Renen Raz died last week after a lengthy battle with an illness. For Palestinians activists, he was an example of an Israeli who truly believed in liberation for all.
By: Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills.org
Dozens of Palestinians have been expressing their condolences on social media since the death of Israeli activist Renen Raz last week, following a struggle with an illness.
Raz, who passed away at age 28, grew up on Kibbutz Dorot in southern Israel. From his home he could see Gaza, only three kilometers away, yet growing up he was never taught anything about the Strip or its inhabitants.
“I asked my teacher about Palestine. She was really terrified and said not to ever mention Palestine in school again,” Raz once said in an interview. The mystery shrouding Gaza motivated him to look into the history of Palestine and its inhabitants.
“I realized that there has been an ethnic cleansing, the Nakba, carried out by the racist Zionist movement which has nothing to do with Judaism,” Raz said. Later, he would come to terms with the fact that his own kibbutz was established on the ruins of the Palestinian village, Huj.
As a teenager he refused to be drafted into the Israeli army, leading to pressure from both his community and family, which he said grew ashamed of him, ultimately leading him to move to Tel Aviv.
Raz used to introduce himself: “I’m Renan Raz from Palestine, I live in Tel Aviv,” and described himself as “anti-Zionist, anti-fascist, and anti-apartheid.” He was an active member of Anarchists Against The Wall, Boycott from Within, and others.
Partners in struggle?
The concept of “occupation” is viewed differently by Israeli activists, some of whom see it confined to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (1967 borders), while Raz and his peers viewed it as including all of historic Palestine.
From a Palestinian perspective, these differences highlight the essential distinction between the Zionist Left, such as the Meretz party and a number of Israeli human rights groups, and the anti-Zionist Left, which analyzes the Palestinian-Israeli issue from its roots, often calling into question the legitimacy of the state itself.
Despite their radical ideas, the vast majority of Palestinians have not heard of these Israelis. They are entirely absent from Palestinian/Arab media outlets, which generally tend to ignore Israeli society out of a belief that there is “no dialogue with the oppressor.”