‘It is ethnic cleansing’

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The video above is of Joyce Ajlouny, who heads the Friends’ School in Ramallah in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It was posted at Huffpo yesterday by the interviewer, Nancy Kanwisher, a brain scientist, actually the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at MIT.

Kanwisher’s headline is “Listening to Palestinians,” and this is a conversation about occupation between two highly-educated women. Ajlouny is obviously a lovely and privileged woman. You can see for yourself– her earrings, her haircut, her manners.

And by the way, she drives.

The climax of the video comes at 15:00 or so when Ajlouny tells Kanwisher simply, “It is ethnic cleansing,” to describe the Palestinian experience under occupation.

Why does she say this? Ajlouny is conveying the conditions of Palestinians since Oslo. Her mother was born and raised in Jerusalem, in the Old City. “It is our capital….She can’t go there. You can go. She can’t go.” And Ajlouny herself was born in Jerusalem but she can’t go there. All the Palestinian organizations have moved to Ramallah. Israel is crushing our identity, crushing our rights, she says. All to make our life “hellish,” she says, and we want to leave.

“Do you think that is the purpose of a lot of this?” Kanwisher asks.

Ajlouny hums with agreement. “It is ethnic cleansing.” The intent is to get the people of means and education to leave, and many of them have.

How many of us are comfortable using the term “ethnic cleansing” to describe what is going on over there? I don’t feel comfortable myself saying that, even though I do sometimes. Because it is such an epithet, from the former Yugoslavia. And I don’t live there.

But Ajlouny lives there, and she says it, and I believe she has earned the right to say it, and this video should be seen by all Americans who support the unending occupation and rightslessness of Palestinians.

Yesterday Hillel’s president issued guidelines on what young Jews are allowed to talk about and still be in the campus Jewish organization. Demonizing and delegitimation are against the rules. So if you said Israel practices ethnic cleansing you would be bounced from Hillel.

Young Jews, please bring this video into your Hillels and ask the leaders, Is this woman lying?

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