The other day James North did a post on the Ayatollah Khamenei’s call for an end of the “Zionist regime,” and two commenters, Elliot and DaBakr, had a dialogue about the threat posed to Israel by anti-Zionism in the Middle East. DaBakr repeatedly accused Elliot of misreading Israeli history. Elliot allowed us to publish his response as a post:
I assume you know that I am Israeli. I was indoctrinated with so many distortions of history that left me cold to Palestinian suffering. I would see the empty houses of Lifta every day at the western entrance to Jerusalem, I played in those houses yet I never made the human connection to the people who built those houses and lived there before I came along; in all my years in Israel I never befriended a Palestinian; it took me until just a few years ago to really own the simple fact that over 750,000 Palestinians had to leave Palestine to make way for me and my fellow Jewish Israelis; I had no sense that Palestinians had roots in the land, that it was their land that I was taking.
The best I could do was find overt anti-Arab racism distasteful, reject the occupation and generally try to be nice. I was the successful product of an education system that – to use your word – brainwashes as essential mental preparation for every Israeli’s first job as an adult, i.e. enforcing the Occupation and terrorizing other Palestinians in Gaza and Lebanon. Because that is the main job of the Israeli Defense Forces.
I never understood that the Jewish National Fund’s forests are literally a coverup for the Nakba. These wonderful green forests (“look how brown and bare South Lebanon is next to the green Galilee”) were planted on the ruins of hundreds of Palestinian villages. I never questioned the fairness of bringing millions of non-residents from around the world into an already populated land.
I could go on and on. And I am still uncovering more of my prejudices born in ignorance. If I could lay my hands on even a small part of the supposed’ billion (dollars?) that you say the Palestinians have earmarked for PR as payment for the time I’ve spent undoing the damage of years of Israeli and American Zionist indoctrination, let me know who to go to for that. Much appreciated.