Brooklyn-Jenin: A call for the remnants of the Israeli-Jewish left

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Now it is evident based upon the “Palestine Paper” leaks from The Guardian that the government of Israel never intended for a peace.  It is now time for the Zionist left to repent for their collaboration with the on-going occupation.

Indeed, we are a negligible minority, but perhaps if we break the ethnic barriers and stand as one, Palestinians and Jews, we can become a powerful minority, alongside the forces of democracy and justice throughout the world. 

On September 22, 1967, a few months after the height of euphoria from the victorious Six Days War, Ha’aretz published a paid ad by Matzpen (a radical leftist organization): 

    Our right for self-defense does not give us the right to oppress others; occupation leads to foreign rule, which brings resistance, resistance leads to oppression, which brings terror and counter-terror. Terror victims are usually innocent people. Maintenance of the occupied territories will make us a nation of murderers and victims. Let us get out of the occupied territories immediately! 

Today, what remains of the Israeli-Jewish Left is marching deliriously in demonstration trails, trying to collect the shards that it spreads in the streets of Tel Aviv. After years of an unsuccessful attempt to be both Jewish and democratic, socialist and greedy, enlightened and racist, fighting whole-heartedly against the occupation and serving in a brutal occupying army, the Jewish left understands it has reached a dead end. For decades the Israeli-Jewish Left perceived themselves as the lords of the land, only to find themselves losing ground, with awe and despair in their eyes. 

However, for the Zionist left, it is time for repentance.  Only by becoming accountable for their role in fostering this racist monster, can the Zionist left have tikkun (self-repair).

It would be a repetition of the same, if the left tries to reconstruct itself as pure, while its foundation always already contaminated.  The result will look as ridiculous and ugly as contemporary Jaffa, where leftist Jewish-Israeli planners give reverence to Arabic architecture while dispossessing the Arabs themselves — a hybrid of colonialist, archaic power structures, while eatinghumus with a French accent. 

For the first time in history, what remains of the Left, is sharing a bit of the same destiny as persecuted Palestinian citizens of Israel. Alas, this creates an opening for Palestinians and Jews to collaborate in reconstructing a determined, militant Left.  This Left can structure itself as a non-violent resistance movement, sabotaging the legitimacy of the theocratic democracy of Israel.  This multi-cultural, bi-national front will act with conviction, fidelity, and a reasonable measure of self-irony. 

44-years have passed since the publication of the mythological ad of Matzpen, where five of the eleven-signatories are no longer alive. In retrospect, common sense tells us that these words are the most precise, moral, political, and prophetic analysis of the events, which were written in real time. 

It would be nice to see the intellectual and political leaders of the Zionist left, people like

Amos Oz, A.B Joshua, David Grossman and Shelly Yachimovich, asking for forgiveness from the radical left, for years of excommunication and the appropriation of their discourse.  The genuine ones in the Zionist left now understand that it was the Left, not necessarily the right, who planted the seeds of racism in public discourse.   

The abandonment of democracy for ethnic superiority is weaved through the entire Israeli Jewish Left ideology.  This includes the role of the Supreme Court in legitimizing the Occupation, Ben-Gurion instituting military rule over Palestinians (despite being citizens of Israel) and cruelly enough, it was immediately following the experience of the collective trauma of Nakbah.  And, even the pre-state foundation of the Jewish left advocated Hebrew only labor. 

Why bother intellectualizing whether a Jewish and democratic state is oxymoron or axiom?  Reality is teaching us, that today, those two-values are standing as rivals, in high noon, and only one can survive the duel. 

Thus, against our will, each one of us must choose between a democratic and Jewish state. Those who choose the Jewish option are walking with clips in weapons, killing Palestinians, and dispossessing them of their land, all while attempting to erase the Jewish Left, with whom until recently they collaborated with.   

And for those who choose the proper model of a democratic and egalitarian state, it is time prepare for battle. The weekly demonstrations in Tel Aviv are, and always were, insufficient in warding off evil.  Darkness is breaking out and there is no mercy. Indeed, we are a negligible minority, but perhaps if we break the ethnic barriers and stand as one, Palestinians and Jews, we can become a powerful minority, alongside the forces of democracy and justice throughout the world.  

Maybe, along with the Tunisians, we can be a new generation who seek justice and pleasure in Middle East, inshallah.  Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.” Let us pray that the stars we see will not be the missiles over Tel Aviv, Beirut, and Gaza announcing with their shining tails the apocalyptic war that the Israeli government bequeathed to us.  Let us hope that the stars are sparkles of hope that will open the gates to our mutual Middle East, for life 

Translated by Idith Meshulam & Allison Deger. This article is from Udi Aloni’s Brooklyn-Jenin column he is writing for the Israeli website Ynet about his experience living between New York City and the Jenin refugee camp, where he is teaching a film production class. You can read the entire Brooklyn-Jenin series here.

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