By Smadar Carmon
You might think that it makes sense that people with a long history of being victims would become defenders of other victims. But what seems to be happening is that from being the victims of the world we, the Jews, have become the victimizers. Growing up in Israel I was consistently bombarded with stories about the Holocaust. I read books and watched movies; it made me feel helpless and angry to realize what heartless people can do to their fellow humans. The only way I could reconcile these feelings was by developing the conviction that this should never happen again to anybody in the world, nobody should suffer and die because of racism and ignorance.
Every week there is a vigil to protest the Israeli occupation held outside the Israeli Consulate. While I am standing there, people passing by sometimes come up and speak with me, wanting to know why we are there. If they start the discussion by telling me that this is a very complicated situation, I know that I'm probably about to have a very exhausting or even impossible conversation. I don't see the situation between the Israelis and Palestinians as complicated; it is not a personal matter and it has nothing to do with religion: any people who have been robbed of their land and homes where they have been living for generations would try to put up a fight. And the absurdity of claiming that the Palestinians are anti-Semites who just want to see us all go into the sea is just one more success story of the Israeli propaganda machine. Israeli citizens are living in fear which has been cultivated for over sixty years. Palestinians have been consistently demonized. And this is what has helped to shape a nation that has agreed to live in a state of war for so long now; and, Israel is also paying a price because generation after generation parents are sending their children to join the army where they most probably will kill or get killed; a nation where the name of peace - Shalom, has become a joke, because the Israeli government finds every trick in the book how not to negotiate peace, and yet people constantly talk about it as if one day it will just happen on its own.
When you are surrounded by a so called sea of enemies, doesn't it make sense to try and live peacefully with your neighbours? Israel has been fighting for a long time and the fatigue is showing…how much longer will people be willing to fight? There is no future in it.
I find the avoidance and denial of Israelis about what is being done to Palestinians hard to understand: On my last flight to Israel, because of flying the Polish airlines, we had a stop over in Poland. There, we picked up a big group of Israelis, and I noticed that the guy sitting next to me was speaking with the person behind him, and when he spoke Hebrew, it was with an Arabic accent. I became very curious. I asked the guy sitting next to me where they were coming from? He told me that they were on a tour of ghettos and concentration camps in Poland, that they were sent by their company in Israel. Then he started talking about how fascinating it is for him to learn more about the Holocaust and how important it is. I was quite shocked, the Holocaust happened 60 years ago. There is a human disaster happening in Israel right now; why fly all the way to Poland when people are being discriminated against, killed, imprisoned, humiliated, and robbed of their land and culture in your own home. I did attempt to bring that up, but he was not interested, he could not even start to see it this way.
As Israelis we have sacrificed and are still willing to sacrifice a lot in order to have so called security and so far we have mostly succeed in creating enemies. Yes, all this fighting has served us in getting more land, because of this fighting we have the USA as our ally, the USA which is among the most criminal nations in the world! And it also has helped us to calm down some of the intense racism that is happening between ourselves, because the European Jews treat the Jews from the East as subhuman and they all hate the Russians and the Ethiopians; thanks God for the Palestinians, that's where we, as Israelis, can all come together in hating them.
Meanwhile, we as Israelis are also missing another opportunity of getting to know who the Palestinians really are, we have already adopted Palestinian food as Israel’s national food, but we could have further benefited by learning from a another culture that has so much to give. The way things are today in Palestine and Israel, both peoples are paying a very heavy price, but there is no doubt that the price that the Palestinians are paying is so much more. The action of creating more and more harm by Israelis and Jews around the world has got to stop. The denial and the constant preoccupation to cover the truth is a crime against human rights, while at the same time this is creating hate for all the Jews around the world. In travelling around the world I have never experienced anti-Semitism, but these days, I feel more and more ashamed of letting people know where I was born and raised. Israel has become the most unsafe place for Jews to live, but it has mostly become a nation that is one of the leading forces in today’s world in committing grave crimes against humanity.
I wanted to add:
In the struggle for justice we must always remember that this is not a personal matter. What happened in the holocaust was the human condition in one of its most evil expressions, the same goes for what is happening in Israel and other places in the world. When it becomes personal, we exclude others that are fighting for human rights and that hurts the struggle. If we do not act from that perspective we are only adding to the problem. The solution lies in our willing to fight for human rights and justice because we care about each other.