Tag Archives: conflict

Open Letter to the Palestinians

27 Mar

Dear Palestinians,

please cut it out? And I don’t mean the beating heart of another zionist. I understand your anger, I agree you are right to be angry, and the extent that I am capable of, even share it. What the Israeli government – my government – has been doing to you since the foundation of the state, is a disgrace and an atrocity, from the razing of houses to the shooting of children.

But for fuck’s sake. You will never free Palestine or end the occupation by stabbing, car-ramming, shooting, bombing, or otherwise attacking Israelis. Israel will always be stronger; you will never have our military power. And I understand that beyond logical motivations, there is the urge to continue a historical resistance, though futile, just to demonstrate your defiance and hatred of the situation. That, too, I understand. Only dead fish swim with the current.

But for fuck’s sake. You are helping the zionist agenda. Yes, you are helping the Israeli government oppress, rob, and kill you. Every time you attack an Israeli, my government says, “Look world, this is why we have to oppress them! This is why we have to take and control their land! This is why we bulldoze their homes! This is why we have to shoot them at the slightest suspicion of a butter knife in their pocket! Because they keep attacking us!”
You are doing my government a great favour by perpetually attacking us. You are justifying being treated like animals by behaving like animals. You think a prison is going to release a convict if and because he beats up the guards every time he’s let out into the cafeteria? No. This prolongs his sentence.

And Allah’s will? Seriously? Allah, the Gracious, wants you to walk into your death, break your family’s hearts, just so the zionists have an excuse to make your family homeless and abuse your people some more? Your struggle isn’t the only thing historical here. Your people, the Palestinians, being abused more every time one of you attacks an Israeli, is also a historical event that repeats itself without failure.

Every attack from you against us, makes your situation worse. I’m not telling you to love us. You’re right to hate us (well, not me, I’m nice, I give great head). I hate the government and its executioners, too. Hate us till the cows come home. We have not given you a reason not to. But for fuck’s sake, please internalize that your “armed resistance” is only making your situation worse. Yeah, we mourn our losses… But every single time, you get a disproportionately worse response, don’t you?

For fuck’s sake, cut it out. It’s stupid, pointless, and only moves you farther away from your goals. We will never lose to you, and my government will never leave you alone if you keep giving it excuses to abuse you. Stop this shit. I want both our people to live in peace, even if we can’t stand each other’s smell. But my government wants you to continue attacking us, because you are helping it abuse you.

Don’t do the zionists that favor.

Sincerely,
an Israeli

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The Middle East Inversion

10 Nov

Last Saturday’s new episode of Doctor Who, now featuring the 12th incarnation of the lone and loved Timelord, drove a bulldozer from the last demolished Palestinian home right through my chest. If you live in a peaceful, stable nation that merely exports weapons to less stable nations and cashes in on the death and destruction they sow, you may have seen just another profound speech by a fictional TV icon, on a fictional war.

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is pointing at us.

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is pointing at us.

When you live in Israel, or across the fence, the wall, the checkpost, you have seen your people and those on the other side. You’ve seen youngsters throwing rocks and firebombs at soldiers and settlers, and you’ve seen soldiers shoot those kids, you’ve seen settlers attacking soldiers for failing to shoot and kill those kids, you’ve seen those kids’ parents drive into a crowd or stab a passer-by. You’ve seen bulldozers razing the homes of a terrorist’s family – not the terrorist’s home – and you’ve seen crowds shouting for bloody revenge.
And if you’re not completely jaded to what’s happening all around you, a bus ride from your doorstep at most, it hurt. It hurt having the Doctor pointing at you, your people, your government, your friend with that army-issued rifle or that home-made firebomb. Your cousin who takes the order to bulldoze the home of a terrorist’s mother, when nowhere else in the civilized world, family would be punished for their kin’s deeds. Your brother driving that borrowed car into a flock of children.

But while you may know those who do the deed – the Israeli soldiers, settlers, bulldozer drivers, the Palestinian stabbers, bombers, road ragers – you never know who they’ll hit. Does it feel right to know it’s none on your side? Or do you just feel numb, knowing at least you won’t be mourning anyone, for now? Is it not being someone from your side, good enough to sleep at night, knowing a person you know, is destroying a family who is also a person someone knows, someone loves?

Truth: You don’t know who the next Naftali Frenkel or Muhammad Abu Khdeir is going to be. You don’t know. But someone is going to die at someone else’s hand.

Consequence: This will never bring us peace. This will never free Palestine, this will never give the Jewish people a rest. You can’t expect people not to retaliate against perceived wrongs, much less when those wrongs precede a funeral. The consequence will be more death, and if one of yours has killed one of theirs, then one of yours will die. It will always be this way unless someone starts forgiving.

Two days ago, I was shopping cat food at my pet shop. The staff and I were having pizza and a laugh when the new girl got a call. There was some agitated talk in Russian, and I was just going to do an impression of angry Russian speech, when she hung up, and, staring blankly ahead, said: “My friend died.” The 20-year-old border guard, Binyamin Yakobowitz, who looks like 14 in Haaretz’s article, had been the “someone I know” of “someone I know”. You may just cringe, make a sad face, even feel a stab in your chest when you read names of casualties on your side, but you don’t know them, so you mourn them as you would Heath Ledger. Somehow you keep telling yourself: it’s never gonna be anyone I know. Yes, my friend at the pet shop told herself the same, I’m sure. Most Palestinians, those who hate Israelis, but abhorr violence, don’t want youths going out to attack soldiers or civilians, they hate hearing someone from their neighborhood has committed an attack. Not just because they know someone who isn’t the perpetrator, will suffer for the actions of the latter, but also because they might one day find themselves too close to the Israeli retaliation squad. However, they reall start internalizing how bad these attacks are, when it’s their own flesh and blood who eats retaliation. They, like us, tell themselves it’s never them, always the others. It’s always the others’ fault, and it’s always the others’ losses.

No.

We are all the others. And we never know who’ll be mourning whom next. But what we all must internalise, is that the mourning will continue, and one day hit too close for comfort, unless either of us, any of us, stop making others mourn.

No lessons learned.

24 Jul

Some people claim to have learned lessons from the missile attacks on Israel, such as all of this being mere antisemitism and a repetition of the Third Reich. The same people probably also very carefully select their history books and happily buy into one-sided narratives that suit their comfort zone.

Personally, I like to leave my comfort zone and question things that sound too easy, such as “It’s all those Muslims’ fault, Israel is totally innocent”. Rarely can such long-lasting conflicts be blamed on one side making all the mistakes. Scrap that – never. So I left my comfort zone. I got sick. I cried. I raged. Then I calmed down and resumed leaving my comfort zone further and further behind.
Those who know me, know I refuse to view things in black and white, especially things as large as the Middle East conflict. I mean, I used to. But as a meritocrat and passionate intellectual and academic, I cannot breathe when I am not learning and feeding my mind facts. 

One such fact-feeding endeavor was when I started feeling weird about calling my land grandfather, Naeim Giladi, a senile traitor. I never met the men. I never listened to the man’s interviews or read his articles. All I knew about him, were statements from my parents about him having hated Israel. That made it simple for me.
But then I remembered my mother hates big dogs – and I love them! Have I ever dismissed my mother’s feelings in favor of my own? I mean, other than when I bought that Akita without asking her first… Wait a second! My mother hand been the victim of a horrific attack by a big dog, and witnessed another big dog kill a child on accident, by the mere force of its leap. While it may be wrong to hate all big dogs now, her hatred is not something that can be dismissed as the manifestation of an evil person’s black heart.

Now, there were two kinds of Israel haters I also wanted to examine more closely: my grandfather, and a big portion of Palestinians. I buy the blanket hatred against Israel as little as I bought Israel’s consistently pointing the finger at others anymore. Because both attitudes are wrong.
I found most answers in my grandfather’s book; a large portion of its content can be researched and confirmed by anyone who wishes to do so. 
Now, we can line up a few very simple facts to begin with – facts not exclusively found in Naeim’s book.
1. Israel was not built on deserted land; people have been living there – and not only Jews.
2. Palestine as a nation state may never have existed, but the land had indeed been referred to as Palestine and both local Jews and non-Jewish Arabs called Palestinians.
3. There is no Evil Gene in Muslims or Arabs that makes them born anti-semitic. Political views and religious beliefs are taught. Always. Sometimes by the object of the hatred.

Looking at these facts, anyone with an open mind and average intelligence or above, should feel a question nagging at them: if the land had been inhabited by people previously to the establishment of the state of Israel, where had they gone, and why did they leave? And why do Arabs appear to hate Israel? 

The Quran says nothing about Jews needing to die. Many Israel lobbyists actually use the Quran to discredit radical Islamists, saying that the Quran itself approves of Jews. However, the very same lobbyists now lose their argument against Muslims: well obviously, they don’t hate us because their religion tells them to!
In a propaganda video, an Israel lobbyist remarks that Arabs started attacking Jews in 1947. Why not earlier? Why then? Did a new mind control virus that only Arabs are susceptible to, break out in the Middle East? No. There was no Hitler Aids epidemic. A much different disease broke out that year: white supremacy. 1947 was the year that the state of Israel started to be built, by white Jews handed the land by white British to do with as they pleased.
Now, wait a minute! What are the British doing assigning and reassigning land that isn’t really theirs? Oh, wait, he’ve had this before. South Africa for example, where white people invaded the land, grabbed it, and shooed all the native black people into slums. And we also had this in america, where white people invaded the land, grabbed it, butchered the Natives, and had black slaves build them (the whites) something cozy. 

In other words, God didn’t give us Israel unless the Brits are his angels. Now, answer me honestly with “Yes” or “No” when I ask you if the native people of a land can be reasonably expected to surrender their homes and leave just because a bunch of foreigners are holding a holy book in one hand and a gun in the other, saying “God wants me to live here, now fuck off or I’ll make you”?
Because, see, it’s not really relevant whether the Palestinian Muslims were kicked out or herded into today’s Gaza Strip and the Best Wank after having fought and lost an armed struggle, or whether they had been helplessly beaten there every step of the way. Unless you are their landlord and they stopped paying the rent, you are never right to see people out of their homes, much less expect them to “get over it”.

This is also why the argument of the Palestinian Muslims having been offered such and such strip of land by Israel, is invalid. You can’t throw me out of my home and into a much crappier place, and then expect me to forgive you by offering me some bumblefuck place in the middle of nowhere. The scorn of being offered a consolation prize by the one who attacked and robbed me for no good reason, should be apparent even to the thickest among you.

See, before the state of Israel was established, Muslims did not hate Jews. Both groups were well respected by the other, and coexisted just fine. Muslims also would not have minded Israel being established on truly vacant land. But you sort of need to understand their feeling of resentment when Jews who aren’t even from around here – European, Russian, american, Soviet – Jews come and build their cities over the forcefully vacated houses of the Muslim inhabitants of that land.

My grandfather came to hate Israel after having loved and nearly died for it. Such a change of heart doesn’t happen over night and is not a decision one takes consciously. It is something that happens when enough is enough. In the beginning, my grandfather had been enthusiastic about the idea of a Jewish state. He helped smuggle Jews out of Iraq so they could start a new life in Israel. He went to death row for this endeavor. 
Sadly, he soon found out that not only was that state built at the expense of a large part of the land’s inhabitants, the pogroms he and other Arab Jews fled to Israel from, had also largely been staged or deliberately provoked by Israel’s founders themselves in an effort to populate Israel with Jews as quickly and as massively as possible. And when the Arab Jews arrived, they found that this land was built and run by white people who needed the Arab Jews mostly to replace the cheap labor force that the Muslim Arabs would have been, had they not been paid or forced to leave their homeland because Muslims weren’t quite the right kind of population for a Jewish state. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Naeim Giladi gave Israel the finger and left.

 

Fast-forward to the 21. century.

Hamas is throwing rockets at, and Best Wankers are slitting throats of, Jewish Israelis. Now, while I know many simpletons haunt the net including this blog, I must ask you not to misread me: I do not defend the attacks on civilians. I consider the Itamar massacre, the missiles upon Israel, the murder of the three Jewish boys, as horrible a violent crime, as any. And I have no patience for violent criminals whatsoever. Be it a punch, a rape, or a massacre, I hate violent criminals.
However 1.
Strangely, mere suspects in the triple murder had had their houses bulldozed by Israel, which brutally arrested hundreds in the search for the killers. Now, when a Jew murders an Arab Muslim, Israel proceeds a lot more gently. Gag orders on identities even after confessions were made, the option to plead insanity, and obviously, no relatives of the suspect/convict having their homes destroyed. Why this difference in procedure? Why handle Muslims more roughly than Jews, for the same kind of crime? 40s america, anyone? Yes, I’ll just say it right here: Israel is treating its so-called citizens like america treated black people back then, with that very same attitude that turns “blacks” into “niggers”. Yes, as long as these Palestinians are under Israel’s thumb, they are its citizens. And Palestinian Authority or not, they are under Israel’s thumb or else Israel couldn’t just barge in as convenient, and arrest people and bulldoze their homes. The PA is a strawman, a joke, a comforter to silence those who say that Israel is robbing the Palestinian Arabs of their sovereignty. Israel still holds most power over the territories, whatever anyone may call them.

However 2.
The claim that Israel left Gaza for peace… If Israel can continue to carry out target assassinations and control what goes in and out of Gaza, and even switch off their electricity, Israel is not “out of Gaza”. It is so far up Gaza’s ass that Gaza is shitting Osem.
Ah, yes, Osem, another interesting point. Israel prides itself in delivering food and electricity to Gaza. Are prisons proud to say that their inmates receive the bare minimum required to survive? Not really, prisons rarely start bragging at any degree below offering continuing education and ways to re-establish oneself after release. Except, other than the terrorists there, Gaza is not just a cesspool of criminals and hence should not serve as a prison – there are normal people there whose only reason to hate Israel is to be caught in the middle of a fight they didn’t ask for.
Now you’ll ask a very valid question: “Why then, do they support Hamas?” Because Hamas still gives them more compassion than Israel does. Hamas may be evil, but when one side makes you poor, keeps you cooped up in slums, and makes sure you live a pointless life, and the other side gives or promises you purpose (even if through death), yet happens to be evil, well..? Consider that the Gazans consist of many generations of living and dying with the same pointlessness, and getting the same undignified treatment from Israel, and the same rhethoric from Hamas. There is no new fresh generation of hope there, only a repetition of not so ancient history. 

Also consider that nobody is born suicidal or commits suicide easily. No matter what our beliefs, survival instinct stops most of us from crossing certain lines. Suicide bombings or endangering one’s life by firing missiles or otherwise directly attacking Israel, are not part of Islam, and are contrary to our supreme survival instincts. Please, by all means, DO doubt that these terrorists kill themselves with any more ease than do other broken-hearted people in a last-ditch attempt to either end their own misery, or pave the way to a better future for their loved ones (no matter how wrong they may be to expect that to come out of their deeds). Suicide is always an act of despair. Muslims are no different. Muslims do not lack survival instinct, they do not have a kill-yourself-plus-infidels gene.

And food isn’t all people need to live a life that is too good to be wasted on hatred and terrorism. People need quality water. Reliable power. New clothes, decent health care/services, construction/renovation materials, decent schools and colleges, recreation. Israel mustn’t pride itself in throwing the Gazans a few tons of Osem. Would you praise a junkyard owner for throwing his chained dog low-quality kibble and water, while denying the animal all the other things it needs to live a dignified version of its one and only fleeting life, and beating it whenever it misbehaves as a result? Well, the Gazans are that dog. 

Fact: Gazans are born into a futile existence. There are no career paths there, no academic institutions, no airports to leave for a better life. They are born like hamsters in a pet shop, to either be eaten by their cage mates due to overpopulation and stress, or be bought by thoughtless adults as playthings for their children. Even if Hamas were funding education and prosperity for all their citizens, there would be no point to it. There is no getting out of Gaza. So Hamas investing in picking up the place, would merely result in the cage getting a golden paint job.  

So how can you be surprised that they tolerate or even support Hamas, knowing full well that Hamas endangers their lives as much as Israel renders them futile? At least, Hamas promises them that their deaths will have purpose, while Israel makes sure that their lives do not.

After you’ve let that sink in – or so I hope – I’m sure you’ll understand the following: today, especially among young people who haven’t lived through enough history yet, a lot of the anti-Israel sentiment among Muslims and pro-Palestinians may have transformed into blanket antisemitism. Many may not know exactly what they are protesting or defending, and many may simply use the plight of the Palestinians as an excuse for racism. 
However. The source of the hostility of Palestinians towards Jews, is not religiously or ethnically motivated. No matter what today’s generation may explain their feelings with, the conflict started because people were made homeless and empoverished for the sake of the Jewish state. For the sake of the Jewish state, its previous indigenous inhabitants have been split into two groups according to their religion and ancestry: Jews were declared citizens and Muslims were declared fuck-them. And now the Israel lobby is one-sidedly blaming them for the conflict, hiding behind pathetic, half-assed “outreach” and “offers” to pretend that they have, indeed, tried solving the conflict. However, you simply cannot expect people to stop hating you just because you offer them a bandaid for the shotgun wound you put in them when you took over their home.

Now, you are probably going to say I am one-sidedly blaming Israel. Well, not really. The land grab was initiated by the British, and Jews just happily took what they were offered – as would anyone. However, what Jews then proceeded to do, is unjustifiable. But so is terrorism, such as dumping missiles on civilians. However, it’s the only thing a desperate people such as the Gazans know how to do anymore to move Israel in any way. Israel is so strong and dominant that force seems the only way to still so much as scratch us. While Israel has a right and a duty to defend its citizens, haven’t we seen enough of these wars to know that they are no solution? 
If Hamas is destroyed, other terrorist factions will emerge. 
The only ways to end the hostility are to either eradicate all of Gaza so no potential attacker is left, and that’s genocide… 
Or for Israel to replace Hamas as the bringer of hope and purpose. And this would require Israel to stop treating the Gazans like chained junkyard dogs. It would require Israel to lift the blockade after a long and tolerant probation period during which the people of Gaza would be receiving more than food. Decent health care, rebuilding efforts, and humanity. There is simply no way there will be peace if Israel continues to treat Gazans and West Bank Arabs the way it does now. There is no way there will be peace if Israel continues to treat Jews and non-Jewish Arabs differently, even within “Israeli mainland”. You can simply not reasonably expect Hamas to pack up and leave one day and take all the other militants with them. Not as long as Israel keeps treating Arabs like less-than-human beings, and that is exactly what Israel does every time a Jew gets away with saying “Death to Arabs” while boycotts are staged when an Arab says something similar about Jews. And it is exactly what Israel does when it bulldozes the homes of the suspects in the murder of Jews, yet gives maximum humanity and legal protection to the Jewish murderers of Arabs. It is exactly what Israel does when it coops up a bunch of Arabs in a place where there is no real future, and then bombs them disproportionately for doing what a caged animal does: bite.

Had the roles been reversed, had Jews been the people surrounding a tiny strip of Palestine, forcefully grabbed by foreign Muslim invaders who threw out the Jews, would you sit by idly? Would you accept the situation? This is, again, a very simple Yes/No question. Few things in life are this simple, so rejoyce as you answer!

So do I hate Israel?

3 Jul

I keep getting told things such as:
“You clearly hate Israel!”
“Get the fuck out of Israel if you don’t like it!”
“You’d rather see every last Jew murdered by those Palestinians”
And so on. Nazi, antisemite, self-hating Jew, angry loser, etc.

Well, wrong. Also, those Israeli residents who call me a Nazi will from now on be sued for what little they’re worth.

I love Israel. I’m born here. I love the vitamin D, I love the gazillion cats, I love the beautiful men, the blunt and loud and lively people, I love how far Israel has come in so little time and how resilient and bold it is.
I admire the obscene number of Nobel Prize laureates Israel and Jews worldwide – who are in no way obligated to identify with Israel – have produced. I admire the technological, medical, and other developments made in Israel. Israel is a great contribution to the world from an industrial and science point of view. Israel has a lot to offer. Israelis, as a people, are often friendly, emotionally open, and happy to connect. There is, despite the ugly mud fights between right and left, religious and secular, Jewish and Arab, a great sense of unity in the face of many challenges, and more empathy for the hardship of fellow citizens (if publicized sufficiently – still it exceeds what I’ve seen in other countries).

However, this is only one side of the medal. Each medal has two sides and mass in between the two. The side described above is shiny and real, but the ugly, rusty, shit-covered other side is just as real.

When you love your child, you don’t mindlessly praise them. You most cerainly don’t only praise them. You will want the child to improve and work on/correct mistakes for the child’s sake and for the sake of the world that the child will live in and help create and impact. You will want bad behavior or questionable attitudes gone. This can only be done by means of pointing them out, discussing them, and finding a solution.
You don’t go around (if you love your child) denying that (if) he is a bully, steals, or scores fail grades. You don’t ignore your child’s problems for the sake of upholding your illusion of your perfect little angel.
That is, if you’re a good parent. Then you will praise the good, correct the bad, and hope your child will develop into a well-rounded, wholesome, grounded character who lives up to their own standards.

And at the latter, Israel is failing miserably, and hence I will continue to scold her. She is like the spoilt child that throws temper tantrums, shoves the other kids and steals their lunch money, and then gets excused because of how very truly gifted and also sweet and productive she can be. However, the latter must never justify or downplay the previous, so no matter how big a child prodigy Israel may be, she must learn to behave respectfully, compassionately, and fairly. And she currently does not and never has, or at least not to an acceptable degree.

And I will not have any “But compared to Syria”. If we have to compare ourselves to the smelliest of shitholes in order to look good, we have already lost the debate. We must compare ourselves to the countries Israel (pretends to?) strives to be like – the West. We must compare ourselves to Germany, to the Netherlands, Great Britain, Australia, perhaps america though at least we don’t have this much gun violence… And most of all, we must compare and live up to our own alleged standards of moral superiority. Overall and in our government, we do not.

This criticism doesn’t make me antisemitic, it doesn’t make me anti-Zionist.
I am Zionist in that I believe that Jews get to have this homeland called Israel where they can live passionately and freely as Jews, celebrating and practicing their Jewishness to any degree that each individual one of us pleases – from secular/reform to ultra-Orthodox. I do see this merit in the state of Israel.
However, I do not believe that we require the Zionist supremacy that is currently ruling this Jewish country. We do not need to oppress or put down Gentiles in order to elevate ourselves and enjoy our Jewish homeland as Jews. If the ideal of political Zionism, ie. Israel belonging to Jews, justifies the deportation of its non-Jewish natives, then Germany’s desire to be Aryan would have justified the deportation of all things non-Aryan. The idea of one ethnicity, religious group, race or other ruling supreme by forcefully minimizing incompatible populations, is of the same vileness everywhere, be it Jews or white supremacists. Israel, for being superior to its neighbors in aspects such as technological advance, education, firepower, money etc. has a responsibility to use this power gracefully but she does not. We are, for example, right to be pissed at having rockets fired at us, but if they kill nobody, then what the hell are we bombing and hitting countless civilians for in retaliation? The emotion may be understandable – in anger, don’t we all want to react excessively? – but we have a moral obligation, due to our own standards and pretenses and due to our superior power, to be better than that. We should, and more importantly – we fucking CAN!
Contrary to popular belief, Jews used to be welcome and able to practice in Muslim majority countries until the founding of our state came about and the founders used methods that would poison this peaceful coexistence. If Muslims could be Muslims in Muslim countries despite there being lots of Jews, why can’t Jews be Jews in a Jewish country and embrace its non-Jewish populations?

I am pro-Israel. I am anti-white supremacy (she is), ultra-rightwing Zionist (she is), religion-forced-down-everyones-throat (she is), fuck-everyone-else (she is) Israel. I adore this country, so I want her to be better than this. But regurgitating glorified hasbarah/propaganda, is not the way. It is the way of the coward who would rather live in blissfull denial than to weep at the face of the ugly truth, and then get hurt trying to improve shit.

Let’s just not.

1 Jul

The abduction of 3 Israeli teenagers has sadly ended in tragedy long before this was known. Today, their bodies have been found and it was estimated that they must have been killed shortly after their abduction 2 weeks ago. 

This is the triple murder of innocent teenagers. It is, for its motives, also an act of terrorism and antisemitism. The culprits deserve the harshest possible punishment, with no appeal or pardon. Their accomplices, their enablers, must all be punished as well. 

However, let’s not do this again, this call for collective punishment – more specifically, genocide – of the Palestinian people. It is really no better and no different from Arabs calling for the death of all Jews or all of Israel when the IDF (or any Jewish person or entity) kills innocent Arabs (and yes – they do, too). Never, ever, can an entire people be held accountable for the crimes of a few. Even if all Arabs were to hate us Israeli Jews, this would not make them guilty of anything unless they were to act on that hatred. After all, many Israeli Jews also hate all Arabs collectively – does this justify hating all of us? He who does no harm, does no harm. A hateful Arab is no different from a hateful Jew – he either acts or he doesn’t, and if he does, he’s a criminal. If he does not, he’s innocent. It is that simple.

We must not apply 2 different measures to Jews and non-Jewish Arabs. We must not go around shouting “Death to Arabs” (which is exactly what way too many Israeli Jews are now doing) and then go “Woe is me!” when Arabs go around doing the same. We Jews are not above anything or anyone. We commit the same crimes as everyone else. We steal, we rape, we drive under the influence, we kill on accident and on purpose, we lie, we slander, we litter, we damage property. Just like everyone else. ‘
Statistic says that a murder is committed in Israel once every 3 days. Where is the outrage? Where are the “Death to [culprit]” screams? Why only when the culprit is an Arab? Doesn’t that strike anyone as racist? Anyone? What does it matter who the killer is? Would you rather be murdered by a Jew for your money, than by an Arab for Palestine? Personally, I don’t care why I’m murdered. Please just don’t murder me? Thank you! Really now, people of Israel – all of you, not just Jews – pull your heads out of your asses and realize that murder is murder. Why should an Arab be hated more, or a Jew less, for the same crime? Why is the widely publicized abduction and murder of three Jewish teens by Muslim Arabs, considered so much worse than just as many murders of Jews by Jews or of Gentiles by Jews or of Gentiles by Gentiles or Arabs by Arabs? Remind me, how many awful, callous, murderous parents have “forgotten” their child in a hot car and left him or her to die a horrific death? Where was your outrage? Remind me, where was the outrage when an interfaith couple was found murdered in the Carmel forests? Remind me, why was there less outrage at the murder of Shelly Dadon than of “our boys”? Or are you simply more outraged at the boys’ murders because it turns out that all your adorable little #hashtagging turned out to be a waste of your time after all? 

Where is your outrage at the twice-weekly murders of people less religious, less Zionist, less publicized? I fear for the future of my people, because while it pretends to look out for each-other, this is only true within the respective fractions. Settlers and ultra-rightwing Zionists are one fraction, the ultra-Orthodox another, and then the secular and the non-Jewish. Across these fractions, there is dearly little solidarity. And while we, the secular, do a lot more looking-out for those of other fractions – I and my friends and family were very emotionally involved in the abduction – the opposite is true for the ultra-rightwing Zionists and the settlers who will gladly dismiss or shrug off any misfortune that befalls leftists, seculars, homosexuals, Arabs, etc. They have even been known to mock it. There is no unity. There is collective outrage and cross-sectional hashtagging, but that is all.
Now, I know how ultra-rightwingers will respond to this: “Well, if you stinking Arab-loving lefties would just”… No. Unity is possible and necessary even without everyone changing their opinions to fit one particular view. Unity between all the Jewish fractions, and even beyond the Jewish population of this country – non-Jewish citizens do count – is possible by accepting that we may not agree on everything, but when it comes down to it, have the same goal: peace upon Israel. The goal is not to eliminate Palestinians, the goal is not to get rid of the settlers; these “goals” are merely different interpretations of how to reach the true goal – peace. If there are so many discriminatory solutions, there should be inclusive solutions, too. Long story short, we can be united without dismissing one-another for our political beliefs as long as we agree on one thing: wanting to live here in peace and prosperity. And we do.

The other question is whether a Jewish life is worth more than a non-Jewish Arab’s. I specify “non-Jewish Arab” because as much as they hate the thought, Jews from Arab countries are Arabs. Arab is not a dirty word, so deal with it. I refuse to say “Sephardic” because it’s simply bullshit: so what if they set foot on the Iberian Peninsula, my grandfather came through Iran and that hardly makes him Iranian. I will not call Moroccans, Iraqis, Yemenis, etc. what might as well be another word for “Spaniards”. I know that since the establishment of our state, a social and political preference has been given to European/white Jews and the Mizrachim/Arabs are still not quite as respected and so it’s tempting to appropriate them and tell them “You’re from a white place, now act the part!”, and it’s easier for them to pretend, too. But you guys aren’t white, you aren’t Europeans, and that is totally cool!
But I digress: the value of Jewish life. I know that religious Jews, political Zionists, radical right-wingers, and a couple of others like to emphasize the value of the “Jewish soul” over that of “Goyim”, but let’s just not. If we want to prance around like a gay unicorn squealing “We’re God’s chosen people!”, then we have a moral obligation to act the part. And if we are to believe that our God is merciful and good, then we don’t get to oppress or discriminate against other people. And while I know I’m asking for quite a lot here, I will do it anyway: no matter how religious you are, would you please make some room in there for common sense and non-religious morality? Such as, hey, let’s not dismiss the death of Palestinian/Muslim/Druze people because they’re not Jewish! How’s that sound?
After all, no matter what your justification is, considering one life more precious than another, is an immoral and utterly despicable mentality. It matters not whether you base this thought on your religious, racial, political, or other views. It does not matter whether you’re Jewish and quoting some Torah verse, or a white supremacist quoting Hitler when you proclaim that some lives are worth more than others based not on their actions, but on their ethnicity, religion, sexuality, appearance, or other such factors. And here’s where I’ll just say it: the same goes for americans screeching that their troops are heroes for murdering all those Iraqis. So, when an Arab kills americans with the goal of destabilizing the enemy, he’s a terrorist. Okay. But now it gets weird: when an american bombs an entire Arab country, now that’s heroism? This implies that an american life is considered more worthy of preservation than an Arab life. And this implies that whoever feels that way, has been watching all those Nazi documentaries for the wrong reason. Solidarity with your own people is great – but you can love your own without dehumanizing others. Collective strikes against an entire people, are dehumanizing. If an individual does not threaten you or your people, you do not get to devalue their life. The absolute, rock-hard fact is, that the majority of Iraqis did never, ever, threaten americans. The absolute, rock-hard fact is, that the majority of Arabs, Palestinians or other, may hate Israel, but will never do us any harm because they want the same as we do – to be left the fuck alone.

Once again, it has been evidenced that Israel’s problem is not “leftists” or “Palestinians”. It’s people who cannot look beyond their own indoctrinations, and who judge people by their ethnicity, religion, or political fraction. People who defend the murder of Arabs but condemn the murder of Jews, people who defend the murder of Jews but condemn the murder of Arabs, they are both the same thorn in the ass of peace. Once again it has been proven that hate-spewing radicals on both sides of The Conflict are the true problem. Arab radicals who abduct and murder Jewish civilians on one hand, and Zionist radicals who make sure to continue to provide Arab radicals with excuses to carry on hating us by inciting against Arabs, and regularly putting this incitement into practice.

It is by no means anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, or pro-Nazi to oppose the genocide of Arabs or to question the outrage only seen when a victim was obviously identifiable as Jewish. Not determining the tragedy of the loss of someone’s child by this child’s ethnicity or religion, is only one thing – anti-racist. If you disagree with something so obvious, you are why antisemitism exists because in its nature, antisemitism is the same as any other kind of minority hate. Is antisemitism really worse than white supremacy, homophobia, or any other violent persecution of people for what they are? Why can’t we agree that all political, ethnic, religious, gender, and racial persecution needs to end? And why won’t you take a step towards that?

 

Sudanese vs. Jewish refugees

23 May

My favorite nostalgic band, Die Toten Hosen, have just reminded me of a topic that I feel needs addressing. They shared a video clip by another band, about refugees/asylum seekers and about how they really don’t want to be in the country they fled to. About how they would rather be in their home country, going about their lives, but can’t, because, bombs’n’shit.

I understand them. I sympathise. Having to run, suffer tremendous losses in the process, and leaving your reasonably good life behind, is something I’m familiar with personally, and in terms of ancestry. 

Many arguments against Israeli politics, policies, actions and inactions, are valid. As someone who loves this country, I refuse to be in denial or glorify it; I want true change and improvement so Israel can be truly great and keep the moral standards it parades about in empty words. Love is to want the best for someone. I want Israel to be better.

But there is one anti-Israel “argument” that perpetually makes me angry for its profound and inherent hypocrisy. The world is screaming at us, not in the nicest terms (racists, Nazis, murderers,…), to embrace and welcome those poor refugees from Sudan, Eritrea, and of course, the native Palestinians. It is screaming at us to be humane and warm towards those who were forced to flee their home country.

Except when these refugees are Jewish. Ultra-rightwing Zionists are propagating the lie/ideological bullshit that Jews living in diaspora, are “in exile”. They are not. Nobody is forcing you to stay out of Israel; Israel pays you to move here. Maybe their far (faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar) ancestors have been exiled, but let’s face it – if your name has been rather German (Rosenzweig, Bernstein) or otherwise non-Middle Eastern for the past 20 generations, you have very little claim on the exile pity party. A ginger Braunstein family does not originate from the Middle East, unless we go almost as far back as our ape ancestors originating in Africa, and then we can all say we’re Africans in exile. Oh my, poor Africa, all those white people “returning home”.
Are you a Jew living outside of Israel? Great, stay there, because your life over there is probably better than it’d be here. You are not in exile, stop pitying yourself over harm that has not been done to you or your family in a very long time. You happen to live wherever you happen to have been born. That is all. People have migrated throughout history, some by force, some not. Jews are no exception and have little claim on more drama or pity than others for being part of this phenomenon. Stop asking for VIP status in the history books, thank you.

However, Jewish refugees are a reality. Not the happy family from Virginia wallowing in the exile self-pity party, no, actual refugees and their offspring, having actually had to flee from actual dangers. 
Jewish refugees have come from Nazi-Europe.
Jewish refugees have been bombed out of Iraq.
Jewish refugees have fled Morocco. 
Nevermind the Jewish Ethiopians who are given hell to come here for “obscure” reasons or reasons I shall not name. For example, the fact that David Ben Gurion had been a passionate racist and white supremacist, and if he disrespected and scoffed at Arab Jews, how would he feel about these dark-skinned blacks? And the legacy of his attitude runs deep and feroceously through Israeli politics and people.

Whatever the details, Jewish refugees are a reality no less valid or tragic than Sudanese refugees or Palestinian refugees in Israel or outside, after having been forcefully removed from the land. 
My own ancestry is like so: Naeim Giladi owned a gold refinery which even earned him his original family name. He bred Arabian horses, owned vast lands, and was generally rich and respected. Actually, most Jews were in most parts of Iraq. Don’t believe the “OMG pogroms everywhere” propaganda. But at some point – let’s not discuss the identity of the launchers of those bombs – the Iraqi Jewish communities were attacked and Jews started to flee – to Israel. It had been promised to them as a safe haven. Let’s not discuss how the Arab Jews were fooled in that respect. My grandfather, his family, and the many Jews he helped cross the borders, were legitimate refugees with nowhere else to go. Just like the Sudanese, the Palestinians, or the Eritreans. The same is true for Jews who fled Nazi-Europe. 

Yet, while we are demonized for not welcoming non-Jewish refugees enough, the refugees among our own ranks are demonized for having succeeded in entering and settling in Israel. We, descendants of refugees, are not occupiers. Unless you would say the same about Sudanese refugees. You want us out, yet you want them in. But – does it matter who occupies “stolen” lands? While I don’t believe this land was exclusively owned by non-Jewish Arabs, we Israelis are constantly vilified for occupying it. So if not who you believe are the land’s rightful owners, what does it matter who comes to “steal” the land? Does it matter whether they are Jewish refugees from Poland, or Muslim refugees from Sudan? Do Sudanese have a bigger right to asylum in Israel than Polish? Why? Logic? 

Let’s simplify this:
You have a house in Palestine and 3 Arab men live in it.
The organized Zionists come and kick the Arab men out of the house.
Now, 1 Jewish refugee from Iraq moves into the house.
1 Jewish american from a happy background moves into the house to live with the previous Jew.
Then, 1 Sudanese refugee moves in to the same house to live with the Jews.
The world screams at both of those Jews equally to get the fuck out, although one had nowhere else to go and only one is there by choice, but supports the Sudanese, while all three are occupying the same house, and all three are making it impossible for the Palestinians to live in their former house.
If you’re going to hate one of these occupiers, hate occupier number 2, but 1 and 3 are there for the same reasons. So why is one to be embraced, while the other is to be demonized for the exact same reason?

Why?

Romeo & Juliet in Israel

6 Nov

Romeo & Juliet, or Anna & the Arab

I came to Israel to join the army and partake in the epic saga of Zion. Or so I thought. Instead, I learned an important lesson about ethnic divides, skin-deep hostility, racism, and where love comes in.

I made Aliyah at the end of December, 2010 as a returning minor. Being born in Israel, I never felt quite at home anywhere else. Not in Poland, not in Ireland, not in Germany, and not in Belgium. I thought that Israel would be where I’d find myself, my home, my belonging, and my soul. And I did. But I didn’t find it in the form, or the place, I had thought. And I certainly didn’t find a defined group to belong to. Not even Jews. Here’s what I thought would happen: the army would die to recruit me, put me in an epic combat position, and there I would meet my soulmate. A raggedy, typical Sephardic or Mizrachi Israeli, with black curls flowing in the desert breeze, his Reserves uniform revealing the manliest of chest hair.

Wrong. And that’s okay.

The army may take amputees, blind people, deaf people, people with severe cerebral palsy, people too fat to run, people with multiple organ transplants and a poor outlook – but not an eager, healthy, though overweight, female at the age of 27. Needless to say, I was offended. I had actually paid a personal trainer good money back in Belgium to prepare me for the army. Instead, I spent my days after ulpan at home, looking for a job, and taking care of orphaned kittens. And a puppy who would change my view on Israeli society.

The guard at my local post office had always been a latent crush of mine. He was sassy, confident, and always sported a cheeky smirk. His light tan skin was perfectly smooth, his black hair dense and thick. He was a bit on the short side, but his charisma grew him by a foot. He embodied what I thought, back then, was the typical Israeli man. And one day, he left his post to say: “I like your puppy. Can I have him?”

Since then, I had to find new ways of blowing him off whenever I walked my puppy past the post office. Until one day, my landlord decided he would tolerate my dog no more and we clashed, Israeli style. Yelling, threats, strong language. Desperate to keep the apartment – I had just moved there and was all out of money – I could only do one thing to save my puppy: rehome him. I grabbed a bag for his stuff, wedged the dog under my other arm, and ran down to the post office.

“Hey, you!” I panted at the guard. “You still want my dog?”

His enthusiasm was dulled by perplexity. “Uh… yeah?”

“Here you go.”

We added each-other on Facebook so I could stay updated on my ex-dog’s antics, and I learned the young man’s name was about as Israeli as Alon or Liran. I’m not revealing his “real” name as I have given this man enough grief. I also learned that he was in a relationship with a woman one quarter of my size.

Yet, a month later “Liran” broke up with his girlfriend and invited me over for a one-night-stand, no strings attached: the man was sick of love and feelings. Foolish as I was, I agreed hoping to sway him and persuade him to develop feelings for me after all. After the first night, I was smitten. I’d learned that he had served in combat, was rather Zionist, and agreed with me that Arabs made crappy dates. He fully supported my decision to only date Jews now that I had returned to Israel.

After the second night, I was in love and when he returned to his ex a month later and hardly talked to me anymore, I was heartbroken. I spent six months thinking about him until I came up with the perfect scheme: if I wanted to get to know him and how to get back on his radar – he’d been single again in the meantime – I would have to befriend his ex and extract as much intel from her as possible. Two nights after first contacting her, I was back at his place. And curious as I am, I asked him about his ethnicity. He stiffened for a heartbeat, as if caught off guard, then mumbled, “Yemeni”. I thought his reaction was strange, but thought no more of it either since love makes you a fool, blind to any vices or secrets that may disturb your revery.

One fine evening, I was out with his ex – we’d become actual friends – and suddenly, while gossiping about “Liran”, she said, “But you do know he’s not Jewish, right?”. I stopped dead in my tracks a few steps behind her. “What?” I gasped. “Then what is he?”

Bedouin.

Also, Muslim.

Well, still Zionist.

And a sweetheart.

And a true lover of everything cute and fluffy.

And addicted to sushi.

With a great taste in music.

But Arab.

And a liar.

Also, his real name was a far cry from what everybody called him. He was more of a Mustafa than a Liran.

Basically, he had committed the crime of “rape by deception”, which consists of a person lying in order to obtain the other person’s consent. Had I been raped? Three times? And enjoyed it? And cried for the man? No, this did not feel like rape. But legally, it seemed to be.

At first, I decided not to reveal this knowledge to him. After all, he was still the same charming man – except, as far as he was concerned, he was still deliberately deceiving me. Did I still want to try and build a relationship based on my knowing that he knows he’s deceiving me into violating my own principles? At some point, we fought and I told him I knew – I did so in the ugliest ways, wishing the worst upon him and insulting him for all he was, treading well into racist territory.

And then I calmed down. Had a good think. And then I realized something that made my chest tighten and my eyes sting. A realization that filled me with deep shame and remorse.

It was absolutely not okay that this man lied to his dates about his identity. He had no way of knowing that their parents wouldn’t disown them, or worse, if they ever found out that their good Jewish daughters were dating an Arab. Lying to someone who cares about you, is rarely ever okay.

On the other hand, should I, as an Israeli Zionist, not be ashamed, and deeply so, that my people, including myself, led this charming, hardworking, Zionist, gentle man to believe that he had to lie about his very self? Is being Arab a crime? Is it something one should be ashamed of in a “democracy”, in the “Holy Land”? What kind of society do we live in, am I a part of, where a good person has to lie about their identity in order to be loved? He has no love for Islam, and even if he had – I have, in the meantime, met Jews who are a far bigger scourge on Israeli society than this Arab who raises puppies and takes care of his parents. Who forgives whatever hateful insults you throw his way, and who smiles through all hardship. This Arab, who works two jobs to support his girlfriend, her daughter, his parents, and his sheep, and who serves proudly in the reserve, makes a far better citizen than specific groups of Jews I shall not name.

And are he and I different? My mother is not Jewish, I never cared to convert. I’m a 30-year-old single who gets defensive and uncomfortable during dates when the question comes up: So your mom worked in Ramallah, as a Jew? No, she didn’t work there as a Jew. I’m a patrilineal mamzer, born out of wedlock to a Protestant Atheist mother. I am nothing, or at least nothing to this state where being a full Muslim or Bahai is still preferable to being half a Jew. I have found myself lying about this fact, so scared of losing a man I had begun to developed feelings for. Am I a rapist now? For being scared of admitting something I had never thought relevant, because I am looking for the same love, relationship, and happiness as all the “real” Jewish girls? And while all of the men I’ve met are too kind to say it, I’m sure that is why, in many cases, one date was all I got.

I’m a half-Jew, and I enjoyed my fling with that Arab. I’m not the only one in such a situation, neither is he.

Romeo & Juliet is happening all over this country minus the reconciliation part, because a Rabbinate thinks it gets to dictate to people not adhering to it, who they are and who they may love. And way too many people agree that what happens between two individuals of “hostile” sides, should concern the entire country. Meital, how can you date an Arab, Mahmoud, how can you date a Jew, Moshe, how can you date a half-Jew, Ruthie, how can you date a Gentile – you can’t, not without facing consequences love should never have to face. Does this truly feel right to anybody?

At least in Shakespeare’s tragedy, the pain endured by the love-driven Montague and the defiant Capulet led to reconciling the two feuding clans. Sadly in Israel such relationships only seem to inspire more hostility from their spectators, rather than point out the obvious: we are capable of unity. But we are even more capable of taking baseless offense in seeing it blossom. God forbid we’d all just allow ourselves to love and be loved.