I’m glad that you believe in equality, so do I. Unfortunately, my country doesn’t. In the state of Israel, equality is a word frequently used, but rarely practiced.
In the occupied territories, under Israel’s control, in East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, Palestinians and Israeli settlers share the same ground, but that’s all they share. There are separate legal systems, military for Palestinians, civil for Israeli, segregated roads, buses, and check points. There are different water quotas, and different building permits, as in, none of those for Palestinians. Settlers have freedom of movement, of work, of protest, of speech, Palestinians have none of those. Every Palestinian protest is violently suppressed by the Israeli army. Also, most of the Palestinians living in the West Bank, cannot cross into Israel, whereas all settlers can do that. Many of them, will probably come to your show.
It goes without saying that all of the Palestinians living in Gaza, under siege since 2006, will not be able to make it. Many of them are without electricity, 16 hours a day, fuel is running out. Medical operations are made in candle light, and many pay with their lives, for the fuel shortage created by Israel’s closure of the strip’s borders.
As for those Palestinians who are so called, citizens of the State of Israel. Yes, they have citizenship, but their equal status begins and ends with this piece of paper. They don’t get equal funding, for school, for welfare, for infrastructures. The Israeli education system invests 8 times more in an Israeli pupil, than in a Palestinian one. Most Palestinian towns get no public transport, and not a single train station operates in any of those. The state of Israel operates in order to Judaise areas in which there’s a high concentration of Palestinians, such as the Naqab or the Galilee. These programmes include the demolition of Palestinian houses, the eviction of Palestinian citizens, and the expropriation of Palestinian lands.
As for romantic relationships between Palestinians and Israelis, there are several organizations, supported by various Members of the Knesset, that are working to intimidate such couples, with insults, humiliations and violent threats. Such a couple will never be able to get married inside Israel, as only religious marriages are possible.
And while we’re on the subject I’ll add a word about lack of equality against non-Palestinians. I’m living in a religious state, in which as a woman, I can never get equal status. I’m living in a state in which state-funded buses operate, on which women are boarding from the back, and men are boarding from the front, to cater for an orthodox community, whose equality, seems to be more important than my own. I’m living in a state in which there’s a religious court system in which only men can serve as judges, and these men decide on every matter of marriage and divorce, according to laws set more than 2000 years ago. I’m also living in a state that as we speak, rounds up African refugees into an enormous prison, for the sole crime, of seeking asylum.
Dear Cyndi, we both believe in equality, we believe in freedom, in peace, in justice, and I hope that some day, we can celebrate them together. But you can’t find freedom, where there is occupation, you can’t find justice under apartheid, you can’t find equality in the state of Israel.