Israeli film director Udi Aloni (right) divides his time between New York City, where he makes films, and the Jenin Refugee Camp, where he has recently moved in order to help his friend Juliano Mer-Khamis establish a school for film and multimedia production. He is currently writing a biweekly column called, Brooklyn – Jenin, about this experience for the Israeli news website Ynet. Ynet introduces the series by saying, “through the eyes of the Camp’s residents he will present us with a different point of view of our joint and separate lives in this corner of the world, and offer a hope for a future of coexistence.”
Mondoweiss is excited to be able to present English translations of these columns.
From the Diary of a Binationalist (9/14/10)
So here is a diary from Jenin. A diary with faith, which tries to show that there is another way. While the right wing is celebrating its casualties, our diary mourns all victims of occupation and racism, regardless of ethnicity, religion, race and sex. A diary that seeks to explore another option.
On the Banality of Good and Evil (9/17/10)
Indeed, the occupation doesn’t necessarily corrupt the individuals engaged in it, the structure of the occupation is the corruption for itself. Even without vengeful clerks, stuffed in dark basement offices, who particularly seek to harm Mustafa, and even if all soldiers were good Peace Now nerds, the occupation would still produce the same quantity of evil.
The structure of power does not need soldiers who believe in it, but rather it just needs soldiers.
In this story there was actual, true willingness on the part of the Israeli army to help Mustafa come to America (because we are all united by a hidden desire to come to one America or the other) – but all I could think of was Kafka’s immortal phrase, “The Messiah will only come the day after his arrival.” We could not find a better example to demonstrate that the iniquities of the occupation lie in the occupation itself, not in the individuals running it.
Wars of the Jews (11/5/10)
How odd are the leaders Jewish right-wing in the United States. On the one hand, they raise six million dollars to finance a PR war over Jews like me, members of Jewish Voice for Peace. This is an organization which acts, or so they claim, to delegitimize Israel for anti-Semitic reasons (and not because Israel is, heaven forbid, racist). On the other hand, they have the great temerity to call the greatest of rabbis, Sephardic rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a racist, and demand that the Ashkenazi Zionists denounce him thoroughly.
However, if we all agree to admit the obvious fact that the settlers are not the primary persons responsible for the ongoing occupation, and that it is, rather, the elected government of Israel, which has carried this blame over the years, we can understand that a cultural and academic boycott on any government institution is a legitimate boycott for the promotion of peace and justice in nonviolent ways.
I accuse the Supreme Court of the State of Israel of being a loyal servant of a racist ideology which does not differ much from the racism of the rabbis who have signed the manifesto of the Israeli Nuremberg Laws. Like the court in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, which bends the civil law in favor of the Christian ruler in order to harm Shylock the Jew, the Supreme Court in our reality has become a verbal whitewashing machine for occupation and plundering on a nationalist basis.
The shock I’ve had recently from reading the Nazi-like religious Zionists’ text made me change my mind. The article made me understand that time’s probably up for the colonialist greedy Tel-Avivians. Time’s up for shooting and crying. It is very possible that right now, without noticing, they are passing the reigns of the Israeli leadership to the beast they themselves had created, the one that shoots and laughs, freely and shamelessly.
Today, what remains of the Israeli-Jewish Left is marching deliriously in demonstration trails, trying to collect the shards that it spreads in the streets of Tel Aviv. After years of an unsuccessful attempt to be both Jewish and democratic, socialist and greedy, enlightened and racist, fighting whole-heartedly against the occupation and serving in a brutal occupying army, the Jewish left understands it has reached a dead end. For decades the Israeli-Jewish Left perceived themselves as the lords of the land, only to find themselves losing ground, with awe and despair in their eyes.
However, for the Zionist left, it is time for repentance. Only by becoming accountable for their role in fostering this racist monster, can the Zionist left have tikkun (self-repair).
However, in the State of Israel today, in order to maintain the denial and pad it with Jewish bread, circuses, and spirituality, it is not enough to keep two million of our local people in poverty, as cheap labor deprived of its right; it is also not enough to oppress four million Palestinians and humiliate them incessantly and cause our own poor to hate them rather than rise up against us. Apparently, in order to satisfy the appetite of “the only democracy in the Middle East” the entire Middle East must be enslaved.
Jenin In Wonderland (2/10/11)
I asked one of the actors who plays a particularly colorful and amusing role which would be better: weapons or the theater? He smiled sadly and replied: “Five bullets were removed from my body; one is still in there. My sister was killed when the occupation army came to catch me in my home, and the feelings of guilt and revenge are devouring my soul. Right now I believe in the theater, because it helps me learn to grieve and forgive, perhaps even the soldiers who shot my sister, perhaps even myself, and heal those wounds in my soul that are still open,” he said.
Thoughts on the occasion of Land Day (3/28/11)
After the Nakba law and the apartheid law, allowing small (Jewish affluent) communities to screen out Palestinians (and other minorities), were approved by the Knesset, and with a third proposed law against supporters of boycott coming up next, it seems to me that this will be one of the last articles which I will be entitled to write in the State of Israel (until the revolution comes, of course). I must admit that in the present circumstances, there is no better victory for the Palestinian-Jewish left than the approval of the anti-democratic laws at the Knesset, which tear the enlightened mask from the face of the Jewish-democratic dictatorship. On the day this law takes effect, the call to boycott all the settlement products, a call supported by tens of thousands in Israel and many more abroad, will be re-validated. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
Happy Birthday, Juliano Mer Khamis (5/14/11)
Today it is Nakbah Day, and I mourn alone the never-again-to-be-celebrated birthday of Juliano. Jule came to the Nakbah refugees in Jenin to share their struggle and their fate. He tried to offer a nonviolent means of resistance. Zakaria Zubeidi had faith in him and lay down his arms to help develop the Freedom Theater. Zakaria knew that by taking this path he could lose his own life, but he did not imagine that he would lose the life of his beloved friend. After the murder I got a middle-of-the-night SMS from Zakaria: “It’s really hard without Jule” – and tears filled my eyes. People liked to say that Juliano was a Jew in Palestine and a Palestinian in Israel. But Jule was a Jewish-Palestinian everywhere and a human everywhere. He wanted to free the Palestinians from the Israelis, the women from the men, the poor from the rich, and people, in general, from their internal bonds.
A farewell prayer to Zionism (7/5/11)
Today, the state of Israel and a vast majority of its Jewish citizens deny that the ideological foundation underlying their lives is flawed and obsolete. In order to save this place from destruction, we must develop an alternative system of thought, one that will recognize the wrong-doings of the past, and will open a sincere dialogue with its victims, so that we could start fostering a future for a new place, one where all inhabitants can feel equally at home; a new place for a new love.
I do not ask of Israel’s Jewish citizens to at once disavow Zionism. I ask of them to determine its death and bring it to a decent burial.