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Farewell to an Israeli partner in the Palestinian struggle

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

Israeli activist Renen Raz is seen arrested by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration in the West Bank village Nabi Saleh. Raz passed away in October 2016. (Activestills.org)

Israeli activist Renen Raz is seen arrested by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration in the West Bank village Nabi Saleh. Raz passed away in October 2016. (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.”

Anti-Zionist Israelis have been facing increasing internal pressure within their society, causing some of them to leave for Europe or the United States. At the same time, many Palestinians prefer not to interact with any Israelis, regardless of their ideology.

The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, however, has put forth clear criteria for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, which can be summarized in two main points:

For a Palestinian-Israeli relationship not to be a form of normalization two basic conditions must be met: (1) the Israeli side must support full and comprehensive rights for all Palestinians in accordance with international law, and (2) the relationship itself must involve a form of resistance to Israel’s occupation and violations of international law.

Reality on the ground, however, is more complicated than that, especially when considering the friction among Israeli activists of different ideological stripes, as well as the geographical and political fragmentation of Palestinians.

On the other hand, Palestinians in West Bank villages that take part in popular resistance against the occupation — such as Bil’in, Ni’lin, Nabi Saleh, and others — have had a different experience with Israeli activists. These villages have been organizing anti-occupation marches every Friday for over a decade, becoming attractive destinations for Israeli and international activists alike, and giving Palestinians the chance to interact with them from up close.

These experiences were ideal. The anti-Zionist Israeli activists in particular were warmly welcomed by the Palestinian villagers and activists. They opened their homes to them, often building long-term relationships and friendships. The Israeli activists showed real commitment and courage in the struggle alongside the Palestinians.

Raz was an example of that small group, with whom Palestinians sought to create a relationship based on “co-resistance” rather than coexistence. Now he has left our world, leaving behind very few anti-Zionist Israelis, wandering through the maze of the Palestinian-Israeli issue, which is nowhere near a solution.

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    1. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Maybe that his stands were due to his brain disease..?

      Reply to Comment
      • Baladi Akka 1948

        Wow, what a disgusting comment ! Thanks for showing how ugly Zionism can be. So basically you’re saying than when Renen saw ruins of Palestinian houses on his kibbutz at the age of 11 and came to understand that another people had lived there, he was already sick ?
        You’re clearly not going to die from a brain disease, Mr Braindead !

        Reply to Comment
      • Lewis from Afula

        Indeed, this guy died of BRAIN CANCER. No doubt the tumor was eating his brain tissue and clouding his judgements and thinking. Only a brain tumor patient can support international palestinianism – an evil and deviant ideology.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Carmen

      His memory will be a blessing. RIP.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Bus189

      Another article proving once again that the only “Israeli” that the Palestinians are willing to work with is one that rejects his own country and wishes to see it eliminated. Or, in other words, a traitor.

      Condolences to the family.

      Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        Another typically brutal comment by the extreme far right fascists…

        You do NOT speak for THIS Jew!!!

        Reply to Comment
        • Bus189

          Brutally honest. You must be the other guy.

          Sorry. I wrote that in a way you probably will not understand. Let me try that again.

          BRUTALLY HONEST!! YOU must be THE other GUY!!!!!!

          Reply to Comment
        • JeffB

          Traitor is precisely the word for people who work with a foreign power to overthrow the government of their own country. Quisling is another word, named after a similar official who unable to gain power legitimately at the ballot box via. democratic means worked with a hostile power and successfully took control of his country.

          If you don’t want to be Jewish anymore get baptized. But stop pretending that people who support the overthrow of their government by BDS are anything other than traitors.

          Reply to Comment
          • Carmen

            “If you don’t want to be Jewish anymore get baptized. But stop pretending that people who support the overthrow of their government by BDS are anything other than traitors.”

            I don’t think jews will be heading to churches ‘in droves’ to get baptized because BDS is in line with jewish values wrt tikkun olam and jewish values teach us we’re all related, we’re all created in God’s image and according to Hillel “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn”.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Two words keep cropping up here on the right, over and over: “traitor” and “defeatist.” These words have histories. You can, for example, find both words in the page I linked to yesterday.

            Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        “Another article proving once again that the only “Israeli” that the Palestinians are willing to work with is one that rejects his own country and wishes to see it eliminated. Or, in other words, a traitor.”

        Really amazing. You could substitute “German” for “Israeli” and “Jews” for Palestinians” and you might have a statement right out of the 1930s. This is not to say that “the maze of the Palestinian-Israeli issue” is anything like as black and white or one-sided as the situation in Germany was or that there is any direct comparison at all. But lessons of individual character under pressure are comparable.

        We should all be fascinated by people like Renen Raz. What gave him his amazing sense of direction and strength? People like Raz are without a doubt the strongest people in Israel. It is so easy to be a right winger in Israel. It is so much harder to take the path Raz did from an early age. How did he do it?

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Take Hans and Sophie Scholl, of The White Rose, in the early 1940s in Germany. What impossible independence of mind and strength and bravery did this young brother and sister have, that so set them apart, where did they find it? They escalated their resistance campaign of leaflets denouncing the persecution and mass murder of the Jews until Sophie one day flung leaflets fluttering down a central atrium in a university building, leading to their capture, torture and death.

          How did they do it? Ask of yourself/others how you/they would behave, how much strength you would have in a similar situation in the same life they were born in to? An interesting window into individual character. It is humbling. Take for example, the opposite kind of person, a person like, oh, that brutal cable news shouter, the “I am not a journalist” journalist and plumper for Trump. I ask myself what I think such a person would have been doing had he been born not in America in the 1960s but in Germany in 1920: to whom and what he would have gravitated if given the chance. I have a strong feeling: the exact opposite of Hans and Sophie Scholl, the extreme other end of the spectrum. The mass of people were neither a Scholl nor a shrieking Trump-plumper-type. They were people who went along with varying degrees of passivity or activity. So much is the accident of environment—you can put Hans and Sophie Scholl adopted into a different family and religious environment, you can put the Trump plumper in the Scholl’s family by adoption, play with the variables, but inborn character and temperament is a powerful thing too. Nature and nurture.

          Renen Raz is almost like a wonder of nature, so that at all of eleven years of age he scared his teacher half to death. Amazing. Just amazing and I bow down. He is great.

          Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            This Israeli Jew was a cuckoo Uber-leftist who suffered from a severe brain disease. At least now, he is not experiencing his pro-Hamas fantasies and pro-Jihad delusions. Also, his family now has peace & quiet and are no longer shamed of this wretched piece of filth.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            On 18 February 1943, Willi Graf, along with his sister Anneliese, was seized in Munich. On 19 April 1943, he was sentenced to death at the Volksgerichtshof for high treason, Wehrkraftzersetzung (undermining the troops’ spirit), and furthering the enemy’s cause. Willi Graf was beheaded on 12 October 1943 at Stadelheim Prison in Munich, after six months of solitary confinement. During this 6-month period the Gestapo tried to extract information from Graf about other White Rose members and other anti-Nazi movements. While under interrogation Graf yielded no names, and took on blame for White Rose activities in order to protect others who had not yet been arrested. His grave is in the St. Johann Cemetery in Saarbrücken. Seven schools in Germany have been named after him, among them the Willi-Graf-Gymnasium in Munich and Saarbrücken-St. Johann; a student residence in Munich also honours Graf by bearing his name.

            Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          I just found via google that this Renen Raz died from brain cancer. The tumor devoured his brain tissue, thus giving him delusions, fantasies and pro-Jihad fantasies.
          (I googled his name after I wrote the other sarcastic reply to Ben).

          Reply to Comment
        • Bus189

          Someone who wants to see their own country eliminated is a traitor. It is so simple that it requires no explanation.

          This article praises him as someone that the Palestinians can work with precisely because he wanted to see his own country eliminated.

          Hence, yes, he was a traitor, and the Palestinians are willing to work with him because of that. Other than that I am not going to start digging into his psychology of people like him. That would be disrespect for the dead.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Nathalie

      RIP Renen! The world was a much better place with you in it.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Questioner

      Salute to the man for his courage and fairness. Prayers for him and his family.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Palestine was honored to have you Renan, and will surely miss you. God bless you my brother. We shall meet in the here after.

      Reply to Comment
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