Friday, January 16, 2009

A Few Righteous Among the Israelis

Jews around the world often refer to the Righteous Among the Nations, those good people who stood up for humanity and saved the lives of many Jews during the Holocaust. I count at least one of my European relatives among them, a man who in my childhood I remember proudly displaying the items he'd stolen from Nazi soldiers (a helmet, a radio, a boot - he didn't have it anymore, but even a motorcycle) and telling how he had helped Jewish citizens of his country escape to safety during the occupation years. These righteous may have been relatively few in a time of sheer madness, but their goodness and their sacrifice is worthily remembered today.

Palestinians and Arabs often realize as well that while their numbers may be few, there are Israeli and other Jews around the world who acknowledge the crimes of 1948 and subsequent ethnic cleansing by Israel, and who are working very hard as well for acknowledgement of the past and justice and reconciliation for the future including the Right of Return.  Now, I think we need to be clear who we're talking about.  I'm not talking about the Israelis who mindlessly participate in their massacres and then wake up feeling a twinge of remorse 20 years later and spend most of their time worrying about how slaughtering innocent people is bad for their own feelings.  These folks I'm sure help shrinks grow their practices a lot, but frankly such attitudes are all too little too late and if anything simply are another tool to perpetuate Zionist ethnic cleansing by spreading the false myth that somehow Zionism has a humanitarian angle in its roots.  It doesn't, and a handful of people engaged in what Israeli historian Ilan Pappe calls "shoot and cry" doesn't change that fact.  No, the people we are talking about are people who go much deeper, who realize that the founding sin of Israel is its open declaration that one group of people has rights based on ethnicity and all others have none, which is then enforced on pain of death or exile.  These people acknowledge this reality and are willing to say so even in the midst of the brainwashed, unnaturally-militarized Sparta society that Israel is.  These people get the root of the problem, and not just its latest manifestations in the headlines, and they are working to overcome it.

Of course, there is deep deep anger in the Arab world at Israel's decades of crimes and these few righteous often are forgotten in the heat of the moment (a heat that Israel's ongoing crimes ensures stays high most of the time), but just yesterday as Israel's latest Gaza massacres of civilians continue, Al-Jazeera was running a documentary featuring several of these Israeli Jews of conscience dissecting the anatomy of the occupation fact by fact.  Palestinian authors have for decades included in their writings characters of nuance and conscience among Israelis, and it fairly common for non-Zionist Jews (ranging from the Orthodox Neturei Karta folks to secular academics such as Ilan Pappe to crusading journalists and activists such as Meron Benvinisti) to be pointed to in Arab media and discourse as examples of conscience that show that Zionism and Judaism are not the same thing. It is these bridges that give hope for the future of a united country (call it what you want, Israel-Palestine, Canaan, Holy-Landistan, Kiryat Hummus, whatever) where people of all ethnicities will be able to live under a common set of laws and where people will be (to get MLKish heading into the long holiday weekend) judged according to the content of their character and not their creed.

Anyhow, I'm rambling on about this because I came across via the Palestine Remembered website an organization in Israel I hadn't been aware of called Zochrot that falls firmly in this category of Righteous Among the Israelis. They work hard to raise awareness of the Nakba among an overwhelmingly Nakba-denying Israeli populace, and to call for the Right of Return of all Palestinian refugees as a necessary requirement of peace. Zochrot's website is here:

Here is a brief two minute video of some of the great work Zochrot does, leading a tour of Israelis and Palestinians of the ethnically cleansed village of al-Malha to raise awareness of what really happened (including a brief encounter with an Israeli who tries to deny to the face of a survivor of the Nakba that the local Jewish school was built on top of the Arab cemetery):

Good stuff, you can find more videos on their website.  Keep it up Zochrot and all people of conscience.

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At 6:27 AM, Blogger BuJ said...

ur post reminds me of my old blog post..

u might want to read it here:

what do u think?



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