By Miko Peled
48 hours after I landed the reality of this land, a land that people like to call holy, began taking its toll on me. The movie “Boy In Stripped Pajamas” came to mind as I played with my kids in the pool of Kibbutz Zikkim, a beautiful pastoral little kibbutz or agricultural commune, is on the Mediterranean coast just a stone’s throw from Gaza to the north. The narrative in the movie describes the innocent German boy by the name of Bruno growing up across the fence from concentration camp. The German boy whose father is the commander of the camp is completely oblivious to the reality beyond the fence and is forbidden by his mother from exploring the backyard. But while Bruno’s mother naïvely believes the “farm” to be an internment camp, her husband has sworn under oath never to reveal that it is in fact an extermination camp specifically designed to help the Nazis achieve their horrific “Final Solution.” Eventually defying his mother’s rules and venturing out beyond the backyard, Bruno arrives at a barbed wire fence to find a young boy just his age emptying rubble from a wheel barrel. That boy, obviously a prisoner at the camp was wears a stripped pajama.
For israelis this narrative is a frightening one, but sadly they have plunged themselves into a reality where this narrative is being re played but with a new cast. This time Israelis are living across the fence from Gaza, but unlike the German family in the movie they are not oblivious to what goes on in the camp. For the most part Israelis are not only aware of the horrors that take place in the concentration camp near them, they see it as justified.
It’s only been about six months since my last visit here, just as Israel was preparing to launch its latest sadistic terror attack on the civilian population of Gaza, a population whose average age is 15.5, a population of innocent children. I visited Zikkim then because after all, it is the home of my in-laws, the place where my wife was born and raised.
In this chauvinistic state created by my forefathers the terror attack on Gaza is called a war. It is much easier that way for the consciences to bear. After all, fighting an enemy that possess tanks and war planes, artillery and sophisticated weapons, smart bombs and air to air missiles, along with anti aircraft and anti tank weapons is a great deal more heroic than to massacre innocent children, women and men who are defenseless, have no means of escape and no means of fighting back. But of course the reality is that the Israeli army, that sadistic military force that has made a name for itself over the last sixty years as a force to be reckoned with, is in fact no more than a shameless army of cowards lead by a junta of brutal, sadistic racists.
Instead of the patronizing call we constantly hear for a “Palestinian Gandhi” one would hope to see the emergence of international support for a Palestinian Patrick Henry. The call “Give me liberty or give me death” awakens strong emotions even today, more than 320 yeas after Patrick Henry gave the speech that crystallized perhaps more than any the American colonies call for independence from the English crown.
There has never been, not is it likely that an occupying power will ever relinquish its domination willingly. Israel is not different. Not only is Israel not likely to end its iron rule over Palestine and its people, it is placing all of its effort to make Greater Israel a permanent and irreversible reality. So while Patrick Henry’s was a call for arms, in the case of the Palestinian struggle the call should be for a more sophisticated and more effective national struggle.
There is nothing Israel likes better than a military confrontation, and the Israeli “security” forces go out of their way to blame Palestinian for initiating violence so as to justify their own brutality. But a violent struggle only helps the oppressor and it is in fact a statement of despair.
Three clear goals struggle on which the struggle would do well to focus could be as follows:
1. Granting all Palestinians full equal rights with Israelis.
2. Granting Palestinians unrestricted freedom of movement within Israel/Palestine.
3. Reigning in the Israeli forces and withdrawing them of from population centers.
Until these conditions are met, Palestinians have no reason to negotiate or cooperate with the Israeli authorities. Until they are met there needs to be a concerted effort to isolate Israel, and to initiate a struggle that defies its laws and undermines it authority. Israel profits greatly from Palestinians who are forced to apply and pay for permits and licenses; Israel profits from Palestinians who are forced to buy Israeli products. Haaretz newspaper recently reported on the huge profits that Israeli farmers and government agents make as a result of the siege imposed on Gaza. An effort can focus on the idea, also made famous during the American Revolution that there can be “no taxation without representation” calling for defiance of the Israeli authorities and boycott of Israeli products and goods.
Those who still believe in a negotiated settlement with Israel on the basis of two states should read the following lines from Patrick Henry’s famous speech: “It is natural for men to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth…Are we disposed to be of the number of those who having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not…”
In the long run, the best possible outcome for Israelis and Palestinians is a pluralistic democracy where people’s rights are protected by a constitution and the rule of law. Israelis and Palestinians, by virtue of their sharing a homeland are fellow countrymen. As such they are deserving of the same rights and share the same responsibilities. Their first responsibility is to engage in a struggle to bring an end to the apartheid regime that holds them both in a seemingly endless struggle, and to cooperate as equals for a better future.
Jerusalem, August, 2009.
Well Done Miko, You and Gila give amazing creditability to your take on
what is the true Israel vs the Zionist culture and conduct of the Israeli government,
I am proud that you and I are working together as partners for peace and justice to educate our American community to see the other side of the fact for this bloody conflict in the Holy Land
Great Miko. Thanks for your continued creative research to help us understand what is really going on. Patrick Henry, wow, did not think of that. Peace to you and all who are willing to be so brutally honest. Doris
Thank you for this and for all your doings which I have followed for years. I left for Gaza partly on the wings of your EI article “It’s time to visit Gaza” in spring 2007. That’s when I started a blog which continues to publish news of Gaza from people there or people who know about it there in French – so much comes out in English only. (I wept translating your article on the 50 righteous in Sodom during the attacks on Gaza – http://carol.blog.tdg.ch/archive/2009/01/02/50-justes-en-sodom.html)
Just one word about “no taxation without representation”. That was the slogan of Beit Sahour during the 1st Intifada, and they paid for it, terribly. Really terribly – I heard many stories about it from people there who lost friends, sons, property, a healthy body and did time in prison for having presumed to put this slogan into practice.
I downloaded your radio interview today and was terribly moved by your honesty, fearlessness and your courage to reveal the myths of the media and too often, our own Jewish upbringing.
Thank you for this! I hope many people listened in. Looking forward to reading your book when it is available.
Dear Miko Peled,
Feel free to erase the following comment after reading…
Let me state in advance that I disagree with almost everything you say here. However, I happen to be truly fascinated by the course of your father’s career (especially his political involvement, but it is impossible to ignore his other careers when discussing his political activities). Unfortunately, my own political awareness started to evolve exactly when your father lost his Knesset seat (the 1988 elections, I was 12), and I never had a chance even to hear a lecture or a speech of his. I am constantly seeking more information about him and his work, but it’s hard to find. I don’t know how appropriate it is to contact someone merely in order to learn more about his father, but since you chose “The General’s Son” as the title for your forthcoming book, I hope you won’t find this too audacious.
If you would be so kind to contact me by e-mail (in Hebrew would be great), I would be very grateful.
All the very best,
Israeli graduate student at UCLA.