Thursday, September 11, 2014
Jews To Israel: If Not Now, When
In the wake of ongoing abuses by Israel against the Palestinian people - from the most recent devastation in Gaza to the brute fact of the Occupation itself - a growing number of Israelis and other Jews are renouncing, often with a mix of sorrow and anger, a Zionist project most have grown up supporting. The flood of leave-takings has come from all sides, starting with the rapid growth of Israeli peace organizations, mostly notably If Not Now.
Then came the decision by leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem to stop cooperating with Israel, which recently banned several independent human rights groups, in its so-called "investigation" of abuses in Gaza. The group cited the IDF's well-documented history of "whitewashing," arguing, “Common sense has it that a body cannot investigate itself...Based on past experience, we can only regretfully say that Israeli law enforcement authorities are unable and unwilling to investigate allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law (in) Gaza.” Around the same time, an even more startling rejection came from a group of Holocaust survivors and their families, who wrote an open letter calling Israeli conduct in Gaza "genocide."
This week, they were joined, in his fashion, by Pulitzer-Prize-winning author and illustrator Art Spiegelman, who became one of the most acclaimed voices of the Holocaust when he told the story of his father's survival at Auschwitz with his extraordinary graphic novel Maus. After admitting he'd "spent a lifetime trying to NOT think about Israel," Spiegelman created a re-constituted David and Goliath image for The Nation as his way of acknowledging that "Israel is like some badly battered child with PTSD who has grown up to batter others."
And Friday, 43 veterans of Unit 8200, Israel's most secretive military intelligence unit, released a letter refusing to serve in operations in the Occupied Territories, citing their growing "moral dilemmas" in the face of an “all-encompassing” surveillance of largely innocent people that "is used for political persecution and to create divisions within Palestinian society." This is the sound of people waking up: "We refuse to continue serving as tools in deepening the military control over the Occupied Territories."