A moment of Israel-Gaza realness, in the form of a screen grab from my Twitter timeline:
And there you are.
A moment of Israel-Gaza realness, in the form of a screen grab from my Twitter timeline:
And there you are.
Posted by emilylhauser on July 22, 2014
On Monday, I had a piece about the current round of Israeli-Palestinian violence in The Week:
Israeli lawmaker Moshe Feiglin is right.
Last week, Feiglin, a member of the Knesset on the extreme-right flank of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, laid out in the ultranationalist media network Arutz Sheva his plan for “achieving quiet in Gaza,” starting with:
One warning from the prime minister of Israel to the enemy population, in which he announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts. Hamas may unconditionally surrender and prevent the attack. [Arutz Sheva]
Feiglin continues from there: “All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’… Total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the area… Civilians may go to Sinai, fighters may surrender.”
Gaza is part of [the Jewish people's] Land and we will remain there forever… Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. [Arutz Sheva]
Though he urges annihilation, Feiglin stops just short of genocide, differentiating between Palestinians who cede their rights to self-determination and self-defense from those who respond to foreign occupation with violence. Other Israeli voices have not been so measured.
And they’re right, these Israelis. If Israel’s goal is to rid itself of Palestinian nationalism and resistance permanently, forever and aye, a plan like Feiglin’s is the only one that might work.
Clearly Palestinians still dream of statehood, and “managing” the conflict has failed.
To read all of this article, please click through to The Week.
Posted by emilylhauser on July 22, 2014
Posted by emilylhauser on July 21, 2014
We read names. We say names out loud, and hold their souls on our breath. We record names with ink and carve them into stone; we raise them in national squares and on city streets.
When lives are lost, those left behind do what they can to ensure that the names – at least the names – are not forgotten.
Someone in Israel has taken it upon themselves to perform this sacred duty for people very recently dead, not in stone or ink, but spray paint; the letters are Hebrew, but the names are not.
Dunya Mahdi Hamad, who was 16 when she was killed on Tuesday, July 8. Elsewhere her name has been spelled Dunia Mehdi Hamad, or Denil. There’s also Mohammed Ayman Ashour, aged 15. Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra, aged 4. Hana Malakiyeh, aged 27, and her son, Mohammed Malakiyeh, one and a half years old at the time of his death.
There are more names, and they are scrawled on the walls of the southern Israeli city of Beersheva, a place that has seen its own residents scurrying for bomb shelters, and picking through the remains of shattered homes. Beersheva is not safe from this war, and neither are Israel’s citizens. Dror Hanin was 37 years old when he was killed by flying shrapnel on Tuesday; his wife and children are left to mourn, just as surely as are the families of Gaza’s dead.
Yet whoever is roaming Beersheva’s streets with a can of black paint knows that even as Israel’s Jews will remember Hanin’s name, most will try never to know the names of the over 200 Palestinians killed so far in Israel’s most recent attack on the Gaza Strip. Just as we tried to never know their names in 2012. And 2008/2009. And 2006. And every other time in between.
Some of those killed in Gaza were actively involved in trying to kill Israelis when they died; a great many of them were not. Surely Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra was not. Surely Mohammed Malakiyeh was not. In forcing these names before the eyes of Israeli Jews, the Beersheva graffiti artist is making a very simple statement: They were human. They must be mourned.
I wonder if names will continue to blossom on Beersheva’s walls, or the walls of other cities. There are so many left to write. Maybe someone will pick up a can of Tambour Black #465-450, the kind that withstands the heat, and spray the names and ages of Ahed Atef Bakr, aged 10; Zakaria Ahed Bakr, aged 10; Mohamed Ramez Bakr, aged 11; and Ismael Mohamed Bakr, aged 9.
They were cousins, and they were apparently playing soccer when Israeli ordnance rained down on their heads.
May their memories be for a blessing.
This post originally appeared earlier today at The Forward.
Posted by emilylhauser on July 16, 2014
I have no idea what Tariq Khdeir was doing on the day he was savagely beaten.
I have no idea if — like the American high school student in my own home – Tariq woke up late and lazy, because that’s what vacation’s like. Maybe he slipped on headphones as he reached for his cell, checking his texts or the World Cup stats. Maybe he jumped straight out of bed. Maybe he lay quietly under the covers, trying desperately not to remember his cousin Muhammad’s voice, not to envision his grisly murder, not to hear the sobbing of his family.
Maybe Tariq Khdeir woke up filled with sorrow and helplessness. Maybe he woke up filled with rage. All those years in American schools, walking American streets, hearing about what life was like for his cousins in East Jerusalem, and then there he was, right in the house, with wailing family and shattered hearts. Maybe Tariq wanted to at least see Palestinians fighting back in his cousin’s name, just to see the rocks thrown, just to see the anger and maybe some fear on the other side.
Maybe Tariq Khdeir wrapped his head in a red-and-white checked keffiyeh because he’d been warned not to go out, and he didn’t want to get busted. Maybe he wrapped his head because he didn’t want to be recognized by police. Maybe he got out there and, like many angry young men before him, felt the power of rage surging through the streets and his own veins and picked up a rock. Maybe Tariq Khdeir threw some rocks — he says he didn’t, but for the sake of argument, let’s imagine he did. Grief and fury can muddle the minds of even straight-A students.
I don’t know what Tariq Khdeir did that day, or how he felt, or what he was thinking, but here’s what I do know: He went out to the streets. He was at a protest that had shaded into riot, and his head was wrapped in a keffiyeh. And two Israeli police officers, broad of chest and fully armed, grabbed him – a slight 15-year-old boy — and dragged him to where they believed they would not be seen, and they beat the ever-loving daylights out of him. They held him down. They kicked him. They hit him. They took turns. They broke his nose. They blackened and bloodied his eyes. They held him down and beat him.
Tariq didn’t have a weapon in his hand or on his person. He’d been separated from whoever he’d been with. Whatever he may or may not have done in the moments before the now infamous video of fists and feet raining down on his body, Tariq Khdeir was not any threat, of any kind, to those who pushed him to the ground and raised their boots.
To read the rest, please click through to The Forward.
Posted by emilylhauser on July 12, 2014
Targeting enemy civilians is a war crime. Let’s not entertain any doubt about that. Hamas and other Palestinian militants have targeted Israeli civilians with rockets for years; the fact that these rockets are crude and their aim poor doesn’t mitigate the simple fact: Targeting civilians is a war crime.
Trying to determine who “started” our current state of conflict is not quite so simple, though, unless we accept ideology as fact. For some Jews, the Palestinians started it by refusing to accept our nationalism as ascendant to theirs; for some Palestinians, the Jews started it, in precisely the same way.
If, however, we’re trying to uncover a chain of discrete events leading to the seemingly permanent state of war between Israel and Gaza, the waters are muddy. Did the latest round of rockets come in response to an IDF incursion, or the other way around? Did it start when Israel neutralized a terrorist infiltrator, or was that terrorist a farmer trying to gather crops? Both sides play into the provocation-response cycle, each conveniently forgetting that actions have consequences, often beyond those we first imagined.
Each society brings to this process its own dysfunctions, as well, picking and choosing which events support which narrative, often to paradoxical ends. Israel’s paradoxical storyline goes something like this: We control the West Bank, and Gaza’s borders and airspace, but only because we have no choice, because we’re victims facing annihilation, but/and our military (which we love and are very proud of because it’s the region’s most powerful) can be trusted to pound our enemies (armed with crude rockets and a shattered society, but that goes into the “forgetfulness” file) into submission. Just let the IDF win - t’nu l’Tzahal lenatzeah!
As problematic as any of our cognitive inconsistencies might be (and I can only assume Palestinian society has its own), the biggest discrepancy appears to be all but invisible: The IDF has, actually, been pounding Hamas for some time, and oh hey, look – here we are again.
Let’s go to the tape:
Israel officially withdrew from Gaza nine years ago; the following months saw both rockets and air strikes. On June 24, 2006, Israeli forces entered southern Gaza and kidnaped two suspected Hamas members from their homes. Hamas retaliated the next day with a cross-border raid in which two soldiers were killed, and Gilad Shalit captured.
Israel then launched Operation Summer Rains. Prime Minister Olmert was clear about the operation’s goals: “to release the kidnapped soldier and eliminate terror.”
In the course of hostilities, the IDF seized 64 Hamas-linked Palestinian officials, flattened Gaza’s power plant, razed several bridges, and by October, had killed 256 Palestinians, including 60 children. Two Israeli soldiers were also killed, and 31 civilians injured.
In the winter of 2008/2009, we saw Operation Cast Lead.
To read the rest, please go to Haaretz.
Posted by emilylhauser on July 10, 2014
People have short memories. It’s an all-too-human quality that frankly allows politics to continue. But even so, there are times when Israelis’ short-term memory loss can leave me breathless.
When three yeshiva students were kidnapped two weeks ago, the collective response was immediate, and visceral: Bring the boys home, and spare no effort, no matter how costly or violent. The nation’s security forces leapt into action, and Israelis’ prayers were mixed with palpable rage. Few worried that dozens and then hundreds of people – Palestinians -were being swept up in a massive and indiscriminate dragnet; few paused to consider the efficacy or ethics of raiding well more than a thousand targets, including private homes, universities, and media outlets; few questioned the wisdom of using live fire against those who dared protest it all, killing (among others) a 15-year old boy and a mentally unstable man on his way to morning prayers. Military spokesman Peter Lerner told us, and few questioned it, that the government and military “are committed to resolving the kidnapping and debilitating Hamas terrorist capacities, its infrastructure and its recruiting institutions.”
And perhaps – perhaps – if these methods had successfully resolved past abductions, if the forces intent on grabbing Israelis had abated, perhaps we could at least understand the impetus, struggle as we might with the unending horror of this unending war. But the simple fact is that all of these methods, all of them, have been used time and again, and all have failed spectacularly.
To continue reading, please click through to Haaretz.
Posted by emilylhauser on June 27, 2014
Jerusalem Day, we’re told, celebrates the reunification of Israel’s eternal capital, symbolizing “the continued historical connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem.” It’s a moment to remember that, as Prime Minister Netanyahu once said, “Israel without Jerusalem is like a body without a heart.”
So we’re told, and so the vast majority of Jews in Israel and abroad believe. Jerusalem is our heart, our soul – a small, holy spot on the map around which everything else revolves. So we’re told.
Except that it’s a lie. “Jerusalem” – as currently constituted, featured on maps, and represented by Israel’s government – is not eternal. It is not undivided. And it is certainly not holy.
The geographic location to which Jewish hearts have turned for millennia is small, corresponding roughly to today’s Old City; the holy part – the area on which the Israelites were commanded to establish a resting place for the Divine Presence – is more modest still, consisting of the Temple Mount. When we stand before the Western Wall, or orient ourselves toward it in worship, we’re weaving our prayers and longings with those of all Jews, reaching across miles and years and touching the core of that which holds us in community.
Zionism stems from that faith experience, but is not identical to it. Zionism is a modern idea, a nationalist movement which, like all nationalist movements, centers on a shared language, culture, and land. That’s why Uganda was nixed as an alternative – because the Jewish people’s shared land is anchored by our holy city.
Yet it simply cannot be argued (not honestly, at least) that the 21st century municipality that carries the name “Jerusalem” is that same place.
To read the rest of this, please go to Haaretz.
Posted by emilylhauser on May 28, 2014
This weekend, renowned Holocaust scholar Shaul Friedlander gave sharp expression to a feeling shared broadly by many Jews, in Israel and the Diaspora. “Zionism has been taken, kidnapped even, by the far right,” Friedlander said in an interview with Haaretz. And all around the world, these Jews shook their heads, and sighed. Yes, they thought, it has been.
I have enormous respect for Prof. Friedlander, but I’m afraid I have to disagree. Zionism wasn’t kidnapped, or even merely “taken,” by the far right. It was handed over, with barely a peep, by the vast middle.
Our Ze’ev Jabotinskys, Geula Cohens, and Meir Kahanes have always had a central role in Jewish nationalist thought, but the 21st century has seen their like rise to new prominence. Centrists, hard-core peaceniks, and leftists have watched grimly as Israel has drifted ever rightward since the second intifada. Every step toward peace seemed doomed from the outset, and Israel’s leadership took care to tell us that there just wasn’t anyone to talk to. More and more settlements were built, but again, Israel’s leadership always kindly clarified that these don’t stand in the way of peace, and really, what’s another road, another red roof?
Wars, incursions, bombings – all are sad, indeed, particularly when innocent Israelis are hurt or killed, but human rights abuses by the military? The IDF is the most moral army in the world, and anyone who says different is probably an anti-Semite. Or, if the source is a Jew, a self-hater. Or, if the source is an Israeli combat soldier, a self-hater and an embarrassment to the nation. Demagogues climbed to the top of Israel’s political ladder, gained government ministries, passed anti-democratic laws, and structured budgets to make Israel’s occupation permanent – and the vast middle has watched, and sighed. And written checks, and sent their kids on Birthright, and floated in the Dead Sea.
Because it’s easier. It’s easier to believe that ethnic anxiety is the only true form of Judaism. It’s easier to believe that boys who look like your boys must be nice boys.
To read the rest of this post, please click through to The Forward.
Posted by emilylhauser on May 21, 2014