Last week, I met with my second cousin and her new husband. She is 25, two years older then me, small, thin, with straightened black hair that lands neatly at her shoulders. She wore a skirt to her knees, and a tight purple and black button up top, layered over a 3/4 sleeve black T-shirt that hits directly above her elbow. Her husband is also short, with buzzed blond hair and a small yarmulke pinned neatly on his head. We met in the Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv, an hour away from Haifa, and 25 minutes from her settlement in the West Bank, one of those that currently presents a significant challenge to achieving peace in the region.
Does it make me a bad person that I refuse to partake in the Ahava boycott, or the Sabra and Tribe boycott? Is it selfish, because Ahava is my favorite lotion and Sabra and Tribe are the best hummus brands to be found in the States? Am I a bad progressive liberal because overall I do not support BDS? Because I think sanctions don’t work and academic boycotts only serve to stifle intellectual debate?
A few months ago, I wrote an op-ed in the Portland Press Herald (my local newspaper, usually only good for easy crossword puzzles and bad comics) about the “peace” talks between Netanyahu and Abbas. It was mostly cynical, and expressed my opinion that this round would prove futile because of the relative powerlessness of the leaders involved. We see that this has proved true. However, I did explicitly and clearly express my hope for Israel to embrace democracy and to see peace come – in whatever form – as soon as possible.
“See here, under nationality, it says: ********,” 18 year-old Ezat tells the camera, holding up his Israeli ID card. He’s a Druze boy from the Golan Heights, where the majority of Druze chose not to accept Israeli citizenship in the late 1970s.
ith Gaza and the West Bank hogging most of the headlines these days, it is easy to forget about the Golan Heights. The situation of the Golan is different in that the territory was captured from Syria and the majority of its inhabitants don’t identify as Palestinians, but the people there deal with similar questions of homeland, identity,
and civil rights. Some of my fellow bloggers and I saw the documentary film Shout at the Haifa film festival a few weeks ago and it got us thinking about the Golan and the lives of the Arab Druze living there.
Early Friday morning I took a train to Tel Aviv which would be connecting point to Beer Sheva, the largest city in southern Israel (referred to as the Negev in Hebrew and the Naqab in Arabic). Sitting on the train and observing the people around me I was mostly struck by how many young soldiers were nonchalantly walking around in their green uniforms and frightening machine guns. I have grown accustomed to the uniforms but the guns are only familiar to me from internet videos where I see them being used against Palestinians. I have not grown accustomed to their sight and I hope I never do. Every time I see one I wonder how it was used in the past and what it may be used on in the future – gives me shivers every time I think about it.
Once I arrived in Tel Aviv I jumped on the first sherut to Beer Sheva where my good friend from work is living with her husband. She mostly works in the Naqab office where Adalah”s work centers around the Bedouin populations and the plethora of problems affecting them.
This short documentary is a brief glimpse into Breaking the Silence, an NGO made up of ex-Israeli combatants who are revealing their experiences in the territories through books, films, recordings and tours in the Hebron hills.
The film is also about the extent to which fear prevents Israelis from looking at their history in the eye, so to speak, whether it’s a history beginning in 1948,or in the last year, acknowledging it, and then speaking about it from a critical and truthful lens.
As they say in the movie this issue of silence is not solely Israeli by any means. To illustrate the universality of this through a brief anecdote: I recently met a man from Argentina, and while discussing my time in Buenos Aires , the issue of racism against indigenous peoples came up. Two minutes after denying it, he turned to me and said, “No, it exists. It happens. It is just very painful to admit.” It is human nature to be ashamed of inhumane acts and in order to maintain the illusion of decency, people will diligently dehumanize the one they hurt, deny the past and attempt to erase painful memories.
Lieberman’s proposed loyalty oath inches closer and closer to becoming official and with it, the government here further alienates anyone sympathizing further left than fascism.
Though it’s been in the works and in the news for quite a while, yet another obstacle fell to the wayside and we are that much closer to living in a complete theocracy…or worse. “Ministers approved a draft of the proposed oath, which would require anyone taking Israeli citizenship to swear allegiance to Israel as a ‘Jewish and democratic state’.” Thus was rejected Netanyahu’s proposed revised wording: “the nation state of the Jewish people which grants full equality to all of its citizens”.