Tag Archives: violence

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.

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Just an Arab.

23 Oct

My fellow Jewish Zionists will hate me for this, but I don’t believe in exclusionism or whatever you call it, when this country insists to be morally superior to the whole damn world.

I want to give an eyewitness example of how the ever-so-praised Israeli Jews do their part in keeping the Jewish-Arab chasm as deep as possible. It’s not just “settlers” who bully Arabs in news-worthy ways, it’s the whole system that does not honor its promise of racial and ethnic equality where it comes to things that have nothing to do with Jewish identity.

A few weeks ago, I had a guy over for the night. Woke up around 4, went to the living room. Even before falling asleep I had heard a girl screaming angrily at someone but couldn’t make out what, or in what language. Now it was still going on and I looked out the window to see what was happening. I found an Arab girl, not very religious from the looks of her outfit and hair, no older than perhaps 22, but more around 18, 19. 3 Arab guys the same age were with her. From what little Arabic I understood, she was angry at at least one of them, lots of “Achosharmuta” and something about mothers. At some point she shoved one of the guys who then grabbed her arm and pulled her into all 3 guys’ reach. She tore free and ran onto the road where a bus was pulling in. She begged the driver to let her in, but when he spotted the three other men, he decided he wanted nothing to do with this and drove off, almost hitting her.

The guy she had shoved, who seemed to be her main “opponent”, ran up to her, pulled her to her feet, punched her to the ground, and kicked her in the back.
At that point I shouted down at them that they need to weigh their actions with witnesses around. I was utterly ignored and the girl, being upset beyond coherent thought, lunged at the guy again, but only weakly lashing at him, not really dangerous in any way.
From just before I shouted at them, my date had joined me and while I was shouting and thinking about what chair to beat those guys up with, he grabbed me and said, “They’re just Arabs, don’t get yourself into trouble for those apes”. Ignored his remark and called the cops.

Now while the bus driver and my date were merely very damn disappointing (does it matter if they’re Arabs when 1 girl is attacked by 3 men?), the police really drained what little was left of my “Holy Land Yay”. Dispatcher asked, all guilty-like, “Are they Arabs?” and at first I thought she just wanted to know for identification purposes. Only later did I stop to think that “3 young men pouncing on 1 screaming girl” should be enough.
I understood why she’d asked that when the police came. They had sent 1 single young man to deal with this. Now the girl was screaming in Hebrew, and it turned out that one of those men had gotten her pregnant against her will (don’t know if it was rape or just irresponsible consensual sex), and in doing so, hurt her mother and her family honor. Judging by how upset she was about this, she must have been in real trouble or at least convinced that she was. The thing is, you don’t send a man to deal with these issues, you send along a woman, ideally an Arab woman who knows about Arab family values and understands why this girl was so distraught. In the end nobody was arrested and my neighbor, as much as I hate that ars for many valid reasons, walked her to safety.

So basically, Arabs here tend to be what African Americans are in the States. Only worth police attention when they (seem to) endanger white people, or here, Jews. Otherwise, send way to few cops way too late and have them do way too little because hey, it’s just Arabs. I don’t care how crazy that girl went on those guys and that she made too little attempts to walk away (when she did, they didn’t let her), they were three men ganging up on a pregnant girl. And the cops took their jolly time to send ONE utterly useless guy.

It’s no wonder Arabs are less than appreciative of their Jewish co-citizens. We desperately squeal Hasbarah all over the Internet and beyond and act all inclusive and accepting and make it all seem like the Arabs’ fault, but when you call the cops on 3 guys beating up 1 girl, ethnicity should not matter and all of Israel’s Hasbararians should be ashamed of this. Jews are doing their share to keep the hate flowing just as much as Arabs are. And it’s bad enough individuals are doing it, but police???