For a moment, when I knew there were two ships with 27 activists nearing the waters that would bring them to the shores of Gaza, I imagined no war ships would come to drag them to Ashdod, to abort the messages of solidarity and hope for Palestinians who suffer profoundly the indignities of living in the cage of Gaza . I can only speak of Gaza because I no longer visit Nablus or Ramallah or Jenin, places I had travelled to before I was banned from Israel, another human being who happens to be a Jew who condemns the dehumanization of an entire population of Palestinians. How long must we wait before the US decides to liberate the Palestinians and condemn Israel for it’s totalitarian practices under the guise of “security?”
I am afraid of the military capacity and actions by the US and its UN surrogates as well as the military capacities of Israel and the US to make wars. Palestinians have not done to Israelis what has been done to them, they have never demolished houses nor created a ghetto for Israelis. I am not afraid of Palestinians. Many do not understand me and insist that Palestinians and indeed all Muslims must be feared and reviled. I am taken aback at the denial of history and the enormous resistance to having an open dialogue on the subject. It is not difficult to observe how Israel, in order to direct attention away from the plight of the Palestinians would prefer to demonize and attack Iran, an action supported by American Jews who have been manipulated to believe that Iran must be smashed before they smash Israel. From an Israeli perspective, Iran can easily be demonized in the form of “Iran’s wish to destroy Israel.” The enemy (Muslims) are not granted peoplehood so as to incur fear into the hearts of many in Israel, in the American Jewish community and throughout many parts of Europe.
To create “fear” is a potent form of terrorism which renders people powerless. Fear obscures reality and blinds reason and empathy. If we are blind to our common humanity, the” other “is reduced to non personhood, monster, terrorist or without a heart. This is a form of racism whereby propaganda and terrorism become active components to maintain the status quo. It also provides a so-called “legitimate” reason to deprive Palestinians of all legal status, a home and a state. What the rest of the world sees is a most radical breakdown of morality and justice in a society that claims to be a democracy.
Hannah Arendt wrote during my early youth. I deeply admire her as a political thinker a writer who forces us to think albeit not necessarily to agree. She too was a refugee from Nazi Germany and she was at ease with her identification as a Jew in the diaspora. She respected the idealism of the early Zionist organizations in Germany. In Paris Arendt worked for Youth Aliyah, a Zionist organization that rescued Jewish young people from Europe, preparing them to emigrate as agricultural workers to Palestine. As early as the 1940’s however, Arendt advocated for a bi-national state that would encompass Jews and Arabs as equal citizens. How many of us are aware of the little known story that tells us how Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt, and other German intellectuals bitterly fought against the founding of Israel as a “Jewish State.” They predicted through their humanism and liberalism the growing hatred that would be incurred not only among Arabs in the Middle East but also among progressive intellectuals who predicted a new form of racism and war that would create enormous strife and tension between Israel, it’s protectors and those who fought for the equality and dignity for all peoples. In those early days, Hebrew University became a base for disposing of David Ben Gurion as well as to discredit the conception of Israel as a Jewish State.
Throughout her career, Arendt argued for the importance of deep thinking, dialogue, and the democratic state’s requirement for free discourse. Politics to her was” the gathering of citizens for expressions of genuine freedom and action.” (Jessica Kraft, “Hannah Arendt.”)
Tragically, dissent created fear in Israel, evident as we observe and live through the intolerance and muzzling of those dissenters who refuse to accept the paradigm created within the Zionist state concerning Israel’s path to security and behavior towards their Palestinian neighbors. Zero tolerance for dissent and dialogue creates deeper intolerance and racial inequality. As Israel continues to believe in the morality of it’s society and it’s actions, we who dissent must push deeper to understand the political and moral causes of Israel’s path of dehumanization with it’s ongoing agenda to discredit the humanity of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims through racist hate and fear.
As we witness Israel’s disturbing and hard held belief that security brings peace, it seems that nothing is farther from the truth for it is only peace and tolerance that brings security!
Readers, stand with me to rage against the crimes committed year after year against Palestinians who continue their brave struggle for a homeland and dignity. Not in my name shall the open- air obscene prisons and the continuous debasement of human rights be allowed to exist.
Lillian Rosengarten, a refugee from Nazi Germany, is a Buddhist practitioner, poet, writer and a pacifist. This piece first appeared on PalestineChronicle.com. Contact her at:firstname.lastname@example.org.