Anyone who is still under the impression that settlements exist outside the support system of the Israeli government should alleviate themselves of that misconception as soon as possible.
According to Ha’aretz, the IDF is training settlers in order to prepare them to deal with what they see as the inevitable “incidents” following the Palestinian Statehood vote at the UN in September. The IDF suspects September demonstrations will include “mass disorder,” “marches,” or even “more extreme cases like shooting from within the demonstrations or even terrorist incidents.” Continue reading →
The recently-passed Israeli anti-boycott bill has been getting an unprecedented amount of press (I wonder, is it because it targets Jewish as well as non-Jewish citizens of Israel?). I thought it seemed prudent to highlight the many others bills and laws proposed by Knesset members over the last year and a half or so, simply because there is a sense, generally, that these laws are only just now starting to be written, which is simply untrue. The Anti-Boycott Law is only the most recent in a long, long legacy of this type of legislation. I didn’t bother to deal with executive orders or anything else because I needed a manageable amount of data.
I think the best part of this is: “As we say in Jewish…” .. “I think it’s bad when there are like sects of Judaism that are like against Israel” … “American Indians! Looking real nice in their clothes” …
After speaking at the conference, I got heckled for the first time in my life by a Palestinian refugee from Nablus who left at the age of 20 over 30 years ago. “Why do Jews and the US and Israel remember the Holocaust and not the Nakba?!” he said. “If you’re American and Israeli, tell me why America and Israel do the horrible things they do?!” I avoided his questions-I’m not the government, I told him, there’s a difference between the government and the people. Continue reading →
I was the last one to notice that he wasn’t speaking to me. We- my friend Laura, him and myself were standing on at the door to a club. I was standing in front of him and asked him something very simple-do you want to leave? Do you want to get dinner? I don’t remember. And he answered, but looking at Laura. I asked my follow up question. He looked at Laura, and answered. It was like a bad tennis ball game of words-I’d shoot the sentence at him and instead of lobbing it back at me, it would bounce and roll
In a nutshell, removed from the context of Israel/Palestine: it is our duty to do anything and everything we can, and accept the consequences not because they are deserved but because it is the price we must pay and an integral part of our action. This is our responsibility and our privilege; our ultimate challenge.
Yonatan Pollak, protesting in Nabi Saleh (Photo: Audrey Farber)
And from the other side, the rhetoric that I am working against: “The relations between the Jews and the Jewish State, on the one side, and the Palestinians in Israel, on the other side, symbolize the relations between Jews and Palestinians in general, as well as the relations between the Jews and the Arab surroundings in which they live.”
This comes from an article I am editing for work, not yet published. But its terminology is so standard, so a part of everyday speech, that even thought I can’t rewrite it in the words I want to, I can write about it. In Arabic, here, while people do say Israelis when they are talking about “the enemy,” they also say Jews. This conflation bothers me, not least because it is technically inaccurate but also because it ascribes a certain sentiment and tendency of thought, idea, and action to an entire group of people, spread across the globe. It demonstrates so clearly how Zionist (in the ethno-national sense) discourse has infiltrated not only Israeli but also Palestinian and international rhetoric.
As I’ve looked over our postings the last few months I’ve realized that some context maybe needed to understand where our criticism and cynicism comes from. All of us work at organizations that are fighting to improve the condition inside the country for Palestinian citizens of Israel, defend human rights in general and promote a democracy that provides protection for its minority and multiple ethnic groups. As a result, our job is to read, write, react and act against what we and our organizations view as inequities and injustices. For those of us who are Jews, and the other authors can feel free to disagree with me, part of this experience includes questioning our relationship to a state that propounds to represent and defend the Jewish people. In addition, the internal situation seems to only be getting worse, leading to a growing feeling of disillusionment and recognition of the limitations of the system we are trying to work within.
Here is some background information to give people who are not in Israel an idea of the reality on the ground, and the issues we have been working on. Palestinian citizens of Israel make up 19% of the population. Many are internal refugees whose villages were demolished in 1948. They face discrimination on multiple fronts including at the state level through legislation and unequal budget allocations. Palestinian villages receive inadequate funding leading to poor public education, transportation and healthcare. Arab schools face a severe shortage of adequate classrooms and teaching facilities. The legal system does an inadequate job of protecting Palestinian victims of violence and a very efficient job of persecuting Palestinian defendants. Continue reading →
In Israel people on all sides of the political spectrum remind me frequently that I am not “Israeli.” But in Spain, my first stop out of the Holy Land, right off the bat, my friend Laura introduces me to her friend, “This is Shiri, she’s from Israel…” I smiled and corrected her, “I’m not really Israeli, we met there.” This exchange happened again and again that night and the following day, as I met one friend after another. Finally, Laura looked at me, “Shiri, you are American. But you are Israeli.”
My initial bristling at being identified as Israeli pinpoints the actors at play within my own personal arena of identity politics. While I have been going to Israel my whole life, it was only this year that the receptionist at the Haifa Ministry of the Interior refused to stamp my traveler’s visa, kindly reminded me that I have been a citizen since leaving my mother’s womb, and set the appointment for me to get a light blue ID card. Now, I can vote, I have a bank account, a phone plan, an Israeli passport, am categorized as a toshevet choseret-returning citizen, and I suspect that the officials in the Ministry of the Interior believe I am staying forever.
But it’s taken me a while to internalize that my ID card is not a toy from a playset and I’m not playing pretend. Continue reading →