Israeli leftist: Join us in our war against this fatal affliction, the occupation

Israel/Palestine
on 47 Comments

 Rami Elhanan, who lost his daughter Smadar to a suicide bomber in 1997, in a speech last week, picked up at Kibush

I think about the stations of my life, on the long journey that I have taken on my way to a redefinition of myself, of my Israeliness, of my Jewishness and of my humanity. About the light-years that I have travelled, from the young man who 37 years ago fought in a pulverized tank company, on the other side of the Suez Canal, from the young father who 28 years ago walked the streets of bombed Beirut, and it did not at all occur to me that things could be otherwise. I was a pure product of a cultural-educational and political system that brainwashed me, poisoned my consciousness and prepared me and others of my generation for sacrifice on the altar of the homeland, without any superfluous questions, in the innocent belief that if we did not do it, they would throw us – the second generation after the Holocaust – into the Mediterranean Sea.

Nearly 40 years have passed since then, and every year this armour of victimhood continues to crack. The self-righteousness and the feeling of wretchedness keep dissipating, and the wall that separates me from the other side of the story keeps crumbling.

…this evening I want to talk specifically to those who are in between, who are sitting on the fence and watching us from the sidelines, I want to talk to the satiated Israeli public that does not pay the price of the Occupation, the public that sticks its head in the sand and does not want to know, that lives within a bubble, watches television, eats in restaurants, goes on vacation, enjoys the good life and looks after their its own interests, shielded by the pandering media that help it to hide from the bitter reality that is concealed only a few metres from where they live: the Occupation, the theft of lands and houses, the daily harassment and oppression and humiliation, the checkpoints, the abomination in Gaza, the sewage on the streets of Anata …

On this evening, especially, I want to address the Left public in all its shades, those who are disillusioned and angry, those who are afflicted with apathy, with despair and weakness, those who enclose themselves in the bubble of themselves and grumble on Friday nights, but are not involved with us in this hard war against the aggressive pathogen of the Occupation that threatens to destroy the humanity of all of us. And on this evening, the evening of Remembrance Day for the dead on both sides, I want to ask them to join us in our war against this fatal affliction! I want to tell them that to be bystanders is to be complicit in crime! I want to tell them that there are many who are not willing to stand aside, who are not willing to be silent in the face of evil and stupidity and the absence of basic accountability and justice!

And I want to tell them about the true anonymous heroes of our dark age! About those who are willing to pay a high personal price for their honesty and decency, those who dare to stand in front of the bulldozers with rare and amazing courage, the refusers who say no to the omnipresent militarism, the combatants for peace who discarded their weapons in favour of non-violent resistance, the resolute demonstrators who crush against the terror of the police and the army in Bil’in, in Ni’lin, in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan every weekend, the lawyers who struggle every day in the Ofer camp military Court, and in the High Court of Justice, the heroic women of Mahsom Watch, the dedicated peace activists from abroad, like the late Rachel Corrie who gave her life, and also the those who blow the whistle on crimes and conspiracies, from Anat Kam to Gideon Levy and Akiva Eldar, and also the peace organizations of both peoples, and especially the bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families who are bringing about the miracle of reconciliation despite their tragedies.

The darker the sky gets, the more visible are these stars gleaming in the darkness!

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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47 Responses

  1. Avi
    April 24, 2010, 10:14 pm

    That’s all nice and dandy. I have known people like Rami Elchanan my entire life. They have always been there in the background, talking about ending the occupation, marching in demonstrations, organizing sit-ins. He lost a child and his effort to reconcile is commendable and respectable.

    It’s a nice sentiment, but ending the occupation is too vague. I’ll have to hear more from Mr. Elchanan before I can file this under “The Israeli left is waking up”.

    If you are reading this, Mr. Elchanan, I am sorry, but I’m sure you’ll understand where I’m coming from with this post.

    • Shmuel
      April 25, 2010, 11:08 am

      Avi,

      The original Hebrew (spoken at Combatants for Peace Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony on Israel’s Remembrance Day) is longer, and offers a little more insight into Rami Elhanan’s views, including his support for the path forged by his father-in-law, Mati Peled. I think Elhanan and his wife, Nurit Peled Elhanan, are important voices on the Israeli left, perhaps first and foremost because they relate to Palestinians (as did Mati Peled) as equals. As Elhanan points out in his talk (more so in the full version), he rejects the brainwashing, the militarism and the victimism behind Israeli crimes, and refuses to allow the crimes themselves to be ignored or dismissed.

      These things may seem old hat even for the Israeli left, but the regression in recent years has been such that a lot of old and obvious truths must be repeated.

      • Avi
        April 25, 2010, 1:54 pm

        Shmuel,

        The English version here doesn’t do the Hebrew version justice. Indeed, it is far more comprehensive and enlightening. Rami’s got a tough task ahead as he works to build a coalition of supporters, a following. It’s a good start. Good for him.

  2. sky7i
    April 24, 2010, 10:36 pm

    FYI:

    Mr. Elhanan appears in John Pilger’s documentary Palestine is Still the Issue at the 16 minute mark.

    link to video.google.com

    • Avi
      April 25, 2010, 2:03 pm

      The video touches on several points that the Hebrew version above touched on. Thank you, sky7i. It’s another important angle about Rami Elchanan and his moral stance. It takes courage to publicly say what he’s saying. He’s already paid a heavy toll.

  3. potsherd
    April 24, 2010, 10:38 pm

    The thing is, people in the US have not known people like this their entire lives. They have no idea. They have never heard these voices.

    There is an audience waiting for him here, and people who need to hear these truths from a witness like him.

    • Avi
      April 24, 2010, 10:48 pm

      If that’s the case, then there’s a 20 – 30 year delay between Israel and the US.

      • syvanen
        April 24, 2010, 11:51 pm

        If that’s the case, then there’s a 20 – 30 year delay between Israel and the US.

        Avi, oh there is. I am an example. I began reading the Israeli press (Haaretz and JP) about 6 years ago. I was totally amazed about the frankness of the IP debate that was going on there. They openly discuss issues that are completely forbidden here in the US. I certainly had a sense before then that the Palestinians had been screwed but I sort of dismissed it with the same sense that the Native Americans, the Pomeranian Germans and Prussians and the Karelian Finns had been screwed. In any case I there are very few Americans that are aware of what happened in 1948, in 1967 and today.

      • VR
        April 25, 2010, 2:01 am

        In Israel they see and speak about it and do nothing substantive, in the USA it is censored and a non-subject on the MSM – except for “poor Israel.” The experts prance around doing nothing, but you see we bow to so-called authoritative expertise in the USA, the only problem is that on this subject it is all a sham. The main fact being, that if you keep the two apart, those who speak earnestly in Israel coupled with the wall of abject ignorance in the USA, nothing of consequence will ever happen.

  4. NormanF
    April 24, 2010, 10:58 pm

    Oddly enough, the only country in the world that offered to terminate the Occupation immediately…. was Israel. Who turned that offer down? The Palestinians!

  5. thankgodimatheist
    April 25, 2010, 12:15 am

    Rami Elhanan is an Arabic name, both ends..

    • Avi
      April 25, 2010, 12:17 am

      Actually it isn’t. It’s an Israeli Jewish name.

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 25, 2010, 12:23 am

        Rami= He who throws
        EL= The
        Hannan= Hanan= compassion( compassionate)

      • Avi
        April 25, 2010, 12:26 am

        I see what you’re saying.

        But, it is actually a common Israeli Jewish name.

      • Chaos4700
        April 25, 2010, 12:46 am

        A lot of Arabic was “borrowed” when Modern Hebrew was being synthesized and European Jews decided to change their names to give their claims to stolen Palestinian land a false aroma of legitimacy to inexperienced Western ears.

      • Sumud
        April 25, 2010, 3:11 pm

        Who can forget Banjamin Mileikowsky’s fabulous speech at AIPAC where he spoke of the ancient ring bearing the name Netanyahu:

        “The ring is a seal of a Jewish official, and inscribed on it in Hebrew is his name: Netanyahu. Netanyahu Ben-Yoash. That’s my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back 1,000 years earlier to Benjamin, the son of Jacob.

        One of Benjamin’s brothers was named Shimon, which also happens to be the first name of my good friend, Shimon Peres, the President of Israel.

        Nearly 4,000 years ago, Benjamin, Shimon and their ten brothers roamed the hills of Judea.

        Ladies and Gentlemen, the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied. ”
        link to haaretz.com

        link to palestinechronicle.com
        link to en.wikipedia.org

    • thankgodimatheist
      April 25, 2010, 12:18 am

      The reason I’m saying this is because, while I could see a lot of Israelis having what SOUNDS like Arabic names, they’re not. This, for me, is a first.

      • Avi
        April 25, 2010, 12:25 am

        It’s Rami Elchanan, like the Chet in Chanuka (Hanukkah).

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 25, 2010, 12:27 am

        Thanks Avi. I wasn’t claiming him as “ours”..I was just surprised how much we have in common. That’s all:)

      • Avi
        April 25, 2010, 12:35 am

        I wasn’t claiming him as “ours”….

        I’m certain he’s a human being. So, he is yours and mine.

  6. Richard Witty
    April 25, 2010, 4:21 am

    I like his emphasis on stopping mutual aggressions.

    • Cliff
      April 25, 2010, 8:11 am

      Everything you say is an equivocation. And you’re talking to yourself. This is why BDS is the right choice. People like you, Dick, are deluded. This is not about holding hands, but about holding criminals like you and your racist, pariah State, accountable.

      Scum like you, who straw man international law as ‘political correctness’.

      You’re a thug posing as a ‘voice of reason’. Scam artist.

      • Mooser
        April 25, 2010, 10:28 am

        Thank you, Cliff. A more succinct description of Witty and his ilk than I could write.

      • Richard Witty
        April 25, 2010, 10:38 am

        Its true. Its not about holding hands.

        Its about making ACTUAL change.

      • Chaos4700
        April 25, 2010, 10:40 am

        …as long as the Zionist “facts on the ground” are never actually changed, huh?

      • Richard Witty
        April 25, 2010, 10:42 am

        Do you know how many people that would have been sympathetic to the experience and condition of Palestinians, YOU’VE chased away.

        Most that have jobs, responsibilities, families, don’t have the scope or interest in revolution. They know that it ends up wrong 98% of the time (because it is by ideologs mostly), violent 99.8% of the time (again because it is lead by ideologs mostly).

        So, unless you think that there will be some kind of uprising in the US (hopefully not a fascistic one), the only option is persuasion. If you adopt maximalist language, rather than mutually productive language (peace), you will deter your success, rather than achieve it.

      • Chaos4700
        April 25, 2010, 10:49 am

        Blah blah blah “violent” blah blah blah “fascistic” blah blah blah “maximalist” blah blah blah….

        Nobody could care less about your attempts to field personal attacks on me and adopt McCarthyist-era tactics to slander other people instead of actually talking about what happens.

        I think this here is all people need to see to understand WHY they should sympathize with the Palestinians.

        link to normanfinkelstein.com

      • Citizen
        April 25, 2010, 12:41 pm

        Well, Witty, in your case, it’s about obfuscating the daily reality of Palestinians American people need to see. You paint your endless abstractions with a universal human face, all the while being a
        tribal witch hunter. At least triple e is honest about that.

  7. Citizen
    April 25, 2010, 5:17 am

    A non-Jewish, non-Arab, non-Muslim American talks about his forced investment in Israel:
    link to counterpunch.org

  8. thankgodimatheist
    April 25, 2010, 6:36 am

    Israeli Activist On Trial For Protesting Bedouin House Demolition

    I was taken to court yesterday for sitting in a home in an unrecognized Bedouin village, as the bulldozer was at the wall – ready to demolish the house. The police carried me out of the home and arrested me, and a couple of years later – I was put on trial for “disrupting a policeman”.

    We gathered – about 40 of us, half an hour before the trial time. We sat outside the courthouse: we were Jews and Arabs – this battle was not a battle of Jews against Arabs – but all of us against powerful injustice.
    link to theonlydemocracy.org

    • thankgodimatheist
      April 25, 2010, 6:39 am

      Villages Imprisoned, Protesters Arrested, and Trees Uprooted for Wall

      Israeli forces stormed the village of alWalaja this morning, imposing curfew, as bulldozers resumed leveling terrain on the village’s lands for the path of the Wall. Soldiers are patrolling the streets of the village by foot, as well as on horses and all-terrain vehicles, and preventing residents from leaving their houses or being in the streets despite the fact that curfew was not officially announced. Press-card holding cameramen who tried entering the village to film were denied entry by the army.
      link to theonlydemocracy.org

  9. eee
    April 25, 2010, 11:12 am

    Does Rami Elhanan favor BDS? I don’t think so.
    I respect Rami because he is using Israel’s democracy as a means to change Israel. That is legitimate.

    What is not legitimate is Americans using Israel as an end to a means in order to solve problems and issues they have at home. The only rational target for BDS is the US government, not Israel. The US is the superpower. The US provides Israel with aid. If you do not like what is going on in the the middle east, focus on your own government and leave Israel alone.

    • Chaos4700
      April 25, 2010, 11:24 am

      Does Rami Elhanan favor BDS? I don’t think so.

      Instead of making faulty assumptions you could, you know, find out what he actually thinks.

    • kapok
      April 25, 2010, 11:31 am

      Votes can go so far. Then it’s bodies.

    • Citizen
      April 25, 2010, 12:51 pm

      Well now, eee, it’s not like JFK did not try to force AIPAC’s parent zionist organisation to register as a foreign agent of Israel. And now we’ve had M & W The Israel Lobby again trying to make a dent in our whore congress rubber-stamping everything Israel does. And now, once again we have patriotic Americans trying to force JFK’s issue again within the US government system. Truman’s dilemna still lives. Quit pretending to be unaware of the power of AIPAC and minions.
      And quit trying to pretend you don’t know about how hard it is to change
      the US electoral campaign finance system from within.

    • Sumud
      April 25, 2010, 3:44 pm

      “I respect Rami because he is using Israel’s democracy as a means to change Israel. That is legitimate.”

      How do you propose the Palestinian population under military occupation – and denied the vote – use Israel’s faux democracy to bring about change?

      More cognitive dissonance from eee.

    • Sumud
      April 25, 2010, 3:47 pm

      “and leave Israel alone.”

      eee – thanks for the comedy moment:

  10. NormanF
    April 25, 2010, 2:41 pm

    If the Jews of British Mandate Palestine had been offered a state with temporary borders on just 60% of the territory, they would have accepted it. There is an irony in the Palestinians rejecting a state because the borders are not to their liking. The Jews in 1947 were in an even more disadvantageous position under the UN Partition Resolution which cut their infant state into three parts but they accepted it because that was the best deal they could get then. They were always willing to compromise on the theory that half a loaf was better than no loaf at all. In contrast, Palestinian Arab intransigence has always been their own worst enemy. That is why they have no state today and are unlikely to have one in the foreseeable future.

    • Avi
      April 25, 2010, 2:56 pm

      If the Jews of British Mandate Palestine had been offered a state with temporary borders on just 60% of the territory, they would have accepted it.

      Anyone would accept that when he or she legally owned less than 4% of the land. Who doesn’t like free stuff?

    • Sumud
      April 25, 2010, 3:58 pm

      ” but they accepted it because that was the best deal they could get”

      Bullshit.

      If Israel accepted UN GA Resolution 181 why are the borders not fixed at the 55% as laid out in the Plan? Does Israel at 78% of mandate Palestine sound consistent with the following from 181?

      “No expropriation of land owned by an Arab in the Jewish State ([or] by a Jew in the Arab State)(4) shall be allowed except for public purposes. In all cases of expropriation full compensation as fixed by the Supreme Court shall be said previous to dispossession.”

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