In and out of love with Israel: Tzvia Thier’s story

Israel/Palestine
on 125 Comments
Tzvia Their in the south Hebron hills during activity with the Israeli activist group Ta'ayush.

Tzvia Their in the south Hebron hills during activity with the Israeli activist group Ta’ayush.

Late in June, there was a demonstration in New York’s Union Square against Israeli raids in the West Bank at which I interviewed a curly-haired Israeli-American woman handing out flyers and found myself riveted. Tzvia Thier was 70 and had been a Zionist till she was 64 years old; now she could kick herself for believing Zionist myths. She had never met a Palestinian till 2008, she explained; and she’d accepted Zionist myths and passed them on as an educator. “There is no connection between Judaism and Zionism,” she said. “American Jews…don’t understand that they are fooled by the Zionists. They are so naive..”

The response to that video interview was overwhelming. Two people told me more about Thier. Heb posted a video from 2010 of Thier badgering a settler on the West Bank who was trying to steal a Palestinian shepherd’s water; you see a woman in her 60s standing up to a young zealot with what can only be called a heroic presence– she pulls his ponytail, his pants almost fall off.

Screenshot of Tzvia Thier pulling a settler's pants, 2010

Screenshot of Tzvia Thier pulling a settler’s pants, 2010

Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel emailed me to say he had researched Thier in Hebrew sources and learned that she had authored Zionist texts for children, had taught in Jewish day schools in the U.S., and her brother had been killed while serving in the Israeli army in 1983 in Lebanon. Tzvia Thier had led her life entirely inside the Zionist experience, Shmuel said, directing me to ask her about her attachment to Zionism and her decision to break with it.

I spoke with Thier on a couple of occasions. I apologize for the length of this Q-and-A, but I don’t think you will find a more honest and humorous advocate for equality and justice than this thoughtful woman who loved Israel with all her heart, until she didn’t.

[First interview, July, New Brunswick, N.J.]

Where you were born?

I was born in Romania, in February 1944, meaning that it was still World War II, except I have no memories of that. I was a baby. And our family moved to Israel when I was 6, in 1950.

What did your father do?

Tzvia Thier

Tzvia Thier

My father was an electrician. The main things that I can say about my father are, number one, he was saved from being sent to Transnistria at the last minute—Transnistria was the concentration camp that people didn’t come back from there. And because he was saved I’m sitting here. It was 1942 when he was saved, and my mother already was pregnant with my sister. Meaning that she would be alive anyway. But I wouldn’t.

Why did your father need saving, but your mother didn’t?

I don’t know how it was, and I don’t have anybody now to ask. Too bad. But I think that in Bucharest the situation was not so bad as other places. I know that my father was in forced labor close to Bucharest, and there was another incident, where he fell off a train. But there are things I don’t know now.

My father was one of the people that I loved the most in my life, and he was a leftist. He was a Communist and a Zionist both. In Israel, the communist people were not chased like here, but the regime was not in favor of them. So he would probably vote for the Communist party, but he was not out. But he was a Zionist. And me being on the left side– whatever that means– it was from him. As a child, I used to listen to his political explanations. He used to tell me things and read me things from the paper, he used to take me to speeches before elections. So I was very influenced by him.

Where in Israel did you move to?

When we received the certificate in Bucharest, we didn’t know the word Israel. The certificate was to go to Palestina. The English word “palace” in Roumanian is “palat.” I was six, I thought we were moving to a palace. What was a country? What was a city? I had no idea. I thought we were moving to a palace.

When we arrived to Israel I forgot about the palace, because it was so much different.

Why did they leave Romania?

Most Jews left Romania. Most went to the U.S., some went to Israel. Very few were left in Romania. My grandparents came after us, a year later, and we had an aunt who came a couple of years later. I was in Bucharest a couple of years ago with one of my daughters. No Jews there. Maybe a few thousand, that’s it.

Where did you go in Israel?

We landed in Haifa. And they put us in Shaar Aliyah. That’s the Gate of Immigration. You know you “make Aliyah,” you don’t just don’t immigrate. It’s valued. You go up when you immigrate to Israel; Aliyah means up. When you leave, you go down. Yored.

Before 1948, Shaar Aliyah was a British camp for soldiers. So it had a fence around it, and the buildings were like in a military camp. My sister asked my parents, is this Palestina?

They gave us food that only my father wanted to pretend to like. I can sense the smell till now. Smell is a very strong sense, it’s considered to be the strongest sense. It was salad with eggs and potatoes. I didn’t eat it so I don’t know what it tasted like. But my father ate it and he said it was very tasty. My mother just cried.

From there we were moved to what is called ma’abarah, for the newcomers. There were waves and waves of newcomers. The newcomers were put in– it looks like a refugee camp, and there were many of them all over the place. Some were sheds and some were tents, and we were sent to the kind of ma’abarah where there were sheds. Not tents. Now I won’t go into the issue of the discrimination of the Mizrahi Jews, but I just wanted to mention that the Mizrahi Jews were put in tents usually and the Ashkenazi in sheds. It was kind of upgraded. And we were fortunate to be Ashkenazi.

Where did your childhood unfold?

We moved to Tel Aviv, and I started first grade in Israel. I loved school. I can say my Zionist education started in first grade. On Fridays the teacher would go along the aisles with the blue box, for the Jewish National Fund, and we put our coins there. When I think about it I want to hit myself. Every Friday.

What did you think the money was going to do?

To bloom the country! That is what we were told. And when we got older, there was a competition, which class raises more money. Every grade level in elementary school– we put our donations for the Jewish National Fund. You know in Hebrew it’s Keren Kayemet LeYisrael KKL. So I call them KKK.

Now or then?

Now! After what they do to the Bedouins—and what they do in the country altogether. I didn’t realize it at the time. For me they were such a wonderful organization—in my eyes.

Then we moved to another settlement close to Haifa, called Givat Olga. And again in that settlement, Ashkenazim lived there, and next to Givat Olga there was a ma’abara called Agrobank, and it was for Mizrahi Jews. And when we went to school, there was the good class for Ashkenazin, and there was the lower class for Mizrahim. We had two Mizrahi in our class.

Was the separation based on testing?

No! They didn’t test. Impression! In the other class there were two girls, Ashkenazi. No test! They came from a different background, that’s true, but having been a teacher I know the terrible things that were done over the long run.
Young adulthood?

We moved to Tel Aviv. It was 7th, 8th grade. One remark: when we lived in Givat Olga, I spoke with a Romanian accent that didn’t bother anybody. But when we moved back to northern Tel Aviv, they were Sabras, they were born in Israel, and when I came they said I am an olah chadasah, a newcomer, and I said, How come? By then I had lived in Israel five years, and they are telling me I am a newcomer. My accent changed like this! I didn’t want to be different.

Then I lived in a kibbutz. I was looking for adventure, I was 13 and I wanted to be away. I lived in many places in Israel. And the kibbutzim are considered to be leftist, considered to be idealist, and it was not that way. There are many things I can tell about. For instance, the workers that came from the town of Kiryat Shimona, they were Mizrahi, and they couldn’t eat with the members of the kibbutz in the eating room. They had to eat outside. I didn’t see the racism. You know, teenagers are supposed to have questions, and want justice. I did not. I mention that just as a fact. The fact is, it didn’t bother me then.

Was the kibbutz in the Galilee?

Kibbutz Dan.

And you could go here by yourself at 13?

I went and brought my sister with me. That’s another story. But my sister left after a year. She couldn’t stay there. I stayed for four years, from 13 to 17.

Great!

Yes and no. On one hand, I was very independent and I was very active, and I was very appreciated. I was a very good student. I did a lot of things there. I was a youth counselor. I was kind of a celeb in the kibbutz. On the other hand I had my lonely moments when I felt like an orphan. When I was 40 I remember having a dream feeling an orphan in the kibbutz. I missed my parents, especially my father, and my brother.

But you put yourself in this experience.

Yes. It was my choice. My parents always listened to me.

In the U.S. that couldn’t happen.

Right.

Have you read Amos Oz’s book about the kibbutz in the Galilee.

Yes. But I am not fond of Amos Oz.

Why not?

Because he plays with words. Have you read A Tale of Love and Darkness? That book is highly appreciated but the Zionist is so strong in the book that—well, I believe him, because I was there. I know. I experienced the same things– except he doesn’t wake up yet.

I don’t know that society, and I like his writing, and he captures a reality. I know it’s inside Zionist culture, but it’s vivid.

But the language is such a tool in his hands, and I would like to see the authors in Israel being more than that.

Next?

At 17 I went to Tel Aviv to finish my high school education, and then I went to the army. A rifle was not in my hands, thank god. Now as I told you, I was idealistic, taking after my father. So at this time in the Negev there are the settlements, and mostly the Mizrahi were being put there. In the late 50s and beginning of the 60s, there were huge waves of newcomers, especially from Morocco. And no teachers. Nobody wanted to go there. But I was a proud Zionist bringing education, so I volunteered after high school, with no training as a teacher. I had just graduated from high school, and I volunteered to go to such places and become their teacher. Not as a career, but just for the two years of my army service. I had no intention to become a teacher.

About my experience in Yeruham: It is in the Negev. I was sent to 7th graders, they were 13, some of them 14, and at that time I was 19, and most of them were just a little shorter than I was. Except Machlouf; he was 16 and he was the tallest one. So I was sent there to teach 7th graders, who didn’t know Hebrew, who were thrown into the desert, who were miserable. And they took their frustration out on me, because I was the representative of the state. And it was terrible. I will describe my first day. I was supposed to teach from 7 in the morning till 3:30 in the afternoon. I went to the class, and they don’t know Hebrew, and some of them are sitting on the floor, some are standing, some are running around, some of them ride the broom, some of them jump out the window, some of them throw chalks at the board. They only didn’t beat me– that was the only thing they didn’t do. And I didn’t know what to do. In fact I wanted to resign, to go back to the minister of education and say, I’m sorry I made a mistake. But I’m stubborn, and I didn’t resign.

And after 2 years, at the end of eighth grade, I was trying to say a few words at the end of elementary school, to try to say something– and the girls started to cry and then the boys started to cry and so I started to cry. So we all cried, we didn’t talk. The principal came in and saw all of us crying and he ran away. He didn’t want to be there.

I loved them dearly. I worked 20 hours a day. I went to their homes, they came to me. I took them on field trips on my own on Saturday. I said, Let’s go. I brought them clothes and shoes. And even now– I am in touch with some of them. The one who was dearest to me, Amram Malul, he died a couple of years ago from cancer. Even now they get very excited if I call them, if I come to visit.

And those two years were something I must some day write a book about it. But what I want to explain to you is, I was very genuine, I wanted to educate them, and when I look back, I brought them my culture, the poetry I loved, the music I loved. But I didn’t know about their culture. This was the first time in my life that I lived with Mizrahim. Until then I had lived only among Ashkenazi. And this was a very important thing in my life. Because from being in Yeruham, I can say that I am less racist than people usually are. Because all of us– we are this way or that way– but we are racist. We like to be around people we know, that are like us. It’s more comfortable. And racism– we need to educate others but first of all us, we need to educate ourselves.

And what I am trying to say is, I loved my students very much, and they loved me, but I was the one who brought culture. Absolutely zero of Mizrahi culture was available to anyone. Because they felt inferior. They spoke Arabic among themselves, of course. But we are the cultured people, the Ashkenazi. It didn’t occur to anyone that the culture should go the other way.
At Kibbutz Dan, I could see the Mizrahim not being allowed inside to eat. And now I can ask myself, why weren’t they allowed? But at Yeruham there was no way for me to know about their culture, or did they even have a culture?

There is one other story I want to tell you. Colette. She hated math. She couldn’t do her homework. I was upset, and what did I know about teaching anyway? But I learned with them. And I was very sorry that she didn’t do her homework in math. One day she came with her homework all done and correct in math. And I was so happy. After I finished my tour round the kids, she said, Hamorah Tzvia. Hamorah means teacher. Like Mrs. Tsvia. “I wanted to make you happy, but I copied the homework, I didn’t do them.” I loved those children. They were honest, they were warm. They were people.

And then?

I left Yeruham. I went to Tel Aviv. I went to the university. I wanted to study theater, I’m kind of a dramatic person, as you can see. So I wanted drama. But I missed teaching. I went back to teaching.

When did you get married?

I got married very early. In 1965. I had three little children and then I divorced. So I was a single mother. I never got any help from my former husband. I raised my little ones by myself, I worked very hard. And in 1974, I was fed up with the hard work, so I decided I wanted to go to a kibbutz, so they will help me a little to raise my kids. I had memories of the children in the children’s home at Kibbutz Dan, and the parents are freer.

I had to choose amongst three kibbutzim, and I chose Neve Ur on the east side of Israel, close to the Galilee. And at Neve Ur, I met Uri, my present husband, who is a very weird guy who wanted me with my three children.

Well then there was tension in the kibbutz. I think they had their own ideas for Uri. And I came to the kibbutz with three children, barely settled and already Uri and I were together. How come?! Maybe I threatened them. But the kibbutz didn’t like the idea that Uri wanted me, so they decided not to keep me. And they made excuses. The main excuse was I was not such a good mother. They had a meeting, and they claimed that I’m late to the children’s house, and I don’t tell the children stories. You see, all the other parents were a couple, a father and mother, they could work out the times of eating and putting them to sleep.

So they had a vote and the kibbutz split, and by one vote they kicked me out.

What was the real reason?

Maybe they wanted to save Uri. He was single and very talented. “She has three small children. Who does she think she is, Marilyn Monroe, she came and already she has a relationship?” At the kibbutzim, there is no private life. Everyone knows what’s cooking in another person’s place. Whenever you opened the door, someone at the kibbutz knew you opened the door. If somebody comes to the kibbutz who doesn’t belong, everyone knows who is a stranger…

So I had to leave.

How upset were you?

Not too much. It was so stupid, it couldn’t not be funny. But Uri said, we will get married! This was his way of proposing. Because the wife of a member of the kibbutz cannot be kicked out. So he went back to the secretary of the kibbutz and said we would get married. They decided to punish him. Get married, and we won’t continue to send you to college. Uri studied biology, and they said, We will stop Uri’s studies if you get married.

So Uri said, Ok, we are leaving. And we left.

Am I wrong still to have my romance about the kibbutz?

I have that romance too. My memories from Kibbutz Dan are great. It’s so nice to be close to everyone and to go out to work together and go on trips. Even when people are bad they are good. My friend’s grandmother used to say that a man is a man even if sometimes he is not like a man. In Hebrew, ben adam hu ben adam afilu im lifamim hu lo ben adam.

So you’re not judgmental of the kibbutzim?

Here is where I judge the kibbutzim. They were the real settlers during the major ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. They had no religion, they had socialism, but not when it came to Arabs. They were settlers.

If you had been there 10 years earlier, you would have done the same.

Yes. But not all Germans were supposed to be bad people, everyone knows that.

Where did you and Uri go?

We went to Rechovot, south of Tel Aviv. Everything became better. Uri was accepted into Tel Aviv University, the biology department, and I became a principal of school in a town close to Rehovot. I loved my career. As a principal, I will be frank with you– the kids really loved me. Even though I was the principal, and the principal is the one who is supposed to punish, when they had troubles, they came to my office to talk to me. To cry in my office.

We had our fourth child. By the way, Uri adopted by law all three of my children. He is a real father of everybody.

OK, Tzvia, now explain your love affair with Zionism, and how it passed. And what the stages were.

It’s not just me having a love affair with Zionism– it’s everybody. The education from first grade is Zionist. Second grade we already started to study bible. The Zionist movement was a secular movement, but it took the bible as the ethos of our existence. Everybody from second grade to 12th grade studied bible. It’s not a matter of choice.

Including the schools you were principal of.

Yes. Now don’t get me wrong, I love bible. I love bible! The thing that I got the most from Israel is the Hebrew language, because I can read the bible in my own language, and it’s a wonderful book. It’s not a book, it’s a collection of ancient writings. My master degree is in bible.

So there is the bible. You learn how you were an ancient people– so special. I mean these people, we were wandering on the globe for 2000 years! We were not exiled, by the way. If you study history, the Romans didn’t expel anybody. But the situation was very bad, and whoever was in a good situation could leave for other places. Like people do nowadays. But the idea of being the oldest people, from Abraham, to King David 3000 years ago. Then 2000 years ago– since then, we are wandering on the globe and finally the Zionist movement came to our salvation! [Sighing humorously.] What we learned– we learned about how the Zionism came to existence, we learned about the first pioneers coming to Israel, and Israel was in such a terrible shape. And the pioneers– they dried the swamps, the swamps caused diseases, and they had such hardships. And they were hungry. And it was so romantic. At the end of the day they were sitting around a campfire singing and dancing, and the kibbutzim and moshavim were built. All these stories– they are wonderful stories, and I taught them too! I taught these stories to my students. Bible is my favorite, and I can be an actress while I teach bible because there is so much drama there and so much politics there, and ach–it’s a great, great book.

Now I was leftist, you see, and Kibbutz Dan for instance was a kibbutz led by the Mapam party, which is like Meretz now– sort of. So I was the right kind of Zionist; in fact in those days before 67, before the Begin time, the right was not a nice thing to be. So in fact I was the mainstream. I was not Mapai– Labor, left mainstream. But Mapam. Nicer!

How many acts did your crisis unfold over?

Until 1967 everything was clear to me. Even the incident of Kafr Qassem. Are you aware of the massacre in Kafr Qassem. [In Oct. 1956, Israeli police massacred 49 Palestinian civilians in a city in the Triangle section near the West Bank]. Even that– I was not fully aware. I must say that I remember in the high school, when I was in the kibbutz, that we had a conversation about that! As if–what is there to talk about? This was an absolute crime!

Another thing that didn’t bother me, that I wasn’t aware of then, was the military regime until 1965 for the Palestinian citizens. I was not fully aware of that. I mean– How come?

Why not?

Another thing, I absolutely believed that in 1948 when Ben Gurion declared the state of Israel, the seven countries attacked Israel, and Israel won. Also I bought into the Partition. I didn’t understand how unfair it was. The Israelis accepted it and the Arabs didn’t accept it. So these were facts that were instilled in me- and I believed them! And I taught them too. And I taught about the celebration of the 29th of November 47 [UN Partition vote]. I taught how wonderful it was, how enthusiastic the people were. And during the independence days, we used to dance on the streets, it was such a day.

Now in 1967 there was a change. I was 23, and I had my first baby, he was six months old, and I was so scared I had a stomach ache. Because Egypt and Jordan and Syria– what I knew was, they attacked us. And I visioned myself running with my baby, and the Arabs are stabbing me. As you probably remember [from our first interview June 26], I didn’t know any Arab. And I went to friends of mine who were in their 30s, I thought they were really adults, and I said I am so scared, and they calmed me down. They said, “Listen, our army na na na na, and their armies, na na na na na. So don’t worry—the victory is ours.”

And as you know– six days, what a victory!

I was leftist but I was happy about the victory.

You know who Yeshayahu Leibowitz is? Thanks to Yeshayahu Leibowitz, I switched right away to the demand of returning all the occupied territories to the Palestinians and wanting peace. And this is the left position, until this very day. I mean: Return the occupied territories and make peace.

This was me being leftist. I was not very involved, I had little kids, I worked hard, I was not politically involved. And this is how it continued.

73 was of course a disaster. Then after 73 there was 82, the first Lebanon war and my husband Uri was in that war too. My husband, he was in ’67. in 73, and in 82 and in between. Whatever there was, he was in. We were Zionists. My husband and my brother. In the ’73 war, my brother had just finished his three years of service and he volunteered as a tank commander, to go to the war, and he came back alive.

Then in April ’83 my brother got killed.

I’m sorry.

Yah! [in pain] He was 31.

What was his name?

Arik. I mean his name was Ariyeh but we called him Arik. He was our baby brother. Had he lived now he would be 62. He was an angel. He was so good at heart. He used to save flowers– if there are buildings, and there are flowers, he used to take them and replant them elsewhere.

My parents never recovered. This is something you don’t recover from. Ever. For my father? My father would take off his shirt for his kids.

Where was he killed?

Lebanon. He was already Reserve, because he was 31.

Where were you when you heard?

I was in the US. I was in Connecticut. I was living in West Hartford. We just came from a day trip that we had with our kids, a wonderful day trip, I think we went to Rhode Island. We used to go on day trips. And I went up to rest and then my husband said that I need to come down, and I went down, and an Israeli woman was there.

At your door?

She came in our house. She needed to tell me so I will go to Israel for the funeral.

Why not a phone call?

Oh no; she came. The embassy called her because they knew her, she lived in the same town. So she came. I’m thankful that she came and not a phone call. And I didn’t know what I needed to take with me. I needed a passport, I needed something to change into, and her husband took me right away to the airport, and I flew to Israel. I remember during the whole flight I just was sitting in the window, and I cried and cried and cried. To be alone from the minute you are told until you get– it’s hours. It was so long. [Sighing.]

One of the things I realized– when I left Zionism, is: Memorial day. I hated Memorial Days. I used to go with my mother and my sister. I was part of it. And at the beginning, being part of this Memorial Day, being embraced by everybody, I thought it helped me to mourn. But then I couldn’t any longer participate in those memorial days with my heart, and I really hated it. They have their speeches, and what an hypocrisy! When the prime minister says, Our heart is with you. I mean, they play on our beloved blood. They dance on our blood. Do you say that in English? To dance on the blood? When you are using the dead for your own benefit? Because the Memorial Day is the day on which we have heroes. But the Palestinians have shahidim [martyrs] and the Israelis mock them, oh, they like shahidim. But what do we have? Why this Memorial Day? We have heroes. We have heroes. [ironically]

The same thing?

But of course. We have heroes! My brother was not a hero—[losing her composure] he wanted to live. There is a word in Hebrew, Hantzaha, comes from the word, eternity, forever. There are projects to make the fallen soldiers, to live in our souls. When Muslims say their shaheeds go to the garden of Eden, and have 70 virgins, that’s ridiculous, but when we do it for our people, they will live forever, that’s OK. My brother is dead, that’s it. He wanted to live. when he was a kid, he wanted to move to the Caucasus mountains because he heard people live so long there. He had so many dreams.

I became more critical after Nurit Peled-Elhanan and her husband Rami created the alternative memorial day, for the fallen– soldiers and non soldiers. It was then that I started to say to myself, what am I doing here? But I couldn’t go to the alternative memorial day because of my sister.

How did you know about Nurit Peled-Elhanan’s alternative?

Because I was a liberal Zionist.

What happened next?

Well I still was a Zionist. I taught in Hebrew school, Solomon Schechter day school, and I taught them about the beauty of Israel. And I was so enthusiastic about Israel that I was hired by Hadassah and I wrote books to teach Hebrew to adults—and all my Zionism was poured there!

It was?

Yeah! I loved Israel! I love Israel even now. I love to tour Israel. I know Israel like my palm. And I can go to the same places over and over again. For me it’s a homeland, yes, I’ve been there since I was 6. I mean the story of Zionism is another thing, but I grew up there. I’m attached to that. So I wrote for Hadassah books for learning Hebrew, very good books, you should know — full of love to Israel.

When?

In the ’90s.

What were your politics?

I was leftist. And I said that Israel must return the occupied territories, that there shouldn’t be settlements. I was Meretz. And I will tell you something funny. Because of the writings, because of my yearning for my homeland, I went back to Israel in 1995. And I lived in Israel from 1995 till 2012. I used to come here on my vacations, and my husband would come to Israel. He came less because he didn’t like going back to Israel even though he was a Zionist. He had had enough wars, and he hated the rightwing governments. As if there is a difference!

He thought there was?

We both thought there was a difference. And I mean realizing that the Labor Party was so much worse. I mean, these rightwing guys they put everything on the surface, you know who you are dealing with.

So I came back to Israel. And again I was the prinicipal of another elementary school in Jerusalem. And I was Meretz.
Now 95 when Rabin was killed, I did believe that Rabin was so great. He was better than the others, no question about that, even for the internal politics he was better than the others. He was very intelligent and honest. I don’t know whether he would have changed the reality to a better place, but he was a leader. So Rabin was murdered and Netanyahu came into office. You probably know, there are pictures where he walks with a coffin behind him [demonstrating against Rabin]. It’s like—what is the play by Shakespeare that he sleeps in the same bed of the one that he was responsible for his murder. Hamlet?
I was Meretz, and I was not that involved, I had a lot of work to do. When I retired when I was 67, I continued to work on my own. I had my own small business of teaching with my own ideas of what Israel should be and so on, but I was not active.

I had gone back with our youngest daughter, born here, our 5th child, Daphna. She’s 28 now. We have four daughters. Only two of them are active, but our [third] daughter Hadas who is now 37, already in her early 20s she understood what I only started to understand at the age of 64, in 2008. She went to Rutgers, and at Rutgers, you have some progressive guys. And she is very smart. She knew already, what is Zionism and what is Israel, and about the ethnic cleansing and all this stuff. But she is not a pusher; she did not talk to me or my husband about this matter. She left us, you know; you are free to find your own way.

Daphna, she is a completely different kind of person. I remember when she was in high school, we talked about Hadas’s politics, we said Hadas and us, we think alike, except we are Zionists, and she is not. We meant that in terms of economics. We think alike. But she is not Zionist, and we are.

You didn’t understand how profound a difference that was?

No. Meanwhile Daphna the youngest one moved back to the United States five years ago, and she started to see what is the real thing. Now Daphna is not like Hadas, and she gave Uri, Ilan Pappe’s book [The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine], and he was shocked. Shocked!

It was about the same time that I started my journey from Sheikh Jarrah [in East Jerusalem]. What drove me to Sheikh Jarrah was just the fact that people were kicked out. I was infuriated. You kick out people from their homes to the street? Now you see, in Jerusalem, there is a road running from south to north. This side is Jewish, this side is Palestinian. I never went to that side. You don’t go there!

The first times I went to Sheikh Jarrah, I met liberal Zionists. Moshe Halbertal. Assaf Sharon. They wanted to end the occupation but they were appalled to think that you might have to lose the Jewish state because of the occupation. We have to give back this land, so as to save Zionism. Was that you?

At that point, yes. The steps I made—I was speeding but at the beginning, I just wanted the people to live in their homes. And you cannot expel these ones, because of what happened before ’48– and not give back to them what belonged to them before ‘48.

You mean if you apply that principle to Sheikh Jarrah, why not apply the same principle of restoration in Baka, or in Walaja?

But I didn’t go that far. What I said was, in soccer it is called an own goal. I thought it was an own goal, Kicking out the Palestinians. You see I still was thinking like a Zionist. Because then you need to give back what belonged to them. So I still didn’t go all the way. . Though I was not fully aware of the Nakba at that time, I just thought that [the Jews] who had won their case in the court might lose in the long run,, I still believed that the judicial system might do equal justice for Jews and Palestinians. Of course I was wrong.

What got you all the way?

I started doing my own research. I went to every talk, every tour, I went with Machsom Watch to the West Bank, I went with Ir Amim to East Jerusalem and North Jerusalem, I went with Shovrim Shtika [Breaking the Silence] to Hebron. And then at Sheikh Jarrah, there was a guy with a small desk, and he asked, Who wants to sign to come to south Hebron hills with Ta’ayush? I didnt know what Ta’ayush was. But I am for adventures. That’s why I went to Kibbutz Dan. So I signed, and next Saturday morning 6 in the morning, I was with the Ta’ayush people. You know what Ta’ayush means in Arabic,

Together.

Together. I went with the Ta’ayush people, and this was a shock. Ezra Nawi and Emil Vardi told us what to do. Oh, Ezra he is the sweetest guy ever, his heart is– his last penny he would give to release Palestinians. I want to make some money for him, just to send him something! So I went there and I saw the Palestinians, and settlers came and the army came and the settlers didn’t let the Palestinians do– I don’t remember what it was. But I was so naïve. I said to Emil, Can’t I talk to this settler and tell them it’s not right. He said, go ahead.

What happened?

The settlers mocked me. They were the age, they could be my grandchildren.

They were very rude to you?

Oh definitely. The whole thing—you know how it works; the army comes, and the army says this is a closed military zone and that’s it, and everybody goes away. I was– all of a sudden– I saw the reality. And I was shocked.

Their at a protest.

Their at a protest.

What is that reality? Tell Americans, right now.

The reality is that I met the Palestinians that are so poor that they live without electricity, without roads, without water, and they are harassed, and they live in tents, in caves, in all kind of sheds, and they are harassed by the settlers, they are harassed by the army, they are harassed by the Civil Authority. And the only ones that are helping them there are the Ta’ayush people, and we have no power. Only being there and trying to stand up for their rights, and also argue with the army.

You were speeding then in consciousness?

Yes. And when I realized what the reality was, I called my sister whom I regarded as leftist– she is Meretz also– and I wanted to tell her what I experienced. And she didn’t want to listen to me.

What did she say?

Well. She is very gentle. But you can hear through the telephone when someone doesn’t want to hear you. She said, “I know, I have a friend who is in Machsom Watch.” And I said, “But I’m your sister, I want to tell you what I observed! I want to tell you what I experienced!” I was overwhelmed. She is gentle and polite and she listened.

Did she hear?

What I heard was that I will never tell her again anything about what I experienced. That’s it.

Has that been the case?

Well I tried once more. It was almost a fight, and I love my sister and–that’s it. I don’t care about losing my friends, but I don’t want to lose her, so I just gave up.

When did you go with Ta’ayush?

2008 2009 2010. Every Saturday. I was addicted to that.

What about the liberal Zionists who are involved in these actions and say, we need to preserve the Jewish state? Did you have this conversation? Did you share that view?

Among the radical Israelis, there is the inner more radical circle, that we want one democratic state between the sea and the river. However, I’m very scared of that.

You are?

Yeah. Not because the Palestinians will outnumber us. I don’t care at all. I’m afraid of even a worse apartheid because the ones who are in power won’t give up the power unless they are forced to, and what upsets me so terribly— Forget about Israel. Eventually it will disappear.

When, 100 years?

I don’t know. As long as the west especially America stands behind Israel, Israel still can exist. But do you know the most rightwing? They want a whole state, but they want to put the Palestinians in reservations. And they have a good example, what America did to the Indians. I mean America was much more successful. America really finished the Indians. Israel cannot because Israel is not in the 17th 18th 19th century. And after World War 2 the world changed, and Israel didn’t realize that. And it still has the support of America.

Am I right in thinking your chief influences were outside the country? Hadas at Rutgers, Daphna coming to America, Ilan Pappe. Your husband Uri fights in all the wars, he’s Israeli through and through. But he’s shocked by a book published in England by a Baghdad Jew? Why is this knowledge something that has to come from outside Israel?

Because in Israel only recently in the past couple years you can hear the word Nakba. The word Nakba– I didn’t know this word before.

So it is important to get outside Israel to understand?

Yes, yes. You see we used to go on many trips. We loved to travel in Israel. We’d go to archaelogical sites, and there are many in Israel. And we would pass Arabic ruins– they’re not interesting, they’re Arabs. I didn’t ask, who lived here? Or where are they? People in Israel– they’re blind. They’re absolutely blind.

Not only that. But I feel released here, that I can speak freely. You saw what happened now, with the mob on the streets that attacked the left demonstration in Tel Aviv, right? I truly think that soon enough there will be a murder.

But why didn’t you stay liberal Zionist? When I go to actions in the West Bank, there are activists I meet who are for a Jewish state. Is that still the case?

Yes

So why didn’t you stay in that spot? Why wasn’t that your path? Why did you go further?

Because it’s not right. It cannot be. It just cannot be. The Jews came, expelled the Palestinians and want a Jewish state, which means that 20 percent of the citizens who are Palestinians– they will be the second class citizens. It’s not their place. And I don’t care who lives there, whether they are Jews or Arabs or Africans- I want a country to be a democratic country.
By the way, with what is going on now in Gaza, I am absolutely not in favor of Hamas. They are fanatic religious people who make the people of Gaza miserable. But that is not the issue. They become more and more fanatic because when the situation is getting worse and worse, people become extremer and extremer. This is not the issue. The refugees’ problem must be resolved. The Jewish state—the Jewish state! I mean, where on earth can you have a country that is called Jewish state? Not Israel, but– Jewish state! And bringing into Israel a million Russian people– I don’t know whether they were Jews or not, and I don’t care—but just because they’re white. It is just a racist issue.

When did you understand that racism is at the heart of it?

Well, I was aware of the racism against the Mizrahim. But about the Arabs–I used to look upon that as discrimination. But it is discrimination based on racism.

How often do you talk to American Jews?

When I will be able to talk to American Jews, I feel I will fulfil something in my life. This is my goal, what I want to do.

When did you form the goal?

When I decided to come back here.

After Ta’ayussh and you couldn’t walk up the hills anymore. You said, I’m going to talk to American Jews. How are you doing with that job?

When I found Jewish Voice for Peace, I was happy to find radical Jews. But I must telll you about my friend who is 92. She is a New Yorker. She has been here since she was 7. They came from the shtetl in Russia. She was a radical and a communist, not a Zionist. She’s very smart. And now she’s in a home. So I and my husband went to visit her and we kept telling her what’s going on. And then when we touched ‘48, she jumped. She said, No no no no! You’re not telling me that Israel, a small country– it was attacked by seven Arab countries, did not have the right to fight for itself. So the change in the Jewry in the States won’t come from Roslyn.

What does Roslyn signify?

If she gets scared of what I am telling her, who can I talk to? I don’t know. I met another Jewish woman from West Hartford, I thought she might be radical. And it was true– she’s on my side. But guess what? She went public, and her friends left her. She used to be active in the community of greater Hartford.

She was excommunicated?

Yeah.

Has she accepted that?

She continues her work. But her friends in greater Hartford they don’t want to talk to her anymore.

Because she’s a radical on this question?

Because she doesn’t support Israel.

You have lived in this country a long time. Don’t you see a significant shift inside the Jewish community?

I don’t know enough to tell you. What I can say is, I met Sherry Wolf, and Sherry Wolf told me that she is sensing that among the young people there is some kind of shift. And the fact that there is J Street– some of them just are not brave enough to go all the way. So they are [air-quotes] Zionist. But some of them really aren’t. Some of them maybe they think like Jewish Voice for Peace [JVP] but they are not brave enough because the [mainstream Jewish] community doesn’t want you. And people need to feel that they belong to somebody, that they are part of a community.

In West Hartford I have some acquaintances. Because when I lived there, I was a teacher in Solomon Schechter day school for eight years. And then I left and I founded my own private supplementary school. So I have some fans there. I thought maybe I would go to West Harford,and meet people who have a say in the community. I want to confront them. Because I don’t care. It’s not like in Israel. Here I don’t care. In Israel I do care.

You would be scared in Israel?

You see, in Israel the atmosphere is such – that–

There’s not a lot of personal autonomy or freedom?

Yes. I have new friends in Israel with my own ideas, with whom I relate, much closer, much better, than with my older friends. But one of my best friends, when we talk on Skype, she tells me about her grandchildren. I tell her about mine. But I feel like I’m bored, I’m not telling her what really bothers me, I feel like I can’t talk about terrible things in Gaza. I can’t talk to her about the real things.

How’s your work going in West Hartford?

Oh I didn’t start yet. You see I came here last year. And I didn’t know my area. And I tried to find people to start to be active, and I called and I looked on the internet. Didn’t find. Didn’t find.

What about J Street?

No I knew I didn’t want them.

There’s J Street at Rutgers. Why don’t you walk in there and say, you people don’t know what you’re talking about?

I don’t know how to do that yet. I don’t have the connections. That’s why I want to go to West Hartford. I can talk to Audrey Lichter, Listen Audrey I want to meet you and I want to talk to you. Jeff Halper when he was here, he went to West Hartford, and he couldn’t get any synagogue, so he went into a church in West Hartford. So I want to confront Audrey Lichter, I know who she is, I know she’s active in the community. I know she’s smart, and she supports Israel. I want to tell her, this is stupid. I want to tell her what’s going on.

What would you tell her?

I don’t know yet. As I said, I’m here 10 months. What I found at first was the dialogue project; and that’s nonsense. Do you know dialogue projects. With Marsha [Kanry]? I went once.

Why didn’t you like it?

Because there is nothing to do there. Everybody is telling their feelings. I want to do stuff– not tell my feelings and get sympathy. This is not my goal. I just found Jewish Voice for Peace before I left for Israel at the end of January… And I became active there, and I’m happy. In JVP, I have a say. For instance, that demonstration [on June 26], it was due to my initiative. Because they were talking about Sodastream, Sodastream, and I felt that I was suffocating. And when they finished with SodaStream, I started to cry. Because I knew what was going on. And I said, We must do something. And they listened.

They were already starting the attacks on the West Bank.

Right. So I said we must do something. With all the respect to SodaStream, it’s not– And they listened. It was Monday, and the demonstration was Thursday. So it was quick.

So you are seeking to engage. So you are ambitious?

Oh I am a very ambitious person. Absolutely.

I have a goal. I will be satisfied when the people in the west especially America will understand who is the oppressor and who is the victim and why Israel is criminal, and will pressure their government to stop this crime from continuing. And I think, how can I do that. For my part? I can tell my own experience; I can explain how I came to this understanding. So J Street is a good goal—since they are not fanatic, they’re not AIPAC, so probably some of them may listen… But I think, in this country there are many blacks and Latinos and they don’t stand by the Palestinians. They are people who, from their own life, should support the Palestinians. I was so upset about the progressive mayor of New York who supports Israel. I suggested to JVP, but so far it doesn’t seem that they got enthusiastic about that. So I am trying to see if I can do something on my own to reach out for the blacks and the Latinos in New York.

Maybe I can approach them and tell them, Listen, your organization should do something. In the Bronx, in Harlem, in Brooklyn, Those are the place where I want to see demonstrations supporting the victims. They deserve their support. I don’t know yet how to do it, but I feel like the ground is burning, the people in Gaza are killed, and I don’t have time. How many more people will be killed? How many children won’t have water?

When I talk to my mother’s boyfriend, he says well the Jews have always been persecuted. We just want a safe place. That’s why we need Israel. We were wiped out in Europe. Don’t we deserve that? What do you say when– We need Israel because the world has always hated Jews.

In Hebrew I say that’s a diklum, something you put in people’s mouths and they say the same thing over and over again. A diklum is reciting something. Not like poetry. But in kindergarten you say Rasti Rasti venna halti. It’s a diklum, it’s for little kids.

How do I answer? First of all, the least safe place for Jews is Israel. I mean, If you look at the large picture, in the Middle East, most people are Arabs except for Iranians, and they feel closer to Arabs, because they’re Muslim. And in that area, this Israel, instead of cooperating with the people that live in the Middle East, they’re fighting them. How long will that last? For how long?

That’s why you say Israel can’t last?

It cant last. I just read Ali Abunimah’s book, an excellent book. And I don’t know what will happen to the Jews in Israel after being so terrible to the Palestinians. I don’t know, will they take revenge? I don’t know.

You see this guy. [She holds up a book: Roots Run Deep. Life in Occupied Palestine] Hamde Abu Rahma. Do you know him? So we visited him and bought this book from him. Because he shows the pain and he shows the beauty of life and I think that Hamde– I feel closer to him than to these [Israeli] bastards that go and kidnap kids from their beds at night. So Hamde won’t take revenge, he’s a man of life. But I don’t know!

So, first of all if you’re looking for a shelter, that’s the worst shelter on earth for Jews– just to be realistic.

Now whether the Holocaust that has been abused so badly by Israel—[sighing]. I’m not willing to live with this fear, I’m sorry. Maybe the people around here [in downtown New Brunswick], if they know that I’m Jewish, the most that can happen, They don’t like me.

That’s your assessment of the US.

Not only the U.S. You know, also, Arab countries, Morocco. The Jews there that didn’t leave Morocco, they live a better life there than their Morocco brothers in Israel. I think. I’m not sure. I don’t want to say things I’m not sure of.

The Jews who didn’t leave, you mean?

Yes. They’re trying to scare you, like the Muslims are conquering Europe and they’re going to go after the Jews. Well– who wants to be scared? I feel pity for them. But definitely Israel is not a shelter.

You know about the paranoid American Jews from the Holocaust, who say, It can happen again. They threw us out of England twice, Jews in Germany loved that place, things change. But you’re saying, You don’t live your life in that way?

What shall I do about paranoia? I don’t know. I’m not afraid. I’m not paranoiac.

In 2006, I began to meet Palestinians. And as you say, that’s very important. One day I was walking up Broadway, and a Palestinian shouted, my goal in life is to end Zionism. I was shocked by that statement, but now I would say, one of my goals in life is to end Zionism. Then a couple of years ago, I heard Hannah Mermelstein outside the Israeli consulate in New York saying, When someone asked if Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state, she said No. I was shocked then and now I’m at the point where I think, it shouldn’t be a Jewish state, I don’t know about right to exist. But everyone of us has changed our consciousness. And shocking moments bring awareness. So, you have had that process too. Does Israel have a right to exist as a Jewish state?

No. Absolutely not.

Why not?

It’s a racist state. Not a democracy. If it’s a Jewish state, meaning that the Jews are the privileged people, and then you have either the Palestinian citizens who don’t have the same rights, and you have the Palestinians under occupation, they have no rights whatsoever. Of course not! Are you going to have in America a Protestant state for instance; they’re a majority no? Or the demographics are changing here too? It’s an oxymoron. Do you know Shulamit Aloni?

No but she died.

Yes. She was Zionist until her last day, and her son Udi, he wanted to know, mom why are you Zionist after all this? Because she was outspoken and she was the one who said, It cannot be a Jewish and democratic state, cannot be. Shulamit Aloni said that. Udi said, So mom how come you are saying you’re a Zionist. She said, Oh, go away! She couldn’t deal with it. All her life she was Zionist. I don’t know what she thought inside herself. You see you live here, so you didn’t experience the pain that I’ve experienced. I had like an earthquake in myself.

In what way?

Everything. All the songs that I love that I heard on Independence Day. All the literature. All the myth with the newcomers. It was so romantic. All of a sudden, everything, it’s gone.

You were how old when this happened?

64.

What does that say about your maturity. Not to be judgmental. But it took you that long– what kept you from awareness so long?

You see, in Israel, all of us– the Jews– are brought together with little differences, left mainstream right, and not knowing, absolutely not knowing Arabs at all. They don’t exist. They exist only in theory. We would drive on main roads and highways, and you see the Arabic villages, they look different and they have the mosques. And you don’t go there. It’s not yours. And speaking for myself, I always, always worked in a very diligent way. I was very dedicated. It was not a job; for me, teaching and running a school, it was part of my life, and I had kids. So I had those ideas—Meretz– but I didn’t really pay attention because the Arabs were not in my life, I didn’t know what was going on. And only when I saw with my own eyes what the reality was—then I was shocked!

Before that there are walls. It’s not in the media. Not in our lives. They don’t exist. They are really half an hour from me. If it’s the back yard, you still can peek thru the window. But it’s not even the back yard, it’s covered, it’s completely covered.
There are the cities that have Jews and Arabs. Haifa, Akko, Jaffa, Ramle, Lod. Those are cities with Arabs and Jews. So they did have relationships. But I did not live there. Maybe if I lived in one of those cities, my awareness would have come before then. But I didn’t see them.

Henry Siegman has moved very bravely. He’s a Holocaust survivor, the former head of American Jewish congress. And still a liberal Zionist, but he’s moved a lot, and he fights with his own family. I want to talk to you about the family fight. I want it known. I don’t’ want it a secret, even if painful, people should know. I want to have the family fight. I want to put four family members on stage, and fight about this in an American setting. It’s never happened. It’s starting to happen. You are open about your conversation with your sister. You don’t mind people knowing about that. And that’s important for people to know, how deep those divisions can be. Do you think we should have that fight publicly?

Yes, but then people need to be brave, because it is painful to be attacked. In a conversation of let’s say half an hour or an hour, you cannot explain much beside who you are. When you have your own ideas and information, and I have my own ideas and information, and I feel I am the one who has the truth– so am I going to educate you and tell you what I learned, what I read heard, and saw, as if I am the knowledgeable person and you are the dummy, and I have to tell you? That’s not a good position. It must be done as a process and not—I mean, just fighting won’t do anything.

You see, I’m active on Facebook because I want to know what’s happening. I constantly have to know what happens. Maybe it’s not good for my health but I want to know. And  most of my friends on Facebook are either with my ideas or they are still liberal Zionists. Only very few are not– not part of my ideas. Just my husband’s cousin gets mad at me. And my sister, my niece– they probably see what I put, what I share, but they don’t say anything. They just see it. And think OK. She’s a lunatic, she became extremist.

Who is the extremist?

I am. I am the extremist. One guy got fed up with what he sees on my Facebook wall so he said, when did you say anything about the three teens and so on. [Scoffs.] I started a whole fight with him. And I must say that I wasn’t nice to him. And he said that that’s how the people on the left– he thinks I’m left. I’m smol kitzoni. Smol is left, and you know what kitzoni is– I am extremist. And he said we are arrogant. He really resented it. The truth is he’s not very intelligent, and I was not very nice to him. The more he wanted to convince me that I should not hate my country, the more I was sharp with him. I didn’t convince him at all, he was just insulted and hurt. Then he said I am insane, and when he said I am insane, then an insane person can say anything he wants. So I did it. I gave him all my poison.

What’s the point?

That fighting—didn’t help.

Do you ever talk about your brother? Combatants with Peace, they speak of their own losses. Elik Elhanan talks about losing his sister Smadar. Do you ever use your loss? 

In fact, I don’t use it. [Breathing heavily]. It is a loss that it’s difficult for me to use it. I used it once. And I didn’t feel good about it but I used it. I was sued by Israel– as if I attacked a settler. Do you know that story? [laughing] You know, when you put the story of me up, there were comments, and one of them put – you should watch it, a video where I was fighting a settler. Do you know Nissim Mossek? He is the one who films what’s going on. So we went to help Palestinians to have water from the cistern. And a settler, he’s a real criminal, Avidan, he rushed to not let us help the Palestinian, and I was fighting with him, and I started to pull him, and his shirt tore, and his pants almost fell—[laughing]– he was holding them up. So the state sued me as attacking a settler. Now Gabi Lansky, she’s a lawyer for human rights. And she wanted me to write a letter because they wanted to get rid of this nuisance. So they wanted me to use everything possible. That I was a Teacher, I was so good for the country, that I am a Holocaust survivor, I lost my brother.

Are you a Holocaust survivor?

Well, I don’t remember anything. But I was born during the Holocaust. And I lost my brother. So I wrote the letter and I didn’t feel good about myself. Eventually there was the court, but the judge was smart enough, she only said, I had to sign that I won’t attack anybody for two years. So my husband says now he feels comfortable now for these two years.
But, as I don’t want Israel to use the Holocaust to justify its existence, I don’t want to use the loss of my brother to justify my stance. I do have other difficulties with my brother’s loss. For now, I cannot go back to Israel during Memorial Day because there is no way for me to go to the cemetery. And it will kill my sister if I am there and I don’t go. But I can’t go there. I can go on any other day.

Where’s the cemetery?

Kiryat shaul. Because my parents lived near Tel Aviv. And you now you have cemeteries especially for soldiers. And it is upgraded, it’s more important. I just can’t. But I don’t want to use it.

JVP has BDS debates. Would you debate if they had a debate with liberal Zionists?

By the way, did you read the article by Noam Chomsky?

Yes, what did you think of it?

I don’t know. I feel like, who am I to argue with Noam Chomsky? But I do think that BDS should continue and should be strong. He came up with his arguments so it’s me against Noam Chomsky– like that stupid guy who was trying to fight with me over Facebook. [Laughing.]

What don’t you like about what he said?

I have to reread the article, to go more into depth. I don’t want to say stupid things.

Can you imagine having a conversation with a liberal Zionist publicly?

Yes. With one reservation. Maybe next year my English will be better–

I wouldn’t worry about it.

I haven’t been in the country really for almost 20 years. And when I lived in Connecticut I went to work, so the language really improved. Now I’m not going to work. I talk only to Uri in Hebrew. So it kind of scares me away.

You have to get over that, or fix it.One of the things I like to say is that Zionism began with Herzl hearing Death to the Jews in Paris and it’s ending with Jews saying Death to the Arabs in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Do you know that some of them were wearing the shirt of the neo-Nazis. It’s a white shirt, it says, “Good night left side.”

What do you think about that?

It doesn’t surprise me. But it’s going deeper and deeper, it’s just getting worse and worse. That’s why the  last demonstration at Habima in Tel Aviv, people were beaten, and some were in the hospital. This is what scares me. Next step is shooting.

Is Israel going to be like Algeria, where people were decolonized?

This is what my husband wants. I’m telling him that it won’t happen. He wants the Jews to leave the West Bank.

But leaving all of Israel and Palestine? Could that happen? We have to get out of here?

I don’t know. Because the French in Algeria, it’s not that they established a state. They were settlers, like the settlers on the West Bank. So de Gaulle just surprised everybody when he took out all the French. But I don’t know, it’s getting worse and worse and the whole Middle East is Arabs. And the Mizrahim Jews, they became like Ashkenazim, they are discriminated against but they still feel above.

In Egypt, we saw that many people preferred dictatorship to chaos.

In Israel too.

Some people like dictatorship more than freedom.

Yes. What is Lieberman. They want a strong person to do the job.

Does that scare you about the future of the society: it won’t become a democracy without a lot of violence.

What scares me about that possibility is the people I know and that I love. I care about the Palestinians, what will happen to them, I care about my family, even though they are Zionist–so what! I care about my son who lives there, I care about my friends that are Zionist– so what, I don’t want them to get hurt, I don’t want them to get killed. I mean the whole scenario is scary but if that is the case, I’m helpless. My position has nothing to do with it.

Out of fear of that violence, some would support the status quo. They’d say, We can’t become Syria.

They dismiss the Palestinians. They want the status quo because they live, some of them better, some of them not that good, but they live well, and they don’t care about the Palestinians who have no rights whatsoever, and I am not willing to accept that so that violence won’t occur there. I can’t.

I can understand the fears of my husband. That’s why what he wants to happen is that all the settlers will evacuate the West Bank, and then when things calm down, there could be a federation maybe. But it won’t happen.

They won’t leave?

They won’t leave. And Israel doesn’t do anything in favor of such an idea. So it won’t happen. Maybe this would be the best dream: that they will leave and the country will calm down, and then there will be reconciliation, and a federation. And like you have 50 states here, in Israel there will be two states, or maybe three states. Maybe Gaza and the West Bank will be two different states– I don’t know. But it won’t happen.

[Second interview, by telephone, Nov. 1]

It won’t happen, why?

Well Israelis is a very strong country, it has one of the strongest armies on earth, they benefit from their colonialism, so why disrupt what is in their favor? In land, water, they keep work, everything. The settlers in the West Bank live such good lives. The housing is cheap, you have wonderful roads, everything is close by and you don’t need to see the Palestinians. It’s comfortable.

With pressure from the west would they leave?

Only when those privileged people in Israel will get hurt economically, then maybe something will change. The militarism is so connected between American and Israel, I don’t see that changing.

Let’s look back on your story. This is not an obituary, but your life is a liberal Zionist myth. Survivor of Holocaust, Aliyah, build the kibbutzim. You write Zionist texts. You love the bible. Your brother loses his life for Israel…

Everything you described is exactly why I went back to Israel in 95 I couldn’t separate myself from Israel. But when the curtains fell down and I saw the reality, I couldn’t hold on to that.

How tough was that process?

At the beginning it was very painful. Now I have to live with that. And what is painful is what is happening to the Palestinians. I live peacefully with my change.

How long did the earthquake and the pain last?

Oh—I never wait very long. I accepted it. Once I went with Ta’ayush and saw the West Bank—that’s it!

Did you waste your life doing all those Zionist things?

I cannot respond to that question. What I did is irreversible. I look at things I’ve done and am very proud of them. The way I raised my family. The way I taught my students. At the time I thought it was right. And today I work very hard at my activism. I go to New York two times a week. The action at Barclays Center was at my initiative—we have to protest. I go also to a group of people of color that I joined: New York solidarity for Palestinians. I joined that group. I am willing to do now whatever is in my strength.

So you found a group of people of color, as you told me you wanted to, back in the summer?

Yes. I went to high school students in the Bronx and met for two hours with children there. Ninth and tenth grades. I told them my experience as a witness. An eye witness. It was the Fannie Lou Hamer school and I spoke as an Israeli activist, telling them my own story and what I have experienced. The connection was made by a JVP member who used to be a teacher there. One girl made a comparison. She said that what Israelis did was like what white men did to the Indians.

What did you say?

I said, she was very smart.

We’ve come to the end of your story, Tzvia. So far anyway! What should people take from this? Should they feel grim about the future in Israel and Palestine, or should they feel hope?

They should feel that they must do something in their country. Only by doing something in this country will things change. The Vietnam war ended because people demanded it. The apartheid ended in South Africa because people demanded BDS then. The leaders won’t change their minds unless the people demand it.

About Philip Weiss

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

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125 Responses

  1. eljay
    November 7, 2014, 8:03 am

    I have tremendous respect for Ms. Thier.

  2. just
    November 7, 2014, 8:20 am

    Thank you for this gift.

    “They should feel that they must do something in their country. Only by doing something in this country will things change. The Vietnam war ended because people demanded it. The apartheid ended in South Africa because people demanded BDS then. The leaders won’t change their minds unless the people demand it.”

    She’s correct, of course. She’s also an inspiration. People can and do change.

  3. Mikhael
    November 7, 2014, 8:22 am

    ! And bringing into Israel a million Russian people– I don’t know whether they were Jews or not, and I don’t care—but just because they’re white. It is just a racist issue.

    The Israeli government must have not realized that the hundreds of thousands of Jews from Ethiopia were not white.

    And since Israeli government was only concerned with bringing white people into the country whether or not they were Jews, why don’t they open the gates to all the white, non-Jewish Romanian laborers who also flooded Israel in the 1990s and issue them automatic Israeli citizenship? They were white, after all. For that matter, many Palestinian Arabs are also white.

    • Mooser
      November 7, 2014, 11:04 am

      Do you have a point? Very hard to see what you are getting at. If it is some kind of paean to
      Israeli egalitarianism, you lost that battle at “Jewish State”. So put a cork in it.

      • Mikhael
        November 9, 2014, 9:31 pm

        Mooser November 7, 2014, 11:04 am
        Do you have a point? Very hard to see what you are getting at. If it is some kind of paean to
        Israeli egalitarianism, you lost that battle at “Jewish State”. So put a cork in it.

        What’s the point of lying and claiming that Israel brought in people from the former USSR only because “they were white” when this is so easily proven by the fact that Israel helped hundreds of thousands of Jews who are not white to make aliyah? And no, I won’t put a cork in it. There is nothing inherently discriminatory about a Jewish nation-state that provides civil rights to its minority of citizens who are not of Jewish nationality. Unless one has a problem with an assertion of Jewishness, there is nothing demeaning about living as a non-Jew in a state that defines itself as Jewish. There are many nation-states that define themselves by their majority ethnicity and which have citizens who are not of the majority ethnic group. Estonia is a state of the Estonian people. Greece is a state of the Greek people. (To name two examples.) Provided that a country grants full civil rights to citizens who are not of the majority ethnicity, there is nothing wrong with an ethnic nation-state. Israel grants its non-Jewish citizens the right to vote, the right to hold high office, the right to own property, the right to freely practice their religion (or no religion), the right to marry whom they please, the right to use their own language in the educational system, the right to pursue higher education. These are all rights that every citizen of Israel has. People who feel that they are at a disability because the state defines itself as Jewish have a problem with Jews. As long as non-Jewish citizens of Israel are accorded equal treatment under the law with their fellow Jewish citizens (and if they feel they aren’t, then they have recourse in the Israeli court system, with its many non-Jewish lawyers and judges who serve with Jewish lawyers and judges), their claim to be discriminated because of how the state defines itself is invalid. I lived in Greece for a couple of years, and I had no problem with the government of the Hellenic Republic asserting the Greek identity of the state. As long as citizens of Greece who belong to the national minority groups are accorded equal legal rights (e.g., Roma, Jews, ethnic Slavs, ethnic Turks) then they have no right to challenge that state’s essential ethnic Greek identity. If they have a problem, the door is wide open for them to go. The same is true in Israel.

    • eljay
      November 7, 2014, 12:15 pm

      >> Mikhael @ November 7, 2014, 8:22 am

      To sum up: Israel is not and was never intended to be anything but a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

      No kidding. But thanks for the clarification.

      • Mikhael
        November 9, 2014, 9:41 pm

        eljay November 7, 2014, 12:15 pm
        >> Mikhael @ November 7, 2014, 8:22 am

        To sum up: Israel is not and was never intended to be anything but a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

        Nope. The words of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, where the government declared it would ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; are in full force and effect.

        Israel has a right to define itself as a Jewish state just as the aspirant Palestinian state explicitly defines itself in the Palestinian National Charter as an Arab state.

        When and if a Palestinian Arabs state arises (for the first time in history), its government will have the right to define itself as Arab and/or Islamic, if that is the will of the majority of its citizenry.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 10, 2014, 12:36 am

        The words of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, where the government declared it would ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; are in full force and effect.

        argh…( http://adalah.org/eng/Israeli-Discriminatory-Law-Database “Discriminatory Laws in Israel”)…..i don’t think so.

      • Mikhael
        November 10, 2014, 1:27 am

        Annie Robbins
        November 10, 2014, 12:36 am

        argh…( link to adalah.org “Discriminatory Laws in Israel”)…..i don’t think so.

        Annie, I can see that you don’t think. None of the proposed or enacted laws listed on Adalah’s site described as “discriminatory” curtail or deny basic civil rights to non-Jewish citizens that Jewish citizens have.

      • eljay
        November 10, 2014, 8:21 am

        >> Mikhael: Nope.

        Yup. Israel is a state primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews. It is not a state of and for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, ex-pats and refugees, equally.

        Israel was devised and established as, and for decades has operated and continues to operate as, a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

        And, of course, it remains an oppressive, colonialist and expansionist state.

        But you knew all that.

      • eljay
        November 10, 2014, 9:17 am

        >> Mikhael: When and if a Palestinian Arabs state arises … its government will have the right to define itself as Arab and/or Islamic, if that is the will of the majority of its citizenry.

        1. It is unlikely that “Palestinian Arab” will be the name of the new state.

        2. If/when a state comprising the geographic region assigned by Partition to the Palestinians arises, it can define itself however it likes. But it will have no right to exist as a supremacist state of any kind. And if, in practice, it is anything other than than a state of and for all of its citizens, immigrants, ex-pats and refugees, equally, it will be a supremacist state in the same way that Israel is currently a supremacist “Jewish State”, and I will oppose it the same way I currently oppose Jewish supremacism in a supremacist “Jewish State”.

      • Mooser
        November 10, 2014, 10:50 am

        .” None of the proposed or enacted laws listed on Adalah’s site described as “discriminatory” curtail or deny basic civil rights to non-Jewish citizens that Jewish citizens have.”

        Annie, I looked it up, and “Mikheal” is right!
        See, Israel’s laws don’t deny anybody any rights in Israel, since there is no Constitution as we know it, and really nobody has any rights.
        The non-Jewish denizens of “Israel” are simply not given some of the privileges Jews are entitled to, this being the “Jewish State” and all.
        Oh, did I say ‘Jews”. Sorry, I meant the deserving among the Jews, not the Mizrahi or anything.
        And the Jewish State is under no obligation to give any privileges to people who do not merit them.

      • just
        November 10, 2014, 5:27 pm

        Mikhael–

        Ms. Annie is a profound thinker. She tells and transmits the truth.

      • Mikhael
        November 10, 2014, 5:44 pm

        Mooser
        November 10, 2014, 10:50 am

        .” None of the proposed or enacted laws listed on Adalah’s site described as “discriminatory” curtail or deny basic civil rights to non-Jewish citizens that Jewish citizens have.”

        Annie, I looked it up, and “Mikheal” is right!
        See, Israel’s laws don’t deny anybody any rights in Israel, since there is no Constitution as we know it, and really nobody has any rights.

        Without looking anything up, it’s easy to determine that “Moosre” (who likes to “use” quotation “marks” when he transposes “letters” in someone’s name, like I just did) is wrong, wrong, wrong, yet again. Israel has has Basic Laws and precedent statutes, subject to judicial review, that guarantee the same rights to all citizens of the state and function as a de facto uncodified constitution. None of Israel’s Basic Laws delineate rights for Jewish citizens that non-Jewish citizens don’t have. Like the UK and New Zealand, Israel has no written constitution. States that have constitutions include such paragons of democracy as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (must be democratic, because “Democratic “is part of the name, huh?) and the Syrian Arab Republic.

        The non-Jewish denizens of “Israel” are simply not given some of the privileges Jews are entitled to, this being the “Jewish State” and all.

        “Denizens” of Israel who are not citizens (e.g., foreign infiltrators into Israel and other illegal migrants staying illegally in Israel), of course, have fewer rights than citizens of Israel, whether Jewish or non-Jewish. That is as it should be and the way all stable states treat non-citizens residing illegally within their borders.

        But non-Jewish citizens have all the same rights that Jewish
        citizens of Israel have (and more rights in Israel than Jewish non-citizens). Jewish non-citizens of Israel cannot vote or hold office in Israel, or any government job. Non-Jewish citizens of Israel can.

        Oh, did I say ‘Jews”. Sorry, I meant the deserving among the Jews, not the Mizrahi or anything.

        LOL, you’re confused! But thank you for showing your Ashkenazi prejudice and showing that you exclude Israeli Jews of Mizrahi descent (such as yours truly) from the Jewish collective. The Mizrahi-Jewish population in Israel are overwhelmingly in favor of Israel retaining its distinct Jewish character and identity. With few exceptions (trotted out constantly like pets on sites like Mondoweiss), Mizrahim and Sefaradim in Israel are ardently Zionist and have been in the modern political Zionist vanguard from the outset. The majority of Mizrahim and Sefaradim embrace right-of-center Zionist policies and most of us have identified with Revisionist Zionism since pre-State days. (I am regarded as a freak in my family, which had many Etzel fighters because I voiced support for “Left” Zionist parties like Meretz–though I never went so far as to vote Meretz– and the former Labour Alignment.) The majority of Jewish anti- and post-Zionists , in Israel and the Diaspora, are Ashkenazim.

        And the Jewish State is under no obligation to give any privileges to people who do not merit them.

        The Jewish state is obligated to give equal civil rights under the law to all of its citizens, and does so. When it comes to Israel’s basic laws–there is no distinction between different types of Israeli citizens because of their nationality or religious belief.

      • Mikhael
        November 10, 2014, 6:28 pm

        eljay
        November 10, 2014, 9:17 am

        >> Mikhael: When and if a Palestinian Arabs state arises … its government will have the right to define itself as Arab and/or Islamic, if that is the will of the majority of its citizenry.

        1. It is unlikely that “Palestinian Arab” will be the name of the new state.

        We don’t know what it will call itself. It may very well follow in the steps of the Syrian Arab Republic, or the former United Arab Republic (Syrian and Egyptian union) or the former Libyan Arab Jamharriya or Yemen Arab Republic, or the present-day United ArabEmirates. If and when a “State of Palestine” arises (for the very first time in recorded history, ever) it is highly likely that it will explicitly define itself as an Arab state (and/or a Muslim state). That’s why the Palestinian National Charter expressly states the following:

        “Article 1:

        Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.

        Or it may self-define as a Muslim state like the Islamic Republic of Iran or Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
        The Palestinian draft constitution of 2003 also makes a point of saying that “[t]he Palestinian people are part of the Arab and Islamic nations”, “[t]he principles of the Islamic shari`a are a main source for legislation and “Islam is the official religion in Palestine”. Of course, all of these expressed desires are perfectly legitimate if they represent the majority of the citizenry for the hoped-for Palestinian Arab state

        2. If/when a state comprising the geographic region assigned by Partition to the Palestinians arises, it can define itself however it likes.

        The chance for an Arab state to be established west of the Jordan River within the borders assigned to it by UNSCOP was lost a long time ago, and if they wanted a state within those borders they should have declared their state and recognized the Jewish state within its borders and consented to the internationalisation of Jerusalem, as the Jews did, instead of attacking the Jews of Jerusalem. Those proposed borders have been null and void for almost 70 years and there will never be going back to them by either oarty to the dispute. However, there is still a chance for the majority of the Arabs who have assumed a Palestinian national identity that live east of the former armistice lines between Jordan and Israel and west of the Jordan River to live under some sort of sovereign state entity, subject to land swaps between the Jewish state and the as-yet non-existent Palestinian Arab state.

        But it will have no right to exist as a supremacist state of any kind.

        Agreed. Ideally, it would guarantee equal civil rights to its national minority of non-Arab, non-Muslim of citizens, just as Israel grants full civil rights to its national minority citizens who are not of Jewish nationality. However, any realist knows that it is highly likely that a non-Arab, non-Muslim will enjoy civil rights in any future Palestinian Arab state. The best a non-cynical optimist can hope for is that such people not be slaughtered en masse.

        And if, in practice, it is anything other than than a state of and for all of its citizens, immigrants, ex-pats and refugees, equally, it will be a supremacist state in the same way that Israel is currently a supremacist “Jewish State”, and I will oppose it the same way I currently oppose Jewish supremacism in a supremacist “Jewish State”.

        I oppose Jewish supremacism. That’s why I support the Israeli state in its present form. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people that accords the minority of citizens who are not Jews full civil rights. A Jewish state and a democratic state are not mutually exclusive terms. Those who oppose the concept of a Jewish state find the concept of Jews and Jewishness distasteful. Just as there are other democratic ethnic nation-states, e.g., Greece, Estonia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, South Korea, that are ethnic nation-states that guarantee equal rights to their minority citizens, Israel does the same for its citizens who belong to national minority groups.

      • talknic
        November 11, 2014, 7:55 am

        @ Mikhael

        “When and if a Palestinian Arabs state arises (for the first time in history),”

        You’re at least 92 years late and full of bullsh*t!

        LoN Covenant Article 22 http://pages.citebite.com/x2m4w0k3e8fvi

        LoN Mandate FOR Palestine 1st line http://pages.citebite.com/h2v4g0b3i7nma

        According to your weird wonderful and warped theory the League of Nations recognized something that didn’t exist.

      • talknic
        November 11, 2014, 8:03 am

        @ Mikhael
        ///To sum up: Israel is not and was never intended to be anything but a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”///

        “Nope. The words of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, where the government declared it would ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture;are in full force and effect “

        A) ” as envisaged by the prophets of Israel”

        B) Israel has yet to write a constitution and then legally elect a govt for the first time.

      • eljay
        November 12, 2014, 7:25 am

        >> Mikhael: I oppose Jewish supremacism. That’s why I support the Israeli state in its present form. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people …

        So, you oppose Jewish supremacism by supporting Israel:
        – not as the secular and democratic state of and for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, ex-pats and refugees, equally; but
        – as a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”, a state primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews.

        >> Those who oppose the concept of a Jewish state find the concept of Jews and Jewishness distasteful.

        Those – like me – who oppose the concept of a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” find the concept of supremacism distasteful. Those – like you – who support the concept of a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” find the concepts of justice, accountability and equality distasteful.

        >> Just as there are other democratic ethnic nation-states, e.g., Greece, Estonia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, South Korea …

        Greek, Estonian, Slovakian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Japanese and South Korean are the bureaucratic nationalities of their respective states. Wake me up when Jewish becomes the bureaucratic nationality of the “Jewish State” of Israel, applicable to all of Israel’s citizens, immigrants, ex-pats and refugees, equally – and I’ll agree with you that the “Jewish State” of Israel is just like all the other countries you mentioned.

        Until then, all you’ve done is underscore the fact that Israel is a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

      • Citizen
        November 12, 2014, 10:36 am

        @ Mikhael

        There’s a difference between de jury and de facto rights; further:
        2006 Israeli Minority Report On Israel’s Structural Matrix For Its Minority Citizens: http://adalah.org/newsletter/eng/dec06/tasawor-mostaqbali.pdf

        2012: Not All Israeli Citizens Are Equal: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/24/opinion/not-all-israeli-citizens-are-equal.html?_r=1&

        Legal & Political Status of Arab Citizens of Israel
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_citizens_of_Israel#Legal_and_political_status

      • Mooser
        November 13, 2014, 6:32 pm

        “Something doesn’t ring true in your self-description….”

        Uh, sorry Mikheal, no, wrong. “Bornajoo’s” comments and articles here most assuredly “ring true”.
        That you cannot see how self-evidently they are the work of a person telling the truth about himself is pathetic.
        Yes, they do “ring true”. They are true.

      • Mooser
        November 17, 2014, 10:52 pm

        who likes to “use” quotation “marks” when he transposes “letters” in someone’s name, like I just did”

        If I reply to another poster by name, I put their name in quote marks. Since not all ‘usernames’ have a capital letter, and not all are recognizable as names, I do that for clarity. Sorry about transposing the letters in your name. If there was an edit I’d certainly correct it.

      • Mikhael
        November 20, 2014, 10:27 pm

        talknic November 11, 2014, 7:55 am
        @ Mikhael

        “When and if a Palestinian Arabs state arises (for the first time in history),”

        You’re at least 92 years late and full of bullsh*t!

        LoN Covenant Article 22 link to pages.citebite.com

        LoN Mandate FOR Palestine 1st line link to pages.citebite.com

        According to your weird wonderful and warped theory the League of Nations recognized something that didn’t exist.

        The League of Nations authorized the creation of a Mandate.
        You’re too stupid to even understand what the text you copy/paste means. You highlighted language from the LoN Covenant stating “Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone.” (1) You seem not to understand what the word provisionally means and (2) seem to think that the creation of a colonial Mandate means that “Palestine” was a recognized independent Arab state, yet the text from the LoN Covenant you highlighted says no such thing. Then you quote the text from the actual Mandate which states ” the Principal Allied Powers have agreed, for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, to entrust to a Mandatory selected by the said Powers the administration of the territory of Palestine”. How is that evidence of the League of Nations recognizing the a sovereign, independent Palestinian state (and certainly not a Palestinian Arab state) that was formed 92 years ago?
        Just as I said, there has never been an independent Palestinian Arab state in history. Not ever. Not yet. Of course, since I am a believer in the right of people to self-define and seek political self-determination, I am a great supporter of the non-Jewish Arabic-speaking population forming the first ever Palestinian Arab state in history, on part of the disputed territory that was formerly occupied by Jordan between 1949-1967, possibly including Gaza, which has beeb completely free of Israeli occupation (to the extent that it existed) since 2005, and possibly having some kind of political federation or confederation with current Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 21, 2014, 2:54 am

        there has never been an independent Palestinian Arab state in history.

        independent of what? an occupation? so what?

      • Mikhael
        November 21, 2014, 4:36 am

        Yup. Israel is a state primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews. It is not a state of and for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, ex-pats and refugees, equally.

        Israel is a Jewish state that extends equal civil and civic rights to all of its citizens regardless of their nationality or religion, whether Jewish or non-Jewish.

        As Israel is a Jewish state, Jews (as well as most non-Jewish people of provable 1/4 Jewish ancestry) from anywhere in the world will always have the right to apply for, and in the majority of cases obtain, Israeli citizenship. This is correct, fair and just, and it will always remain the policy of Israel. It will not change. Nevertheless, any citizen of Israel, whether or not Jewish, always has more rights in Israel than a non-citizen of Israel, whether or not Jewish. A citizen of Israel who is of Arab nationality and identifies as Muslim, Christian or Druze is a citizen of Israel and thus can vote in an Israeli election and can hold high governmental positions in Israel. Such a person has more rights in Israel than a Jewish non-citizen of Israel whether that Jewish non-citizen of Israel resides in Israel or abroad. A Canadian or Australian Jew does not have these basic rights of Israeli citizenship unless and until he or she obtains Israeli citizenship.

        As for “immigrants, ex-pats and refugees” I’ve noticed that you constantly state this mantra-like formulation, and pretend that it actually means something, in scores of posts. Clarify what you mean by an “immigrant and an ex-pat”. Are you speaking of an Israeli citizen who has emigrated from Israel to a country like Canada or the US, or the child of such a person? If you are, then of course he/she has the right to return to Israel and claim his/her rights as an Israeli in Israel, regardless of religion or ethnicity. That is what Detroit-born International Solidarity Movement activist Huweida Arraf, the daughter of an Arab citizen of Israel, has done. Or when you speak of an “immigrant or an expat” are you speaking of people who have legally immigrated to Israel, either through Israel’s Law of Return (which justly awards Israeli citizenship to Jews or people of Jewish ancestry) or people who have obtained Israeli citizenship through other means, such as through marriage to an Israeli citizen or naturalization under the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which gives non-Jewish foreign nationals the ability to become naturalized Israeli citizens subject to the discretion of the Interior Ministry? (And is usually granted to people who are recognized as having valuable skills or performing a cultural service to Israel.) If you mean people who have become Israeli citizens, then by definition such immigrants are no longer “expats,” as such people, once they become Israeli citizens, have all the rights that Israeli citizenship confers upon them, just like any other Israeli citizen. But if such “immigrants or expats” reside in Israel as non-citizens who are legal residents, then of course they are entitled to fewer rights than Israeli citizens. They cannot and should not vote or hold office unless and until they become Israeli citizens. If they are in Israel on temporary worker visas, they have a right to work and receive fair wages and sue their employers if they feel they have been denied what is due them, they have a right to freely worship and assemble and express their opinions, their children have a right to free education and health care and they have a right to police protection, but they don’t have a right to vote or hold office (nor should they) and when their work visas expire, then they should leave the country. If they overstay their expired visas and reside in Israel illegally, or infiltrate the borders, like most of the illegal migrant workers, then of course they have even fewer rights still, but they are still entitled to police protection and their children still are entitled to free education and healthcare.
        As to refugees, depending on their status, if they actually get full refugee status and are recognized as legal asylees, then they are entitled to most of the benefits of permanent residence and potentially, eventual citizenship (of course, they cannot vote unless and until they become naturalized Israelis). Israel is a Jewish state that extends equal rights to all of its citizens regardless of whether they are of Jewish nationality or not, , but “immigrants, ex-pats and refugees,” who are not citizens will never have all of the same rights as citizens. That’s the way it works in every democratic country. A legal landed immigrant residing in Canada does not have all the same rights in Canada as a citizen of Canada unless and until he or she becomes a naturalized citizen of Canada.

        Wake me up when Jewish becomes the bureaucratic nationality of the “Jewish State” of Israel, applicable to all of Israel’s citizens, immigrants, ex-pats and refugees, equally – and I’ll agree with you that the “Jewish State” of Israel is just like all the other countries you mentioned.

        Until then, all you’ve done is underscore the fact that Israel is a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

        You’re too deeply asleep and immersed in phantasmagorical ideas of Israel and it would appear that you can’t be woken up. Why would you support Israel imposing a Jewish identity on the minority of its citizens who are of non-Jewish nationality and have no desire to identify as Jews? We are not like Turkey, which used to classify Kurds as “Mountain Turks” and denied that a separate Kurdish identity existed and which seeks to forcibly assimilate non-ethnic Turkish citizens (Kurds, Armenians, Greeks, Laz etc.) and tried to force a Turkish identity on them. Nevertheless, Israel still grants full citizenship with completely equal rights to its non-Jewish citizens, and non-Jewish Israelis are under law as Israeli as any other Israeli. “Israel” of course, has for centuries been just another way as saying “Jew”, so granting Israeli civic citizenship to non-Jews is inherently inclusive without imposing an ethnic identity on people who have no wish to identify as ethnic or religious Jews.

        This much is true–religious elements in Israel have an unfair influence on civil status issues such as marriage and divorce, just like the neighboring states. This is a legacy of the Ottoman millet system and is is mostly an inconvenience to secular Israelis and necessitates creative and annoying workarounds. Israeli citizens are otherwise free to be as religious or non-religious as they please.

    • Bornajoo
      November 13, 2014, 6:58 am

      @Mikhael

      The page with the original article is not loading, there is some kind of technical error so I am replying to you on this post instead

      I’ll begin by saying that I’m not sure it’s worth me wasting my time replying to someone who uses the phrase “so-called naqba”. Actually I believe it’s against the MW comments policy. Please respond to confirm your opinion on the Naqba. The fact that you are using the words “so-called” implies that you don’t agree that the Naqba actually occured?

      I will extend the courtesy of a reply but I await your response.

      I’ll continue with your statement:
      “Something doesn’t ring true in your self-description as being a scion of the Iraqi-Jewish community that migrated to Bahrain (many of whom originated from Basra) and “Spanish-Portuguese” Sephardic.”

      One side of the family originates from the Iberian region who ended up in joining the Jews in Iraq (as some did). The other side was from the original Iraqi Jews but always remained members of the S&P congregation. But can I sit here and say that all of that is factually correct? who really knows how they ended up there. We don’t even know my parents actual dates of birth because even records for those are nowhere to be found. So putting together an actual and concise history of the family tree is more or less impossible. I can only go from the stories that have been handed down through the generations. However what we know as a fact is that the family lived for a long time in Iraq under Ottoman rule.

      My grandparents left Iraq for Bahrain during the second world war as my grandfather could not find any work in Iraq during those difficult times. They did not leave because of any pogrom. The Fahad incident was a one off incident not perpetrated by the actual Iraqi government at the time but during a power vacuum just after the Anglo-Iraqi war, and we all know what can happen during power vacuums (present day Iraq is another example).

      I never used the word utopia. There was no utopia ANYWHERE so we need to get the whole argument into context. Let’s look and compare what was happening during those years all over the world. Those were not very enlightened times. let’s look at the USA. Segregation in the USA continued well into the 50’s and 60’s. During my great grandmothers life in Iraq, one of the most barbaric acts in human history was still being perpetrated against Africans; the African slave trade (only finally abolished by the Dutch in 1863). If we put the whole thing into the context of its time then my point is that my family’s life among the Arabs of Iraq and Bahrain was in general one of peaceful coexistence and freedom. Let’s not try and pretend that there was any kind of utopia anywhere, especially if you were part of a minority group or on the wrong end of a European colonial enterprise. In comparative terms my family on the whole had a good and peaceful life there for generations and enjoyed the rich culture of their host country.

      When I have discussed with those people I know who actually lived through that period, the issues between Arabs and Jews arose in parallel to the Zionist project in Palestine. However the incidents that did occur were few and far between and have been exaggerated into a mythology that the Arabs have always hated the Jews which is simply untrue. A good friend of our family lived in Iraq all of his life until 2003 (just before the 2003 illegal war) and was in the Iraqi civil service for over 40 years. He fully echoes my mother’s experiences. These are the experiences of people who actually lived there

      But let’s return the whole point of the original article in MW. We are now in 2014, supposedly more enlightened times. There is no more racial segregation in the USA. The European colonial enterprise is over. The South Africans have got rid of apartheid (and the whites in SA were not lynched immediately after). Here we are in 2014 and Israel parades itself as an enlightened democratic country, a “light unto other nations”, a beacon of democracy in the ME region but until today is responsible for the longest occupation in history. Israeli psycho settlers are continually stealing land with full government approval and protection and the Palestinians in the WB and Gaza are being subjected to nothing less than ethnic cleansing and a slow motion genocide. The majority of Israelis (including most of my own family in Israel) are racist towards the Palestinians and Arabs in general. The Palestinians have become a dehumanised race proven by the fact that the GOI is happy to drop a 1 ton bomb on an apartment building in Gaza because there might have been a “terrorist” nearby . These are the facts on the ground. No amount of propaganda can change, hide or justify these facts on the ground which you need to face up to rather than trying to make excuses to try and justify the unjustifiable.

  4. Mooser
    November 7, 2014, 11:02 am

    But weapons alone can’t account for the breathtaking speed with which the indigenous population of the New World were completely wiped out.

    “Within just a few generations, the continents of the Americas were virtually emptied of their native inhabitants – some academics estimate that approximately 20 million people may have died in the years following the European invasion – up to 95% of the population of the Americas.

    No medieval force, no matter how bloodthirsty, could have achieved such enormous levels of genocide. Instead, Europeans were aided by a deadly secret weapon they weren’t even aware they were carrying: Smallpox.”

    http://www.pbs.org/gunsgermssteel/variables/smallpox.html

    Gosh, I really appreciate the Zionist admiration of the Native American genocide, and their wish to emulate it, but the Europeans had outside help Zionists may not have as an inadvertent ally.

    • Teapot
      November 7, 2014, 1:43 pm

      A couple of years ago, I had a heated argument with a Zionist about the inclusion of the Native American genocide into our school curriculum. She felt that there was no time for that subject, and even if there were any extra time, then it should be used on additional teachings on the Holocaust instead. She basically told me that the only relevant genocide for today’s students was the Holocaust, because that could always happen again, whereas the age of colonialism was over and would never repeat itself.

      Back then, I wasn’t familiar enough with Zionist ideology to understand where her vehement objections to teaching the genocide of Native Americans came from.

      • Walid
        November 7, 2014, 3:41 pm

        “… her vehement objections to teaching the genocide of Native American …”

        They even object to use of the word “holocaust” in talking about other genocides such as the Armenian one.

      • Qualtrough
        November 7, 2014, 9:19 pm

        As Walid points out, they object to the use of the word Holocaust to describe what happened to the Armenians and others. Not only that, the Israeli government actively opposed efforts to recognize the Armenian genocide. The more one looks into Zionism the sicker it gets.

      • Mooser
        November 7, 2014, 9:29 pm

        “They even object to use of the word “holocaust” in talking about other genocides such as the Armenian one.”

        In my opinion, Jewish Holocaust exclusivity is the stupidest, most self-destructive attitude a person concerned about the Jewish Holocaust could possibly take. It is one that leads straight to Holocaust denial, and in fact, facilitates it.

      • eljay
        November 7, 2014, 11:08 pm

        >> Teapot: A couple of years ago, I had a heated argument with a Zionist … She basically told me that the only relevant genocide for today’s students was the Holocaust, because that could always happen again, whereas the age of colonialism was over and would never repeat itself.

        What a strange thing to say, given that the age of colonialism – driven by Zio-supremacism and executed, advocated, justified, supported and/or excused by Zio-supremacists like her – is alive and well in the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” of (Greater) Israel.

      • Denis
        November 8, 2014, 8:40 pm

        These points on some Jews claiming exclusivity to the word “holocaust” are so well taken. I am especially annoyed when it is capitalized, as if the Jewish holocaust was “The” only one, and the mass deaths and suffering of other peoples don’t really count. It’s about as arrogant as it gets.

        Sure it’s proper to refer to the Jewish holocaust, just as it’s proper to refer to the AmerIndian holocaust, the Cambodian holocaust, the Lebanese holocaust, the Assyrian holocaust, the Armenian holocaust (even if Obama is too “chickenshit” to do so) . . . & etc. But there is no “The Holocaust.”

        But many Jews — and not just Zionists — claim some sort of trademark right in “holocaust,” whether capitalized or not. It’s a brand. It’s a way to control the message, just like defining “antisemitism” as any comment or thought that is not philosemitic. He who controls the lexicon controls the dialog.

        This Tsiva is one tough lady. Bless her. (I, personally, would have momentarily suspended all that John Lennon give peace a chance yada, pushed the sucker down the well, and put the lid back on it. At least my inner Walter Mitty would have.)

      • ritzl
        November 10, 2014, 11:00 am

        @Walid- In the movie “Defamation” Foxman is shown lecturing Ukrainians about using the Ukrainian word “Holodomor” when describing their own genocide under Stalin (within the context of a discussion on how to get Jewish political support in the US Congress).

        Apparently the objection is not only about using the whole word but also parts of it.

    • Daniel Rich
      November 7, 2014, 5:30 pm

      @ Mooser,

      Looking forward to your speech on Thanksgiving…

      • Mooser
        November 7, 2014, 7:45 pm

        “Looking forward to your speech on Thanksgiving… “

        I hope I haven’t given Zionists any ideas.

      • Mooser
        November 8, 2014, 12:36 pm

        My point is that The Israeli idea that nations get “self-self-determined” and “normalized” by an effortless, almost pleasurable, consequence free, genocide of the native peoples is not something they should count on. The US “victory” over the Native Americans was certainly aided by the smallpox epidemic (influenza, too?) brought by the colonists.

    • pabelmont
      November 9, 2014, 12:08 pm

      Mooser: Was the smallpox in the blankets actually inadvertent? Did delivery of blankets speed up or slow down after its deadly effects were seen? I think the blankets became weapons of extermination however they started.

      • tree
        November 9, 2014, 1:33 pm

        I think the blankets became weapons of extermination however they started.

        Smallpox came to the Americas in the 1500’s with the Spanish explorers. It had already decimated native American populations well before the later substantial influx of Europeans. The native populations had no previous experience with the disease and had no immunity to it.

        The first known attempt to infect with blankets came from the British in 1763 during the siege of Fort Pitt, but it is not known if it was effective because there were reports that the disease was already spreading among native populations prior to the “gift” of the blankets.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Fort_Pitt

        There is also circumstantial evidence that the British attempted to use smallpox against American forces during the Revolutionary War, not be blankets, but by sending infected persons across American lines.

        http://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Spring04/warfare.cfm

        There was an outbreak of smallpox in 1837 which decimated many tribes. Ward Churchill claimed that it was deliberately spread by infected blankets but his claim has been seriously disputed by other historians, who trace the disease to infected individuals traveling up the Missouri River by steamboat.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1837_Great_Plains_smallpox_epidemic

  5. Citizen
    November 7, 2014, 11:46 am

    This is a very important witness article; how can we get it read in the US Congress? How can we get it on American TV? I think Obama knows the truth but he’s said all along as to other issues, he needs the American people to push him before he can stand up. What do we do about the great weight of the American population that simply doesn’t care about the issues here? Where are the Native Americans on these issues? Anybody know?

    • Daniel Rich
      November 7, 2014, 5:35 pm

      @ Citizen,

      Q: Where are the Native Americans on these issues? Anybody know?

      R: Outgoing Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly sat with Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder is his ‘box’ to watch a NFL game…, if that’s anything to go by…

      • DaveLipp
        November 7, 2014, 5:45 pm

        In the 30s the Native American Treaty Council worked with Irish groups in solidarity with Palestine. They all had “troubles” with the Brits, and colonialism in general.

      • DaveLipp
        November 7, 2014, 5:47 pm

        Sorry, I meant in the 80s.

    • just
      November 7, 2014, 5:59 pm

      we could ask Professor Salaita…

      google ‘native americans palestine’– there’s plenty.

    • MRW
      November 8, 2014, 3:49 pm

      Citizen November 7, 2014, 11:46 am
      This is a very important witness article; how can we get it read in the US Congress?

      The Smithsonian has an oral story library. Phil should submit it.

      • just
        November 8, 2014, 8:04 pm

        You are so right, MRW.

        NPR broadcasts some of those……..they should reserve an hour for this lady and this interview with Phil…

        On “This American Life”.

      • MRW
        November 8, 2014, 10:03 pm

        @just,

        That would be explosive. ;-)

      • Annie Robbins
        November 8, 2014, 11:17 pm

        those are great ideas citizen, just and MRW.

  6. Interested Bystander
    November 7, 2014, 12:43 pm

    Best line: “In Hebrew I say that’s a diklum, something you put in people’s mouths and they say the same thing over and over again. A diklum is reciting something. Not like poetry. But in kindergarten you say Rasti Rasti venna halti. It’s a diklum, it’s for little kids.”

  7. Sycamores
    November 7, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Tzvia Thier story is remarkable because of its honesty, i can’t wait to read the next chapter.

    • seafoid
      November 7, 2014, 1:32 pm

      I don’t understand how there are so few who think like her in Israel.

      • Citizen
        November 7, 2014, 1:54 pm

        @ seafoid
        Most folks are herd animals, whether in Israel or, say, USA?

      • Sycamores
        November 7, 2014, 3:10 pm

        it’s all there in Tzvia Thier story. from the indoctrination from an early age to separation of people because of race and creed.

        if you mention the discrimination of the Palestinians by the Jews you will get “it’s a diklum” line or worst, be called a traitor. it’s not much better in the US where you can get excommunicated from the community.

        Tzvia Thier courage will hopefully show other Israelis with similar thoughts that they are not alone.

      • Mooser
        November 7, 2014, 5:00 pm

        “it’s all there in Tzvia Thier story. from the indoctrination from an early age to separation of people because of race and creed.”

        Don’t forget the circumstances of her childhood. “I was born in Romania, in February 1944,…” and she had to face the choices, and take what might be the opportunities, of the time and place she was in.

      • Sycamores
        November 7, 2014, 5:19 pm

        @ Mooser,
        Absolutely, things were very bleak

      • seafoid
        November 7, 2014, 7:11 pm

        @citizen

        Herd animals doesn’t explain it completely . Neither does ww2. It’s multifactorial. Media control and Hebrew are big components as well.

      • seafoid
        November 7, 2014, 7:17 pm

        “Don’t forget the circumstances of her childhood. “I was born in Romania, in February 1944,…”

        Fair enough Mooser but how did the gay community react to the Holocaust? Did they take the lesbians prisoner and build themselves a new concrete shtetl? Or did they try to figure out a different way to live where trauma wasn’t central ?
        Gay history is even worse than Jewish history but they don’t tend to moan as much about it.

      • just
        November 7, 2014, 7:33 pm

        Most people look in the mirror to admire or criticize their physical characteristics– rarely do they examine their souls or anything ‘deep’.

      • seafoid
        November 7, 2014, 7:42 pm

        “Most people look in the mirror to admire or criticize their physical characteristics– rarely do they examine their souls or anything ‘deep’.’

        Every society has people who look above the parapet. That’s where writers, musicians, strategists etc come from, Just .
        And Israel has beaten whatever those types of people have out of them . Or else they just emigrate. Zero curiosity and automatic hasbara for the IDF people.
        So you just have stragglers left like this lady and Levy while the masses do the fascism courses.
        And It’s really dangerous . Because they think Zionism is forever. And it isn’t. And Israel needs people who can explain that in Hebrew.

      • just
        November 7, 2014, 7:51 pm

        seafoid– you really ‘get it’.

        The Israeli Department of Education is not helping at all, either.

      • MRW
        November 8, 2014, 3:40 pm

        Don’t forget the circumstances of her childhood. “I was born in Romania, in February 1944,…” and she had to face the choices

        Starting around page 147 (from memory) of Elie Wiesel’s All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs (1996), he recounts how the Russians arrived in Bucharest in January 1944. General Zhukov and his Russian troops were bearing down on the Nazis and couldn’t spare soldiers to police their newly conquered area, so they hired “returning Jews” as local police. The future chief of Shin Bet, who changed his name to something Israeli-sounding, was one of them (it’s in the book). I know from the family that the Russians reached Sighet where Wiesel and his nephew (my friend) were born by May 1944, and Wiesel in this book describes how the Sighet jail was used to punish, hang, and jail the Romanian elite who had sided with Hitler. Romania changed allegiances as soon as the Russians showed up.

      • RoHa
        November 8, 2014, 8:57 pm

        “Elie Wiesel’s All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs

        And since it isn’t true that all rivers run to the sea, we can know how seriously to take those memoirs.

  8. W.Jones
    November 7, 2014, 1:43 pm

    “I absolutely believed that in 1948 when Ben Gurion declared the state of Israel, the seven countries attacked Israel,”
    Isn’t that what happened? What happened instead?

    • Walker
      November 7, 2014, 3:00 pm

      Isn’t that what happened? What happened instead?

      The Zionists were evicting Palestinians from areas that were declared Palestinian under Partition. The Arab armies entered those areas to defend the Palestinians. No doubt they might have been interested in “throwing the Jews into the sea”, though you would be very hard put to find anyone who actually said those words. However, they barely touched 1948 Israel.

    • talknic
      November 7, 2014, 6:17 pm

      @ W.Jones “Isn’t that what happened? What happened instead?”

      According to the Israeli Government

      “On the night of 14-15 May, the regular forces of Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon invaded Palestine. The Egyptian Foreign Minister informed the Security Council that “Egyptian armed forces have started to enter Palestine to establish law and order” (his cable to the Security Council, S/743, 15 May 1948). The Governments of the Arab League States issued a statement on 15 May 1948, as their forces were advancing into Palestine

      Israel was independent, Israeli territories were no longer a part of or in “Palestine” (ibid)

      According to the Israeli Government May 22nd 1948 The 1948 war took place in territories “outside the State of Israel” … “in Palestine”

      There are no UNSC resolutions against any state condemning any alleged attack against Israel. As Regional Powers and UN Member States (except Jordan) the Arab States had a legal right to attempt to expel foreign forces in what remained of Palestine after Israel was proclaimed as “an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947

      • talknic
        November 7, 2014, 6:26 pm

        How about the web designers put back the USEFUL functions like edit or give a preview option. Their vast vacant white space plains are beautiful and very trendy, completely uninformative, useless and do not add ANYTHING to having easy and informative discussion

        @ W.Jones “Isn’t that what happened? What happened instead?”

        According to the Israeli Government

        “On the night of 14-15 May, the regular forces of Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon invaded Palestine. The Egyptian Foreign Minister informed the Security Council that “Egyptian armed forces have started to enter Palestine to establish law and order” (his cable to the Security Council, S/743, 15 May 1948). The Governments of the Arab League States issued a statement on 15 May 1948, as their forces were advancing into Palestine

        As of 00:01 May 15th 1948 (ME time) Israel was independent, Israeli territories were no longer a part of or in “Palestine” (ibid)

        According to the Israeli Government May 22nd 1948 The 1948 war took place in territories “outside the State of Israel” … “in Palestine”

        There are no UNSC resolutions against any state condemning any alleged attack against Israel. As Regional Powers and UN Member States (except Jordan) the Arab States had a legal right to attempt to expel foreign forces in what remained of Palestine after Israel was proclaimed as “an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947

    • pabelmont
      November 9, 2014, 12:49 pm

      The Arab states’ armies attacked Israel, but very lightly, very tentatively (except for Jordan which had a “deal” with G-G for Jordan to take Jerusalem and West Bank), and very late. Some read much of the Arab entry into the war as tentative attempts to seize parts of the carcase of Mandatory Palestine. Others see it as sympathetic, as help for the (for the most part) unarmed and wholly untrained Palestinian “forces”.

      And, as noted by W. Jones, these “attacks” came only after Israel self-declared. Furthermore these attacks were mostly in the territory set forth for the Arab state by UNGA 181 — so that they cannot be called attacks on “Israel” to the extent that Israel had earlier declared its boundaries to be those set forth in UNGA 181.

      But the chief thing to remember about the war of “1948” is that was begun by the Jews long before the modern State of Israel was declared. The Arabs came on the scene rather late. The Palestinians did not attack Israel, but vice versa.

      As I like to say, “No one forced the Jews of Palestine to imagine a Jewish State, or to bring one about by terrorism and war. It was done by choice. Israeli Jews like to talk about “wars of choice” and “wars of no-choice”. “1948” was a war of choice.

      “1948” began with Jewish terrorism against the Brits which caused Britain to throw in the towel and which was followed, soon after 11/1947 (UNGA-181), by Jewish attacks on Arab villages all through Palestine. Read Ilan Pappe “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”

  9. Walker
    November 7, 2014, 2:56 pm

    What a fantastic interview. What a peach that woman is!

    This interview is the kind of thing that changes people’s minds.

    • lonely rico
      November 7, 2014, 8:00 pm

      How about the web designers put back the USEFUL functions like edit or give a preview option. Their vast vacant white space plains are beautiful and very trendy, completely uninformative, useless and do not add ANYTHING to having easy and informative discussion
      Right on.

      • MRW
        November 9, 2014, 5:07 am

        I agree. Usability trumps everything else.

  10. Shmuel
    November 7, 2014, 2:56 pm

    Thank you Tzvia and Phil for a riveting and inspiring interview.

    • Walid
      November 7, 2014, 11:29 pm

      Very riveting. She’s a great human being.

      • bintbiba
        November 8, 2014, 7:57 pm

        Tzvia’s gorgeous smile says it all … a beautiful soul , a great human being.

    • Philip Weiss
      November 8, 2014, 2:57 am

      Thanks to you Shmuel for twigging on an important story…. Phil

    • Philip Weiss
      November 18, 2014, 3:20 pm

      Thanks Shmuel for telling me to follow up!

  11. W.Jones
    November 7, 2014, 3:33 pm

    Why did they leave Romania?

    Most Jews left Romania. Most went to the U.S., some went to Israel.

    So why did they go? They were Communist or Socialist, right? And Romania had become Communist and there wasn’t the threat of the Nazis again, but there was a conflict starting in Palestine. So was it for security, or what?

    • Mooser
      November 7, 2014, 7:53 pm

      “So was it for security, or what?”

      W Jones, I get the feeling that many of the people going to Palestine in the Zionist effort or after the establishment of Israel were not fully informed. No one was under any obligation to disclose anything. And nobody knew what the future held. I don’t think entry into the US was a free choice available for everybody, either.

      • W.Jones
        November 7, 2014, 9:41 pm

        Right.

        I am thinking though that if you are Left Socialist or Communist like Tarachansky or Thiers, then when Communist forces in Romania defeat the Nazis, why leave for the US or Palestine?

      • Mooser
        November 8, 2014, 11:07 am

        Yup, “left Socialist” or “Communist”, I mean, what’s the diff? I mean it’s not like Socialists and Communists didn’t get along, especially if they are Jewish, too.

      • W.Jones
        November 9, 2014, 12:36 am

        That’s true, Mooser.
        Chomsky talked about how he was on a Left Socialist Kibbutz, with a mix of Stalinists and Trotskyists.

      • MRW
        November 9, 2014, 5:22 am

        I agree, W jones. I gave the wrong impression above that my friend, Elie Wiesel’s nephew (the one who died recently), was born in 1944. He was born in 1949. Wiesel’s family stayed on in Sighet, after Elie, Bea, and Hilda left for Paris in 1944 or 45 (would need to check my diary). So people did stay. And as Wiesel described in his book (I explain above), when General Zhukov took Bucharest, he placed “returning Jews” in charge of police functions. Wiesel describes how the Sighet jail was used by Jewish police to punish the Russians who sided with the Nazis. Sighet is on the northernmost border, so one might logically assume that the replacement of local police with Jewish counterparts might have taken place across the country.

      • W.Jones
        November 9, 2014, 7:57 pm

        MRW,

        I think the “Why did they leave” question is key if one is going to better understand Israeli nationalism. Depending on what her family’s reasons are, it casts different (and not necessarily bad) lights on the state’s system.

        The reason she gave in the interview was basically that other people were doing it, so her family did too.

      • W.Jones
        November 9, 2014, 7:58 pm

        If she is going to be “anti-Zionist” (or not), then it would be helpful for her to reconsider why they left.

      • Mooser
        November 10, 2014, 10:55 am

        “Chomsky talked about how he was on a Left Socialist Kibbutz, with a mix of Stalinists and Trotskyists.”

        He wasn’t the only one! Fellow named Robert Zimmerman got stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again.

  12. bilal a
    November 7, 2014, 4:35 pm

    looks like Obama is gearing up for an AIPAC fight by choosing this attorney general nominee:

    Earlier this year, Lynch charged Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican congressman from Staten Island, with perjury, wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and tax evasion for his dealings in a health-food restaurant he had operated before he ran for office. Lynch said Grimm was operating a “very simple scheme,” that allegedly involved under-reporting wages and earnings when filing his taxes. Grimm has pleaded not guilty.

    http://time.com/3572553/who-is-loretta-lynch/

  13. DaveLipp
    November 7, 2014, 5:54 pm

    Rock on Tzvia. I feel safer on the streets of New York knowing you’re there. CU there.

  14. fullyrecoveredzionist
    November 7, 2014, 10:18 pm

    Inspiring interview – I look forward to working with Tzvia. I too overcame a Zionist background, in the US. Now I’m an anti-Zionist and human rights activist. It’s rare but not impossible. Groups like JStreet and the new If Not Now can be steps along the way as Jewish people, at first just upset, then horrified, come to understand what’s really going on and are moved to action against Israeli apartheid.

    • Mooser
      November 8, 2014, 11:09 am

      “what’s going on and are moved to action against Israeli apartheid”

      That’s right “fullyrecovered” once we can get rid of Israeli apartheid, we’ll have a beautiful Jewish democracy in the Jewish State!

  15. Nubia
    November 8, 2014, 12:38 am

    Dare the NYT to put a version of this in the Sunday Magazine Section!

  16. Bornajoo
    November 8, 2014, 12:09 pm

    Fantastic story and what an incredible lady. Her awakening, like mine, only happened when she actually saw first hand what was going on. Most Israelis never see first hand what is actually going on, even though they live right there. Most live in a propaganda bubble. And I know exactly what she means about trying to convince family and friends. Sometimes I think it’s easier to just smash your head against a brick wall because the end result is usually the same: brain damage

    I hope her story will be read by as many people as possible, especially American Jews

    • Citizen
      November 8, 2014, 1:06 pm

      “Most Israelis never see first hand what is actually going on, even though they live right there. Most live in a propaganda bubble.”

      Cf: “Most Germans never saw first hand what was actually going on, even though they lived right there. Most lived in a propaganda bubble.”

      And Poland was like the West Bank?

      Goldhagen has his own theory on the Germans, eh?

    • just
      November 8, 2014, 1:29 pm

      you are also an inspiration, Bornajoo.

      next time, try a helmet before you try to face the “brick wall”. don’t give up because your testimony here is enormously important.

      • Citizen
        November 8, 2014, 1:41 pm

        I agree, Bornajoo is a wonderful asset to humanity; I admire his principled and courageous heart.

      • Bornajoo
        November 8, 2014, 2:24 pm

        @Just
        Thank you
        But something needs to happen fast. I think I’m living in a parallel reality. I just saw the video on YouTube (via Haaretz) of the Israeli police shooting a young Palestinian Israeli and killing him. It was cold blooded murder. There was absolutely no way that those officers can claim their life was in danger. They were in their car and then they got out of their car and shot him in the back like a dog. This poor kid then spent his dying minutes being dragged on the ground and bundled into their car. They did not even call an ambulance to treat him at the scene

        Then you read the comments at the bottom of the Haaretz story and it’s unbelievable that some people just see what they want to believe, rather than actual reality. I really think I’m in a parallel universe

        There is now a regular and increasing shoot to kill policy. We are entering an even darker and more sinister phase of this evil and brutal oppression if that’s actually possible. This has to stop! We are witnessing genocide

      • just
        November 8, 2014, 2:31 pm

        That’s the video I woke up to this morning. (I linked to it somewhere on MW)

        It was and is genocide. This was another extrajudicial murder…he was murdered &dragged like an animal by FOUR (4) fully armed and clothed thugs.

        “They did not even call an ambulance to treat him at the scene.”

        They didn’t try CPR, either. They “hit” him just as surely as mobsters would, though in plain sight, because they will never, ever be punished.

        They’ll be honored and revered by the 95%.

      • Bornajoo
        November 8, 2014, 3:00 pm

        I’m at a loss for words. It’s an unspeakable evil. I’m not sure how to describe how I feel but it’s made up of lots of anger, lots of frustration and utter helplessness.

      • just
        November 8, 2014, 2:35 pm

        Here it is, Bornajoo:

        “KAFR KANNA (Ma’an) — A young Palestinian citizen of Israel died on Saturday morning after being shot in the chest by Israeli police during an arrest raid in a village north of Nazareth.

        According to locals in the Galilee-region town of Kafr Kana in northern Israel, Khair al-Din Rouf Hamdan, 22, was shot dead after police attempted to arrest his cousin.

        Israeli police claimed in a statement that the Hamdan had been wielding a knife at the time of the incident and had attempted to stab an officer before being shot dead.”

        video here: http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=738407

      • seafoid
        November 8, 2014, 3:44 pm

        Here’s the video again

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPlOPgp7424#t=37

        How many Jews have been shot dead by Israeli police recently ?

      • MRW
        November 9, 2014, 5:42 am

        Bornajoo November 8, 2014, 2:24 pm

        According to ancient Chinese philosophy, the 10,000 year-old Navajo prophecies, and a few others with no substantial pedigree, this period will bring about a tremendous change in world religions or usher in their demise. It is to be a period of cataclysmic spiritual revolution that extends from now until 2044, but does not become discernible until 2024.

        I was thinking about that today when I heard that Il Papi ditched the Numero Uno Bishop in the US because the bishop worked against the Pope’s efforts to revamp the Church, recognize gays, etc. My cousin worked in the Vatican Library. She said they consulted the prophecies, and ancient astronomical texts all the time. ;-) So who knows what we’re in for. The Chinese were very exact about it over 200 years ago.

    • jon s
      November 12, 2014, 4:37 am

      Some balance here: I know several people who have moved in the opposite direction in recent years, from Left to Right.
      Tzvia Thier felt that Liberal Zionism wasn’t working for her -and abandoned Zionism, but others have dropped the liberalism.

      And, hey, I was born in West Hartford!

      • Bornajoo
        November 12, 2014, 4:17 pm

        @Jon S
        I think we can safely say that quite a lot more Israelis have gone grow left to right. It’s reflected in the political system and in the make up of the current government. If you want an explanation for that then I suggest you read Max Blumenthal’s “Goliath” as a good starting point.

  17. Bornajoo
    November 8, 2014, 12:38 pm

    I also wanted to add that my family in israel are Mizrahi Jews and they all suffered from discrimination, especially in their early years there. However the discrimination they faced did not awaken them at all to the discrimination they dish out to the Palestinians. They don’t see any connection, they just don’t get it. There is a mental barrier I have tried but failed to break down. It always ends up as a fight and as Tzvia says it just doesn’t work. I think we need some form of mass hypnosis!

    • seafoid
      November 8, 2014, 4:03 pm

      I think it’s because deep down they know how fragile Zionism is. If they give an inch on the humanity of the Palestinians it will all fall apart. The last thing they want to do is revisit 1948. So they plough on towards the cliff.

      • Mooser
        November 9, 2014, 10:58 am

        “I think it’s because deep down they know how fragile Zionism is. If they give an inch on the humanity of the Palestinians it will all fall apart.”

        I think it’s because deep down they know how fragile Zionism is. If they give an inch on the humanity of the Jews it will all fall apart.

      • ziusudra
        November 10, 2014, 3:58 am

        Greetings seafoid,
        ….they know how fragil zionism is……
        Zionism is fragil? Oy,Weh! Hertzl had his zionism based on just that. There’s no fragility here, but conquest. Zionistan has the unilateral military & financial power to pull back to the boder of 67 w/o any danger whatsoever. The Falesteeni would help pull their tanks out of de mud free of charge.
        PS ..they plough on towards the cliff….
        We don’t know how zionistan will fall, but history shows many examples, here are two:
        Arminius, leader of the german tribes was socialzed by the Romans. Knowing their secrets & weaknesses, he beat them in the teuteburger forest.
        Mahatma Gandi was trained by the English. Knowing their secrets & weaknesses, he beat them & got Independence in 48.

      • Mooser
        November 10, 2014, 4:15 pm

        “Mahatma Gandi was trained by the English. Knowing their secrets & weaknesses, he beat them & got Independence in 48.”

        Now, I ask you, have you ever seen the subject summarized of so neatly and succinctly?

  18. pabelmont
    November 8, 2014, 6:46 pm

    “I want to have the family fight. I want to put four family members on stage, and fight about this in an American setting. It’s never happened. It’s starting to happen. You are open about your conversation with your sister. You don’t mind people knowing about that. And that’s important for people to know, how deep those divisions can be. Do you think we should have that fight publicly?”

    This is a terrific idea for a play.

    It might be really hard with actual family members, and maybe also valuable, better than talking only of the weather and the grandchildren, but really hard.

    But a play, “the play’s the thing Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” (Shak.)

    • just
      November 8, 2014, 7:08 pm

      What a splendid idea, pabelmont!

      I mean, really………

      • Mooser
        November 10, 2014, 11:01 am

        Okay, that’s a great idea, but a play needs two things- music, and dancing! It has to be a musical!

      • just
        November 10, 2014, 11:32 am

        OK– this is a previously ‘mowed lawn’. ‘ Sarafina’! and ‘Showboat’ and ‘Finian’s Rainbow,’ and ‘Yentl’, etc. i am so looking forward to the freedom of the Palestinians and all of the rest of humanity.

  19. catporn
    November 9, 2014, 2:41 pm

    This may well be the best (top 3 anyway) article I’ve read in my short time at Mondoweiss.
    Better late than never, and making up for lost time with an amount of energy that puts me to shame.

    • just
      November 9, 2014, 4:37 pm

      stick around, catporn! there are revelations in the articles, and the comments can make your day and instruct all of us!

      I have learned so much here! I keep introducing people to MW, ‘The War of Ideas in the Middle East’, and believe that simple conversation and a transmission of FACTS is one of the ways to restore justice to those that had it torn from them.

      • Bornajoo
        November 9, 2014, 4:57 pm

        @Just
        “I have learned so much here! I keep introducing people to MW, ‘The War of Ideas in the Middle East’, and believe that simple conversation and a transmission of FACTS is one of the ways to restore justice to those that had it torn from them.”

        Agreed. And you do it with incredible energy and motivation. It’s inspirational. Thank you

      • catporn
        November 9, 2014, 8:16 pm

        Completely agree, the comments section here can be as informative as the articles themselves, and considering the topics at hand it’s good to see people keep their heads.. more or less.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 10, 2014, 12:45 am

        Agreed. And you do it with incredible energy and motivation. It’s inspirational. –

        yeah , just(ice) is our treasure.

  20. just
    November 10, 2014, 3:36 am

    thank you all ;))

    I come hear to drink from the well of compassion & care for others that you all provide.

    together, we are building a movement that will overwhelm those that deny the truth and justice.

    • catporn
      November 10, 2014, 12:36 pm

      I don’t know how you do it tbh, after reading the articles and comments I often feel drained and unable to contribute anything, but your replies are prolific cogent upbeat and punctual. What’s more you’ve gone out of your way to make me (a newcomer) feel welcome, it means a lot.

  21. Moto
    November 14, 2014, 11:24 pm

    How can she be a Holocaust survivor? She was born in 1950.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 14, 2014, 11:34 pm

      this is a quote from the article:

      Where you were born?

      I was born in Romania, in February 1944, meaning that it was still World War II, except I have no memories of that. I was a baby. And our family moved to Israel when I was 6, in 1950.

      • Moto
        November 15, 2014, 4:34 pm

        Hello Annie

        I was not questioning you. I was questioning Thier’s self qualification of being a Holocaust survivor. She was born in 1950 so how does that work?

      • Annie Robbins
        November 15, 2014, 9:27 pm

        hello moto, i realize now that it wasn’t clear i was blockquoting from the article. i edited it. go look again.

        (btw, i was born in the US, not romania and not quite that long ago.)

  22. Tzvia Thier
    November 16, 2014, 11:11 am

    To Moto, I guess you realized that I was born on Feb 1944.

    • Moto
      November 17, 2014, 7:01 pm

      Yes. All clear now thanks to Annie’s comment. Hope I didn’t offend you.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 17, 2014, 7:22 pm

      Tzvia! i just noticed you came and visited us. it was a wonderful interview and you are a courageous and inspiring woman. thanks for all you do. ;)

    • Mooser
      November 17, 2014, 11:08 pm

      There’s the interview subject herself! Thanks, Ms. Thier!

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