Israelis emigrating — or considering emigration — for political reasons are inadvertently adopting the spirit of the boycott movement in the sense that they, too, have given up on the idea of change coming from within.
Everywhere I turn these days, many of my peers have left Israel, are leaving Israel, are planning to leave, or are talking about leaving Israel. My family and I included.
The reasons for leaving are always personal, and it’s hard to point to a specific political trend. But the discourse around leaving is indicative of a real crisis in the Israeli Left regarding the inability to effect change, the increasing sense that our ideals are unwanted, and that we are outnumbered. Not just at the polls, but at the family dinner table, too.
For me, this is not just about the normalization of racism and violence in the public sphere that goes along with the occupation. It is about the fact that so many Israelis who identify as liberal or left wing are either ignorant of the state’s actions vis-à-vis the Palestinians, or they are complicit in them.
When I first witnessed Israeli human rights violations and the violence of military occupation nearly a decade ago — through my activism with direct-action Arab-Jewish cooperative Ta’ayush — I found my most fundamental working assumptions about Israel upended.
Those experiences shaped my politics, almost instantaneously setting me apart from most Jewish Israelis. While other Israelis spent their Saturdays resting at home or going to family gatherings, I was escorting Palestinians to their wells and grazing lands in hopes that our — Israeli activists’ — presence might discourage attacks by Israeli settlers and confrontations with soldiers (sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn’t).
Returning to the comforts of my life in Tel Aviv I would find myself outraged that people could sit in cafes with no clue about what was being done in their name just a few miles away — or worse, that they didn’t care. That sharp dissonance began to affect more and more aspects of my life, including interactions with friends, family members and colleagues. It began to breed a constant sense of despair and resentment.
That was 10 years ago.
Likewise, it has been five years since the “tent protests,” when hundreds of thousands of — mostly Jewish — Israelis took to the streets to protest the high cost of living, ignoring the disenfranchised Palestinian population in our...Read More