Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why I did Last Weekend

I do not exactly know why Gadi brought me to the dinner. But I do know why I went.

I went because I want the Palestinians to be disturbed. I want them to be haunted. I want my face to pursue them.

When Jamal or his wife or his father or the closed-face young men hear about a glorious shaheed on his way to his reward of 72 virgins for his brave attack on the Zionist enemy…I want them to see my face. When they listen to a speech given by a political leader about how all Israelis are evil and should be driven into the sea…I want them to reconcile that image with that of me, an actual person. I want them to be shocked when they hear about a bombing. If I cannot achieve shock, I would at least have them disturbed. And if not that, I would at least have them think.

But I want to haunted as well. I want to be shocked when I see the long lines at the checkpoints--the checkpoints that I can whiz by. When I hear the stories about Palestinians forced to travel hours out of their way to get from A to B, I will continue to see "my terrorist" and her bomb, which were no doubt smuggled in via one of these checkpoints. Perhaps she was passed off as an innocent passenger in a taxicab. I will remember that other terrorists have been smuggled in using fake (and real) medical permits and that ambulances are used to smuggle in bombs and weapons. So, yes, the need is real. But at the same time, I will also see, and I want to see, Jamal and his wife stuck in their car with four restless, cranky children in the back.

It does not hurt my character to be aware of just how much is being paid for my right to be secure, who is doing the paying and in what currency

I went because I want to know. I came because I want to have views and to know what they are and why I have them. I am sick of saying "I really do not know that much about the situation". I could try reading the press (or even blogs), but most of what I will find is a collection of various agendas. The Israelis/ Palestinians/ right wing/ left wing/ settlers/ peace activists/ religious Jews/ secular Jews/ [fill in your favorite group here]…are pure and innocent and any negative news is lies and propaganda. The Israelis/ Palestinians/ right wing/ left wing/ settlers/ peace activists/ religious Jews/ secular Jews/ [fill in your least-favorite group here]…are evil, violent and conniving and any positive news is lies and propaganda. Does one visit mean I "know" the situation? Of course not! But then, when did I say it did?

I went because I love Israel beyond any measurement and beyond reason and I cannot bear to think of my beloved country in this bind…and my sitting on the side doing nothing. I have to do something. I have to try to make things better. Even if it fails, even if the naysayers are right and peace is impossible at least I can say I tried. I do realize that we are more likely to fail than to succeed. But I also realize that most social revolutions and great changes do not start with people sitting around saying "it is impossible". They start with a few, derided crackpots running around with crazy, impossible ideas which somehow, inexplicably, catch on and become accepted and very possible.

Who would you rather be?

I went because I am tired of just accepting blindly that this is the way it must be.

Because, surely, this can not be the way it should be.


Anonymous said...

I know it's an unfortunate turn of phrase, but I'm blown away by what you write here. Very unfortunate turn of phrase, but true.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Not to belittle your face, but many terrorists are familiar with the faces of their victims -- like the Arab who murdered his Jewish Moshavnik employer, with whom he had worked side by side in the greenhouses for over ten years.

I could give you more examples if you want, including dates and locations of events.

Regarding checkpoints:

For the record, we all wait at checkpoints, with our restless, cranky kids in the back seat.

Motz'ai Shabbat, a few weeks ago, we spent over an hour on the road between the Tzomet Adam and the Hizma checkpoint (normally a five minute drive).

Our Saturday night plans were ruined. We all had to, ummm, use the "facilities" way before we reached the checkpoint (not to mention the half-hour drive afterwards, until we got home and could actually use the "facilities")

My heart is not bleeding for the Arab family who, perhaps, has an extra five minute wait, because the soldier wants to see his ID. Big deal.

When my trunk is full of stuff, the guard in the mall also asks to see my ID and interrogates me. That's life.

Maybe if less Arabs were so intent on blowing up Jews, we could all be rid of these minor annoyances.

Btw, last night, it only took about 5 minutes to go through that same checkpoint. Then it took us all, Arabs and Jews alike, 20 minutes (maybe more) to get up the hill and past the stupid traffic light. (and, yes, all five of us needed to use the two "facilities" when we got home)

Btw, this is not the way it should be. (we should have at least one more, um, "facility")


But, seriously, not that I have a problem with meeting over dinner, but I don't think that's going to solve the problem.

You want to affect change? Ask those nice people some real questions, like "What do you do to make sure your children/grandchildren are not dressing up as suicide bombers to celebrate graduating from kindergarten? What do you say to your neighbors when they tell you that's what their kids did?
What do you tell your kids, when they see TV shows telling them they should grow up to be suicide bombers?"

If we are going to make a difference, we need to stop skirting around the issues.

Yes, we should be self-critical. But if we are *only self-critical, then we are not being honest.

Let them ask us their real questions too.

Bottom line: if a nice, peace-loving Arab family has to wait an hour by a checkpoint with six screaming kids in the back seat,(next to the car with the nice, peace-loving Jewish family with six screaming kids, so that my kids can ride on our local bus without getting blown up, I can live with that.

Anonymous said...

OK - thanks for telling us why you go to these meetings.

Now please tell us:

Why are the organizers inviting you?

I'm sure both they and you are charming, but... at some point up the chain of the organizers we'll find people for whom such "charitable" work is their day job - funded by Israeli or foreign NGOs (=non-governmental organization).

When they're not hosting the odd Israeli survivor of terror, their network of contacts - and their heavily-funded activities - are devoted to bolstering the narrative of (unilateral) Palestinian victimhood.

So: why have these activists involved you in their events?

Can you guess - maybe now that you've attended a conference which underscores how much (perceived) influence English-language Israeli bloggers have?

If I were a pro-Palestinian activist peddling a tale of Arab hardship, I would do everything I could to neutralize a blog that put a human face on Israeli suffering - I would see a blog that described in the most emotionally affecting way the results of Palestinian terror, as a threat.

I'd do everything I could to "turn" that blogger - I'd use my arsenal of PC, guilt-trip manipulations to get them to hedge, and ultimately compromise, their own story.

I'd play on their desire to be "fair" and "open-minded" - all the politically correct dodges I use all the time on Westerners - to get them to write navel-gazing "on one hand... on the other hand" stories that (while making them feel oh-so-progressive) actually achieve MY organization's goals:

- to blur the clarity of their original blog

- to obscure its focus on Israeli suffering.

- to induce the writer to post humanizing portraits of the Palestinians they meet - rather than posts that humanize Israelis

- to reframe their story so it's less powerful, just another facet of the "cycle of violence" in which attacker and victim are morally equivalent.

- to poison their reportage of the struggle for normalcy in Israel with guilt-trips about Palestinians sitting at checkposts.

You have been purposely targeted for attention by the pros in this PR arena.

You are being neutralized.

You seem to be a pretty clever woman - do you not see this?

Do you not see how almost every post you've written about these meetings works the way I have described?