaintances, family, and close friends here, to varying degrees. As I was repeatedly pushed to talk about the “side” I was on, I couldn’t help but feel doubtful about this choice I was apparently making. Could it be true that, as the daughter of Israelis who left, I may just be missing or ignoring something huge and thus should be brushed off as “naïve?”
I’ve had several conversations with Israelis recently during which I was asked, “You know there are two sides to this, right?” Of course I know there’s more than one side; I even know that there are more than two sides. This isn’t
a two-dimensional plane, it’s a freaking amoeba. I may not be sure of a lot of things, but I’m sure of that. And because it’s complicated, speaking about it as if there are two sides – as if it’s black and white – is both inaccurate and dangerous.
An editorial in Ha’aretz addresses the question of Zionism and its discourse: its rapid decline, recent upswing, and how the idea has been co-opted by the religious right. “Various sections of the population are fighting over the issue of who Zionism belongs to and trying to save it from the heavy-handed extreme right.” Zionism – what it means and how it is implemented and how it applies to reality – affects issues of all shapes and size: borders, education, the economy, the very nature of the state of Israel.
I came across this amazing piece in my daily news-and-opinion-reading.
I think I can say, with no reservation, that I agree with everything she says. I feel your pain, honey.
“But it is not easy for Jewish dissenters to speak out. They are made outcasts within the Jewish communities. They are not supported even by some progressive Jews, who take a hard line position in support of the Israeli government or are too intimidated to speak out.”
Imagine you read this sentence in the newspaper:
“Spanish Army kills 3 Basque near French border”
or this one:
“Georgian Army kills 3 separatists near South Ossetian border”
or this one:
“US Army kills 3 Navajo near border of Navajo Nation”
What is your reaction?