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Why I'm going on hunger strike on Israeli Independence Day

As Israelis go out to enjoy barbecues and fireworks, I will be fasting in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, and the millions of Palestinians who live under occupation.

By Adi Golan Bikhnafo

Israelis covered fireworks in central Jerusalem on Independence Day, May 5, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)

Israelis covered fireworks in central Jerusalem on Independence Day, May 5, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)

On Tuesday, as the smell of barbecued meat and fireworks envelops Tel Aviv, I will be fasting in Jaffa’s Clock Square, drinking only salt water. I’m taking this action in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike for the last two weeks, and with the millions of Palestinians who live under occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

This Independence Day, I’m fasting to mark 50 years of injustice, 50 years of killing, 50 years of dispossession and 69 years of deprival.

After learning that right-wing Israelis, including MK Oren Hazan, started barbecuing outside Ofer Prison in order to torment the hunger strikers; that “security” prisoners aren’t even allowed to call their family to wish them happy holidays; that a Palestinian can remain in administrative detention for eight years; and that people can be executed at privatized checkpoints, I realized I know nothing at all.

What I do know is that I was born on the “right” side of the fence, and on Tuesday, Independence Day, I won’t really be on hunger strike. I will simply be giving up one day of comfort.

Incitement, provocation, hatred, intimidation and silence have become the salt water of my people. But this violence reminds me that another way is possible. Every Holocaust Memorial Day, my grandmother Eliza would tell me how in Egypt in 1940, when the Nazis were at the gates, a three-day fast was declared. Jews, Muslims and Christians, young and old, fasted together in order to try and negate this terrible destiny. In the end disaster was averted, and thanks to God and to my grandmother’s neighbors, she’s still alive.

On this Independence Day, I am standing with my neighbors, just like my grandmother and her neighbors in Egypt, and I believe the day will come when our fate will change.

On Tuesday, I will fast with Palestinian prisoners and mourn my own society’s loss of values, the occupation, incitement, and the hatred that is eating us from within.

I am not a free person in my own land, and I won’t be until my country stops ruling over and oppressing another people.

Adi Golan Bikhnafo is an artist, activist and Mizrahi — not necessarily in that order. This post was originally published in Hebrew on Local Call.

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    1. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Sick self-hatred. Taste a rib steak instead of wasting time!

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        Sick, bigoted, meaningless knee-jerk reaction.

        Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordin Halevy

          No, uninhibited and natural Jewish attitude.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Richard Lightbown

      A noble gesture. Hope the solidarity grows.

      Reply to Comment
    3. i_like_ike52

      The story about the 3-day fast proclaimed in Egypt at the time of the danger of a German invasion in 1940 (actually I believe the writer meant 1942 when the Germans penetrated to within 60 miles of Alexandria at El Alamein) sounds rather embellished to me. Certainly the Jews had a lot to fear from the Germans. However, Egyptian nationalists, whether Christian or Muslims, such as the young Nasser and Sadat, hated the British and were suspicious of the Jews who dominated the country even though it was nominally independent and were sympathetic to German National Socialism. No doubt people did not want the heavily populated Nile Delta and Nile Valley to become a war zone, but I think many Muslims would have viewed a German victory as liberation from the British. After all, German National Socialism promised the Arabs of the Middle East liberation from British colonialism and Jewish influence. To this day, Mein Kampf is a best seller in the Middle East. Post-war Nasserite and Ba’athist Arab nationalism borrowed heavily from both National Socialist and Marxist ideologies. Thus, I am somewhat skeptical that many Egyptian Muslims would have fasted in order to prevent a German victory.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Your motives must be based on the 1948’s occupation/colonialism and the ethnic cleansing of this Area. the 67’s stuff is not enough. Anyway, Respect, and hats off 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    5. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Did you watch the video showing Barghouti eating cakes during his hunger strike…

      Reply to Comment