From Tahrir to Tel Aviv there are only two sides of the barricades – the side of freedom and the side of control

Israel/Palestine
on 7 Comments

The week that followed January 25, 2011, Day One of the Egyptian Intifada, saw two organized demonstrations in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv. Both protests included people of various ethnic identities, but were primarily made up of Palestinian-Israelis, and Arabic was the language of the angry chanting. I videotaped both of these demonstrations and subtitled the anti-Mubarak slogans into English and Hebrew, for the benefit of non-Arabic speakers. At the second demo I also interviewed a number of people on the street to contextualize how these protestors are being interpreted by average Israelis.

I believe that we owe a great debt to the brave souls in Tahrir Square and all across Egypt who are fighting for their freedom, for inspiring us to do the same. But I’m also thankful to them for shining a light so bright that it renders us all almost transparent, allowing us to see ourselves and easily understand all the other actors on stage. There are only two sides of the barricades: the side of freedom, and the side of control. Misr, thank you for the reminder; we need to make every day January 25.

7 Responses

  1. Citizen
    February 4, 2011, 12:59 pm

    Interesting; the older Jewish Israeli woman said her fellow Arab Israeli citizens should “go home” to hold peaceful political protests in solidarity with the Egyptian people. The recent Jewish Israelis from places like Russia obviously feel the same way. None see any inconcistency in their POV.

    • Avi
      February 4, 2011, 1:28 pm

      “go home”

      When Israeli Jews say to the Palestinians — whether inside Israel or outside it — “Go home!”, they mean: “Go to Jordan. Go to those 22 Arab states that surround us, you don’t belong here.”

  2. pabelmont
    February 4, 2011, 1:06 pm

    “But I’m also thankful to them for shining a light so bright that it renders us all almost transparent, allowing us to see ourselves and easily understand all the other actors on stage.”

    Many of us have been so moved that, to us, the light is, indeed, that bright. And we give thanks to those in Tunisia and in Egypt whose sacrifices started this revolution.

    We did nothing. Except, I hope, to see the light — which they kindled.

  3. Avi
    February 4, 2011, 1:15 pm

    The guy in red at approximately 02:20 said about the protesters (paraphrased): “Let them enjoy it. But, I hope they’ll remember that unlike other countries where they will be shot, here in this democracy they can demonstrate freely”.

    To which I say: “Apparently, you weren’t around in 2000 when Israeli police forces shot and killed 13 Palestinians (Israeli citizens). Nor where you around when the Or Commission urged the Israeli government to treat its non-Jewish citizens as equal citizens”.

    Alas, such Hasb-oring is instinctive for many Israelis, blissfully blind and tone deaf to what goes on around them. It’s only when the ‘natives’ rebel and get uppity that they wonder “Why do they hate us?”. So typical, so pathological, so Israeli.

    07:10 – The woman says (paraphrased): “It’s a bit scary because they speak a language that I don’t understand”, meaning Arabic.

    My response: “Israel’s non-Jewish minority is fluent in Hebrew, and yet the majority, the colonizer, the master, has yet to find it necessary to stoop to the natives’ level by learning the natives’ language.”

    Why learn to speak the Apache language, when you can impose English on the natives, eh?

    But, the irony of ironies with such statements coming from Israelis is that many Israelis are Mizrahim who originally came from Arab countries where they spoke Arabic. When they moved to Israel, due to Ashkenazi racism, they were often ashamed of speaking Arabic, their children refused to speak Arabic with them and instead sought to assimilate by speaking Hebrew. So, here is a Jewish Israeli woman who could very well have a grandfather who speaks Arabic, but she’ll refuse to acknowledge that.

  4. bijou
    February 4, 2011, 1:20 pm

    Another way to frame this is that there are only two sides of the barricade – the side of Dignity and the side of Humiliation.

    If Israel could ONLY grasp that policies that inflict humiliation will never bring it peace and security, only policies that provide dignity to those millions who have been humiliated for so long…

    Honoring human dignity for ALL is the fundamental underpinning of free, civilized society.

  5. Lydda Four Eight
    February 4, 2011, 2:59 pm

    “… thankful to them for shining a light so bright that it renders us all almost transparent, allowing us to see ourselves and easily understand all the other actors on stage. There are only two sides of the barricades: the side of freedom, and the side of control. Misr, thank you for the reminder; we need to make every day January 25.”

    YES! YES! YES! we need to keep the conversation on Democracy and not just pay it lip service. WE who are free, live in democratic societies, have the strongest vote and voice in the international community are nuts for our silence, complicity and duplicity.

  6. yourstruly
    February 4, 2011, 11:58 pm

    to see the light

    at the barricades of one’s life

    turn it on

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