An in-depth article on Palestinian refugees and their attitudes toward return and peace had some in the liberal Zionist camp up in arms. In a response published last week, Danny Orbach accused Paula Schmitt of doing a disservice to the refugees by nurturing their 'disastrous, futile fantasies' and distorting the events of 1948. Now, Schmitt responds to the allegations. By Paula Schmitt Debating Zionists or staunchly religious people is like playing a board game where your pieces must move like chess while your opponent's pieces can move like checkers. Only one side of this battle follows rules and abides by…Read More... | 28 Comments
One of the more difficult aspects of living in Israel over the last several years has been coming to terms with the layers of denial in which Jewish Israeli society wraps itself. The denial comes in many forms and covers some of the biggest issues facing the country: the occupation, discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel and Mizrahi Jews, sexism, homophobia and of course, the Nakba. I recently came across a video that, at least for me, clarifies just how deep the denial of the destruction of Palestinian existence prior to 1948 runs in Israeli society. The video shows the…Read More... | 16 Comments
Palestinians, Israelis and internationals gathered in a Tel Aviv museum last week for a two-day conference dedicated to the Palestinian right of return. Tom Pessah on some of the conference highlights. By Tom Pessah I don’t normally cry during academic conferences, although perhaps "academic conference" would be the wrong way to characterize Zochrot's conference on the issue of the Nakba and the Palestinian right of return. This year's conference, titled “From Truth to Redress,” was held in Tel Aviv's Eretz Israel Museum (on the grounds of the former Palestinian village Al-Sheikh Muwannis) and featured two days of presentations by Palestinians, Israelis…Read More... | 6 Comments
The first time I went to my current sublease in Bethlehem, I noticed something strange on the floor — the Star of David. When I moved into the place and looked closer at the pattern, I noticed a menorah. Here I was, in the heart of a Palestinian city, and the floor was “Jewish.” My apartment is in a home that is at least 100 years old. Hand-painted floor tiles were common in wealthy homes — Christian, Muslim, and Jewish — throughout pre-state Palestine. While I know that the land wasn’t always divided, the current context makes it hard to…Read More... | 33 Comments
By Inna Michaeli and Zohar Elmakias In his film "Once I Entered a Garden" (2012), Israeli director Avi Mograbi documents a series of meetings with his Arabic teacher, Ali Al-Azhari. Mograbi shares his dreams with Al-Azhari, along with biographical details about his Jewish-Lebanese family; together they imagine possible scrips about return and their intersection histories. The movie incorporates love letters in French written by a woman in Beirut to a Jewish lover who immigrated to Tel Aviv. Inna Michaeli viewed the film in Berlin, where she lives. Zohar Elmakias watched it in Jaffa, where she lives. And then they had…Read More... | 1 Comment
Since Israel occupied the West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, it has continued to engage in legal acrobatics to confiscate Palestinian homes and land. In doing so, the state is actively erasing its internationally recognized border - the Green Line. One thing has become abundantly clear about Israeli policy when it comes to land: first it acts, only later giving its legal stamp of approval. This is essentially how the state was first established and built itself up, and is the story of how all settlements are born to this day in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Make your…Read More... | 11 Comments
What's the importance of acknowledging the Nakba? Remembering it is the only way for both Jews and Palestinians to understand that this land is shared. It’s the only way of preventing the system from duplicating the same injustices over and over again. By Muhammad Jabali A friend and I visited Ramallah last Saturday. It was a sunny afternoon; we took a friend’s car and hit the road so we could arrive in time for last minute preparations for the first screening of the Tunisian Documentary Film Month at Ramallah’s Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center. We are helping to organize the screenings as…Read More... | 14 Comments
The Israeli Right has been waging a war on history in recent years, using extreme measures to remove evidence of the Nakba from the national discourse. It failed. Yedioth Hakibbutz is the weekly magazine of the United Kibbutz Movement. It is delivered every week to hundreds of Kibbutzim as part of the weekend edition of Yedioth Ahronoth, the best selling paper in Israel. Even at a time of diminishing political influence – there is not a single representative of the United Kibbutz Movement in the current Knesset – the Kibbutzim remain both a symbol and a stronghold of conservative Zionism, and the…Read More... | 64 Comments
Palestinian citizens of Israel return to the village of Al-Ruways, which was destroyed by Zionist military forces during the Nakba. Photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org The Israeli group Zochrot organizes many tours of Palestinian villages depopulated during the Nakba of 1948. What made this Saturday's tour of Al-Ruways particularly remarkable was the large number of displaced Palestinians and their descendants who made the event more of a return than a simple tour. Zochrot, whose name means "remembering" in Hebrew, aims to educate Israeli Jews about the history of the Nakba and the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Typically, they will…Read More... | 29 Comments
A new guidebook provides readers with tours of 18 Palestinian villages depopulated in 1948, allowing Israelis to slowly learn the story of Palestine and create a new reality between the river and the sea. By Danit Shaham A book always makes a statement. Whether it’s resting on the table or visible on a shelf, it’s making a statement – cultural, political, or both. Space, on the other hand, represented by maps, hiking trails, signs, is usually viewed as something objective. Neutral. Not subordinated to social, historical or other forms of power. “Once Upon a Land,” published by Zochrot and Pardes, offers 18…Read More... | 20 Comments
A new documentary aims to decipher some of the anxiety that accompanies the Israeli debate over the events of 1948. A strange thing regarding the debate on the Nakba: the responses it generates in Israeli society are becoming more and more hostile, while at the same time, the Nakba is mentioned more and more often. Those contradicting elements live side by side, as if the more we work to forget the Nakba, the harder it gets - the recent campaign regarding "the Jewish refugees" that the Foreign Office launched is just one example. Israeli-Russian-Canadian journalist Lia Tarachansky (from The Real News) is…Read More... | 29 Comments
Six or seven years ago, I was sitting in Tel Aviv's Cafe Ginzburg with a man I admire deeply. Mikhael Manekin was then, along with Yehuda Shaul, one of heads of Breaking the Silence. BTS was still a budding organization at the time, made up entirely of Israeli soldiers who participated in the occupation and sought to document and inform of its atrocities. The organization was expanding its activities. Manekin came to Tel Aviv to brainstorm on organizing tours for Israelis and foreigners in Hebron. "I would like to bring authors there," he told me. "I feel that authors have…Read More... | 2 Comments
Until we find a way of measuring the efficacy of one form of protest or another, surely we must encourage all forms and enable all those who desire change to express their desire in the way they think will be most effective. By Yonatan Preminger Roee Ruttenberg’s recent post criticized the way a group of “pro-Palestinian” activists in Berlin disrupted a concert by the Israeli choral group Gevatron. The gist of his article is that the protesters were childish attention-seekers, and that this form of protest is ineffective. This piece raises a thorny question: how are we to gauge the…Read More... | 11 Comments
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