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Former Israeli soldier wants to live in Palestine, says, ‘I hate Zionism’

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An ex-Israeli soldier is seeking to renounce his citizenship and live under the rule of the Palestinian authority.

Andre Pshenichnikov, a 23-year-old Jewish immigrant from Tajikistan, was recently detained by Israeli police for residing illegally in the Deheishe Refugee Camp near Bethlehem. There he told police that he wants to break all ties with Israel, give up his Israeli citizenship and obtain a Palestinian one instead.

Pshenickhnikov’s experiences in the Israel Defense Forces led him to want to disassociate himself from Israeli society.

‘I hate Zionism … I want to be part of the Palestinian resistance,’ Pshenichnikov told The Associated Press. ‘I call for other Israelis who support the existence of a state of Palestine to do the same, to come live in the West Bank or Gaza as Palestinians.’

The Palestinian authorities, however, viewed Pshenickhnikov with suspicion and turned him over to the Israelis who after a brief incarceration have released him on bail.  The young would-be resistance member faces charges of living illegally in a Palestinian area.

Pshenickhnikov hopes that he will be able to return to live in the refugee camp, but is philosophical about his chances of fulfilling his desires.

‘I believe everything in this world is possible and even if I’m not able to get citizenship, the process itself is very important,’ says Pshenichnikov. ‘It will show the world that Israel, not the Palestinian Authority, is really in control of the West Bank.’

Ira Glunts

Ira Glunts is a retired college librarian who lives in Madison, NY. His twitter handle is @abushalom

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23 Responses

  1. Sumud on June 15, 2012, 10:39 am

    It’s a beautiful thing this young man wants to do.

    And historically, so right – there were jews living in what is now the West Bank and if I understand it correctly Israel forced them all to leave. So as well as the 750k Palestinians that were displaced by the Nakba there was a small number of jews displaced as well.

    (Input from someone with historical & even current knowledge on this topic would be much appreciated, I note from the article [my emphasis] “The young would-be resistance member faces charges of living illegally in a Palestinian area“).

    It’s a shame the PA turned him back over to the Israelis, the prospect of self-identifying Palestinian jews in the West Bank is heart-warming, but also a little sad: he is effectively a refugee from Israel seeking asylum in Palestine.

    I hope others take him up on his call for more of the same, and that someone in the PA has the brains to recognise the significance of it.

    • homingpigeon on June 16, 2012, 8:57 am

      Unfortunately, the fortunes of war were such that the Jewish communities in what came under Jordanian control in ’48 were ethnically cleansed. You are aware of the Zionist slander that the Arab governments called upon Palestinians to abandon their homes? Well this is in fact a projection of the Zionist position regarding Jews living in Arab countries. There was a tacit confluence of this policy with various Arab communal reactions local Jews once Palestinian refugees began arriving. Each Jewish community has it’s own story as does each Palestinian village regarding the ethnic cleansing.

      In the case of the West Bank, there was a Jewish settlement in the Etzion Bloc near Hebron. Combat was fierce and it fell to the Jordanian Army and local militias. My reading is that the survivors credit the organized army for preventing massacres by the local militias and they were handed over to Israeli forces by the Jordanians. With the incoming flood of Palestinian refugees from areas of Hagannah control it would have been a stretch for the local peasantry to act like Mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama to the local settlers. (Partition along ethnic lines is a sloppy business, be it India, Palestine, or Sudan).

      In the case of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, this came under Jordanian Army control. The residents were religious, took a dim view of Zionism, and did not participate in combat. I have not heard or read anywhere that they were harmed. However as part of the Armistice agreement, these Jews departed in an orderly and protected way from their homes to the Israeli side of the ceasefire lines. In other words, no threat of massacre, no shooting up of their houses or at them as they left. Someone with access to the details of the Armistice negotiations would have to say if it was the Israelis who asked for their transfer, or the Jordanians who pushed for it, or whether it was a mutualy assumed premise of the situation on the ground. My source on this was the book Oh Jerusalem.

      I think the Jordanians should have allowed them to stay but then they would have been accused of holding them as hostages.

      The homes of this community were then inhabited by refugees from the Israeli controlled area. When the Israelis captured Jerusalem in ’67, these Palestinians were ordered out immediately and the old homes were bulldozed to create the paved plaza you see in front of the Western Wall.

  2. ahadhaadam on June 15, 2012, 10:39 am

    yes, Dances With Palestinians. That’s the name of my blog and that may be the key to ending Israeli Apartheid – when more and more Jews will defect from the Jewish Supremacist camp and join Palestinians to abolish Israeli Apartheid since Israeli Apartheid cannot be changed from within as the Zionist left has proven for decades.

  3. German Lefty on June 15, 2012, 11:18 am

    Here’s an article in the German “Spiegel” with a photo of him. Cute guy.

  4. clenchner on June 15, 2012, 11:33 am

    More evidence that in the West Bank, at least, support for side by side coexistence is less than hoped for in the one state movement. Palestinians do not want Israeli Jews living in the areas under their control; count me as someone who respects that wish and seeks to get Israel on board as well.
    That said, if the Palestinian leadership embraces post-ethnic nationalism, opens up the Palestinian national movement formally to Israeli Jews and seeks ANC style post-ethnic unity – I’d be likely to join, even if some reservations were outstanding.
    The point being that ‘joining them’ isn’t really a top priority for most Palestinians. Quite reasonably, they’d prefer a whole lot less of that from Israelis.

    [yes yes Uri Davis, Jonathan Pollack, Neta, blah blah blah. Their path is in no way a model or representative of a political path for others to follow, and it hasn’t been embraced by Palestinian institutions.]

    • Sumud on June 15, 2012, 1:34 pm

      More evidence that in the West Bank, at least, support for side by side coexistence is less than hoped for in the one state movement.

      More evidence…? What else are you talking about?

      You didn’t read the Ynet article that Ira linked to.

      From the article [my emphasis]:

      Residents say he was initially treated with suspicion. Many Palestinians suspected him of being an Israeli spy and Palestinian officials eventually handed him over to Israeli authorities. But Pshenichnikov remained undeterred, returning to Deheishe where was apprehended by Palestinian forces and handed over to Israel again.

      Israeli police released him under restrictive conditions and banned him from entering the Palestinian-controlled areas pending the end of legal proceedings against him.

      Tareq Abu Sheikha, who rented Pshenichnikov a room for a month, said he was “suspicious and not honest.”

      Abu Sheikha said Pshenichnikov presented himself as a Russian foreign activist and was even seen throwing stones at Israeli soldiers during demonstrations. But he was also heard speaking in Hebrew on his phone and carried his old military ID card with him.

      “We don’t have a problem with any Israeli coming to be one of us. We’ll be honored and give them an ID card, but this young man was suspicious and he lied and that’s why we handed him to the Israelis,” he said.

      Abdel-Fatah Hamayel, the governor of Bethlehem, said that in principle there should be no problem granting Pshenichnikov Palestinian citizenship, but that it would have to go through the proper legal channels.

      “He wasn’t supposed to come illegally. If people knew his true identity, there’s no guarantee for his safety. He should have informed the Palestinian side with an official request and his request would be considered,” he said.

      • clenchner on June 15, 2012, 6:21 pm

        Sumud, I missed that. Sigh. I would love to read more stories about Israelis joining the Palestinian side and being welcomed as equal members of the team. It’s sad that folks like this sort of make it harder instead of easier.
        I still think, based on my own experiences as a solidarity activist that most Palestinians in the West Bank do not want Israeli Jews amongst them as participants in the struggle or neighbors. And that’s absolutely fine. Israelis belong on the other side of the Green Line unless they are well coordinated with Palestinian hosts and go through official channels.

      • Avi_G. on June 16, 2012, 1:49 pm

        You once claimed that you were a refusnik and then one day wrote:

        As a soldier I remember my first night on the base […]

        I still think, based on my own experiences as a solidarity activist that most Palestinians in the West Bank do not want Israeli Jews amongst them as participants in the struggle or neighbors.

        You were never a solidarity activist.

      • clenchner on June 17, 2012, 6:11 pm

        For someone who has never met me, you sure have some insights into my past….
        That said, because of your willfull and biased mis-interpretation of my words, I’ll make an amendment. I don’t think Palestinians oppose the presence of Israeli Jews as partners in the struggle against the occupation. I think they oppose the presence of Israeli Jews as residents in the West Bank, equal members of political organizations, and as full members of the Palestinian resistance movement.
        In that, they have the full support of the Israelis, who also fear genuine Israeli-Palestinian partnership.
        The only entity I’m aware of that accords equal status for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs from the OT is the Alternative Information Center, but then that’s an NGO supported by foreign donations and not a grassroots political movement.
        It’s simple for most folks Avi. “Solidarity” incorporates the idea of outside support. The whites who were members of the ANC were never ‘in solidarity’ with South Africans, they were/are South Africans. You want solidarity? Then you don’t have anything close to equality or integrated political struggle. And who exactly is calling for that anyway?

      • Avi_G. on June 18, 2012, 4:15 pm

        Ahhh yes, the ol’ out of context excuse.

    • Woody Tanaka on June 15, 2012, 4:42 pm

      “More evidence that in the West Bank, at least, support for side by side coexistence is less than hoped for in the one state movement.”

      Yeah, because no one but you, apparently, would put it past the zios to send spies and saboteurs in, and the Palestinians have to keep their guard up. You should never trust an Israeli. Not about anything. Ever.

      • clenchner on June 15, 2012, 6:21 pm

        Good on you Woody! Another argument for not sharing a state with them.

    • Avi_G. on June 16, 2012, 1:45 am

      More evidence that in the West Bank, at least, support for side by side coexistence is less than hoped for in the one state movement. Palestinians do not want Israeli Jews living in the areas under their control;

      It’s cute that you still — after some 20 years — consider the Palestinian Authority to be an independent and sovereign entity with the power to decide on such matters.

      I’ll rephrase that. It’s not cute. It merely reaffirms that you live in a bubble of your own creation.

      Now for the record, the P.A. were the ones who sought to discredit Andre Pshenichnikov by parading his documents as proof that he was some sort of a spy.

      And the P.A. did that on orders from Israel because Israel demanded he be handed over.

      Incidentally, when Israeli soldiers go into Jenin — an area designated as Area A — where the P.A. is supposed to have full military and civilian control and arrest and terrorize at will any Freedom Theater member, that simple fact should clue you in on the ‘relationship’ between the two authorities, the Israeli military and Palestinian police.

      But go on, peddle some incident that you spun in your favor to support an assertion that is false anyway. See if anyone on Mondoweiss will buy your elementary Hasbara.

      And while you’re at it, go ahead and ignore the countless projects, events, and protests in which Palestinians from villages like Bil’in, Nil’in and Budrus opened their homes and their hearts for Israeli activists who came to work with them in solidarity.

      Indeed, you live in your own bubble. And it’s not cute anymore; it’s sad.

  5. German Lefty on June 15, 2012, 12:00 pm

    Here is the Huffington Post article:
    Read the comments. Terrible. An example:
    “Yes, live like a Pali. Marry his 15 year old cousin, keep her continually pregnant, and get violent and verbally cruel with her in the evenings. Meanwhile he is with his friends smoking and watching football all day, every day.”
    If anyone wrote that about Jews, this person would scream “anti-Semitism”.

    • Woody Tanaka on June 15, 2012, 4:36 pm

      “If anyone wrote that about Jews, this person would scream “anti-Semitism”.”

      I agree. In my experience, people who write garbage like that which you just quoted think that anti-semitism is the worst thing imaginable, but excuse their own bigotry.

  6. casaananda on June 15, 2012, 12:12 pm

    I think he has found that living among the Palestinians is just dandy. They are extremely warm and hospitable people. That may well come from suffering for a long time.

  7. radii on June 15, 2012, 12:14 pm

    remains to be seen if the guy is legit, if this is a personal quest or a political one, or if it will reverberate

    • Avi_G. on June 16, 2012, 1:58 am

      adii says:
      June 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      remains to be seen if the guy is legit, if this is a personal quest or a political one, or if it will reverberate

      The guy is legit. Israeli authorities have their own networks of informants and the entire military apparatus behind them. They certainly don’t need to install a 23-year-old guy in a refugee camp in order to accomplish anything.

      In other words, the Shin Bet and the military both prefer to keep their jobs simple and easy. They wouldn’t go to such great lengths to incriminate some Palestinian or use him as a pawn in order to challenge the P.A. or some such end result.

      Now if he were a high ranking Syrian officer who allegedly decided on a whim to defect to, say, Israel for example, and brought along a MiG-23, then one might raise an eyebrow or two.

  8. tokyobk on June 15, 2012, 1:59 pm

    Palestinian people obviously deserve respect no matter what.
    The individual and property rights of Palestinians should also be inviolate.
    Imo, Palestinian national ambitions, like Jewish ones, however, only deserve outside respect to the extent that they are open and tolerant.
    The case is as much a test of Israel as of an emergent Palestine. I hope he gets his wish which would forebode good for all the people living there.

    • Woody Tanaka on June 15, 2012, 4:38 pm

      Your statement really smacks of getting down on poor people living under a bridge because rich folks have no problem following that law…

  9. bpm on June 15, 2012, 2:37 pm

    I understand his sympathies, but not sure if the besieged in occupied lands need yet another drain on their oh-so limited resources.

  10. homingpigeon on June 16, 2012, 9:08 am

    On the Palestinian position regarding Israelis living among them on the West Bank – any question on their opinion should be framed in the context of a Palestinian right of return to the ’48 areas, settlers vacating or purchasing – with consent of the owners – all locations were they settled on private property, and equal rights and laws applying to members of both communities. And many of the settlers really need to go to charm school. They are not obnoxious just with Palestinians, but with most anyone including fellow Israelis.

  11. yrn on December 31, 2012, 4:11 pm

    Andre Pshenichnikov has been arrested by the Egyptians…….
    Activists……. help him out.

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