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
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.