Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Stop the bombing and the rockets
The bombs and rockets are dangerous
Once you play the zero-sum game
People get badly harmed

This is nonsensical
Hold your horses
Everyone take a time-out

Be mensches 
My God, think about what you are doing
Be mensches
Isn't enough enough?
No one can take it anymore
God does not teach us to hate and kill


I do not want to write Take 3

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Social Revolution is Back On - Hopefully the Bombs/Rockets are Off

I got my anniversary wish - a cease fire officially went into effect yesterday evening at 21:00, but more concretely began this morning at 7:30, after the last (meanwhile) rocket hit a building in Eshkol Regional Council - the regional council in which my kibbutz is located. This gift was sweeter than any box of chocolates.

                                                 I will take a milk chocolate one, with a nut

Now we need to keep our fingers crossed and hope that neither the Israeli government, nor the Hamas government, nor the other militant factions in Gaza become trigger happy again. I wish that I could say that I trust any/all of these groups, but they have shown us just how unreliable and how disrespctful of human life they can all be.

And so now that the bombs and rockets are off, the social revolution is back on.
After a few days of being in shock, and a bit in a coma, because of the awful, truly awful security situation, signs of life are reappearing. Tomorrow there is a happening in Beer Sheva, as well as on Rotschild Blvd. where the revolution began.

Inshalla, we will all get back into the swing of things, and join together in a call for social-economic justice, as opposed to calls for the closest shelter.

Life is much better when it's a bowl of cherries
or a box of chocolate
or a bouquet of flowers
(we can't really characterize life here as any of these, but it's nice to dream)

Dear Hamas, Israeli government, Popular Resistance Committee and any other militant groups: (Why have I taken recently to addressing these 'leaders' so often lately?):

Please leave the bombs and rockets off!
To the militants in Gaza - at the end of the day's fast during this holy month of Ramadan, I will be glad to share with you chocolates and cherries.
You can have first pick - milk or dark chocolate, with nuts, nougat, or creme. You can have as many as you like.

I hope that one day, you 'leaders' will understand that your choices have been bad for your peoples. That instead of bringing us despair and death, you could be bringing creation and life.

People of Gaza and people of Israel: the social-economic revolution is back on. Let's bring on a peace revolution as well.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

And the Killing Goes On - Happy Anniversary

As of yesterday, in Israel, over 70 rocket attacks, a father of two, who was expecting his third, killed, when a rocket hit his car in Beer Sheva, a woman very seriously wounded in that same attack (according to hospital reports, now fighting for her life). Two children 'lightly' hurt in their home in Ofakim, that took a direct hit (I heard all of the 4 booms from my home). Many 'lighter' injuries - 'just' fragments from rockets in arms and legs, 'just' trauma...

The mortars and rockets have been hitting all of the communities along the Gaza border, and the towns and cities, this time even hitting north of Ashdod.

And in Gaza - many bombardments since Thursday afternoon, with 15 dead (some of which are the terrorists, others are innocent victims - including children, women, the elderly - 'collateral damage'...) Over 45 people wounded (again, many innocent people), huge explosions throughout the Gaza Strip, traumatizing, once again, the people caged in this small piece of land.

The killing goes on, and as of this morning, there is no end in sight.

Are these people in the following photos to be our 'heroes'? Are these generals and militants to continue to dictate our lives? Why do we let them dictate our lives?

                                              Minister of Defense Barak with officers

                                                         Palestinian militants

Today is our wedding anniversary - David and I have been married for 38 years. We were married in 1973, just a month and a half before the Yom Kippur/October War. This was my first war, unfortunately not my last. David went off to reserve duty for 6 months, and we barely saw one another, and barely talked to one another during that time. It was a period of history before cell phones (the kibbutz only had one public phone, and we had no phones in our homes), before email, before Skype, before chats on Facebook...

Our married life began in war, and now 38 years later, on the day we were married, war is once again, all around us. Only this time, it is a war being carried out mainly against citizens, against men, women and children who have nothing to do with the bombing of the other... 

This is what I would like for an anniversary present: a ceasefire.
I do not need jewelry or flowers or chocolates.
I will forgo the cake, and forgo the candles,
you need not send an anniversary card.

Dear Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Barak and Mr. Haniyeh:
Please, send us a ceasefire for our anniversary.
This is my anniversary wish.

I don't need chocolates. Don't even need a card...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Harming of the Innocents

As of this morning, Saturday August 20, 2011, attacks continue against innocent people, in Israel and in the Gaza Strip, that began when terrorists targeted Israeli busses and private cars at noon on Thursday, on a beautiful road, just north of Eilat:

Reported early morning - there have been at least 30 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, since Thursday evening, hitting: the Eshkol region, Sha'ar Hanegev region, Sdot Negev region, Beer Tuviya region, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiriyat Melachi, Gedera, Gan Yavne

some latest details -
8:27 - rocket fired at Beer Tuvyia region, no injuries reported
7:00 - Egypt withdraws its ambassador from Israel, waiting for apology for killing of 5 Egyptian policemen on Thursday, as Israeli troops pursued terrorists
6:01 - at least 3 people (Palestinians from Gaza. who were working illegaly in Israel) seriously injured in 2 rocket attacks in Ashdod
4:14 - 2 rockets hit open fields in the Eshkol region - no one was injured

Reported late Friday - The Israeli army carried out 50 strikes in several areas in Gaza injuring 45 Palestinians, including 10 children, 8 women, and two elderly people. Among the dead - a 13 yr old boy, two 2 yr old children, a physician. 20:03 - 2 mortars fell in the Eshkol region, no injuries reported
18:19 - 2 rockets hit the Sdot Negev region and Ashdod - no injuries reported
10:15 - 6 injured in rocket attack on Ashdod - two seriously wounded

8 Israelis killed between 12:00 - 19:00 - in a series of terror attacks along route 12, just north of Eilat
Thirty wounded. Among the dead - 2 couples from Kfar Saba, who were on holiday...

During the Israeli pursuit and killing of the terrorists, 5 Egyptian policeman were killed near the border

We are now in the middle of intense violence. No one wants to hear voices that call for the end to this cycle of violence. When I raise the possibility, in this blog, in emails to friends/colleagues, my call is met with anger. People are in the throes of anger; everyone wants to exact revenge on the other.

This revenge is a boomerang - as it leads to more trauma, more destruction, more injuries, more deaths, on both sides of the border. In Israel and in Gaza.

This round of bloodshed will, too, come to an end. They all do. But why can't it come to an end sooner rather than later?

Why do so many find this question 'out of line', 'angering' ? Why do we all go into 'automatic pilot' - feeling the need to viciously attack the other?

Why can't we stop the killing now?

Revenge is a boomerang. Violence is a boomerang. Exacting more blood and calls for more destruction are, in the end, nonsensical, and self-defeating. For we all become  traumatized, we all become splattered with the blood, and we all lose.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Madness and Sadness Once Again

Yesterday afternoon began with a series of RPG, grenade and shooting attacks on Israeli civilian busses and cars, just north of Eilat. According to reports, the attack was organized by the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, that were operating in Egypt, and involved between 15 - 20 terrorists.

The attack took place on a picturesque road that runs right along the border with Egypt. This is the road that I travel when I teach in Eilat on Thursdays. In the Conflict Resolution Program. 

Eight Israelis were killed in those attacks and 30 were wounded (for the story as reported by Ha'aretzclick here )

In retaliation, Israel's air force and army went into action. They killed 6 Palestinians that they believed to be responsible for orchestration of the attacks , bombed tunnels, storage houses for weapons, and other sites in Gaza. So far, militants have responded with about 20 qassam and grad rockets that fell in Ashekelon, Ashdod, Gan Yavne, Gedera, Beer Sheva and in rural communities along the Gaza border. The latest rocket in Ashdod wounded 6 - two of whom were seriously hurt. The Gazans report that in the air attacks, a 13 yr. old boy was killed and at least 17 other people were wounded. And the attacks there continue as well.

All of these numbers - all of this destruction - has turned our land, once again, into killing fields.
My heart goes out to the innocent victims of these attacks - in Israel and in Gaza.

This latest round of violence proves, once again, the desparate need to reach a cease fire agreement, at the very least. To reach an agreed-upon understanding that both sides will refrain from trying to kill the other.

The round of violence continues and innocent people in Israel and in Gaza are being harmed. Yes there are those militants in Gaza who are responsible for the attack on the road to Eilat and rockets and there are Israeli soldiers and pilots responsible for the bombing in Gaza, but most of the victims of these attacks are innocent people - a father, a child, a mother, people riding the bus, people hiding in their apartments, in Israel and in Gaza, as bombs and rockets explode around.

It is time to stop the bombing on both sides.
It is time to stop the bombing before more innocent people are harmed.
It is time to stop the bombing before the list of funerals gets longer and longer.

It is time to stop the killing.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Difficult, Yet Necessary Journey to Poland

For years I wanted to go to Poland. 'Want' is probably not the most precise word; rather, I felt the need to go, mostly due to my many years of studying the Holocaust, which mainly focused on interviewing survivors, their children and grandchildren, and being involved in joint German-Jewish/Israeli encounters. It didn't feel right to interview so many people, and to learn so much about the Holocaust, without actually going to Poland and seeing Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, and Treblinka. Without seeing Warsaw and Krakow and Lodz.

So now I can check Poland off my list.
Or can I?

I barely slept during the 8 days in Poland. The day before our trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, I tossed and turned all night long, thinking 'tomorrow I will be in Auschwitz, Auschwitz, Auschwitz...' The day after I was very wound up and could only think about the upcoming trip to Majdanek. And after Majdanek, I lightly joked with people in our group - " Two down, one (Treblinka) to go"

I am so glad that I went, yet I am so bound up in knots from what we saw and learned during those 8 days. I did the trip the best way that I could - I joined the group of adults on the trip organized by Hameorer - an educational company that belongs to Dror Yisrael - the adult movement of Hanoar haoved v'halomed - a socialist, Zionist movement that believes in democracy, human rights, activism, youth and education, social justice. This adult movement lives in 'educational kibbutzim' - mostly urban kibbutzim - throughout the country - many of them in the Tel Aviv area. My close friend Shoshana, who originally comes from Poland, also joined the group, and it was so important for us to do this together.

My daughter, Noa, who belongs to Dror Yisrael, was one of our two guides on this journey.
And that is the main reason that I joined this particular group, and finally did what I knew I had to do, for so many years.

I wanted to do this trip with my daughter. I wanted her to be my teacher. I wanted to be on a journey that did not drill in the message : 'Because of the Holocaust, we must be militarily strong and fear all others' but rather that stressed again and again 'Because of the Holocaust, we must take care not to be apathetic to the oppression of others and act whenever we see instances of social injustice. We must be aware of what is going on around us, and be critical of social institutions and behaviors that deny human rights, that inflict suffering and humiliation of innocent people.'

                   Noa and I standing where the Dror Commune in Warsaw was located

The group was wonderful. Many of the participants are parents of childen who belong to Dror Yisrael who do amazing social justice and educational work throughout Israel. Others are 'friends of' and they came with open minds and open hearts. We bonded, we had many deep conversations, learned about one another, and loved our two guides (another Noa was our second guide). We held four joint ceremonies in the three camps and at the end, at the Rapoport Monument that commemorates the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that took place in early 1943.

                         Noa and Noa at the Janusz Korczak monument in Warsaw

It is hard to know which camp was the 'hardest': Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest killing machine, whose name instills terror, Majdanek, the killing machine that is open for all to see, in the city of Lublin (the camp is surrounded by apartment houses and people ride their bicycles on the path through the camp on their way to the grocery store) or Treblinka, hidden away deep in the forest, about 90 minutes from Warsaw, where nothing remains (the Germans destroyed the camp so as not to leave evidence of the 800,000 + Jews that they murdered there). Is it hardest to see the actual barraks and crematoria, or to have your imagination run wild as the details of the camp are revealed through testimonies and historical finds?

No matter - they are all horrible, horrible testimonies to the evil that people can do to others, in times and places where compassion, caring, and love go missing.

I am now home from Poland and do not need to have this country on my list of places that I must visit.

I am now home from Poland and do not have to wonder what all of these places look like, for I have seen them with my own eyes. I have touched shoes that remain from the murdered victims in Majdanek, touched the stone memorials in Treblinka, and stood inside the gas chamber in Auschwitz One. I have walked the path of the Warsaw ghetto fighters, and stood in the place where over 1000 Jews were burned alive by the Poles in the town of Jedwabne. I do not need to go there again.

I am now home from Poland with the stronger conviction that we must all take responsibility to care for one another, for without one another, we are nothing.

I am now home from Poland, grateful that the Jews have a country, but unhappy at the kind of country we have become.

I am now home from Poland, deeply saddened, once again, by this blackest of black periods in human history, but filled with deep pride of the thousands and thousands of young people who have taken to the streets in Israel to demand and work for a country that is based on social and economic rights for all.

I am now home from Poland. Thank God I am home.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Last day in Poland - Returning to Life

Treblinka might have been the hardest camp, but it might have been because it was the last. Nothing remains. Nothing. The Nazi commanders and soldiers destroyed everything so there would no reminder of the 800,000 people that they murdered in just under a year.

Nothing remains but the trees, that tell the stories
Nothing remains but the stone monuments - 17,000 in number - the highest number of prisoners who were brought there in one day.
And who were killed.
Nothing remains but the stones that symbolize the train tracks, that came into the camp, and that continued out of the camp, but that actually led to nowhere.
Nothing remains but the huge mosquitoes - that bite you through your clothes.

Nothing remains but tears and tears and more tears.

We remember the victims with love in our hearts.
We remember the 70 people who managed to escape, with love in our hearts.
We remember and say:
Our monument to your suffering and pain and our revenge against the Nazi and Ukraine perpetrators who ran the camp will be our commitment to being good, kind, gentle people who are dedicated to working toward social justice for all - for a world of joint creation. Our monument to the victims will be expressed in our beliefs and our actions that honor men, women and children - regardless of their nationality, religion, background, race

May your names be for a blessing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Today on to Treblinka

Yesterday, when we reached Warsaw, all I could think was that "okay, got it... ready to go home now..." There is so much blood, anger, violence, killing in this country. Where did all of this hatred, fear and anger come from? Why did the Germans hunt down every Jew, and why did so many, so many Poles assist them in their 'work', sometimes taking the initiative themselves and killing the innocent?

I know the explanations of deep anti-Semitism. That the Catholics were taught for many, many years that the Jews had killed Jesus and so they were the epitome of evil. But how does one explain that neighbors killed neighbors? That after 450 years of living in peaceful co-existence, side by side, all of the Jews were killed in two days in Lancut? Or that the Poles themselves burned alive 1300 Jews in the town of Jadnova? They had been neighbors...

I know the psychological reasons - fear, stereotypes, de-individuation, de-humanization.
But knowing these psychological reasons does not provide me with THE reason/s.
How can people do such terrible, really unthinkable acts, to one another?

Perhaps it is good that I will never be able to truly understand, for if I could, perhaps I could do such acts as well...

What I am learning from this trip? Be kind. Love your neighbor. Remember that s/he is a person. Spend your time being good to one another, and refuse to let hatred and anger and fear into your hearts.

Be kind

Sunday, August 14, 2011

yesterday Majdanek, tomorrow Treblinka

Majdanek - again, a killing camp, under beautiful skies.
Rows and rows and rows and rows of shoes that the camp guards confiscated from the prisoners (I touched some of them... hard as stones now...)

The gas chambers, the crematoria, the human dust

And all under beautiful skies, with a nice, gentle breeze blowing

How many pictures! I need to get a shot of the barracks from the right and from the left. I need to get them walking forward, and then looking back. I need to shoot the bunk beds in all of the barracks that are open to the public. Why? How will taking pictures of this bunk or that change history? Or what happened?

They won't.

On our way to a little town for lunch, I ask Noa - Are we going to see another killing pit before we buy our ice cream?

She smiles, and says no, no more today... but tomorrow...

Friday, August 12, 2011


Yesterday was Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Blue skies, great temperatures. A beautiful day.

A beautiful day?

I was so scared to go.
Couldn't sleep the night before.
Even suggested to Noa: Perhaps we'll skip Auschwitz, and say we were there...?

But it was an amazingly powerful experience, and from the moment we got there, I was so glad that I had come. After all these years, hearing about it, reading about it, being told about it from others, I finally made it myself. To stand where so many millions had stood, and where millions were killed.

I took picture after picture picture. The barracks from this view, and from this side. From the left and from the right.
The barbed wire this side and that side.
So many photos...

May all who lost their lives there rest in peace.
Thank you for having me.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

You are the real heroes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

On my Way to Poland...Keep the Revolution Going

Tomorrow morning I leave for an 8-day trip to Poland, to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek and Treblinka death camps, as well as the cities of Lodz, Krakow, Lublin and Warsaw. I am not sure why I am going; I am sure I know why I am going.

The Holocaust is part of every Jew's psyche; it is buried within, and can never be erased.

I have studied the long-term psycho-social impacts of the Holocaust for over 20 years. I've heard hundreds of life stories from survivors, from their children, from their grandchildren. I have heard many many life stories of children and grandchildren of Germans, and of Nazis. I've been to Germany many times, but never to Poland.

And so tomorrow, it happens.

I am not sure why I am going, since this could prove to be a very emotionally draining trip, and since I do not need to make it, why am I exposing myself to potential psychic trauma and deep sadness?
I am sure that I know why I am going, since because it is part of who I am, even in a very distant family way (some of my father's distant family was killed in Lithuania) , and I really need to see for myself the places where the atrocities happened, and stand where so many victims stood. I need to hear about the history of Poland as I look upon the buildings and monuments, and as I try to imagine what must have been there, in places where the buildings, streets no longer exist.

I have no idea how I will react there - in Poland.
I do not want to cry.
I very much want to cry.
I do not want to be torn up inside.
I want to feel deeply the pain.
I do not want to hear all of the history.
I need to hear the history, and learn things that I do not yet know.

I am going with my daughter, who is one of our guides. And this makes me very happy. My daughter will now be my teacher - I will see this part of her that I have yet seen, and have this deep experience with one of the most important people in my life.
I am going with my good friend, Shoshana, who originally comes from Poland. This will be another bonding experience for us. I hope that I can be a support for her, if she needs it. I feel some sense of safety going with these two special people in my life.

I am going to Poland tomorrow. Wish me safe journeys.
I am going to Poland tomorrow, keep the revolution going. Keep the huge call for social-economic justice in the public eye.
I am going to Poland tomorrow, keep the idea alive that all peoples, regardless of ethnicity, background, race, gender, age, deserve to live lives of dignity.

This is why I know why I am going to Poland. To see it up close, to remember why it is so crucial for us to care for one another, to remember that when people disregard the lives and rights of others, terrible things can happen.

Wish me safe journies - wish us all safe journey in this life.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Yes to the Social-Economic Revolution, No to Racism

The social-economic revolution is taking over Israel. Hundreds of thousands of people have joined so far, and many more join in every day. This popular, grassroots movement is changing the face of Israel, moving us in a direction of greater social justice.

Since this is a popular, grassroots movement, anyone can join in. That is the good news. The bad news is that some are using this protest movement to further their calls of racism and social exclusion (mostly against the Palestinians and the asylum seekers from Africa). Some people have begun using violence to oust the 'others (a few days ago a few left-wing activists tried to burn down the tents of some of the right-wing activists). This protest is not about racism or exclusion, it is about social justice for all.

As things get heated up a bit, it is more important than ever, to remember why we have all come together and continue to shake this land.

Six organizations joined together to issue the following statement, in Hebrew, Arabic and English.


חברים בארגונים קול אחר, מכון הנגב לאסטרטגיות של שלום ופיתוח, פסיכואקטיב, ידידות מעבר לגבולות, וקולות בנגב, אנחנו - אזרחים מהשורה - קוראים בקול רם וברור: 

כל ביטוי של גזענות ו/או אלימות עומד בניגוד לכל מה שהמאבק לצדק כלכלי-חברתי מייצג.

אנחנו שמחים על כך, שקבוצות ואנשים רבים מהחברה הישראלית מתאגדים יחדיו סביב מאבק חשוב זה. אך אנו מוחים בתוקף על כל ביטוי של גזענות, אלימות, הפלייה, הדרה, ביזוי ודיכוי של מגזרים וקבוצות. אלה גבולות המאבק ואלו גבולות הדמוקרטיה. גזענות ואפליה יכולים רק להעמיק את אי-הצדק הקיים .

       picture from the Arab-Jewish tent on Rothschild Blvd. in Tel-Aviv                                

أعضاء في منظَّمات صوت آخر، معهد النقب لاستراتيجيَّات السلام والتنمية، وصداقة ما بَعد الحدود، نحْن مواطنون عاديون، نصيح بصوت عالٍ وواضح:

إنّ كلّ عبارة عنصريّة و/أو عنف تناقِض المعاني المرجوَّة من النضال من أجْل العدالة الاقتصاديَّة-الاجتماعيَّة.

نحْن سعداء بسبب تكتُّل أشخاص وفئات كثيرة من سكان إسرائيل حوْل هذا النضال المهم. ولكنَّنا نحتجُّ بكلِّ شِدَّة ضدَّ كلّ أشكال العنصريَّة، العنف، التمييز، التهميش، الاحتقار وقمْع فئات ومجموعات. هذه هي حدود النضال وحدود الديمقراطيَّة. العنصريَّة والتمييز تؤدِّيان حتمًا إلى تعميق عَدم العدل الموجود.

We, members of Other Voice, Psychoactiv, the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development, Friendship across Borders, Collot BaNegev, and Massad - the Social-Democratic Camp, we - ordinary people from Israeli society - say in one clear and unanimous voice:

Any expression of racism or violence is in direct contradiction to the social-economic struggle.

We are glad that so many groups and people are joining this protest movement, and are coming together in this very important struggle. However, we strongly protest any and all expressions of racism, violence, discrimination, social exclusion and oppression of sectors and groups. These are the limits of the protest moment and these are the limits of democracy. Racism and discrimination will only deepen the injustices that already exist.

                               more photos from the Jewish-Arab tent, in the heart of the Rotshcild tent city

Ha'am doresh tzedek chevrati
The people demand social justice!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Knesset ha'Bayta - Pipi v'Lishon

I want to be able to say that this latest proposal is going to the last in a line of anti-democratic, fascist, hateful bills
I want to be able to say that this latest law proposal is going to shake the foundations of the Knesset.
I want to be able to say that this latest racist proposal is going to shake the people of this country, who will rise up shouting: "We we will not let you turn us into a racist, fundamentalist state". (information on proposed law here)

But I can't.

This proposal, for a new Basic Law, aims to change the  existing definition of Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state" to "the national home for the Jewish people". This proposal also calls for Hebrew to be the country's only official language, removing Arabic from the list. This proposal was submitted by 40 'lawmakers' - 20 of whom come from the 'opposition' Kadima (!)

Shame on you Kadima
Shame on you Knesset

This proposed law joins a long list of other bills and proposals - to require loyalty oaths, to investigate funding sources of Israeli human rights organizations, to make it illegal to support the boycott of products from the Jewish settlements in the West Bank [that one became law], to outlaw the commemoration of al Naqba [that one became law], to require kindergarden children to begin the week with the singing of Hatikva and raising of the flag...

Follow the brown shirt road... to fascism
Follow the brown shirt road... to division
Follow the brown shirt road... to disenfranchisement of anyone not Jewish
Follow the brown shirt discrimination, and hatred

For the past three weeks, the country has been full of protest tents, from the north to the south. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are taking to the streets calling for all encompassing social-economic reform. The country is bringing together young and old, Jews and Arabs, from many sectors and professions, calling for social justice.

There can be no social justice if our 'lawmakers' propose and pass laws that disenfranschise, hunt down and/or ostracize anyone who is not Jewish, who does not conform to a very, very narrow and highly distorted definition of patriotism.

Here is my loyalty oath:
I am a patriotic Israeli
I believe in human and civil rights
for all
I believe in democracy
for all citizens
I believe in freedom
for all

I believe in peace - yes, even in Arabic

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Racists Ha'bayta - Pipi v'Lishon (Racists go home)

It was bound to happen, but it is so, so sad that it happened so quickly, and even sadder, that no one there has protested this new 'support'.

The extreme nationalistic right, the guys who set up settlements in the West Bank and often terrorize Palestinians, the guys who think that everything from the Mediterranean to Jordan is only for Jews, the guys who think that Palestinians have no, zero rights, have set up tents on Rothschild - joining the social-economic revolution. They want social-economic rights, but ONLY for Jews. (Click here to read Ha'aretz article)

Anyone can set up a tent there. When I was there two days ago, I saw young couples bringing tents and adding them to the long line, that originally began at Habima square. This is the nature of the protest - anyone and everyone can join. The good news is that this is a people's protest, and that it reflects real grievances being expressed at the grassroots level. The bad news is that anyone can join, anyone can pitch a tent, anyone can join in a demonstration, and so now we have racists, who are often violent, especially toward Palestinians, joining the call for social-economic reform - as long as it is only for Jews.

Their solution - build more and more and more houses in the settlements. Build more and more settlements. Expropriate more and more Palestinian land for exclusive Jewish use.

No thank you.

It is time for the initiators of this protest, and hopefully soon-to-be revolution, to disassociate themselves from this racist faction. It is time for the people of this country who truly want social-economic reform that will bring justice, to come out very very clearly with the message that racism has NO PART in such a reform. Social-economic justice means social-economic justice for all, not just for Jews.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When Leaders Betray their People, Bad Things Happen

Today the news is filled with pictures of Hosni Mubarak, the former President of Egypt, lying on a stretcher, looking helpless, in a cage, at his trial. Today the initiators of the social-economic massive protest in Israel were thrown out of the Knesset, for expressing their opposition when a  controversial housing bill was passed, that leads to the setting up of national committees that will be able to quickly approve new housing projects. The reason for the opposition - the belief that it will, once again, serve the very rich, and not provide affordable housing for ordinary people.

One of the main slogans of this protest sweeping our country:
Atem midabrim al nadlan, anachnu midabrim al ha'bayit
You (Bibi) talk about real estate, We are talking about our home!

The Egyptian people ousted Mubarak, and have put him on trial, for betraying his people.
More and more of the Israeli public are calling for the ousting of Netanyahu, for his cynical and continued attacks on the citizens of the country, for his dismissal of real social and economic concerns, for his one-way path to making the very very rich richer, while the middle class, and the poor, become poorer and poorer.

It is hard to imagine Netanyahu on a stretcher, in a cage, at his trial for waging war against the citizens of this country. After all, we have a democracy here, and if the people want him out, they will vote him out of office.
That is the good news.

The bad news is that Netanyahu, and others in the Likud party and the coalition, are arrogantly dismissing the real grievances of hundreds of thousands of people, and more and more sectors - doctors, teachers, students, social workers, university adjuncts, parents, youth movements, dairy farmers - as they make it crystal clear that business as usual means that the government and its coalition are unwilling to make the time, and have no desire, to listen to the citizens, that are the backbone of this country, that are needed to keep the country going.

The bad news, for Netanyahu, is that by being dismissive, by treating the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of protestors as insignificant, his days of 'leading' the country, are most likely coming to an end.

Fifteen years ago, at the end of a long university student's strike, that strove to end impossible tuition rates that put higher education out of the reach of many many capable young adults, Sara Netanyahu ordered pizza for the student representatives, and the students caved in to the final offer made by the PM, for they were hungry.

The students of today do not need Sara's pizza, or Bib's borekas. The students of today are not alone in their struggle, but linked to hundreds of thousands of Israelis, who are donating money and food, to help support them in their protest.  

Leaders, not surpisingly, are supposed to help their country develop and grow, to care for the citizens.  Leaders are supposed to work toward making sure that all have true access to good health services, good education, decent pay, a decent place to live, free from violence, free from ongoing insecurity. Democratic leaders in democratic countries are supposed to listen to the voices of the citizens, take to heart their concerns, help support them in their path to decent life. Leaders are not elected to mainly serve the very, very rich, but to make sure that the country runs in a way that does not make most of its citizens want to run for cover.

The bad/sad news is that Hosni Mubarak is ending his days on a stretcher, in a cage, at a trial, that may well end with a death penalty for betraying his people. The bad/sad news is that Netanyahu and his coalition are forgetting that most of the citizens of this country can no longer afford the most basic needs of life, and that his cynical, arrogant dismissal of people's rights cannot, in the long run, help him remain in office.

Bibi, habaita, pipi vlishon (Bibi - go home, go the bathroom, and then to sleep)
Ha'am doresh tzedek chevrati (The people demand social justice)
Atem midabram nadlan, anachnu midabrim al ha bayit (You are talking about real estate, we are talking about our home)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We Must Band Together if this Social Revolution is to Work

We have a lot on our plates now. People and sectors from throughout the country are calling for social and economic reform. the doctors, and the nurses, the university and college students, young professionals, the teachers, the parents, the adjuncts in Israeli academic institutions, the taxi drivers, the dairy farmers are calling out that the current system cannot go on. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has not come to resolution, the Israeli air force bombed targets in Gaza, a woman in Israel was injured from a rocket attack yesterday, more killing in the West Bank, perhaps a Palestinian state on the way in September, negotiations still stalled.


Our struggles are connected: the social-economic injustices that make it very very difficult, if not impossible, to secure housing, medical attention, good schooling, fair pay and working conditions for the middle class are also tied to the ongoing conflict, the billions and billions of shkalim (the Israeli currency) spent on defense and security, and the billions poured into Jewish-Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

I am not an economist, and really have a rather poor understanding of the intricacies of economic planning and spending. But what I do know is that a market and system that favor the very very very rich and places so much of the burden on the middle class and ignores the poor, is not a good system. What I do know is that billions and billions of shkalim that are put toward defense, security and settlements, means that there is nowhere enough left for life - for school, housing, education, health, the arts.

What I do know is that if this social-economic revolution is to work, then all of us need to band together. Not just the middle class, not just the young and secular Jews, but the older, the poorer, the disenfranchised, the religious, the Arab citizens of the country, the handicapped, people from the Tel Aviv metropolis and from the peripheries. We need to be a very inclusive social movement, one that demands these basic rights for everyone of us.

This is not a new mantra
Many have said this more eloquently than I have in the past, and I have no doubt that others will do so more eloquently in the future.
However, the message is clear - If we want a more socially just society, then we must come together, to work together, to demand rights for everyone of us.

The woman that was injured in the rocket attack yesterday, is a Bedouin, who was sleeping in a tent.
The rockets do not differentiate between Arab and Jew
The air force attacks in Gaza harm innocent people - they do not differentiate between Hamas militant and young child.
The ridiculously high prices of apartments and houses for the ridiculously rich do not differentiate between Jew and Arab - they differentiate only between the very very rich and all the rest of us

Our social problems were not caused by this people or that.
They are not the fault of the "Arabs", of the "infiltrators" (from Africa, looking for asylum and a life free from poverty and oppression). They are caused by a rotten social-economic system that makes war against most of the citizens, and dismisses their/our needs in the most cynical of fashion.


By joining hands forces in this struggle, we can make a change. By showing that we truly care for one another, we can make this work.

Let's make it work.