[EDITOR’S NOTE: It is extremely frustrating to many Israeli, Palestinian and American peace activists to watch the media give attention to the murderous activities of the Iranian government’s attempt to crush the popular resistance in Iran while simultaneously watching the Western media ignore the ongoing uprising of Palestinians happening daily in the Occupied West Bank and in Palestinian areas in Israel. We at Tikkun have been reporting about this with periodic articles from Arik Ascherman’s Torat Zadek (whose courageous attempts to protect peaceful Palestinians from Jewish West Bank Settler violent assaults). Below please the voices of other peace activists sent to Tikkun from Israel today.
– Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor Tikkun, firstname.lastname@example.org]
This no “terrorist wave” – It is an uprising!
From Adam Keller, Gush Shalom
The State of Israel is going
To general elections
But in the election campaigns
There is virtually no mention
Of the main, existential problem
Facing all who live in this country.
The West Bank is on fire,
As are the neighborhoods
Of East Jerusalem.
This is not “a wave of terrorism”.
This is an uprising
Of young people
Making a simple
And self-evident demand:
To be a free people
In their country.
Armed with stones
And a few light arms,
Young Palestinians are facing
The strongest army
In the Middle East.
Many of them pay
With their lives –
And they are not deterred.
They continue their struggle.
Two soldiers were killed this week.
A young man and a young woman,
Israeli contemporaries of
The Palestinians they face.
These soldiers were not “murdered”.
They were not “victims of terrorist attacks”.
They fell in the battle to which
The State of Israel sent them.
They fell in an unjust war,
A war for maintaining
An oppressive occupation regime,
A war for the settlers
Who steal Palestinian lands.
A war which is not worth fighting
And certainly not worthy
Of sacrificing one’s life.
The real heroes
Of Israel 2022,
Are the refusers and
Held behind bars
At the Kfar Yona military prison.
The prison to which the army gave
The Orwellian name “Abode of Justice”.
Young men who refuse to wear
The uniform of
An army of occupation and oppression
And prefer to go to prison.
Young women who reject with disgust
The distorted idea that for Israeli women,
Taking part in the oppression of
Palestinian women and men
Is some sort of
They are the last remaining Israelis
In whom one can take pride.
Click Here to make a tax-deductible contribution.
Israel keeps building settlements and Palestinians keep dying. Peace is impossible this way
It was early April 1988, at the height of the first intifada, and the hills were awash with spring flowers. I took the professor and activist Noam Chomsky to visit the Palestinian village of Beita near Nablus. He wanted to speak to the villagers about a recent incident in which a group of Israeli settlers from Elon Moreh, 10km (6 miles) from Beita, had got into a confrontation with some villagers while out hiking. Two of the Palestinian villagers and one of the Israeli settlers were shot and killed. The army initially blamed the Palestinians for the settler’s death. It emerged later that she – like the two dead villagers – had been killed by a bullet fired by one of the men guarding the settlers. But, by then, the army had invaded the village, destroyed at least 14 houses, killed a third villager, arrested dozens of men in the village and deported several of them. Chomsky listened attentively and was saddened but not surprised. He had anticipated that an increased rate of settlement-building would place the occupier and the occupied, the land confiscators and those who lost their land, close together physically – with predictable results.
This prediction has grown truer by the year, but I still could not have imagined the state we would be in 34 years later. Just last Friday, soldiers killed Adel Daoud, aged 14, and Mahdi Ladadweh, aged 17. On Saturday, two more teenagers, Mahmoud Al-Sous and Ahmed Daraghmeh, were killed. The number of people killed by Israeli forces this year stands, shockingly, at more than 100.
For many years, the land around Beita was generally peaceful, and we enjoyed many lovely walks in the valley below the mountain of Jabal Sabih. It was surrounded by olive orchards. The track we would walk along had smooth rocks where water flowed in winter, and in spring carpets of multicoloured wildflowers covered both sides.
Then, last February, the Israeli attorney general moved to authorise the re-establishment of the evacuated Israeli settlement of Evyatar, on land that is privately owned by Palestinians, near Beita on Jabal Sabih. Since May 2021, regular protests have been held by Palestinians against this outpost and other settlements in the area, resulting in nine Palestinians being killed and 5,300 injured.
At the time of Chomsky’s visit, there was still some expectation that the Israeli political opposition to settlements had some prospect of success. Today, the left in Israel is almost completely silenced. The major parties in next month’s elections compete on who is the greater proponent of settlements, and who takes a tougher line at quashing Palestinian resistance to it. The prime minister, Yair Lapid, and defence minister, Benny Gantz (both of “liberal”, “centrist” parties), each tries to prove to voters that, contrary to what the right claims, they are not weak on “security”. This means that, until the elections take place, we can only expect more Palestinians to be maimed and killed.
In the 1980s, there was also the possibility of challenging the illegal takeover of Palestinian land through appeals to the Israeli high court. But in recent times the court has proved that it is “unmatched as a rubber stamp and whitewasher of the injustices of the occupation”, as a Haaretz editorial put it last May. Likewise, any restraint on Israel in the form of opposition to this illegality from Britain, the EU and the US, has been entirely ineffective and restricted to formulaic statements, leaving Israel free to violate international law on building settlements in the occupied territories with total impunity.
Driving along the roads of the West Bank, one can see billboards advertising luxury flats for sale in the settlements. Not only are Palestinians excluded from the offer, but the billboards are placed on their land without permission or payment. As I drive through, with Israeli settlements dominating the hills, and road signs in Hebrew pointing to them – and also renaming springs, wadis and dry rivers – a great sense of alienation comes on me. I feel like a stranger in a once familiar and much-loved landscape.
But it is not only through building homes for settlers that West Bank land is expropriated. As Ze’ev Hever, the secretary general of Amana, a settler organisation declared in 2021: “Construction takes up little ground … The shepherd farms … now cover an area almost twice as large as the built area of the settlements.” The area now controlled by shepherd settlers is about 60,000 acres. Predictably, violence related to the control of land is on the rise.
Just like many colonial powers, Israel believes that it can quash, through force, resistance to its settlement policies, whether armed clashes or peaceful marches – all of which it calls terrorism. Yet, in this, Israel is as mistaken as all colonisers have been throughout history. Palestinians will continue to resist. They can never accept the takeover of their land and their confinement to less than one third of their territory, whatever force Israel uses against them.
A few weeks after the start of the occupation in 1967, my father, Aziz Shehadeh, submitted a plan – for which he was able to get the support of 50 prominent Palestinian leaders from different parts of the occupied territories – for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, according to the 1947 partition borders, with its capital in the Arab section of Jerusalem. At the time there were no Jewish settlements anywhere in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip. The argument that he used was that unless Israel, with a population of 2.7 million, negotiated with the Palestinians, it would not be able to control the 1.2 million of them who had come under its control. He proposed that, for Israel, it was like living next to a ticking timebomb. But this failed to impress the Israeli government.
Now, more than half a century later, Israel is in full control of the Palestinian population living in Israel itself and in the occupied territories. Its leaders have come to believe that the country can “manage” the occupation for a long time to come.
It was also my father’s belief that, without peace with the Palestinians, Israel can never live in peace. On that, he has been proven right. This week, two Israeli soldiers were killed in four days.
Raja Shehadeh is the author of We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I (Profile Books)
Click Here to make a tax-deductible contribution.
If Israelis want to support the women of Iran, start with Palestinians
By Orly Noy
This article originally appeared in “The Landline,” +972’s weekly newsletter.
For about a month now, the mass protests taking place in Iran under the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom” have ignited the world’s imagination. The sight of brave Iranian women removing the hijab in the streets of the country, in open defiance of the tyrannical and violent regime, has sparked huge demonstrations of solidarity across the globe. And their call for freedom has turned into a demand by large swaths of the Iranian population to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
Demonstrations of solidarity with the women of Iran were also held in Israel — some led by women’s organizations, others by Israelis of Iranian origin. Even the Tel Aviv Municipality lit up its building in solidarity with the protests. And while the identification of so many Israelis with the protest in Iran is, of course, understandable, the fact that so many are going out of their way to show their solidarity should give us pause.
First, unlike other solidarity demonstrations across the world, a show of support by Israelis for Iranian protesters could be easily be manipulated by Iran’s leadership to portray the entire thing as a Zionist plot.
But the Israeli solidarity protests raise even more fundamental questions: what is the essence of the freedom in the name of which people are gathering across Israel in solidarity with Iranian women? Is the value of freedom truly dear to the hearts of Israelis, or is it simply an opportunity to tell a different story about ourselves?
A few days ago I received a request to add my name to an Israeli petition in support of the Iranian struggle for liberation. Under the title “In support of women, life, and freedom in Iran,” the petition began with these words:
“As human beings, cultured people, and Israelis who come from a variety of countries of origin, political opinions, religious beliefs and sexual definitions; we, elected officials, academics and researchers, artists and military officers, express our love and concern for the girls and the Iranian people who are currently fighting for their freedom and their lives.”
This is how, with the click of a button, officers in the Israeli army who are busy with the violent and murderous oppression of another people, can secure their place among the forces of global freedom. When I expressed my displeasure at the formulation and whitewashing of the crimes of the Israeli army at the expense of the brave Iranian women protesting, I was asked not to dwell on such trifles. After all, I was told, this was a matter of life and death.
What about the struggle for the liberation of the Palestinian people? Is that not a matter of life and death? Was the blood of the 234 Palestinians shot dead during the Great Return March in 2018 less red than the blood of the Iranians who are being murdered today by their government? Are the residents of Gaza less deserving of freedom than the residents of Tehran? Was the life of the paramedic Razan al-Najjar, who was shot to death during a demonstration in Gaza, less important than the life of Mahsa Amini, whose killing ignited the current Iranian uprising?
Anyone who rushes to deem those largely nonviolent protests in Gaza a “threat” to the very existence of the State of Israel should look no further than the justifications of the Islamic Republic for its violent attempts to put down the protests. The terminology is almost identical. There, too, any call for freedom is portrayed as a ploy to undermine the regime, and any public attempt at organizing in the name of freedom poses an existential danger to the country.
In a certain sense, there is a kernel of truth to these claims: the struggle for freedom is an intrinsic danger to the existence of any oppressive regime. This is true in Tehran and Zahedan, and it is also true in Nablus and Jenin.
In Iran and in Palestine, people are risking their lives to be freed from oppression, from apartheid, from extreme deprivation of their most basic freedoms at the hands of powerful, uninhibited forces. Solidarity with the Iranian people’s struggle for liberation that at best ignores the Palestinian struggle and at worst actively supports crushing it is nothing more than pure mockery of the very idea of freedom.
Take, for example, the hollow gesture by MK Sharren Haskel from the National Unity Party, who, during her speech at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s annual conference, took out a pair of scissors and cut her hair in solidarity with Iranian women. “As a fighter in the IDF, I salute the brave women and their children who are fighting for their home and their future,” Haskel told the crowd a moment before the pompous gesture.
This is the same Haskel who backs the annexation of the West Bank and the suppression of Palestinian freedom. Now, she too can join the world’s freedom seekers.
Many have recently asked me what can be done to support the brave women of Iran. Here is the incredibly simple answer: the most effective way to support the uprising is to stand by the people who are fighting for their freedom here, close to home, where we, Jewish Israelis, are responsible for the oppression. Because freedom is, and must be, a universal concept, and a fight against its denial anywhere in the world is a fight for its expansion in the entire world.
Rejoicing in solidarity with Iranian women while boasting about the oppressive measures that trample on the freedom and life of the Palestinian people is little more than hypocritical virtue signaling. And more than anything, it amounts to spitting in the face of every woman in the streets of Iran who, in the face of murderous subjugation, continues to chant: “women, life, freedom.”
Orly Noy is an editor at Local Call, a political activist, and a translator of Farsi poetry and prose. She is a member of B’Tselem’s executive board and an activist with the Balad political party. Her writing deals with the lines that intersect and define her identity as Mizrahi, a female leftist, a woman, a temporary migrant living inside a perpetual immigrant, and the constant dialogue between them.
Click Here to make a tax-deductible contribution.