|Tel Aviv protest against bloodshed in Gaza, and for a return to negotiations. Source|
Written by Linah Alsaafin and Budour Hassan
While it's necessary and urgent to delegitimize liberal Zionists, less clear is the position we should take from the anti-Zionist left. And although anti-Zionist Israelis are so few and far between and can hardly be considered a significant segment of the political or social sphere in Israel, they receive disproportionate coverage especially in progressive media outlets. We are aware, however, that this debate remains an elitist one centered on social media and the blogosphere and does not really preoccupy most Palestinians on the ground because they don't even know about the anti-Zionist minority. And frankly, they are not supposed to care either.
During the last month, anti-Zionists have organized several small vigils against the aggression on Gaza in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem. Those protests were often attacked by right-wing mob, as were individual and human rights organizations that are outspoken against Israeli crimes in Gaza. Veteran Israeli activists would quickly point out that this level of incitement against them is unprecedented and would go on to say something to the effect: "Leftists are the new Palestinians," or "Palestinians and Israeli leftists are the victims of this new wave of Israeli racism." The common theme in all that they say and write is the portrayal of Israeli leftists as victims.
No, dear Israeli radical leftists, you are not victims. You are part of the problem. You are part of the reason why our people continue to suffer. Your very existence at the moment comes at the expense of the refugees who were ethnically cleansed from Palestine and who continue to be bombed by Israel in Gaza. Just because you are beginning to experience a tiny fraction of what Palestinians face on a daily basis doesn't mean it's okay for you to play the victim role or even imagine the possibility of equating your "suffering" to that of the Palestinians.
We often hear about the social price that anti-Zionist dissidents are forced to pay, such as the fact that they are sometimes shunned by their own family and slandered and demonized by their society. It does perhaps make you feel better when you go home from your weekend activism but hey, don't we all need to please the self-righteous part of us sometimes and pretend that we are sacrificing massively when we are in fact doing very little? It's always nice to go home and say, "We were attacked by fascist mob because we opposed the war." Western media would love it. Even Arab media would applaud you for your courage and will write poetics about your heroic actions. And some Palestinians would consider you a partner. Otherwise we'd be called racists because pointing out the privileged of the good colonizer constitutes racism apparently.
The "hard choices" you made are your minimum moral obligations as a colonizer and as an essential part of the system that oppresses Palestinians. You are not doing anyone of us a favor by appeasing your conscience. The choice to oppose racism and Jewish supremacy and murder is the least one could do. And one definitely doesn't expect to make hard choices without paying a price.
If you want to know what hard choices look like, ask the Palestinians who were displaced from Palestine and had to walk in the desert for weeks to reach Kuwait. Ask the Palestinians who had to choose between dying under Israeli bombs or fleeing their houses to nowhere in Gaza. This is how our hard choices look like. And regardless of whatever social price anti-Zionists pay, their colonial privileges remain intact.
To seek admiration for your heroic stance or satisfaction from lessening the guilt complex you have is missing the point entirely, especially if this comprises the goals or aims you have. In fact, the less you think of yourselves as unsung heroes, the better it is for your ego, mental state of mind, and for Palestinians as we will stop rolling our eyes on an almost permanent basis.
Within the system
Another striking feature of the small antiwar vigils in Tel Aviv is that they were held under the protection of the Israeli border police to prevent confrontations with the right-wing mob. By accepting this, anti-Zionist leftists remain confined within the system they supposedly seek to dismantle. After all, it's not the right-wing mob who bomb Gaza and murder protesters in the West Bank. It is the very army and border police that protect the antiwar protests in Tel Aviv. Thus, unwittingly or otherwise, those antiwar protestors contribute to the promotion of the facade of Israel's democracy and tolerance for dissent.
The same applies for Israeli – and Palestinian - leftist human rights organizations that still rely on the Israeli judicial system to "defend" their freedom of expression rather than recognizing that the judicial system is an arm of the Israeli occupation.
It’s fair to say that dear anti-Zionists, your presence isn’t doing anyone any good. The Israeli society hates you, and the Palestinians don’t care about you. Do not go looking for sympathy, (or empathy, whatever you prefer), because we have run out of both. Your remaining in the country does not constitute any form of sumoud.
Instead, it only amplifies the state of privilege that you live in, such as the goddamn freedom of movement (it must be so hard to organize a carpool to go to the West Bank, no?), the right to have an Israeli partner wherever they live in the country, and the absence of institutionalized racism leveled at you at whatever you set out to achieve, whether that be education, getting building permits for your home, or finding a job.
Do not fool yourselves into thinking you are allies or partners for “peace” by virtue of a few token Palestinian acquaintances, because the fact of the matter remains glaringly obvious: you are too insignificant to make a difference to change your genocide-loving government or to win the hearts of the oppressed.
It’s best to leave the country. That way, you’d be doing us a favor of laying out the naked truth for all to see. It’s time to be honest. Your numbers are too little to compose a minority. The resources you have at your hands may have duped some of the western and increasingly Arab media—who absolutely love a feel-good story and buy into that whole Israeli-Palestinian joint struggle or common purpose—into believing that you are a small but plucky group risking it all to fight for the Palestinian side.
It's not surprising that all those movies about "joint struggle" would attract attention and admiration. Not because they reflect the reality on the ground but because they show the world what it likes to see: the Israeli who fights with the Palestinian hand-in-hand. Yet that is not the case at all. How can it be, seeing that you come from a much more superior standing? Whether you like it or not, and as hard as you try to ostracize yourself from the others, there is no escaping that you benefit from the occupation system. Put your resources towards a better investment. Raise awareness for the Palestinian struggle outside of Israel. It is no secret that the (hypocritical and complicit) international community’s favorable narrative in support of the Palestinians will be a welcome asset to our struggle for self-determination and an end to the occupation.
Making the distinction
With all that said, we are still capable of making the distinction between anti-Zionists who are third-generation settlers and anti-Zionist leftists who made Aliya and settled in Palestine by virtue of the Return Law. The latter might have seen the light at last and discovered the evils of Zionism but insist on directly benefiting of the racist "Return Law' when they could easily go home to where they actually belong.
We also make the distinction between anti-Zionist Israeli settlers who live in Palestine by choice and those who want to leave but cannot afford it. And there are anti-Zionist leftists, who lie on the margins of the movement and who come from the underclass. Those individuals-who can be counted at the fingers of one hand- are in Palestine because they have nowhere else to go but don't use the Palestinian cause to make a career. They are aware of their privileges but you won't find them writing articles about the hard choices they made. The rest, however, are a privileged bunch of dual citizens or upper-middle class attention-seekers who believe they can change the Israeli society.
And to be quite honest, we do not care about the Israeli society. We don’t care to humanize or dehumanize them, although the latter is more appropriate. We will never buy into this two-sides two-equal-suffering all-we-want-is-peace bullshit. We don’t want peace with Zionists or with anyone that reaps the profits from a inherently violent jingoistic colonial system.
And this might disappoint you greatly, but we don't advocate for transitional justice nor do we have the luxury talking about truth and reconciliation when being bombed, fragmented and deprived of our most basic rights. Transitional justice is for white people. We want revenge from the system that stripped us of our humanity.
To the Israeli society in general: Coexistence is not on the agenda. We do not have the time to waste waiting for Israel's radicals to make a social revolution or convince their society that Zionism sucks. We are not imploring, beseeching, or asking you. We demand an end to the occupation, for you to break out of the prisons you have for minds, and for the love of all things good and holy, end the siege on Gaza.