Wednesday, February 13

telling stories

today I saw a speaker during my econ class talk about her experience in the West Bank and some of the current events happening with Israel and Palestine that aren't brought up much in this country. how is it that I've been going to Hebrew school since third grade, studied to become a Bat Mitzvah for over a year, taught at Hebrew school for four years, went to Midrasha for four years, a whole year of which was devoted to studying Israel, and didn't know about half the things she taught us? it's not fair. no one can tell me that I was ignorant to all those things because I didn't put myself out there. I specifically took the time to learn about the Israel Palestine conflict, and thought I was hearing a rational, unbiased report of it. I was always told that when Israel declared independence in 1948 that the five surrounding Arab nations declared war on them because they were against a Jewish state. one of the main reasons they were against a Jewish state that was not made clear to me, was that in order to create a Jewish majority in that area, they kicked out hundreds of thousands of the Palestinians that had already been living there. this continued to happen not until 1967, but now. it is still happening now. Israel, according to international laws, is illegally occupying Palestine territory. the Israeli government is encouraging this by actually paying people to live on those settlements. they are also building a wall around the West Bank that is actually cutting into Palestinian territory. along with all the check points that are set up and the segregated roads, it is almost impossible for Palestinians to live a normal daily life. they can't go to universities or hold down a steady job because to going even fifteen miles could take anywhere from two to twelve hours. countless people have died because they hold ambulances and couldn't get to the hospital on time. and where does the Israeli government get the money to fund all these settlements checkpoints? from us, the United States of America. we give over 10 million dollars a day in foreign aid to Israel, more than any other country except for Iraq. yes, we fund Israel, a developed metropolitan state, more than any developing "third world" nation. we've been funding them since Israel became a state, breaking our own laws knowing that this money was being used for illegal occupation and other activities, knowing that to form the state of Israel, just as much terrorism was used by Israelis as Palestinians. we pay for their illegal settlements, we pay for their soldiers' guns. every time the United Nations tries to do something about Israel's illegal activity, the US uses their veto to stop them. this is how we've used our UN veto more times than any of the other five big countries have used theirs combined. what makes even more angry though, is finding out that these issues are discussed all the time in Israeli and Arab news, as well as European news. forget Fox, not one major news source in the US will talk about the issue from a Palestinian point of view. in August 2004, an article in the International Newsweek called "Plight of the Palestinians" was cut all together from the American Newsweek. fuck, our government isn't just hiding robots and aliens this time, they are trying to hide the fact that we are funding one of the biggest problems in the world today, and have been for over fifty years. the woman who spoke is part of an organization in the West Bank that supports non-violent Palestinian resistance. I'm so happy that I got to hear her, because this information is just so incredibly relevant. we are all a part of this, and we need this knowledge so we can decided what our part will be.

tell her what she wants to know, she'll find out anyway


Sticky said..., where do I start. First of all, you mentioned that your whole israeli education up to this point has been biased. This is true. But the speaker you talked to today was also very far from unbiased. Secondly in 1948 though it is true that the Jews had kicked out many palestinians witch was horrible, the main reason the five countries invaded was to "drive the jews into the sea and kill them all". In fact the arab countries cared so little about the palestinians that from '48 until '67 the arabs countries occupied the palistinian territories and didn't let them have their own state. In fact most palestinians were put in refugee camps by the arabs. Thirdly the jews aren't any longer occupying the palistinian territories. A couple years ago israel tried to return the gaza strip to egypt. Who refused. So instead israel pulled all troops from the strip and the west bank. The palistinans held elections and went on to govern themselves with israeli funding. The palisinians are right now at war WITH THEM SELVES. A civil war that israel is doing its best to stop. A wall was built to lower the amount of bullets and rockets into civilian areas. When I was there this summer I saw the bullet holes that surrounded where the wall is now built. The check point thing I agree with you on. Its hideous. Especially because if your car has israeli plates it can get through with no trouble. I'm sorry that this comment was so long. Israel doesn't do everything right but I don't want you to go around hateing it because of some lady's biased opinion.

Jacquelyn Nan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacquelyn Nan said...

the reason this woman is biased is because she's a Jewish-American AHS alumni who had almost the same upbringing as us, so she knows what side we've already heard about, she's just telling the other side. now I know both sides, but what I'm saying is that I should have been taught both sides in my formal Jewish education. it's frustrating that the only reason I know the full argument is because of some random presentation at my high school.
it is a fact that Israel is occupying Palestinian territory and have settlements there strictly for Israeli Jews. the Palestinians don't have sovereignty. this is illegal, and the UN has been trying to do something about it, but hasn't been able to because the US keeps using its veto power to stop the proposals.
the wall being built is cutting through parts of Palestinian territories, especially around water sources. Palestinians have to buy all their water from the Israeli government, who sell it to them at a much higher price than they to to Israelis.

at a Midrasha retreat a few years ago we were having a discussion about Israel. all the opinions were pretty much the same, which confused me. I raised my hand and said, "you know, I really don't care who lives there if so many people are going to have to die for it. I don't think anything can justify the deaths of all the people who have been killed and will be killed because of this war." I was gasped at and attacked for saying this. it bothers me that everyone at Midrasha is so close minded that they not only can't see a Palestinian point of view, they can't see a point of view that just wants peace without violence or discrimination.

Anna said...

Michael Neumann, author of The Case Against Israel, on the subject of bias:

"It is customary for writers on touchy subjects to lay out their biases before proceeding. Mine are pro-Israel and pro-Jewish.

"My parents were German Jews, and my family on both sides... suffered greatly under the Nazis. Some of my relatives sought refuge in Palestine in the early 1930s; some of their descendants are Israeli citizens. So naturally I was initially well disposed towards Israel, which promised never to let the horrors of the past repeat themselves. I also felt no sympathy for the Palestinians: losing their land seemd a trifle compared to the sufferings of Jews, Gypsies, and others in Europe.

"[...] To show that I am biased would require more than showing that I invariably criticize Israel and not the Palestinians. It would require showing that I do in fact have pro-Palestinian interests or motives, or that I evaluate the evidence unfairly. Even that, of course, would not show that I am wrong."

Anna said...

I see photos of Israeli settlements. They have green lawns. A quarter of a mile away, Palestinians do not have drinking water. To me, this sort of economic disparity makes it obvious that something is horribly, fundamentally wrong.

--There is a book, "The Lemon Tree," that chronicles an unusual, uneasy friendship between a displaced Palestinian man and the Israeli woman whose family moves into his ancenstral home. It's a true story. It's interesting.

Anna said...

Website for "Breaking the Silence," an organization of Israeli soldiers who have served in Palestine: