Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Story of the Prickly Pear Cactus

June 18, 2007
Immediate engagement is called for. I have just returned from my first visit to Israel--and saw first hand, in that country, the cruelty of nationalistic arbitrary power. I have seen the wall, the checkpoints, the growing constrictions that choke the life of Palestinians and Israeli citizens who are Palestinians. I have seen the well-constructed block of flats that consititute a settlement in the middle of Palestinian East Jerusalem and the roadblock and soldiers dedicated to maintaining these illegal settlers at the heavy expense of another people who just want to get on with their lives.
For many in America, I am a bad Jew, a traitor, because of what I will write on these pages. I am used to these accusations--I lived through the McCarthy period as a sexual deviant, as another kind of traitor--with so many others, demonstrating through the Vietnam War years, traitors all. I heard these accusations from whites who spat at us as we marched in civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s--"a traitor to your race," they said. No more of this--America and American Jews who votede for Bush have blood on their hands, it is as simple and as horrifying as this. If we as a community had demanded through the last years that Bush and the Right use their influence over Israel to end the occupation, to release humanitarian funds, to stop the myriad of life-killing dispossessions, if we had honored our own Jewish history in its wariness of nationalistic restrictions enforced by military presence, of the championing of divine and racial imperatives, if we saw with Palestinian eyes as well as with our Jewish ones--thousands of lives would have been spared. I think of those who still support Bush and his regime after the massacre of lives and hope that was Katrina--those who say, "but he is good for Israel," and all else falls away. Not for this Jew.
What finally pushed me to blog was my reading on my computer my daily New York Times--I now live in Melbourne, Australia with my lover--my reading of Thomas Friedman and David Brooks, these men of power who make huge pronouncements about how things should be in the world. I am not in their league, but I have stood with the Women in Black peace demonstrators in Haifa and Jerusalem, I have visited with women who run the Nazareth Women's Center and its sister, the Haifa Women's Center, I have met the women who founded ASWAT, the first human rights organization for Palestinian lesbians. I have seen Palestinian, Mizrachi and Ashkenazi Jewish, Christian and Ethopian women meeting together in the same building. I have sat late into a Jerusalem night talking with a young butch-fem community, most of whom are peace activists, about how the body and its deisres live in such a place at such a time. That night, our last in Jerusalem, one young woman said, "Come back to us when the occupation is over."

The four of us--Hannah, Dalia, founders of Women in Black in Haifa, Joan and Dianne

1 comment:

Bay Radical said...


Thank you for writing this, and thank you for sharing it. I feel lucky to live at a time when I can say "thank you" to a distant someone who I respect so much - even if I feel ashamed to live in a time when anyone still has to be writing about the kinds of injustices and miserable realities that you're writing about.