Enough!- Another Israeli-American Says No to Zionism

Dear Abba

leave a comment »

– A letter from a non-Zionist Israeli daughter to her Zionist Israeli father

Dear Abba,

I know we didn’t speak much about my motives for attending this delegation prior to my departure. This has a lot to do with the seriously emotional nature of this occupation which is damaging both Israelis and Palestinians but has wreaked most immediate damage on our family. I remember some of the fights you and mom would have about it when I was younger and how I wished the issue would simply disappear and we could be a normal happy family.

The issue has not disappeared. And while it is easy for some to isolate themselves and ignore the sufferings of others like many of the people we know from Caesarea, this is something I am unable to do. Growing up in the Israeli school system with the emphasis on the Holocaust and how it was possible for German civilians to stand by while injustices were occurring, taught me that even those who are not active participants in oppression, are in essence, consenting to it by doing nothing.

That said, this is not meant to diminish what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust. Nothing can ever diminish that and there is never any sense in claiming that one group of people’s pain is bigger or more valid than another. Pain is pain. But I don’t believe the Palestinians should be meant to bear the results of the Jews’ anxieties and losses they suffered in the Holocaust.

About the flotilla- I am outraged. It is a shame that “internationals” had to die for the international community to recognize the illegal and dehumanizing nature of the blockade on Gaza. I visited Erez crossing abba, I’ve seen it. I read an interesting article by Amira Hass which reported (and this is confirmed by the IDF) that Israel does not allow coriander, jam, chocolate and French fries into Gaza but will allow cinnamon and plastic buckets. There is literally a list of spices that the IDF will not allow into Gaza. How on earth does the prevention of French fries make Israel any safer? To say that Gaza has internal issues is true, we met a German journalist who had just visited Gaza who called Hamas a “mafia”- but how can we expect them to have any kind of normal government when there is such strict control over which spices can come in? How can we expect stability in Gaza when Israel will not even allow them to import building supplies to rebuilt their homes that were bombed in “Cast Lead”? How can we expect them to want to negotiate or to recognize Israel when they are trapped? The flotilla’s mission was not only to deliver aid, but to draw the attention of the international community to the crisis occurring there, (and yes there is a humanitarian crisis as the Israeli representative of the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs assured us). It wasn’t just aid to the Gazans they wished to deliver, but some recognition.

After we heard of the flotilla massacre, we were scheduled to visit Ramallah. When we arrived there was a large demonstration against Israel’s attack on the ship. There were hundreds of people there who marched towards a Turkish official building. After this demonstration, which spanned over an hour and a half, I noticed a reporter from Israel’s channel 2 news (I recognized the logo) and decided to hear what his story would be. Behind the reporter was the square where the demonstration began, except now it was full of people walking- going to the store or to work or whatever. The reporter’s story went something like this “Despite the events at sea today, residents of Ramallah remain apathetic. It appears this event has not changed life here at all”. This was extremely troubling to me and it should be troubling to you that the news is absolutely filtered in a way that denies Palestinian frustration and non-violent attempts to change the situation in Israel/Palestine. This reporter intentionally waited until the demonstration was over to cover this story and displayed a misleading picture.

When the group traveled through checkpoints, a soldier would get on the bus. The first time we had all prepared our passports so that they could be checked. But they were not. The soldier walked down the isle, noticing how “American” everyone looked and walked to the back of the bus. Only there did he stop to question one of us- an African American Minister from Baltimore. This is racism: not to question any of the people on the bus who looked “safe”. What if we were traveling with a religious Muslim American? He or she would definitely have been stopped and questioned simply for belonging to a certain religion.

Today I was in Hebron, and it was one of the scariest experiences of my life. We met with an ideological settler, David Wilder, who explained his position for being in Hebron and why he carries a gun at all times. He might be the most violent person I have ever had to listen to. After the meeting with him we went into the Mosque where Goldstein shot up 29 praying Muslims. This part I knew. What I didn’t know was that after this occurred, the area was divided so that Jews would have access to the holy graves on this location as well. How can this be? Israel certainly does not reward suicide bombers and of course they shouldn’t be rewarded. But to reward a Jewish terrorist with a portion of a Holy Site seems obscene to me. In addition, the residents of Kiryat Arba commemorate Goldstein’s murders every year as a joyous occasion- I mean, Cahana Tzadak right?

I realize that these people are in the extreme and that there are plenty of would-be-suicide-bombers in the Palestinian extreme. But the Israeli collective is hardly ever punished because of the actions of individuals, while entire Palestinian villages and families are meant to bear the results of their extremists. Though there are many in Israel who oppose the concept of “Settlements”- I think the idea they have in their mind is of a trailer parked on a hill somewhere. But this is not what most of the settlements I have seen look like. In fact, I realized that many towns which I was familiar with their names, I never even knew were built illegally within the West Bank. These are not trailer parks, these are massive, well constructed communities like Maale Adomim and Givat Zeev which give the impression of legitimacy. They are not. They are illegal under international law because they are built on occupied land. And while Israel is quick to dismiss international law and the UN, I think it should remember that it is only because of these bodies that it exists in the first place.

Dad, you might be surprised (or you might think they are lying) that most of the Palestinians we’ve met want a one state solution. They want to be able to return to their lands. My new friend Lara, whose parents still own land in Gaza which they cannot access, had never been here before this trip and now she only gets to be here as a tourist.  Most Palestinians I’ve met are open to the idea of living in a democratic state with Jews. Would this mean that the Jews would eventually be in the minority? Yes. But is that so threatening? Are Jews unable to thrive in countries in which they are not in the majority? Are there not phenomenally successful Jews in the US? One argument against this seems to be that the land is simply too small. In this case- why is the “Law of Return” still implemented? Why is Israel able to contain any Jew who wished to immigrate to Israel but not Palestinians who wish to return to the lands they can prove ownership of?

I’m sorry this is so long. I’ve seen a lot of things during this trip. You might think I’ve been brainwashed. That’s ok.  I’d like to share what I’ve seen on this trip with you if you are interested. If you are not, that’s ok as well. I hope there is a way for these various positions to exist in our family. I love you.

June 2010, Occupied East Jerusalem.


Written by Keren Carmeli

October 11, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: