Can you support the Palestinians when you live on their stolen land?

Every time I would tell my girlfriend (she’s Palestinian) about a famous Israeli activist or writer or she would ask why they still call themselves Israeli. She tells me things like, “See. They still call themselves Israeli. When they use that word they are automatically erasing Palestine.”

I always used to argue with her over that and try to convince her that these Israelis are good people who genuinely care and want to do something. But, for the first time I think she’s right.

If you are an Israeli, even if you disagree with your government’s treatment of the Palestinians, you’re still enjoying the sweet life of privilege. You’ll still be enjoying the privileges Palestinians aren’t able to even though it’s actually their land.

There are so many Israelis who are prominent in the media, who work hard to fight for justice for Palestinians. I don’t need to name them, you all know who they are.

But I have to ask Israelis the question: “If you feel so strongly about what is being done to the Palestinians, how can you continue to live in their stolen country?”

How can you go from a West Bank protest back to your Tel Aviv home, which very well may have belonged to a family member of your friends in the West Bank? Can you really be supporting someone when you live on the land which was violently seized from them?

If these Israeli activists truly believe what they say they should move to the occupied territories and live as a Palestinian. Give up your life of comfort and privilege in the posh neighborhoods of Tel Aviv and live in the Bethlehem ghetto with the people of Aida camp.

Drop out of Ben Gurion University and enroll in Birzeit. Trade Starbucks in Haifa for Stars and Bucks in Ramallah. Now THAT’s solidarity.

Many would say that Israeli dissidents help by staying inside Israel to fight the system from within, and that without them there there would really be no hope for Israeli society. I’ve got news for those people: there is no hope for Israeli society to change from the inside. This is the whole premise of the very popular BDS movement.

The more Israelis of conscience jump ship the quicker the whole Zionist apartheid operation will self-destruct; and the sooner the dispersed Palestinian people of the world can finally be reunited with their land and families.

I’ve been to Gaza and met a teenage boy who watched his brother get blown up in front of his eyes in the first attack of Operation Cast Lead. A year later he was still wetting himself and was unable to sleep at night due to the trauma.

I’ve seen a pregnant woman in Qalandia checkpoint fall to the ground in pain. I’ve met the loving father of a family in Aida Camp who has to beg internationals for money for new glasses. He’s going blind because Israel won’t allow him to get laser eye surgery in Israel, which is just minutes away.

I’ve been inside a home in the old city of Hebron when it was overrun with IDF troops yelling at Palestinian mothers.

I’ve met a family in Sheikh Jarrah who had their house stolen by settlers; and I’ve seen the tent they have to live in.

So, I’m out of patience. I don’t care about the feelings of the morally righteous land thieves anymore.

If you claim to support the Palestinians start calling yourself Palestinian instead of Israeli and permanently live among Palestinians under occupation.  This is the definition of solidarity.

Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 30 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. seafoid says:

    Why BDS is the only way to change Israel :

    link to

    “Common Cause, written by Tom Crompton of the environment group WWF, examines a series of fascinating recent advances in the field of psychology. It offers, I believe, a remedy to the blight that now afflicts every good cause from welfare to climate change. Progressives, he shows, have been suckers for a myth of human cognition he labels the enlightenment model. This holds that people make rational decisions by assessing facts. All that has to be done to persuade people is to lay out the data: they will then use it to decide which options best support their interests and desires. A host of psychological experiments demonstrate that it doesn’t work like this. Instead of performing a rational cost-benefit analysis, we accept information that confirms our identity and values, and reject information that conflicts with them.
    We mould our thinking around our social identity, protecting it from serious challenge. Confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden their resistance to change.”

    Israelis won’t do what is rational unless they have to pay for it. The social pressure to conform is stronger in Israel than in any Western society.

  2. Avi says:

    I’ve been to Gaza and met a teenage boy who watched his brother get blown up in front of his eyes in the first attack of Operation Cast Lead. A year later he was still wetting himself and was unable to sleep at night due to the trauma.

    Israeli Assault Injures 1.5 Million Gazans.

    Furthermore, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), prevalent among civilian victims of war and military veterans, can wreak havoc on a person’s life.

    From the DSM-IV

    309.81 DSM-IV Criteria for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

    A. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been present:

    (1) the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others (2) the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Note: In children, this may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior.

    B. The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one (or more) of the following ways:

    (1) recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. Note: In young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed.

    (2) recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content.

    (3) acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur upon awakening). Note: In young children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur.

    (4) intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.

    (5) physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.

    C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

    (1) efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma

    (2) efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma

    (3) inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma

    (4) markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities

    (5) feeling of detachment or estrangement from others

    (6) restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)

    (7) sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)

    D. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by two (or more) of the following:

    (1) difficulty falling or staying asleep
    (2) irritability or outbursts of anger
    (3) difficulty concentrating
    (4) hypervigilance
    (5) exaggerated startle response

    E. Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B, C, and D) is more than one month.

    F. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

    Specify if:
    Acute: if duration of symptoms is less than 3 months
    Chronic: if duration of symptoms is 3 months or more

  3. samjnickels says:

    I like the general idea here, entering the same position of those with whom you are solidary (Freire).

    Although, I haven’t had enough time to properly think this through, there is a part of your suggestion here that sits uncomfortably with me. Moving to live in the occupied West Bank may seem like solidarity in some respects, but it also strikes me as a more extreme version of colonialism than say, living in a suburb in Tel Aviv. For example, rather than taking up residence in the City of David, you choose to live in Silwan in solidarity with the Palestinians who are subject to the harassment of the Palestinians? So you’re still a settler right, just a nicer one who is taking up residence with Palestinians and seeking to undermine the occupation?

    For me it comes down to the wishes of those whose land it is. Choosing, as an Israeli, to live in the West Bank without doing some serious listening to Palestinian voices, would be a serious mistake.

  4. You are asking Jews/Israelis to not be.

    Its impossible. Its the story of Esau and Jacob. Both engaged in ambiguous behavior. Esau begging Jacob to buy his birthright for some food. Jacob pretending to be Esau when seeking his father’s blessing.

    Jews derive their lineage from Jacob. They could walk in endless guilt and ambiguity (we do), and suicide because of the guilt, or incremental suicide because of the guilt (some do and some don’t).

    Or, we can LIVE, choosing to live, from the present forward, from the present reality forward.

    ALL land was originally someone else’s. The Palestinians that reside on land were born within the last 100 years only. Their community is comprised of some that resided there in an ancestral line for millenia, and some that are very recent. Some arrived there by avoiding the many conflicts that occurred there, and some arrived there by conquering.

    As there is no way to tell from a Jewish vantage, who is Jewish or who is Palestinian at a demonstration or in a city street (except by conscious “uniform”), it is also impossible to tell among the Palestinians whom is descended from millenial residents and whom from recent.

    Human rights are present rights.

    In ALL cases, it is possible to honor the predecessors, which clearly is not done. I doubt that many Indians would feel satisfied by “we honor the former residents of this valley, we remember them and their life ways and relationship to the locale”.

    There is no healing for that mourning, no white people’s suicide, no forced removal, no psychological walking in guilt.

    The healing is of the present forward, in the MUTUAL recognition of experience and presence.

    • pjdude says:

      So criminals should be rewarded for the crimes that is the nature of justice to you?

    • “Its impossible. Its the story of Esau and Jacob. Both engaged in ambiguous behavior. Esau begging Jacob to buy his birthright for some food. Jacob pretending to be Esau when seeking his father’s blessing.”

      Oh, please!..Enough of this mythical archaeology..There are enough modern and less modern historical references apt to provide you with all the parables you’d like to invoke but this is utterly off!

    • Chaos4700 says:

      You are asking Jews/Israelis to not be.

      When are you going to get it through your apparently impenetrable fanatical skull that Jews and Israelis are TWO DIFFERENT GROUPS?

      This is ridiculous. Nakba denial does not constitute reconciliation, Witty, and neither does making a fifth column out of American Jews.

      • yonira says:

        You are ridiculous Chaos, you extract one line and fail to respond to the crux of Witty’s argument and Glatzer’s idiocy.

        This article is ridiculous, not only is Glatzer calling for a one-state solution (which I don’t agree with but can sympathize with) he is calling for the end of an Israeli national character, replacing it with a Palestinian one. WTF man, what about the third generation Israelis whose only crime was being born Israeli? Do you think they are going to go for that? 60 years ago Jews were persecuted for merely being born Jewish, now the same for Israelis?

        BS. not gonna happen. This hate filled diatribe shouldn’t be allowed on Mondoweiss. Funny he didn’t post it on the CSUN student newspaper.

        Funny he doesn’t sound so threatening here, which do you believe in Glatzer? or are you simply playing to your audience….

        link to

        • Shingo says:

          “Do you think they are going to go for that? 60 years ago Jews were persecuted for merely being born Jewish, now the same for Israelis?”

          Israelis who are persecuting Palestinians merely for being Palestinians.

    • sherbrsi says:

      You are asking Jews/Israelis to not be.

      To not be racist, colonialist, or criminal.

      If it is the choice of Zionism to base its survival on these elements, then Israel risks delegitimization on its own merits.

  5. bangpound says:

    This strikes me as dangerously naive.

    People born in a country have a right to live there. People born in a country which was created through violence and colonialism have a duty to decolonize. But it’s still their home! I’m sure that if Israelis value their privilege more than their homes, they might escape to the places of their ancestral origin if they can secure another passport. But Jewish Arabs are unlikely to return to Iraq or Morocco, and their children born in Israel shouldn’t be victims of another unjust population exchange.

    Moreover, Palestinian identity is not a commodity. It’s not something you can put on and take off. “Oh I am in solidarity with Palestinians, therefore I am Palestinian.” For an Israeli to take up this line is the essence of colonialism not solidarity.

    • eljay says:

      >> Or, we can LIVE, choosing to live, from the present forward, from the present reality forward.

      Reward the criminal, absolve him of all crimes. Punish the victim, make him forfeit all that was his. That is the “humanist” way; that is “justice”. Disgusting.

    • Michael W. says:

      I’m glad someone picked up the same points I did.

      1. How do you reconcile the rights of third generation Israelis with the rights of third generation Palestinians living in Jordan or the West Bank to land currently in Israel proper?

      2. How do you reconcile the rights and safety Mizrachi/Sephardic Jews gained in Israel with what they the rights they never and can’t have in the “old countries”?

      3. How exactly are Jewish Israelis supposed to gain a Palestinian identity when even the Jewish community of Hebron in 1929 (and many other Jewish communities in Palestine), and Mizrachi/Sephardic Jews couldn’t gain it in their thousands old residence in the rest of the Middle East?

      Frankly, if sharing the land is your goal (which I don’t believe it is), this is the worst thing you could do. If you want to gain equal rights for everyone, I still don’t see how your approach (Joseph’s) will get a net gain of rights since you haven’t shown me Palestinian inclusion of Jews in their vision and future.

  6. Michael W. says:

    Joseph, do you have Palestinian “citizenship”? I know of at least one, and perhaps there are more, Israeli with Palestinian Authority issued “honorary” passport. That’s not many. Don’t you need some sort of official document stating that you are Palestinian living in Palestine and you have the certain rights as a Palestinian? Wouldn’t that improve accessibility for Israeli Jews to join the Palestinians as fellow Palestinians. Isn’t that the goal, Jewish and Arabs in a shared Palestine? Or is it not?

    Accessibility is one huge obstacle you fail to fully address. Where exactly do Jews fit in the Palestinian national movement and the Arab national movement? We’ve seen Mizrachi Jews leave the Arab countries to countries they have access to, where they can have more rights and more security. The Arab countries define themselves as Arab and/or Muslim, and Jews have little to no access to the Arab/Muslim establishment. And please don’t blame this on the Zionists and what not. Half of Israeli Jews are Mizrachi/Sephardic. They’ve already lived through the growth of Arab nationalism. How many remained back in the “old countries” of Iraq and Egypt?

    My mom recently found out that she does in fact have Tunisian citizenship (She also has French, Israel and most recently American citizenship as of 2006) from other Tunisian-French-Israeli-American friends (the wonder of America, a place where you can find other people with the exact 4 nationalities as yours). There was a sense of excitement in her like it added strength to her identity and background. We eat lots of Tunisian food, but we hardly ever talk about Tunisia. Where does long lost Tunisian Jews fit in today’s Tunisia? There is no vision and no future for Jews in Tunisia. We can’t be tourists forever.

    Is there vision and future for Jews in Israel. Yes, as evident by its economic growth and the freedoms they enjoy. Do those rights and privileges have to come at the expense of the Palestinians? I don’t know. I’ll talk a little bit more about that in detail soon. Does the vision and future of the Palestinian cause in the last 100 years come at the expense of the human rights of Jews, not to mention their self-determination in some form or another? Are Tunisian Jews allowed any of that cake?

    Let’s take a page from history. 1929, Hebron. Dozens of Jews lost their lives and the rest were kicked out of the city. The Jewish community of Hebron was there just as long as the Palestinian Arabs of Hebron. Where they even Ashkenazi or Zionist? Does it even matter?

    Tell me, where was the Palestinian movement inclusion of Jews in the last 100 years? Anti-Zionist Israelis don’t usually move to the West Bank or some Arab country, they usually move the US or Europe. People talk now about one-secular state of Jews and Arabs and everybody else. But do you really think that the leaders in Hamas and Fatah can make such an ideological shift away from Islamic and Arab nationalism? And why just now? Have their previous means to an end failed? How can we trust them (I actually think Abbas has some courage)? There is no accountability. They are so divided they can’t even avoid civil war.

    If the secular democratic state is such a moral and righteous pursuit, why not start by building it where the two populations aren’t so hostile to each other and have more in common? The Arabs can hardly build something together. For example, the Arab League was created in 1945 while the EU was created in 1993. Who made it faster to economic cooperation and adoption of democracy and human rights first? Ans. not the Arab League. Do you really think Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs can so naturally follow the righteous path of the secular democratic state? Whatever has to shift to make the region respectful of human rights and democratic, it is not Israel. Israel finding its more Arab and Muslim side won’t make the cultural hegemony the region needs to join in a love fest of human rights and democracy.

    By the way, the kibbutz I grew up in was established in 1939 on land bought by the Rothchilds. Is that land stolen from the Palestinian Arabs because … I don’t know, any suggestions? When you deny the rights of Israeli Jews to live in Tel Aviv, you’ve lost the ear of the vast majority of reasonable (yes, I know, a relative term) Israelis willing to listen to your vision of the Jew’s future in Palestine.

    Final comment: Yes, I know, we need to share the land. I just don’t see how your approach will get us there since you deny ANY Jewish ownership to any land in Palestine.

  7. pabelmont says:

    The question, what rights SHOULD Israeli Jews (the recent immigrants since 1922) have to land and water in Palestine, is a challenging one. If Witty is right, then (as I read him) Jews have the right over-and against-any-Palestinians to possess the land on which they NOW reside: [1] including West Bank settlements; [2] including lands seized for Israel by Israel’s Custodian of Absentee Property in the period 1948-1950 or thereabouts; [3] including communal lands previously owned by Palestinian-Israeli villages and (perhaps) Waqf lands seized by Israel when Israel decided to adopt new (western? non-Palestinian, surely) and confiscatory land ownership rules.

    [And we might ask the same questions in the USA where much land was very, very consciously seized from Native Americans not only by wars of conquest but also by treaty-breaking and other forms of overt theft from law-recognized owners.]

    I have no good answer. But here are some thoughts.

    [1] The number of Palestinians making claim to Israel-held lands is larger than the number of Israel-resident Israeli-Jews laying claim to Israeli ownership. Whereas the number of Native Americans laying claim to American-held lands is small in the USA, the number of Palestinians claiming to Israel-held lands remains large. (Orthodox Jews are not the only people in the I/P context producing an unconscionable number of children w.r.t. available water and land. Sigh.) TO SOME EXTENT, LAND BELONGS IN PROPORTION TO THE NUMBER OF CLAIMANTS.

    [2] No-one who accepts a deed to a piece of land from someone (say from the Israeli government and its successors and assigns) has a better claim to it than the entity from which they acquired title. The claim that “I have complete and perfect right and title to this land because I believed that the folks who sold it to me had complete right and title to it” will not wash. If the modern title arose in theft, then the title is worthless. “Holder in due course” assumes that the holder of a thing has no knowledge of the means by which the previous owners have acquired the thing. But all Israelis know about the wars of 1948 and 1967.

    [3] If morality played any role, in my opinion, the best re-division of land would be a re-division which delivered to the Israelis the SMALLEST land on which they could reasonably reside, a good deal smaller than pre-1967 Israel by far, where a prelude to the re-division was an ADMISSION by Israel of the pain and injustices it had caused by its unnecessary and unilateral armed leap to statehood together with an admission that whereas it was at most entitled to all it needs, it was never (and is not now) entitled to all it ever wanted (w.r.t. land) and that its invitation to all the Jews in the world to come and live in Israel is and always was unrealistic and based on a view of ownership of land which Israel now repudiates. SOME WISE ISRAELIS ONCE SAID, YESH GVUL (THERE IS A LIMIT). I suggest there is a limit to the claim for land and water that can morally be made in favor of the present-day Jewish population of Israel. WE SHOULD ALL DISCUSS WHAT THAT LIMIT SHOULD BE.

    I am not (as Witty might have it) asking Jews “not to be.” I am, however, asking them to do something very, very difficult: to admit guilt, to renounce all or much of what they have illegitimately taken, to say they are sorry, and to live with what they absolutely need, not with what they expansively desire, to live small, not large. For all I know, the Boro of Manhattan in the City of New York contains more residents than Israel; and it is much smaller. It can be done. it should be done.

    The desire to legitimize an earlier theft by obliterating all those who would speak ill of the earlier theft is, to some, an overwhelming desire. It must be resisted.

    • I have an answer and that is the rule of law applied in a color-blind manner that includes in its deliberation and remedy, the relative rights of all claiment parties.

      So, on a house that was a former home of Palestinians, forcefully removed, not permitted to return, vacant for two years (because of being denied permission to return), taken by eminent domain under the absentee lands legislations, transferred to the Israeli land administration board or JNF, leased or sold to a Jewish family, then sold or leased to another Jewish family.

      The status of title is contested (imperfected) until prior individual Palestinians get their day in court, and some fund is set up for perfection of title to a class. The rights of current residents, maybe three or even ten title transfers down the line, MUST be incorporated into the deliberation.

      It is no longer Palestinian national land, as in sovereignty. It is sovereign Israel. And, it is no longer individual Palestinians’ land. It is the property of those with current title and/or leasehold rights.

      The question of right of return to those that might have inherited that land and home is a different question.

      In my home area, Indians still refer to the land as stolen, as evidenced by the numerous burial grounds that are discovered every time someone builds and apartment building or retail store.

      But, they too are relatively recent immigrants. 20,000 years ago, the land was under a mile of ice. 10,000 years ago, under a four hundred feet deep lake. The first evidence of village settlements is only around 800 years old.

      Not “always there”, and not “not there ever”.

      • Shingo says:

        “It is no longer Palestinian national land, as in sovereignty. It is sovereign Israel. And, it is no longer individual Palestinians’ land. It is the property of those with current title and/or leasehold rights.”‘

        Even if that current title is fraudulent? I tbhough you just said that the rule of law musy be applied in a color-blind fashion?

      • GreatLeo says:

        “And, it is no longer individual Palestinians’ land. It is the property of those with current title and/or leasehold rights.”

        So then, quite clearly, you support the notion of theft as a means to acquiring someone elses private property. If you steal something, and then use overwhelming miliatry power to prevent the original owner from claiming the land, you get to keep it.

        You talk about people getting their day in court. Do you mean Palestinians getting their day in an Israeli court?

        I am an American. From what I have read, you are also an American. But it seems that only one of us is dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal. It’s not you. You are dedicated to the proposition that Jews are born with superior rights.

      • pjdude says:

        Wrong witty is it is not their property if they got it through theft it is the property of those it was stolen from Control does not confer ownership

        • If you study law, you will find that courts recognize MULTIPLE assertions of rights, including the relative rights of the current residents, relative to the relative rights of prior.

          The choice of remedy for wrongs (actually to perfect deficiencies) includes in some cases restoration of current property rights to current owners. In some cases, compensation, and in some cases denial of former property owners rights.

          In the case of fellahin that had permission to reside, not property rights, their rights are relative but real. They are not none, and the relationship is NOT of “theft”.

          Law includes the individual, property, not only the political whether nationalist or class-based.

        • Shingo says:

          Have you studies law Witty? Clearly not, because we’re all too familiar with your propensity to ad lid and make up this stuf as you go along.

          If a property has a caveat, the caveat supercedes all subsequent claims. In fact, one of the problems with foreclosures at the moment is that those purchasing homes that were foreclosed cannot be guranteed they have ownership of the title to the poerty they have purchased.

          “The choice of remedy for wrongs (actually to perfect deficiencies) includes in some cases restoration of current property rights to current owners.”

          False. That has never been the case, unless the acquisition can be proven to have been legal.

          You’re lying.

          “‘In the case of fellahin that had permission to reside, not property rights, their rights are relative but real. They are not none, and the relationship is NOT of “theft”.”‘

          Only if they can be shown to have purchased the property in good faith, which is not the case most of the time.

          “Law includes the individual, property, not only the political whether nationalist or class-based.”

          Shut up Witty. You’re talign garbage. read a book on the subejct before making this stuff up as you go along. You don’t even know the difference between sovereignty and property rights.

        • The reason that the foreclosure issue is significant is that the owners (by foreclosure) don’t have perfected title.

          If the homes were subsequently sold and now occupied, the present owners do have relative rights, including the right to restitution for their losses resulting from false representation and if the homes are taken, they have rights for compensation for any improvements.

          “Kick em out” just isn’t the law.

          Its up to courts to decide the status title. The political approach is mob, NOT law.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          “Kick em out” just isn’t the law.

          Unless you’re a Jewish Zionist and the sweet piece of land you’re eyeing is somewhere between the Meditterranean and Amman. Then for Witty, it’s kosher. Bring in the bulldozers and the davidkas!

  8. annie says:

    i like your post joseph however i while i think you can take the israeli out of israel, you can’t take israel out of the israeli. especially if you were born there.

    if it were me i would acknowledge my living in palestine (where israel is) by self identifying as palestinian (pre israel jews living there were also called palestinian). i would just call myself an israeli palestinian, because basically that’s who israelis are. as for living in the occupied territory, one state will happen when people believe it. it’s already one state in my mind, one apartheid state w/one government. live in the community that embraces you. home is where the heart is, if yours is in a ghetto in bethlehem and that’s where your people are, live there.

  9. Thank you, Joseph. Your post really resonates with me, because these are things I have struggled with. I have made my choices, but they are not necessarily the right ones. I have renounced my day-to-day privileges as an Israeli, but still hold on to my passport and enjoy the privileges of an Israeli when I go to visit. I owned an apartment in Jerusalem, undoubtedly on stolen land (between the ethnically cleansed villages of Deir Yassin and Sheikh Bader), which I sold, without attempting to compensate the original owners.

    There are many ways of participating in a struggle and many ways of showing solidarity. I am a white, European male. I have more privileges than virtually anyone on the planet. Should I renounce these privileges (e.g. the right to virtually unrestricted travel)? Would it actually help anyone? Or would it simply be an empty, primarily narcissistic gesture? Isn’t the ability to renounce privilege a privilege in and of itself? Isn’t the fact that I can reclaim my privilege any time, a slap in the face to those around me in my chosen, oppressed environment?

    As far as how people identify themselves, an Israeli who calls himself a Palestinian will still be an Israeli (by nationality, language, culture, etc.). Besides, there is value, as I have personally experienced so often, in saying that you are an Israeli who rejects Zionism and supports Palestinian rights. One of the most moving experiences of my life was when a Palestinian from Hebron called my home in Jerusalem to tell me that he had read something I had written online, and that the fact that it had been written by an Israeli gave him a glimmer of hope at a particularly dark time.

  10. sherbrsi says:

    Gideon Levy has struggled with these conflicted emotions. It is possible to be Israeli and in solidarity with the Palestinians. The problem, yet again, is Zionism. You cannot be, in any morally consistent manner, be a Zionist and sympathetic or genuinely helpful to the Palestinian cause or their historical wrong-doing, no more than a KKK member can sincerely help the civil rights movement.

    The very fact that you are in position to consider this, means that you are more considerate and in solidarity with the Palestinian, than the Israeli who denies that there was a Palestinian state, and thus the subsequent theft of the nation and the expulsion of its Arab population.

  11. Joseph I think there are many ways to truly being in solidarity with the Palestinians of Palestine, and you have outlined one way, not the only way. I caution you about the broad and emphatic sweep of your prescription. Take for example an Israeli anarchist against the wall, who lives in pre-67 Israel and who literally risks her or his life to go to weekly demos in Bil’in. Is that person not being in solidarity enough with the Palestinians, because they are not living with the Palestinians every day? (Did anyone from Bil’in actually invite her/him to move in?)

    Taking on major hardship is an individual choice. Where an individual chooses cooperation and non-cooperation is an individual choice. I think you offer an option that can feel inspiring, and if it’s phrased (as it seems to me) to be an all-encompassing prescription that if not followed automatically renders the reader as a sell-out, then it feels too overwhelming.

    Can you make these ideas more powerful and inspiring and heartfelt without the broad sweeping judgments about those who don’t necessarily follow them?

  12. Oh one other thought…. What is the responsibility of American homeowners? To turn over the deeds to Native American communities? Just asking, and it’s a serious question, not a flippant or dismissive remark as it might sound! The U.S. social sphere hasn’t even begun to consider what justice would look like for the genocide of this continent’s indigenous population and descendants.