Posted by Orit Arfa
It all started when Left-wing columnist Jeffrey Goldberg used Miley Cyrus to sound smart and wise. He bemoaned how Miley actually needed to heed advice from old Jewish men after she controversially proclaimed that she doesn't want a 70-year-old-Jew sitting behind a desk all day telling her what her generation wants to hear. He shows off his "erudition" by quoting the "wisdom" of all of these big and not-so-big names in the modern and ancient Jewish world.
In his latest piece on Bloomberg entitled "John Kerry Is Israel's Best Friend," he is so obviously twerking John Kerry's behind that he has proven just how unwise, unsavory, and politically slutty he is. In the piece, he strains to build up Secretary of State John Kerry as "an exemplar of a slowly vanishing type of Democratic Party leader, someone with great, and uncomplicated, affection for the promise of Zionism."
But if you read carefully as he elaborates on the important people in the room where he heard Kerry's words, he comes off as a name-dropping prestige seeker, which he often hides with a healthy dose of self-deprecation. (I served on a panel at the Saban Forum...I casually chat with best-selling Israeli authors...I was invited to off-the-record meetings....) He uses the popular canard that the two-state "solution" is the pro-Israel, Zionist stance, ignoring the practical, humanitarian ramifications of such policy on the ground for Jews and Arabs alike. He mentions the appointment of a prestigious American general to chart security arrangements in the West Bank, but that's just dropping another name....
He makes Miley's famous tongue look really short from the way he wields his own up the behind of Obama and his officials. Miley might take some pointers from him. Of course, his most vulgar statement is suggesting that engaging in ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria to create a Palestinian state will lead to peace and prestige for Israel, not to mention peace-on-earth for the Palestinians, who'd be left to kill and oppress each other, if we can judge from what happened after the Gaza pull-out. He's more concerned with Israel's prestige--and his own.
It's self-interested, prestige-obsessed Jewish men like Jeffrey Goldberg that make this Jewish girl sympathize with Miley Cyrus. He's just a middle-aged Jewish man sitting behind a desk trying to run Israel and the lives of the people who live here. He won't have to send his kids to the IDF. He won't have to face the onslaught of rocket attacks that will hit Israel once more pullouts are forced upon the people. He won't have to lose his home. He won't have to lose his job when Israeli businesses that employ Palestinians are closed down in the name of fostering prosperity. He won't have to live under terrorist gangs. He'll live his cozy life in America, a BFF to the White House, a celebrated journalist.
We in Israel, and especially in the West Bank, have gotten beaten around long enough by decrepit politicians, Jewish and not-Jewish, especially those living in America, who want to dictate to us where we should live, how we should act, how we should behave, what we should want, what people should want of us.
Channeling Miley’s defiant spirit in her song “We Can’t Stop,” we're telling sycophantic bullies-in-disguise like Goldberg and all the "wise" men whose policies will destroy lives here: WE, JEWS, CAN’T STOP. We can’t stop building, loving, praying, doing what we want in our land. Too quote Miley, “Only God can Judge ya. Forget the haters, cuz Somebody loves ya.”
Perhaps Goldberg is so concerned about God not loving him that he has to worship men.
Check out the videos:
12.11.13 at 1:41 pm | The Left-wing columnist could take some advice. . .
10.26.13 at 10:11 am | This is a question I pose in an unlikely outlet,. . .
10.20.13 at 1:05 pm | NBC online humanizes us "settlers."
8.26.13 at 1:45 pm | Michael, there is no moral equivalence between. . .
8.18.13 at 6:50 am | Michael from Ramallah disputes my claims that. . .
8.15.13 at 7:55 am | My dialogue with Michael who lives in Ramallah. . .
12.11.13 at 1:41 pm | The Left-wing columnist could take some advice. . . (1660)
10.26.13 at 10:11 am | This is a question I pose in an unlikely outlet,. . . (33)
7.26.13 at 12:18 am | Dateless on Tu B'Av, I went out with a. . . (30)
October 26, 2013 | 10:11 am
Posted by Orit Arfa
With mainstream Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, let alone the European Union, often shunning "settlers" (AIPAC, Jewish Federations, ADL, most Reform synagogues, etc.) becaue Jews who live beyond the Green Line are not politically correct, you gotta hand it to +972 magazine for publishing an op-ed by a proud settler. While pro-Israel activists often characterize +972 as anti-Israel, the editors were open enough to a new idea that challenges conventional thinking on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the only way we can move forward in solving this mess.
It starts like this:
People who’ve read my op-eds in Arutz 7 might think that publishing an article with such a title — in such an outlet — means I’ve defected from the cause of the “settlements.” (I know, they’re Jewish communities.)
I have defected — from dogma, party lines, slogans and talking points that people invoke to make themselves feel righteous, or worse, to secure donors who like tough-talkers. Lately, leftists, centrists, rightists, pro-this, anti-that just play with themselves, convincing themselves they’re right so that political discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today amounts to ideological masturbation — or ideological prostitution.
Well, I’m here to have some forbidden intercourse, always more exciting.
Back to the title.
Yes, I’m a “settler.” I live in the city of Ariel. I became a settler for a job, because I’ve lived in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and I prefer the countryside, because rational values are at stake here. And because I want to see the West Bank with my own eyes, rather than pontificate, and work to make things better.
But what is a settler?
October 20, 2013 | 1:05 pm
Posted by Orit Arfa
It's about time! While NBCNEWS.com gets in the usual disclaimer that Jewish communities beyond the Green Line are widely considered illegal by international law, its recent slide show entitled "Faces of Israeli Settlements" gets past usual stereotypes of religious, rock-throwing provocateurs to show the diversity here, in the City of Ariel and the unauthorized outpost, Abigail. Dave Copeland of NBC News has done a nice job putting a human face on those of us who live in the West Bank aka Judea & Samaria--people who live here, love here, and seek peace with our neighbors.
I'm featured in slide #11.
August 26, 2013 | 1:45 pm
Posted by Orit Arfa
I have recently entered into a written dialogue with Michael of Ramallah, who sympathizes with the plight of Palestinian living segragated from Israel. I thought we united over our vision for a one-state solution, but once he started justifiying terror that explicitly targets women and children, I realized just how different we are. Here is my response to his last latter in which he sympathizes with Palestinian terrorists.
Our dialogue started with your take-down of MachsomWatch, following my article about my day with the far-Left NGO. I'm not sure that we agree on MachsomWatch in the end. We agree the two-state "solution" is not a solution, and that Jews and Palestinians (aren't you happy I don't call them "Arabs'?) should live together under civil law, but you believe that checkpoints and the like are liable to create terror. I believe misguided values are liable to create terror, i.e. the wholesale massacre of innocencts. You and MachsomWatch's Daniela Gordon give moral justification to terror as a mainstream policy, at the very least sympathize with it.
Please don't presume what I know or think. I atually feel little connection to Jews expelled during the Roman/Bablylonean exile, and don't think any religious claim to the land is what justifies Jewish presence here. How's that for not following a narrative? I sympathize more with the Jews of Gush Katif for humanitarian reasons. Still, I don't think they should blow-up Israeli government officials or Arab children to claim the land they lost. Jews returned to Israel through rational means (purchase, diplomacy, and, yes, measures of force, largly in self-defense) to escape genocide and build a free country that today grants freedoms to its Arab minority. I also wouldn't liken savage Roman aggressors with Jewish refugees seeking to settle in the land of Israel to make a better life for themselves. (Aren't Arabs who came to Palestine from other Arab regions also invaders?) You can revise history all you want or, with a twisted bias, absolve all the Arab states of their war crimes because you don't have sympathy for Jewish self-defense. If you think Arab states fought a just war, well, then, accept defeat. Adults accept responsibility for their actions and bad choices.
You say "pacificism" is a "white luxury." You're saying, then, that non-white people can be savages? Isn't that racist? Martin Luther King, Jr., as a black person, would disagree with you. He held all human beings to the same moral standards, and the first is: Thou shalt not murder. Because you don't consider Palestinians as "white" and "Western," you allow them the privilege to murder. We can all understand motivations for murder. Doesn't make it right. Having moral absolutes isn't seeing through "rosy glasses."
Even if there is a minority of public teachings that promote the hatred and wanton killing of Jews--that's bad! I wish orgs like Palestinian Media Watch and Memri didn't exist. The fact that PA teleivison aired a stupid movie glorifying attacks against setters with inspiration from the Quran (thanks MEMRI!) should be condemned by any one with a conscience. It should have been yanked from the airwaves the minute it went up. You never see such sick propoganda (and bad acting) in Israeli television. Unprovoked attacks against Arab civilians by Jews are anathema to most Jews; perpetrators are outcasts.
People always like to bring up Begin as a Jewish terrorist, and he was condemend in his time. Still, he fought because he saw people's lives at stake, not merely their "rights." He never explicitly targeted civilians, as did Arafat and Hamas. There is no moral equivalence. It's not just a matter of competing ethnic-based collectivist forces. They had different moral values. Nothing you say can refute that. Arafat and Hamas sought to create dictatorships where Jews are stirpped of all rights. I didn't know Reuters was propoganda. Tell Reuters they made a mistake in Abbas' translation and that he didn't say that Jews wouldn't be allowed to live in "Palestine." I'm surprised why you're keen on defending Abbas and Arafat, even though you told me the corruption of the PA sickens you.
Of course I am subjective because many Arabs out there want me killed or stripped of my rights simply for being racially Jewish. Do you not want me to protect my life? My family's life?
We agree the State of Israel needs an overhaul. Would you agree that Palestinian society needs an overhaul as well? Who should install the overhall? Would Palestinians accept the defeat of their corrupt leaders and an installation of a government system that protects indivdual rights and separates state and religion--their ultimate liberation? Yes, the Quran would support the two-state solution--as a means to end Israel. The model takes inspiration from Muhammad, who made a truce with Jewish tribes only to slaughter them when they were caught off guard and weakened. Muhammad states: Islam is deceit.
There is no moral equivalence between Christian evangelicals and jihadists. While both have their fair share of mysticism, Christians follow the first commandment: thou shalt not murder.
About trash sewage, I think it should be the province of private companies and not public companies. But still, you seem to blame every ill of Palestinian society on Israel. Israel actually offered to hook up many Arab villages to Israel's water and sewage system, but PA leaders refused because it would appear like a form of annexation.
I'm sorry that you don't have as much faith in the Palestinian people as I do to use their minds, spirits, and resourcefulness to better their lot. I'm sorry you allow them savagery, laziness, constant victimization.They lose any moral standing when they resort to murder to achieve rights. The ends don't justify the means, because the means are the ends. I refuse to believe they are below peaceful means. Then again, any leader who would publicly renounce terrorism or seek to learn from and work with Israel on how to build a free society would probably be publicly hanged.
August 18, 2013 | 6:50 am
Posted by Orit Arfa
My dialogue with Michael, an American pro-Palestinian activist from Ramallah, is heating up. He rejects many of the arguments I made in my last letter to him. Here he expresses sympathy for Palestinian terror and is more strident in his categorization of Israel as a state founded on "war crimes." Stay tuned for my refutation.
Regarding Machsom Watch, glad we can agree.
On the issue of the signs on Areas A and B. I do agree with your latter part about if god forbid a civilian is killed or captured, the IDF does not want to be responsible, but I think that is secondary, which I think you also agree on.
The blood on the map refers to Palestinian suffering and loss of their homeland, not a desire to see Jews bleed or anything of the sort. So I don't know where the "hate" aspect comes from. I don't buy this "there was a war, you lose, get over it." You know how I know you don't believe that, at least universally? Because I know that in 72AD and 135AD during the expulsions of Jews by the Romans you would not have told the Jews to suck it up and build their lives somewhere else. Now I know your next point will be "it was different," and I answer, "to you, yes there is a difference, to Palestinians, there is not." To them, an army of relatively new immigrants (or returnees if you prefer) forcefully expelled large numbers of their people. It is a common Palestinian expression to say "Jews waited 2,000 years to return, and they expect us to forget everything after X amount of years?" Do you seriously expect Palestinians in 1948 to just sit ideally by a war was pushed on them? We can go back and forth about who started what, but the fact of the matter is 1948 was not a random war that came out of nowhere and you CANNOT claim some sort of benevolence or innocence from the Israeli side. They committed mass war crimes in the war, regardless of who started what. You can name all the 12 Jewish communities who were eliminated in 1948, including the synagogues in the Old City and that does NOT begin to justify 750,000+ Palestinians becoming refugees and over 500 village being eliminated off the map, nor the gross restrictions on EVERY aspect of Palestinian life for those who remained in what became Israel in 1948.
The books in question, I would still argue (do to my huge exposure to Palestinian textbooks) they are a tiny minority. Yes, that tiny minority is disgusting and Israel does share a burden in this, but at the same time, do you not see the utility in allowing a minority of books to have disgusting things? It gives bullet points to people to bring up in debates like this, with most people not even knowing Israel has control over the Palestinian curriculum. Would Palestinians resent having a Zionist or Israeli education, under the current power imbalance and disproportion or strength and malice coming from Israel, yes. Hard to argue otherwise. But in general that comes most things, that is why I discussed with you in details ways to move forward to install a better situation, including that of education. So short term, yes of course that would be stupid. But as we both agree, for there to be one state here, many things would have to change, including a complete overhaul of the State of Israel into a state that accepts all people equally.
It is not an excusing of Palestinian violence, it is a desire to understand it instead of just using my Western rosy tinted glasses and revert to labels. Do I see Palestinian violence as counterproductive, as a pacifist absolutely, but being a pacifist is white Western privilege. Very few states or peoples have achieved rights peacefully. Behind every rosy example you can think of, is a huge undercurrent of violence. Israel was created through violence, as was every state in the world. It is hard to sit here and seriously expect Palestinians to passively wait for Israeli benevolence for a better life. Although I condemn on a personal level, one cannot play the "when a Palestinian Mandela or Gandhi appears there will be peace." That is ridiculous. Mandela supported violence for many decades until its utility ended. Gandhi was also in favor of utilizing strategic violence in order to achieve political goals because he knew that human beings in power react more to violence than peaceful gestures. Now as I said, on a personal level I deplore it, but that does not mean I am blind enough to think that peaceful tactics alone will actually achieve a realization of rights. It would be great if it did, but I have yet to see this actually play out in any context.
I can divorce Islam from the equation because in my experience it is not a driving factor of Palestinian animosity. If Islam did not exist, Palestinians would still be rightfully antagonistic towards Israel. You could take this conflict and put it anywhere in the world, and you will find the same end result, regardless of religion or ethnicity. This conflict is not unique in any possible way. Your blanket statements about "if there is a mosque it is preaching anti-Zionism," are both unfounded and unwarranted. First, you don't speak Arabic, nor have you studied Islam. Hence you rely on organizations like MEMRI and Palestine Media Watch, who like Machsom Watch have a political agenda that is very obvious and real. Are some Imams anti-Zionist, sure, as am I, does that equate into anti-Semitism? As you stated, no it does not. Muslims who accept Israel are an apostate is inherently wrong. The Quran states clearly the legitimacy of a State for Jews and many use this as a justification for their support of the existence of the State of Israel. You can check all the transcripts about the debates in the Organization of Islamic States as to how and why they would support a two state solution (Yes I know we both find this deplorable, but regardless), and the Imams who spoke, quoted openly the Quran as to the legitimacy. So this excuse has no water to me. Now you can make arguments, citing the Quran as to their reasons for supporting the existence of Israel, as their duplicity in their support and that is a valid argument on face value, but it does not differ one iota from the Evangelical CHristians who support Israel, so unless you start treating them as equally repugnant (which I do), I do not buy the scapegoating of Islam in and of itself.
The equivalence of Haredim and Palestinians is actually not a bad one, but I think we differ on the outcome. There are many in Israel that support withdrawing funding from Haredi because many, not all, are anti-Zionist. Yet, if you look at how the debate, even within the Haredi community, it is completely different than it was 10, 20, or 30 years ago. You could never have talked about Haredi army force (or Haredi settlements) in the 1980s, it was crazy, and I would say then, you had upwards of 90-95% of Haredim being anti-Zionist, yet the state, through the army, settlements, and other methods is trying to "Israelize" the Haredim population and I would argue in the long term will "Israeli" a huge proportion of that population. This is something they have not done with the Palestinian population in Israel, and especially not in the West Bank and Gaza. If they were to incentivize funding for Palestinian development and give bigger incentives for Palestinians to be Israelized, I think over time it would have a fantastic impact. Now, is this a popular sentiment in Israel, no, but if it were, I would argue you would find a very receptive audience. Things like building more and better hospitals, offering the same services Israeli Jews receive, allowing freedom of movement and access, and many other things are the ways to minimize Palestinian antagonism towards Israel. Is it a risk, sure, but the reward is huge and is the only way to move out of this paradigm we are stuck in, as I discussed with you in Nablus.
Volunteerism is a huge issue in the territories, no argument. Most Palestinians say the exact same thing. After Oslo (not blaming it) many Palestinians became more individualistic. The fact still remains that Palestinian companies wishing to dispose of trash face a plethora of obstacles in doing so. Most of the dumpsites in the West Bank are Israeli and they charge a higher price to Palestinians and in many cases, flat out refuse to accept Palestinian waste, i.e. in the Jordan Valley. So if Palestinians in the Jordan Valley want to dispose their trash, they must hire a private company from Jericho, Ramallah, or Nablus to collect it and then dump it (for a higher price) in Abu Dis or the Ariel/Salfit region. While at the same time, settlers living right next to them get this service done through their taxes. Palestinians get to pay out of pocket upwards of 3-5 times as much for a basic service. Now you may ask, well why doesn't the PA do it. Well first, the PA's budget is completely tied according to funding. The Americans and EU pay for PA salaries and infrastructure projects in Area A and B, which is the majority of the PA budget. Trash collection is incredibly expensive as a civil service, which is why the countries that have it (mostly Western) are still relatively new to it (the United States and Great Britain only started this after the second world war), so to expect Palestinians to devote huge sums of money to Israel to dump their own trash is ridiculous. As an Israeli, why don't you lobby your government to remove this discriminatory procedure? Better yet, why don't you lobby to have the State of Israel collect trash in the Palestinian areas it has annexed? The trash problem is just as bad in East Jerusalem, yet where is your outcry for that? Instead you expect Palestinians to go above and beyond, which I find ridiculous. As an American citizen, you could also lobby your state to tie funding to the PA for trash collection, until you fulfill your part, I feel it is obscene to expect Palestinians to sacrifice ever so much.
Regarding creating an equilibrium between Israeli leaders and Palestinian leaders, that is simply your own inherent bias. Your inability to view an alternative perspective makes the comparison obscene to you. To Palestinians, Ben Gurion, Sharon, Begin, etc are war criminals who have committed gross crimes against the Palestinian people. Nothing, and I repeat, nothing you can say will refute this fact. Just like nothing you can say can make Palestinians view Israeli leaders any differently as long as they persist in policies that disproportionately target Palestinians. You see Israeli leaders as protecting Israelis just like Palestinians will see their leaders as protecting them. Making any pie in the sky arguments will go nowhere and just puts us back into the nationalist based narrative framework we have been in for decades. These leaders fought for a goal that you agree with, while Palestinian leaders fought for a goal you disagree with and as a non-Palestinian, cannot relate to. That does not equal that they were inherently good or bad. It is all subjective on YOUR preconceived notions of good and bad, end of story. Mahmoud Abbas said "no Israeli civilian or soldier will live in Palestine under Israeli law," check the translation, this is simple propaganda. Now you know I find Abbas deplorable, so if I am willing to say he didn't say it, it must have some legitimacy to it. Again you rely on politically motivated organizations for your translations, you cannot seriously expect an honest appraisal with that. We can go back and forth for weeks quoting Ben Gurion about his vision for Palestinians, but let us not fall into the narrative about he wanted them as citizens and as equal citizens at that. That is a ridiculous proposition that has no basis in reality. Considering the countless years I have studied Ben Gurion, 1948, and the refugee issue, I could prove your any and all of your points wrong rather quickly, so let us move beyond narrative.
When we have the day of Israelis and Palestinians both viewing their terrible leaders as terrible will be a fine day indeed but don't expect Palestinians to be the leader in this is all I ask, holding them to a higher standard is ridiculous, which I want to believe you acknowledge.
I am happy you enjoyed your time here, even if it is in the worse of the two cities
August 15, 2013 | 7:55 am
Posted by Orit Arfa
My dialogue with Michael from Ramallah started when he commented on my take-down of the far-Left MachsomWatch in Arutz 7. This is my response to his most recent letter.
Since our e-mail exchange, you have since taken me to Nablus and Ramallah, for which I am grateful. Still, your e-mail to me warrants a written response.
I liked your take down on MachsomWatch. It is fresh and comforting to know that even Palestinians themselves would have cause to resent them. Yes, MachsomWatch is part of a team that exploits both Israelis and Palestinians to create enmitiy and to forge on with the division of land and population based on fear, racism, and misguided nationalism. Most of these liberal or even conservative Zionist organizations which promote and perpetuate fear and enmity are funded by people who have no on-the-ground-stake in the conflict, and use us Israelis and Palestinians to ease their consience. In the case of American Jews, most seek to justify their materially pleasant existence abroad while feeling "connected." In the case of Europeans, we assuage their "white" guilt. Arabs are no better, with their scapegoating Israel to create an emeny that draws attention away from their own injustices.
About entering Areas A & B, I have since come to you agree with you. It is the Israeli government that has put signs up in front of Palestinian towns and villages that forbid us or warn us from entering because they are "dangerous." I wasn't here before the Oslo Accords were signed, but I hear the fond memories of "settlers" who used to go into Palestinians areas all the time to shop, eat, get haircuts and visit friends. The first intifada changed that. These signs actually give credence to claims of Israel as an "apartheid state." The main reason is that Israel doesn't want to suffer the liability or consequences of some Islamic assailant who'd kidnap, rape, or kill a Jew who enters the territory. It's a precaution. Even if the chances are 1 in 1000, they don't want another Gilad Shalit (albeit a civilian).
I never argued that the barrier played a security role. If it does, it's flimsly at best. I think it's a cowardly statement of the Israeli government which is too afraid of confronting Islamic terror at its source. If Islamic terrorists knew there would be damning consequences for randomly blowing up women and children, they'd stop. I think IDF operations in PA areas served as better security precaution. The "wall" expresses the ghetto mentality of Jews, who would like to live separate lives in their communities, fearful of intermingling with the "other." (Arabs states are even worse in that regard with their blatantly anti-Semitic policies, so let's not gang up on Israel here.) I drive on the same roads as Palestinians every day and, yes, we don't kill each other.
Regarding maps, I was referring to the particular graffiti on the municipal wall at Jayous. It was ugly propoganda with blood dripping over the land of Israel equating all of it with "Palestine." It was more than a generic "hasbara" image. It was laced with hatred. I'm sorry, but I don't see that kind of propoganda on public buildings in Israel. At best, they'll have proud national symbols and pictures of cute Israeli children waving Israeli flags or IDF soldiers proudly defending their country (okay, I know, Palestinians consider the IDF a statement of "hate"). About the "Nakba," I feel for people who lost their homes, but there was a war, and they were on the wrong side. At some point, you have to admit defeat and move on. My Iraqi grandparents should have learned from Palestinians to fight against expulsions. They were torn from their home in Iraq. Jews have claims of unjust displacement.
About textbooks...point made. It is ridiculous that the Israeli government would allow such hatred to fester when it could stop it. I can see how the Israeli government actually does little to stop the incitement to terror and hatred of Israel and Jews. At the same time, don't you think Palestinians would resent having their textbooks dictated by the "Zionist" entity? Would they be okay with an Israeli curriculum? No matter what grievances Palestinians have against Israel, they can make their case without murdering innocent civilians or attacking the military. You seem to excuse Palestinian violence, yet that only creates more fear and suspicion which leads to more separation and paranoia. I have yet to see proud Palestinian proclamations against terrorism on moral grounds.
You cannot divorce Islam from the equation, and Palestinian societies are Islamic societies. Zionism is incompatible with Islam in its pure form. Period. If there is a mosque, it's preaching anti-Zionism. A Muslim who accepts the existence of Israel is an apostate. Practicing Muslims may pretend to buy into a two-state "solution," but that is seen as an interim solution leading the dissolution of the Jewish state. Sure, you'll say not everyone practices true Islam, but that is the ethos in the society. So you want Israel to provide amenities to Palestinians, but Palestinians don't want to recognize the legitimacy of the government providing them. (Go ahead, make the same case for ultra-Orthodox Jews.) I've heard countless stories of Israel offering Palestinian villages to connect with Israeli sewage and water, but PA politicians nix the deal because the move would be viewed as annexation.
We went to Nablus together, and I commented on the trash in the street. I also commented how I was disturbed that kids are given toy guns to play with as a post-Ramadan treat. Nablus operates under full Palestinian civilian and security control. You can't blame everything on Israel. Instead of giving kids gun to play with, why not galvanize groups to clean up the trash? They have so many resources in their power to better their society and neighborhoods as is, without Israeli government help, especially with all the sympathy and funding they receive from the international community.
There is no moral equivalence between Ben Gurion and other Zionist leaders such as Herzl to sickos like Arafat. Arafat explicitly targeted innocent women and children--indiscriminately--with the stealth goal of erasing Israel from the map. (And don't give me the crap that it was the only way for a poor people to fight the "Occupation." If you believe killing kids is justified, you deserve to be occupied by a system the protects against murder!) I would tend to believe reports that Arafat the rat was a pedophile too. Ben Gurion and Israel's founding fathers, while far from moral perfection, at least fought for a positive vision of self-determination: an overall free society that accepted Arabs as citizens. Mahmoud Abbas recently said no Israeli could live in "Palestine." Some call it a political consideration--something he has to say to appease his people--but that makes racism a political agenda and says a lot about what Palestinian people want. Ben Gurion accepted Arabs as citizens, and they overall thrive in Israel. I'm sure I have as many beefs about the Israeli government as do Israeli Arabs. I don't feel completely free in Israel as a Jew, especially as one who lives in Samaria.
About streets and airports named after nationalist leaders. I hope they don't name anything after Sharon. He was a criminal for expelling Jews from their homes. I'm not a fan of Rabin, either. A lot of Left-wingers can't stand Begin. No Israeli leader truly reflects anyone's opinions. Still, I can't boycott Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. And Rabin wasn't a bad person, just naive, with some bad ideas. At the end of the day, the feel-good sentiment of having an airport named after a nation's leader is a non-essential. What's more important is the ethics of the governing system. The PA, Hamas and others of their ilk are dictatorial systems. Let the Palestinians find better symbols. I'll work on our end. Arafat should be a part of their history they're ashamed of.
Thanks for taking me to Nablus, but I liked Ramallah a lot better. Let's hope what you say is true: that Palestinians truly want to live together, that most reject Islamic movements, and that what they seek is individual rights. Those are the people who should be in power, but they're afraid to come out....Can you help me find them?
August 14, 2013 | 4:13 am
Posted by Orit Arfa
I'm against the blockage of Gaza!
Take a look at some pictures of Gaza flourishing today.
I'd like to go, stay in that beautiful hotel, and visit the beach of the former settlement of Gush Katif which I loved so much.
For that to happen, the IDF will have to let me in. But I'm Jewish and Israeli, so they won't.
Will I get killed? Unlikely. Journalists travel there all the time. I can go in disguise (I'll have to cover myself up, anyway). I think it'll be worth the risk.
August 13, 2013 | 6:59 am
Posted by Orit Arfa
Last week, I published a column in Arutz 7 about my day tour with MachsomWatch, a far-Left NGO that considers Settlers the enemies of humanity. Here is the article in its entirety:
I knew a publicly advertised tour with the Arabist, far-left NGO, MachsomWatch, would be my only chance as an Israeli Jew to enter the Palestinian Authority.
Signs read: “This road leads to Palestinian village. Entrance to Israelis is dangerous”—that is, unless you're Israelis travelling with MachsomWatch. They love the Palestinian Arabs, and Palestinian Arabs love them.
MachsomWatch's tagline is "Woman Against Occupation and for Human Rights." Daniela Gordon, the Israeli matriarch of the movement, is clearly passionate about her work, believing she's fighting the good fight.
I joined a tour with a group of college exchange students from Singapore, a Spanish journalist, two French consulate employees, and some Brits—all for a mere $15 and few questions asked.
The tour focused on the “seam zone,” the "no-man's land" between the “green line” and the security barrier Israel built to ward off terror. Gordon lamented that Arabs living there are "trapped" between the "West Bank" and Israel.
Surprisingly, I found myself agreeing with Gordon. Yes, the security barrier is a monstrosity. Gordon even cited an article by her political opponent, Moshe Arens, entitled "Tear Down This Wall." It has undoubtedly created hardship for Arabs. To me, it's a cop out from truly crushing Islamic terror at its source.
I also agreed that IDF soldiers shouldn’t be obsessing over checkpoints. A few yards away from a bright, well-stocked Arab nursery stuck in the seam zone near Qalqilya, soldiers lethargically got out of their jeeps at the designated checkpoint patrol time. A few Arabs waited underneath an awning as it took the soldiers about 20 minutes to unlock the gate. Traffic consisting of donkeys and shiny Palestinian SUVs built up on the litter-filled road. Israeli soldiers should be warriors, not have to be "prison" guards.
Gordon was quick to point out that checkpoints along the green line should remain intact— what she sees as the de facto border. She blamed internal checkpoints on "settlers," whom she submits are not all evil. She pledged not to touch politics, but hinted her support for a "democratic" Israel living alongside a judenrein Palestine.
“One state or two states, doesn’t make a difference to me as long as we live in dignity,” said Omar, the owner of the nursery, with Gordon looking upon him like her own son. She beamed as Omar called her a “princess.” But, he added, any land division must be performed under the auspices of the United Nations. A passionate cry for a humanitarian solution, except that in the Muslim world, which dominates the UN, "dignity" translates into living under an Islamic state.
"Jews and Muslims can live together," he assured us. Sure they can, when Jews are as naïve as Gordon.
The love between Gordon and local Arabs was also felt in the town of Jayous (spelled three different ways in the signage) where we met with a Palestinian Authority representative. He tugged heartstrings describing the farmers' difficulty reaching their fields beyond the barrier, land that Israel is purposefully "stealing."
I was more taken by a different wall: the one outside City Hall which featured a map of Israel being showered with blood next to another labeling all of Israel "Palestine." Graffiti asks: "Will my home be free?" Inside, flyers announced events for Nakba, the Arab holiday mourning the "catastrophic" founding of Israel.
Next, in the "village" of Kadum, we drove down windy roads, all decorated with Palestinian flags, passing houses that never seem quite finished, as a local accused the neighboring Jewish town of Kedumim of choking their freedom of movement. He conveniently ignored the wall painted with a swastika.
"We hope for a better future for our children, and freedom and peace for everyone," he concluded with true pageantry. Except that "Freedom and peace" in Islam is synonymous to submission to Islamic law.
No one asked hardball questions—is it because they were afraid of being labeled right-wing extremists?—except for one British gentleman.
"Do you have any power to influence the education system to remove references to Jews as apes and pigs?” he asked.
“We don’t have that access,” Gordon replied, undisturbed.
One of the best parts of the tour was dirt cheap falafel. By dirt cheap, I also mean the joints were dirty. Dust from the main road of Harara blanketed the floor where we ate lunch. 3 shekel falafel!
Too bad my freedom of movement is also constricted. I'd shop there more often. Household appliances, like falafel, are three times cheaper.
But the real treat is supposed to be the town's "knafe," which Gordon raved about.
I was anxious to try this famous delight until I got to the bakery. Posters of Yasser Arafat, responsible for the murder of hundreds of Jews, were plastered all over the exterior glass wall. I boycotted the place.
As we passed the progressive city of Ariel that I call home, we were asked to close the curtains so that we could watch a propaganda film about the crowded conditions at the Qalandiya checkpoint.
“Checkpoints are liable to create terror,” Gordon concluded. In a speech she must have given hundreds of times, she passionately implored us to support her work for the sake of a better future for Israeli children. She meant it. Unlike Americans and Europeans who tell Israel what to do, her children are affected by what happens here.
Maybe, just maybe, her loyalty to Arabs will save her progeny. As their "princess," she'd be spared the violence that will no doubt plague Israel if land is ceded to create a Palestinian state. Unlike most Israelis, she may be free to find refuge in Jayous, or Kadum, or Harara.
But all of us will be spared violence and constricted movement if Gordon leverages her Arab friendships to tear down different walls: the wall seeking Israel’s destruction, the wall marked with the swastika, and the wall celebrating a mass murderer. It's those walls that are truly liable to create terror.
I received the kind of comments common for talkbackers on A7: "Jordan IS Palestine" and "Time to get rid of the NGOs and their foreign agents." But one comment stood out. It came from "Ramallah." He wrote: "It is phenomenal. Your inability to see beyond your narrow minded narrative begs the question, why even go on this tour? I am sure the tour sucks because Machsom Watch sucks, but not for the reasons you said. Ridiculous, what a waste of an article, and a day of your life."
An apparently "pro-Palestinian activist" that thinks MachsomWatch sucks? He had my attention. I invited him to elaborate over e-mail, and he kindly provided me with one of the freshest takes on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that I've read in a while. We'll call him Michael, and he's an American living in Ramallah who works to improve humanitarian conditions for Palestinians. Here's what he wrote (verbatim):
Why does Machsom Watch suck? Well they are a foreign funded and driven generic Liberal-Zionist organization meant to pull at your heart strings about the "poor Palestinian farmer" and the checkpoints. This to me, is generic activist orientalism. Treating Palestinians like they are all peasants farmers who are strangled in every direction by the Israelis. They work on a moral platform to try and make you as an Israeli feel bad for this old Palestinian, wearing a keffiyeh just trying to harvest his olives, as if that is the biggest problem for him specifically or Palestinians as a whole. It caters to a specific group.
Now, regarding your ignorance. First, I don't use this term to attack you, I know the term is meant as one to do that, but in fact the real meaning of the term is rather accurate. First you say this might be your only chance to visit Area A. First, IDF orders are what stops you from going to Area A, and those expired years ago. Next, I bring Israelis and American Jews all across the West Bank, areas A, B, and C on a regular basis. It is more about your mental block than about laws and regulations that stop you. I can understand that, truly I can. But don't present it like laws and regulations are what is stopping you. We both know the enforcement of this is political more than security and meant to separate Israelis and Palestinians more than anything else because god forbid we all see each other as human beings, maybe we would think twice about pulling the trigger or throwing the stone.
Palestinians do not love Machsom Watch, in fact, I bet you 95% of Palestinians don't even know who they are and if you were able to have an "off the record" conversation, those that do know them would say they do more harm than good.
Regarding the wall, I don't think you and I will ever find agreement on it. You think it plays a security role, I think it plays a political role. Many tens of thousands of Palestinians "illegally" cross the wall everyday in search of work or to buy things, and yet terrorism from them is almost non-existent, riddle me that. I could smuggle 4 in my car right now and go through Hizma with a trunk full of suicide belts, yet suicide bombings and attacks of the such have not been around for years. So security? No, refer to my point above about separating the peoples.
Regarding Palestinian maps, this to me is just generic hasbara. Israelis and Palestinians both have maps that show the same thing, their state minus the other. You'll find some Palestinian maps with Israel mentioned, and the West Bank/Gaza marked as Palestine, and you will find some Israeli maps showing Area A as "under the administration of the Palestinian Authority," hence your stone throwing in the glass house is shattered. If you want, we can have the send emails back and forth of pictures of maps, but I studied in an Israeli university, "the beacon of liberalism" and they are no different.
The Nakba is not meant to recognize the catastrophe of the establishment of Israel. It is meant to commemorate the refugee crisis that occurred before, during, and after it. Let us not pretend like the refugee issue began when those "HUGE ARAB ARMIES" invaded. Almost half of the people who became refugees were already refugees by May 15, 1948.
Swastikas in the West Bank. First, they don't do this for idolization of Nazis, they do it to equate the star of david with it. Now, do I disagree with the analogy, sure, fine whatever, it is lazy at best. When the IDF invades Palestinian villages, they like to spray paint all sorts of horrific things in houses on a regular basis, why don't you mention that? Do we need to have the email photo war back and forth on that as well? I would like to think not.
Regarding Palestinian textbooks, you may want to read Oslo and its compliments. Israel has full control over Palestinian textbooks and the curriculum in Palestinian classrooms, so if there are derogatory things, take it up with your own government. Palestinians don't need textbooks to have antagonism towards Israel, they exist, that is enough. They see settlements expanding on land their parents used to work on, they have the army invading their villages on a daily basis,they see their services as being lackluster as compared to settlements, even those built by the ICA, you really think they need textbooks to feel angry at Israel and to insult them? Please
For you Arafat is a terrorist that is responsible for the death of hundreds of Jews, fine, no argument. But to Palestinians, Begin, Sharon, Ben Gurion, etc are the exact same thing. You have the privilege to boycott those things that are offensive to you, Palestinians do not. They still have to drive on roads named after these people, they are ot allwoed to fly in an airport named after them, etc, etc ,etc. Most Palestinians do not liek Arafat for his politics, like most Israelis probably do not like any of the aforementioned leaders for their politics. It is their symbolism for one or another thing, that might have little to nothing to do with what YOU think they mean.
Kunnifeh is delicious, I agree, although I think the best is in Nablus, not Qaddum.
I have since taken him up on his invitation to try some kunnifeh in Nablus (more on that later), and we discussed some of the points in his letter. Stay tuned for my written response to Michael, and see how a "peace process" should really go down. Bibi, Abbas, Kerry: take notes!