Trending Topics:

The things I miss (confessions of an activist)

on 82 Comments
Photo on 2 10 12 at 3 16 PM 6
Self portrait of a Palestinian (Photo by Sarah Aziza)

I began really engaging in activism for the Palestinian cause about a year ago, and I’ve lost a few things along the way. Among the things I miss from my pre-activism days are:

1. Being anonymous.

It’s hard to realize how sacred privacy is until you begin to lose it. Once I began taking a visible stand on my campus, I became a “controversial” figure, and soon realized I had actually made “enemies.” My name, identity, and even phone number became objects of public discourse as the “scandal” that was pro-Palestinian activism began to gain momentum at my university. The reality of this shift took a huge toll on me mentally, as I often encountered strangers who possessed pre-formed opinions about my character, “agenda,” and background. I began to feel nervous while walking between classes or attending events and social functions; would I be noticed? Would I be subjected to hostility? Those strangers across the room, did they, too, believe that I “supported Hamas”? Maybe I shouldn’t wear my keffiyeh today….

2. Being generally well-liked.
See above.

3. Having free time.
Contrary to my Zionist “activist” counterparts, who have the seemingly limitless resources of our Hillel center (think: multiple paid staff members and a full-time, politically active rabbi, generous budgets, and overt administrative favoritism), being a pro-Palestine advocate on my campus has proven to be an extremely exhausting and consuming undertaking. My fellow SJP-ers and I have dedicated countless hours to the cause, often forced to come up with extremely creative ways to overcome our shortage of finances and manpower.

4. Friendships with Jewish students
Although my campus SJP includes several, highly active Jewish members, I’ve sadly seen many relationships damaged as a result of the emerging pro-Palestine presence on our campus. Although I have many Jewish and Zionist friends who have maintained civility and respect despite our differing politics, the constant conflation of Judaism and Zionism has done much unnecessary harm. Indeed, I feel that Judaism itself is often one of the greatest victims of the venomous nature of this “debate.”

5. Relationships with Professors
Perhaps the most shocking result of my and my colleagues pro-Palestine activism on my campus is the toll it has taken on rapport with certain university faculty members. While some have valiantly defended the right of us as students to engage in this cause on behalf of Palestinians, other professors and administrative officials have vehemently opposed us. The level of engagement, and in some cases, antagonism, was a completely unexpected and extremely stressful development for students involved in our SJP. We have been faced with real doubts about our ability to express ourselves freely and anxiety about incurring the anger of outspoken university personnel. The dearth of support for “pro-Palestinian” activists and the unfair atmosphere of being “singled out” for an “unpopular” point of view has been an extremely disappointing and unfortunate experience for many members of our SJP.

….Why have I taken the time to write up this rather depressing list of what my co-SJP president calls “vanguard-movement problems”? Not to evoke sympathy or praise for any sort of self-sacrifice; no, but to remind all those struggling for this cause in their respective spheres, you are not alone. I know the obstacles we face in my SJP and BDS circles are far from rare; sadly, I’m aware that many of my co-activists face even harsher suppression, more vehement opposition, and more twisted spin machines. Yet, I’m sure I am not the only one who feels, to my very core, that this struggle, in all its absurdity and injustice, is a worthwhile one.

Indeed, between the early winter mornings spent building mock apartheid walls, the late-night organizing meetings, the endless and fruitless attempts to get fair press coverage, and the inevitable personal attacks and groundless accusations, I have found a deep joy in knowing I stand on the right side of history. In this journey to bring the plight of Palestinians (and, subsequently, the Israelis who are victimized by the violent reality of colonialism) into a discourse of true justice and peace, I’ve discovered I am walking in incredible company. While luminaries like Archbishop Desmond Tutu affirm our mission, I’ve also met “ordinary” men, women, and children with a passion for humanity that constantly revives my own sense of hope. I would never trade such genuine inspiration for the superficial calm that comes from succumbing to the status quo.

Sarah Aziza

Sarah Aziza is a Palestinian American writer and activist born in Chicago, IL. She has worked with refugee populations in Algeria, Jordan, South Africa, and the West Bank. She recently relocated from Amman where she spent a year as a Fulbright fellow at UNRWA. In addition to pursuing graduate studies at NYU, Sarah works in education and advocacy among immigrant and undocumented communities in New York City. Her twitter is @SarahAziza1

Other posts by .

Posted In:

82 Responses

  1. seafoid on June 11, 2012, 10:33 am

    The Shehadas are a great family. Sarah comes from a fine pedigree. There is a street named after them in Hebron.

    And it goes without saying that the zionists are vicious. They have it all to lose and they know it.

  2. OlegR on June 11, 2012, 10:40 am

    Sooo much pathos .
    /Indeed, between the early winter mornings spent building mock apartheid walls, the late-night organizing meetings/
    this can’t be real right, it has to be satire, please tell me it’s satire …

    • annie on June 11, 2012, 12:32 pm

      no, it aint satire oleg…just chickens comin’ home to roost. get used to it, this new generation is not backing down.

    • Woody Tanaka on June 11, 2012, 5:21 pm

      “Sooo much pathos .”

      It’s easy to criticize when you, Oleg, are responisble for the problems she is fighting. When you back to your own damn country and leave hers to her people, then maybe you can open your mouth. Comrade.

      • W.Jones on June 11, 2012, 6:46 pm

        Why call him Comrade? “Comrade” was the term among Bolsheviks in their “war” against social inequality.

        The Bolsheviks’ position was that Jews should seek to create equality in the counties in which they live, rather than finding the answer to religious dicrimination in leaving and creating an ethnic state elsewhere.

      • OlegR on June 11, 2012, 7:02 pm

        I am in my own damn country Woody and i am pretty sure
        this girl is quite happy being an American as well.
        where are you though?

      • Taxi on June 12, 2012, 9:04 am

        You’re back in USSR oleg? That’s nice.

    • RoHa on June 11, 2012, 7:55 pm

      You are right, of course, Oleg. She should not be saying that sort of thing.
      Only Jews are allowed to talk about the tough side of life.

      • Rizla on June 13, 2012, 6:37 am

        Bull’s eye. What a jerk. Yet Mr. Oleg is in fact doing the world a favor. What normal human being — anyone with any human empathy left — would cast their lot in with the Hasbara brigade after reading such shallow crap? Sic transit Hasbara attack poodle rhetoric… good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.

    • lobewyper on June 11, 2012, 8:14 pm


      Your commitment to social justice and international law is simply amazing! They indeed broke the mold after they created you.

    • Citizen on June 11, 2012, 9:15 pm

      No, OlegR, U R the satire. Just keep entertaining us with your self-cartooning.

  3. Boycott Israel on Campus on June 11, 2012, 10:49 am

    From 1960 through 1969, campus activists for civil rights and Black power faced much more hazardous obstacles. They paid the price so that we can advocate for BDS without facing more than the occasional hostile remark from a Zionist who is far more isolated than you might imagine.

    And so you pay that comparatively small price — still, it’s a scary price to pay! Especially when actual professors and administrators give you the Glare of Death. Turn your back and walk away from them. If they could really harm you, they would have done it already. They can’t do a damn thing.

    You are paying a price so that next year’s BDS activists will have a much easier time.

    Thank you.

  4. Pamela Olson on June 11, 2012, 11:03 am

    Well said, Sarah. Thanks for your indispensable work.

  5. Kris on June 11, 2012, 11:16 am

    Thank you for this excellent essay, which will touch so many hearts that you will not even know about!

    I am especially moved by what you say about having found “a deep joy in knowing I stand on the right side of history.” I think that you may be finding the “pearl of great price” that is described in the parable found in Matthew 13:45.

  6. American on June 11, 2012, 11:18 am

    Bravo…..may the Sarah’s become the next world leaders.

    • Citizen on June 11, 2012, 9:17 pm

      I don’t know, but Sarah stands indeed, on the right side of history.

  7. rensanceman on June 11, 2012, 11:22 am

    Your activism is worthy and for a just cause. The true face of Zionism is coming into focus here in the U.S, in spite of the hasbara that effectively silences the opposition, and makes whores of our Congress (and President).

    You may believe that your efforts are futile but understand that the arc of history favors the just cause and as the ugly face of Zionism emerges, the human soul will reject this Evil and the floodgates will break allowing the sewage to escape in a torrent.

  8. ritzl on June 11, 2012, 11:22 am

    Wow. Great piece.

    I used to be one of those that went to your presentations to interrupt and jeer. Then I went to give Chomsky the treatment, but in between rude interruptions, I heard a talk about Palestinian water and land confiscation. All things that my little group had completely omitted from any internal discussion. I mean completely left out. Slo-mo facepalm! Looking back, it was a strange way to be, and unusually uncritical for me.

    My father used to tell jokes that no one got at the time, but we always came back a week later laughing our asses off, and wondering how just a week earlier the insights in the humor were opaque, but were now staple truth. Point being, you do and will have effect, even when it doesn’t seem like it. You are on the right side of history.

    I wish people were not dying while the general public takes its time to come to its inevitable realizations.

    Thanks for posting this. Important stuff, among a lot of important stuff on this site.

    • ritzl on June 12, 2012, 1:27 am

      Oops. By “your presentations” I meant pro-Palestinian rights demonstrations and talks, way back in the day.

      Keep up the great work.

    • ritzl on June 12, 2012, 4:14 pm

      Actually, when I read Ms. Shehadah’s descriptions of pain and isolation I saw the faces of the people I used to heckle. I remember them vividly to this day, 35 years later. For a brief moment past and present became one and unknowingly I wrote the “your presentations” as if I was talking to them. I was literally seeing their faces, Shehadah’s words in their faces, and offering up a belated apology of sorts.

      It was surreal letting go like that, but these words were that powerful, resonated across time, and provided me with a long overdue moment of deep introspection and clarity.

      Sorry to all for the boring personal anecdotes. I just wanted to get this out there. It was a strange/good experience, reading this piece.

    • Rizla on June 13, 2012, 6:41 am

      Thank you, ritzl, for being brave enough to write your post. I’ve learned a lot from other posts of yours too. It’s hard to admit when you’ve been unusually uncritical. (I love her piece too)… Cheers.

  9. Empiricon on June 11, 2012, 11:23 am

    I salute you, Sarah. Wonderful testimony to the perils and rewards of serving truth.

  10. talknic on June 11, 2012, 11:26 am

    Welcome to the club :-)

  11. Graber on June 11, 2012, 11:37 am

    Thank you for this, Sarah!

    For so many today, personal struggles are political struggles. This is a cause of anguish, and a cause for hope, as we come to realize that by building a broader and more supportive movement, we improve our own mental health and well-being and then can struggle all the more effectively for justice and equality for Palestinians.

  12. LanceThruster on June 11, 2012, 11:53 am

    I can empathize completely with your experience. I was the “atheist chaplain” (basically the staff sponsor for the group) within the Office of Religious Life and had the rabbi in charge of the Hillel student group accuse me of anti-Semitism on several occasions (always with a retraction once he actually reexamined what I had posted/said/written) pretty much for wanting to sponsor panel discussions on justice for Palestine (his excuse for not wanting to co-sponsor Dr. Finkelstein was merely that “Alan Dershowitz doesn’t like him.”

    I posted on the Los Angeles Jewish Journal Forum but made the mistake of putting my personal information on the registration page and was subjected to threats of personal violence and harassment calls to my place of employment. When I found out the personal info of the harasser (a US resident who had served a stint in the IDF) and indicated I knew where he and his family lived, he quite harassing me under his account and switched to anonymous accounts.

    I have seen to most insipid or hate-strewn counter-arguments, and extreme gatekeeping from places you would have otherwise expected a fair forum (HuffPo, DKos, etc., – I guess I was quite naive at the time).

    I learned well from all sources, particularly enlightened Jewish ones, and stuck to my guns. It was always encouraging to discover others who could discern the truth over the “official” narrative.

    Thank you all.

    When I tell any truth it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those who do. ~ William Blake


    • Rizla on June 13, 2012, 7:08 am

      Wow, great post. And thanks for bringing Blake into this, we need him around here (the world at large, not this site). Yeah, it’s the insipid and hate-strewn arguments that really get you down. And the need to personally harass people… what you did was brave, and LA can be a dangerous place to stand up like you did, kudos.

      • LanceThruster on June 14, 2012, 12:42 pm

        It means a lot to me for you to say this. Thanks.

        I find quite a lot of camaraderie with those who are truly and clearly on the right side of history. I have no idea how the Palestinians have been able to show such incredible patience and perseverance. My “difficulties” are truly small potatoes by comparison, but you are absolutely right that it can get scary, and when you are afraid you may have jeopardized your employment situation, doubly so. But I have kept the moniker I have specifically to provide a trail of continuity of sorts. Even if I have changed my viewpoint on issues over the years, I can still stand behind whatever I’ve written.

  13. on June 11, 2012, 12:24 pm

    From what you yourself wrote about the people (and functions) that oppose you now, there was no loss. If you really missed having good relations with this kind of people you’d be a masochist. I agree about the loss of anonimity: there is a way to be active ans useful anonymously but you have chosen the other one. At any rate, the earlier you get rid of “good relations” with Zionist (not “Jewish” as you write) criminals, be they students or faculty etc., the better. In fact, a very important part of BDS is refusing to even talk to any Zionist unless absolutely obliged: they have to feel that they are pariahs.

    • American on June 11, 2012, 12:59 pm

      “In fact, a very important part of BDS is refusing to even talk to any Zionist unless absolutely obliged: they have to feel that they are pariahs.”

      I agree. In fact being ‘ostracized” by civil society is a powerful psychological tool to use on people like this. If they are ‘shunned’ enough and not even acknowledged they lose a lot of their force.

      • philweiss on June 11, 2012, 1:15 pm

        wow. shunning. i dont think this achieves anything. and anyone reading this exchange will marvel at our isolation

      • American on June 11, 2012, 2:20 pm

        Really Phil, you don’t think that ‘shunning’…as in treating or regarding the whackos, be they zios or war mongering neos or crazy fanatics as outside the norms of most civil society is effective?
        How about for example when these batshit crazy bomb Iran’ers like McCain or that crazy West candidate who said let people without insurance die and his audience cheered that statement or the crazy Rabbi who wrote about killing gentiles…you don’t think these people feeling or seeing they are shunned by wider society would have an effect? ..on them and on their followers? I do. If they and their ideology are made ‘unacceptable’ to the bulk of society they will dwindle.
        Maybe you just have a problem with the shunning term because you think it has some Jewish connection, but consider that society a whole ‘shuns’
        anti semites, shuns you want society to not shun them?…do you want society to not reject that stuff and ‘include them’ and let them feel they are socially normal and acceptable?
        I don’t think so. Because if they are accepted and ‘included’ you are giving them power they shouldn’t have.
        If you don’t like the term shunning use some other, but the fact is it works to ‘marginalize’ bad or dangerous people and groups when society has higher or more ethical standards for acceptability.

      • philweiss on June 11, 2012, 2:28 pm

        the social shunning especially in campus groups, young people, feels really ideologically rigid. yes i have a problem with it.
        what about manners? there are ways of cutting people without pretending they dont exist

      • American on June 11, 2012, 3:10 pm

        ‘the social shunning especially in campus groups, young people, feels really ideologically rigid. yes i have a problem with it.
        what about manners? there are ways of cutting people without pretending they dont exist”…Phil

        Well I ‘m not talking about pretending they don’t exist and I can see why you believe dialogue about zionism on campus is good because you want to turn young Jews away from it…I would go along with that regarding young minds.
        I am really talking more about the very public figurehead Zios and Neos that dominate and influence others when I say shun them and let them know they and their attitudes/ideas aren’t acceptable to society.
        But no matter who is talking to who or how civilly, if there is some incontestable accepted truth in an issue as in zionism, such as the fact that no matter what occurred in the past the Jewish state had no right to dis posse innocent Palestines, then at some point you have to say ….No…that is not right and it’s not even debatable or worthy of debate… are outside of the norms of civilized society in that belief.

      • Ethan Heitner on June 11, 2012, 3:51 pm

        First off, I want to start with a salute to Sarah and all the many activists who are out there sacrificing their time, their energy, and so much more for the cause of justice. It was hearing my roommate’s stories of the struggles she faced at SJP that inspired me to turn her stories into a comic. Part of that story, Phil, is learning when engaging with the enemy is actually just a drain of your time, your resources, your spirit.
        What do we get out of it?
        The comic is called “Nothing Normal About It” and addresses the idea of “normalization.” You can read it in full here:
        Of course, the stories that Sarah and other activists I know share are not addressed: after all, we want to have fun, we want to be able to enjoy our life, we want to do things the easy way out, but for many Palestinian activists (and their allies) they choose to take on the burden of doing something to make this world better.

      • Citizen on June 11, 2012, 9:28 pm

        Basically, haven’t people like David Duke and Kevin MacDonald been shunned? And hasn’t that shunning been pretty effective? And hasn’t there been a pretty effective shunning of Atzmon?

      • on June 12, 2012, 3:33 am

        Manners? This can’t be serious.
        What good is the boycott if you don’t turn it against the main enablers of Zionism: their personnel among us! If they can continue to feel accepted among civilized persons, no matter their crimes against humanity, why should they feel disturbed in the least by their criminality?
        Do you understand the word “war”? Don’t you know there is a war that has been going on for way longer than the official 64 years? Don’t you understand that anyone that sympathizes with Zionism is massacring your brothers? Because the underdog is your brother. Not your damn tribe.

      • yourstruly on June 12, 2012, 10:46 am

        shunning hasbarists on mondoweiss might be accomplished by way of either the editors not posting their comments or by nobody responding to them. the former would deprive readers of familiarity with hasbara propaganda (the better to understand & develop arguments against it), the latter would allow the propaganda to go unchallenged. in regards to public figures such as alan dershowitz, perhaps shunning would be the more effective policy, if, that is, his ready access to israel-firster controlled msm were based not on perpetuating the status quo in the mideast but on whether or not the public accepted his racist views.

      • Rizla on June 13, 2012, 6:53 am

        Really interesting discussion here… worth looking into in a bunch of ways. What about manners, don’t manners matter? Phil is right. But how to maintain manners with people who despise/despose of/manipulate manners? Shunning on campus, I can relate to that being weird in any direction; but haven’t the Hasbara folks not just shunned their enemies, but even helped them lose their tenure a la Norman F? Information gung-fu is a strange game. Still, this site has the most interesting debate around, good comments all round, thanks.

      • lyn117 on June 11, 2012, 4:26 pm

        I don’t know about not talking to zionists, a lot of them are just ignorant & really believe all that hasbara

      • American on June 11, 2012, 6:41 pm

        lyn117 says:
        June 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm

        I don’t know about not talking to zionists, a lot of them are just ignorant & really believe all that hasbara”

        O.K. I’m outvoted on the shun theory. But how about if we let people with lots more patience than me talk to them. ..I am totally trolled out after 11 years and would be no help.

      • Taxi on June 12, 2012, 8:51 am

        You ain’t outvoted, American. I’m a dedicated shunner!

        I’m also partial to ‘name and shame’.

    • Danaa on June 11, 2012, 1:49 pm

      I don’t think that “shunning” the pro-israel/zionist voices in a place like a university campus is a useful tactic. Since the very point of campus activism is to bring attention to the plight and injustice inflicted upon Palestinians, the more engagement there is with the other side, the better. As long as discourse can be kept civilized of course. Debates – and even shouting matches – have a way of percolating under the surface, long after they are done with, and one is always in a position of playing to an audience that may or may not be visible, as well to replay the events to oneself, so as to do better next time. The word, “activism” does imply engagement – as in dueling points of view.

      Engaging with the “other side” also has the benefit of toughening one up. A spiritual/personal armor is absolutely essential if one plans to take the good fight into one’s life as an adult. You need armor around one’s self to get through a checkpoint, if nothing else. We should remember, always, even I who supports full BDS, that the Palestinians herded through the checkpoints do not have the luxury of refusing to engage with the occupier personnel, there to restrict their humanity and liberty of movement. There is much to be learnt from the way Palestinians – on whose behalf this entire campaign is fought – conduct themselves as their person is continuously subjected to assaults on body, spirit and dignity.

      I think BDS is a weapon that requires some skill in wielding, for a weapon it is (the zionists got that one right). Attention and patience are needed when it comes to how and at whom it is best aimed so that it does not boomerang.

      All that being said, I can understand all too well how exasperating it must be to engage with the pro- and even the ultra-zionists. The tendency to walk away is ever present. But, by definition, to be an activist means staying the ground. Sarah’s willingness to go through this spiritual boot camp on campus is to be commended.

      • Citizen on June 11, 2012, 9:36 pm

        Danaa, I have the same view re shunning. It’s a practice done by groups that brook no dissent– if you break one of their core rules, you get shunned, and there’s no way you will be accepted into the fold again unless you beg forgiveness to the group and promise never to be such a person again.

      • on June 12, 2012, 4:23 pm

        “Shunning” is too imprecise a term. This is about making the Zionists feel that they do not belong to the civilized population. Not avoiding all talk but limiting it to hostile talk. Refusing to be friends.

        Whether it is appropriate or not depends on your evaluation of this: is this a question of only a difference of opinion, or is there a bloody war ongoing?

        As for the level and kind of exchange and intercourse that is appropriate if one accepts the view that there is a war going on rather than some gentle difference of opinion, one good guideline would be that appropriate to exchanges with declared Fascists and Nazis *during* WWII.

      • American on June 13, 2012, 11:15 am


        Yes that is well put.
        It is ‘appropiate’ to say to some people that they and their ideas/actions are unacceptable to the civilized world and to treat them as unacceptable.

        Can anyone imagine having a ongoing years long ‘debates’ with the nazis, while they were exterminating people, over whether or not the ‘greater Aryan good and Jewish threat to Germany’ justified it?

        That’s the bottom line in all these never ending discussions..zionist claiming they are ‘justified’ in stealing and killing by the higher good for Jewish Israel..well, they aren’t.
        Just say NO.

      • annie on June 13, 2012, 11:40 am

        zionist claiming they are ‘justified’ in stealing and killing by the higher good for Jewish Israel.

        here’s a common justification from this morning:

        The land you call Palestine is the birthplace of the Jewish people,
        it’s culture, language philosophy and yes religion which had a major part in forming our specific identity which endured and evolved through centuries
        of the Jewish existence was initially forged in this place.
        All of these give us the moral justification to return to this particular land and not to any other place in the world

        by “All of these” one presumes he means birthplace of ancestors, culture, language philosophy, and religion give them the ‘moral justification’ to steal and kill or by whatever means they deem necessary. notice the insertion of the word “moral” in front of justification. that’s hasbara at work for ya, or else just plain ol brainwashing..

      • Rizla on June 13, 2012, 6:54 am

        Very well put.

  14. Roberto on June 11, 2012, 12:42 pm

    You are not alone. I – a common Venezuelan folk with no Arab or Jewish ties – support your work for justice and decency.

  15. YoungMassJew on June 11, 2012, 12:58 pm

    I salute what you are doing on your campus. You have the courage to have your whole identity out in the open, which is something I don’t have the courage to do yet. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with rude stares or worse from professors. At my small liberal arts school, Israel/Palestine issues hardly make it onto the rader as almost everyone is apathetic. But the couple of times the issues are discussed, I’ve had the support of professors (including a Jewish one I might add) which is quite rare. May you continue the good battle in exposing Zionism and working to seek justice on behalf of Palestinians as I have nothing but the upmost respect for someone like you.

  16. Abuadam on June 11, 2012, 12:58 pm

    Grow up girl; you haven’t experienced real hostility yet! Get a job as a Federal Agent with one of the 100plus law enforcement agencies that the United States Government has.

    Mines was the Internal Revenue Service –Criminal Investigation in the Miami Field Office (anyone familiar with South East Florida would call it Tel Aviv USA). They expect you to swallow their pro-Israel crap, and not respond to their propaganda. I lasted for a little less than 12 years before they fired me, because I stood up for my Palestinian heritage.

    What’s worse were the “Born Again” (what-ever that means) Christians, who seem to dominate the Federal Agent positions in the USA government, nationwide. It was like dealing with the KKK. I have never understood this alliance of neo-KKK with the Zionist, they hated each other guts, but when it came to us Muslims, they became inseparable lovers.

    I must say I was not surprised with my treatment, what disappointed me were my fellow Arab Special Agents (whether Muslim or Christian) who accepted these indignities, Malcolm X might call them the Government House SandN—–s!. It’s always your own kind that fails you!

    For me, being in their face made it worth-while, because they know it is their comfortable bigoted lifestyle that is coming to an end.

    • LanceThruster on June 11, 2012, 3:10 pm

      I have an acquaintance who was an officer on the USS Liberty. He was incensed that as a non-believer he had to swear an oath of allegiance to “our Lord Jesus Christ” to get his security clearance renewed. He thought it was absolutley idiotic to have to lie about his god-view in order to be deemed trustworthy for such a top security clearance.

      That’s how freakin’ insecure xians are that they need the government to genuflect in the direction of their mythology.

      • W.Jones on June 11, 2012, 7:02 pm

        an oath to Christ to get a clearance? really??

      • LanceThruster on June 12, 2012, 4:22 pm

        That’s what he told me. Not just “so help me God” or whatever, but “by our Lord Jesus Christ” or something to that effect. He said it was around 1975.

    • lyn117 on June 11, 2012, 4:17 pm

      If you were fired for standing up for your Palestinian heritage …
      I don’t know the particulars of your case, but firing people for their ethnic background would seem like a case of illegal termination. Sadly, I’m not sure the courts would be less biased.

      • Abuadam on June 12, 2012, 2:46 am

        Giving you the particulars would require me asking Phil to allow me to write an entire article on the matter. Additionally the matter is still in litigation so I cannot comment further about it.

  17. HarryLaw on June 11, 2012, 1:11 pm

    Excellent post Sarah, it gives us enormous inspiration. You sound like a student of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, who taught his students that the pursuit of truth can only begin once they start to question and analyze every belief that they ever held dear. If a certain belief passes the tests of evidence, deduction, and logic, it should be kept. If it doesn’t, the belief should not only be discarded, but the thinker must also then question why he was led to believe the erronious information in the first place. Your opponents could do with looking at the evidence of International Law and the opinions of the International community, you will not convince the zionists, I don’t even try, but most ordinary people know the difference between right and wrong, so keep up the good work.

  18. justicewillprevail on June 11, 2012, 1:18 pm

    Well done, Sarah, for standing up for justice. A very articulate example of the effects of the well funded lobby, its plastic yes men and women, and those too weak to stand up to the intimidation, harassment and smearing. Sad but revealing of how Israel has deliberately polarised and skewed the debate, making many prefer a quiet life to taking on the inevitable targeting of dissent and debate. It’s certainly not doing Judaism any favours as you point out.

  19. Danaa on June 11, 2012, 1:53 pm

    Kudos to you Sarah and your fellow travelers.

  20. MHughes976 on June 11, 2012, 2:05 pm

    Just to say, Sarah, that you write very well and that this talent should give you an interesting future.
    I would be interested to hear of how the arguments go. You mention accusations of supporting Hamas – can they ever do better than that?

  21. on June 11, 2012, 2:31 pm

    -” the constant conflation of Judaism and Zionism has done … harm.”

    Judaism and Zionism are conflated, combined. If they weren’t, there would be an outcry of Judaism’s ethics against the Zionist national-religious ethics of ‘our biblical and historical right to settle in the land of our forefathers, the land of Israel, Judea and Samaria (West Bank).’ – The whole concept that the creator of the earth and mankind appropriated a certain territory to his ‘chosen people ‘ is wrong to begin with. But that’s Judaism not just Zionism.

    – Every other people in the world were historically conquerers and robbers. But the Zionists claim to just following ‘God’s orders’.

    • seafoid on June 11, 2012, 3:14 pm

      You can’t seem to have Zionism without Judaism. Judaism gave Zionism the Shoah and the Torah and Zionism ran with them. But it can’t last.

    • piotr on June 11, 2012, 4:59 pm

      I would like to thank both Sarah and ritzl for inspiration. ritzl for telling us that a good argument may convince people.

      This is why shunning is not the good idea. The weak (not powerful) have to be smart while power always has a seed of madness.

  22. annie on June 11, 2012, 2:55 pm

    sarah, if you are reading this..more than anything i hope you’re having a lot of fun in the WB this summer. i bet your parents are really proud of you for all the amazing effort and work you do.

    • Citizen on June 11, 2012, 9:47 pm

      Sarah, I want to join Annie in wishing you well and to have some fun too.

  23. ahadhaadam on June 11, 2012, 3:04 pm

    Schopenhauer said ”All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

    Keep up the good work.

    • American on June 11, 2012, 4:19 pm

      “”All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”…..ahadhaadam

      Where stage do you see the US public in re the Israel issue? I think the public has passed the stage of having or caring if their Israel criticism is ridiculed.
      I think it’s still being violently opposed by zios, but they are losing ground every day…with the public, if not politicians.

    • on June 11, 2012, 5:02 pm

      Arthur Shopenhauer (a misanthropic but insightful German Philosopher) wrote a little treatise on ‘How to win an argument’. His rule # 1 was:
      “Try to subsume your adversary under a hated category”.

      The most hated category today is ‘Nazi’. So, the Zionists try to subsume everbody who opposes Israel’s policies under the category of ‘Nazi’, to win the argument.

  24. joec on June 11, 2012, 5:41 pm

    A rather notable street, in fact:

  25. Kathleen on June 11, 2012, 6:45 pm

    Sarah keep it up. Stay focused on the facts. If people do not like you for stating facts then they are not worth it anyway.

    Keep it up

  26. on June 11, 2012, 7:51 pm

    I would like to add one more thing on the matter of Sarah’s Palestinian cause:
    During the European Enlightenment, being anti-Jewish was by no means something like being ‘Nazi/anti-Semitic’ (the terms didn’t exist at the time). To be anti-Jewish was to be enlightened, progressive. Immanuel Kant rejected Judaism because he considered it to be an anachronistic, chauvinistic tribal religion. And he had quite a following among the enlightened Jews of his times. – Kant also said that the animosity towards Jews was their own fault because they were denigrating all other peoples. – That was in 1793 when Kant wrote his philosophy of religion.

    • Citizen on June 11, 2012, 9:52 pm

      The categorical imperative sure ain’t the Torah or the Talmud, let alone Zionism.

    • AllenBee on June 12, 2012, 9:23 am

      In the realm of ideas: Ludwig Feuerbach on The Creation Story in Judaism:

      “THE doctrine of the Creation sprang out of Judaism; indeed, it is the characteristic, the fundamental doctrine of the Jewish religion. The principle which lies at its foundation is, however, not so much the principle of subjectivity as of egoism. The doctrine of the Creation in its characteristic significance arises only on that stand-point where man in practice makes Nature merely the servant of his will and needs, and hence in thought also degrades it to a mere machine, a product of the will. Now its existence is intelligible to him, since he explains and interprets it out of himself, in accordance with his own feelings and notions. The question, Whence is Nature or the world? presupposes wonder that it exists, or the question, Why does it exist? But this wonder, this question, arises only where man has separated himself from Nature and made it a mere object of will. The author of the Book of Wisdom says truly of the heathens, that, “for admiration of the beauty of the world they did not raise themselves to the idea of the Creator.” To him who feels that Nature is lovely, it appears an end in itself, it has the around of its existence in itself in him the question, Why does it exist? does not arise. Nature and God are identified in his consciousness, his perception, of the world. Nature, as it impresses his senses, has indeed had an origin, has been produced, but not created in the religious sense, is not an arbitrary product. And by this origin he implies nothing evil; originating involves for him nothing impure, un-divine; he conceives his gods themselves as having had an origin. The generative force is to him the primal force: he posits, therefore, as the ground of Nature, a force of Nature, – a real, present, visibly active force, as the ground of reality. Thus does man think where his relation to the world is “thetic or theoretic (for the theoretic view was originally the aesthetic view, the prima philosophia), where the idea of the world is to him the idea of the cosmos. of majesty, of deity itself. Only where such a theory was the fundamental principle could there be conceived and expressed such a thought as that of Anaxagoras: – Man is born to behold the world. [In Diogenes (L. 1. ii. c. iii. § 6), it is literally, “for the contemplation of the sun, the moon and the heavens.” Similar ideas were held by other philosophers. Thus the Stoics also said: – “Ipse autem homo ortus est ad mundum contemplandum et imitandum.” – Cic. (de Nat.).]

      The standpoint of theory is the standpoint of harmony with the world. The subjective activity, that in which man contents himself, allows himself free play, is here the sensuous imagination alone. Satisfied with this, he lets Nature subsist in peace, and constructs his castles in the air, his poetical cosmogonies, only out of natural materials. When, on the contrary, man places himself only on the practical standpoint and looks at the world from thence, making the practical standpoint the theoretical one also, he is in disunion with Nature; he makes Nature the abject vassal of his selfish interest, of his practical egoism. The theoretic expression of this egoistical, practical view, according to which Nature is in itself nothing,, is this: Nature or the world is made, created, the product of a command.

      God said, Let the world be, and straightway the world presented itself at his bidding.

      Utilism is the essential theory of Judaism. The belief in a special Divine Providence is the characteristic belief of Judaism; belief in Providence is belief in miracle; but belief in miracle exists where Nature is regarded only as an object of arbitrariness, of egoism, which uses Nature only as an instrument of its own will and pleasure. Water divides or rolls itself together like a firm mass, dust is changed into lice, a staff into a serpent, rivers into blood, a rock into a fountain; in the same place it is both light and dark at once, the sun now stands still, now goes backward. And all these contradictions of Nature happen for the welfare of Israel, purely at the command of Jehovah, who troubles himself about nothing but Israel, who is nothing but the personified selfishness of the Israelitish people, to the exclusion of all other nations, – absolute intolerance, the secret essence of monotheism. . . .

      Their principle, their God, is the most practical principle in the world, – namely, egoism; and moreover egoism in the form of religion. Egoism is the God who will not let his servants come to shame. Egoism is essentially monotheistic, for it has only one, only self, as its end. Egoism strengthens cohesion, concentrates man on himself, gives him a consistent principle of life; but it makes him theoretically narrow, because indifferent to all which does not relate to the wellbeing of self. Hence science, like art, arises only out of polytheism, for polytheism is the frank, open, unenvying sense of all that is beautiful and good without distinction, the sense of the world, of the universe. The Greeks looked abroad into the wide world that they might extend their sphere of vision; the Jews to this day pray with their faces turned towards Jerusalem. In the Israelites, monotheistic egoism excluded the free theoretic tendency . . .”

    • American on June 12, 2012, 1:14 pm

      “Immanuel Kant rejected Judaism because he considered it to be an anachronistic, chauvinistic tribal religion”

      Probably shouldn’t comment since I know little about Judaism except there are different divisions of it…BUT ….I see stuff all the time on Jewish sites and in Jewish publications that link the natural superiority of the Jews to religion…specifically to the being ‘The Chosen.’ When I was googling for wealth by religion yesterday for a subject on another thread I came across an article in the Jewish Weekly titled ‘Jewish Genius’ that claimed Jewish “genes” make them superior and then linked that to the biblical claim of being the if Jews are superior by God’s divine decree or divine creation.
      Not terribly religious myself but that Chosenness seems the opposite of most other religion’s teachings to me. There are christian religions who believe they have to be christian to go to heaven but I have never know one that promotes some kind of human superiority ‘on earth’ of a certain group of people.

  27. Nevada Ned on June 12, 2012, 12:06 am

    Hats off to Sarah Shehadah! It’s heartwarming and encouraging to see the growth of a movement to defend the oppressed Palestinians.
    In some ways it reminds me of the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and the antiwar movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
    As many Mondoweiss readers already know, the Palestinians had a very hard time getting out their “narrative” to the public until the 1970’s. That has turned around in the last decade or so. The establishment of the Electronic Intifada was an important step forward, as was the growth of blogs like Mondoweiss.
    Getting involved in a cause larger than our individual selves is truly a transformative experience. Ask anyone who was there!

  28. MichaelSantomauro on June 12, 2012, 1:16 am

    Does Jimmy Carter Deserve To Be Sued? MONA CHAREN SAYS:

    “He doesn’t deserve censorship. But he does deserve the hassle.”


  29. Quagmire on June 12, 2012, 7:13 am

    She could have added that there will be little or no help or defense from the realtively well-funded liberal zionist organizations such as MECA, ANSWER, IJAN, etc. etc., most of which are tied to the Hillel crowd when push comes to shove…

    • AlGhorear on June 12, 2012, 5:12 pm

      I would characterize UFPJ as liberal Zionist, but that was never my experience with ANSWER.

      The following is from Wikipedia’s ANSWER page link

      Alleged antisemitism and anti-Zionism

      The Anti-Defamation League has accused ANSWER of supporting terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah and Hamas.[16] According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency “Several anti-war protests in San Francisco organized by the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) featured imagery and slogans some considered anti-Semitic, including the burning of the Israeli flag, chants of support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Nazi-like arm salutes.”[17] Similarly, the Stephen Roth Institute has noted “Anti-Israel and antisemitic content has marked some ANSWER events.”[18]

      According to ANSWER, “We strongly abhor all forms of racism and bigotry, including anti-Semitism. At the same time, we don’t believe that criticism of Israeli government policies should be labeled as anti-Semitism any more than criticism of U.S. government policy should be labeled as anti-American.”[19]

      The May-June 2003 issue of Tikkun magazine, a progressive magazine of Jewish interests, contained a special section entitled Authoritarianism and Anti-Semitism in the Anti-War Movement? According to Tikkun, “many Jews report that they were encountering what they perceived to be anti-Semitism at anti-war demonstrations organized by International A.N.S.W.E.R.” Tikkun described the perceptions of anti-Semitism as based on Israel being singled out for criticism and ANSWER’s failure to “acknowledge or support the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination.”[20]

  30. Alice on June 12, 2012, 7:26 am

    Dear Sarah,

    7 years ago, when I started to wake up as an modern-othodox Israeli Jewish woman and mother, I literally lost ALL my friends within 6 month. Not only ‘not popular’, but a traitor, manipulated, gone over to the enemy, not to be trusted ever again.. and of course, mentally unstable – one “friend” suggested that I’d seek the help of a psychiatrist. In the meantime I’ve found lots of fellow activists around the country – but coming from a rather non-political, yet Zionist background, I was completely isolated for a whole year. And the only pro-Palestinian in my neighborhood.

    Indeed, you are not alone! But since I “know”, I cannot stay silent or look away. That’s just not an option!

    Keep up the good work!
    Love, Alice

    • Taxi on June 12, 2012, 8:49 am

      Oh Alice!

      Truth = peace of mind.

      Peace of mind is non-negotiable in this short life.

      You lived it hard and now you belong to the cool family of Truth. Here’s a cyber lemonade I made you from Golani citrus and ambrosia, pine nuts and crushed ice from mount Lebanon.

  31. mariapalestina on June 12, 2012, 9:12 am

    Sarah, I appreciate so much what you wrote and what you do. I “came out” as an activist in my sixties and I too have paid a price for giving up my anonymity. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for someone still in school, where it’s impossible to keep your personal information private. Just know you are “on the right side of history” and that the people of Palestine need you… need all of us who are committed to standing alongside them in their struggle for justice and peace. I hope to be back in Gaza soon and hope you will still be there then. Bless you.
    Mary Hughes-Thompson, co-founder Free Gaza Movement

  32. yourstruly on June 12, 2012, 11:22 am


    just as social unity is forged through the struggle for a better world
    so is the purity of one’s soul
    yours, right now?
    100% love for justice & equality
    which is as valuable as one can be?

  33. annie on June 12, 2012, 11:31 pm

    this is an incredible essay. i have read it numerous times and keep coming back to it.

    it is perfect in every way.

    to remind all those struggling for this cause in their respective spheres, you are not alone…….I’m sure I am not the only one who feels, to my very core, that this struggle, in all its absurdity and injustice, is a worthwhile one….I have found a deep joy in knowing I stand on the right side of history….. with a passion for humanity that constantly revives my own sense of hope. I would never trade such genuine inspiration for the superficial calm that comes from succumbing to the status quo.

Leave a Reply