Monday, September 12, 2016

Better Imagined

Israel wants more; more money and more protection from international criticism.

American journalist, Ben Ehrenreich, after traveling three years around the West Bank, writes that when the last “peace accords” broke down, the only people surprised were the Americans. Israel had entered into its discussions determined that nothing would come of it, and the Palestinians had been jerked around too many times to even hope.

He writes that all Israel wants is more:

What Israel experienced as relative calm, Palestinians lived out as a slow and steady exercise in annexation; more settlements, more prisoners, more evictions and home demolitions, more land lost to the path of the wall. The number of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank had more than tripled since the first Oslo agreements was signed in 1993. Assaults on Palestinians by soldiers at check-points, or by settlers anywhere else, were so common that they rarely made the news.[1]

It adds up to four decades of humiliation, loss of freedom and natural resources, (water,) watching helplessly as your children are arrested, put in prison and tortured, being tried in Israeli military courts and convicted be “secret evidence,” which they nor their lawyer are allowed to see. The last year such records were kept, 99.74 percent of Palestinians tried in the military court system were convicted.[2]  The humiliation goes on and on.   When Israel is involved, there is always more.

At the same time Israel pleads for less. Less exposure. On April 1st,  this year, Israel even called off its infamous, erotic laced, birthright trips.  In an interview with Mondoweiss Birthright CEO Gidi Mark explained:

--- Given the rightward, and frankly racist, turn in Israel we could no longer conduct a trip that would present the country in the most flattering light. We determined that in order to build support for Israel, young people are best off leaving it to their imagination.
--- Time and time again we found participants were turned off by actually seeing the country.
--- As I watched the U.S. presidential debates, I kept thinking, “why can’t we show people the Israel these politicians seem to see?”
--- We finally figured it out, the best way to build support for Israel is to have as little contact with Israel as possible.

So, birthright trips now are to a camp in the U.S. where kids watch the movie Exodus.[3]

The less known about the real Israel… well, again, Israel seems far better imagined than realized.

Thomas Are
September 12, 2016

[1]  Ben Ehrenreich, The Way to the Spring, (Penguin Press, New York, 2016) p.8.
[2] Ben Ehrenreich, The Way to the Spring, (Penguin Press, New York, 2016) p.20.
[3] 2016/04,  Birthright Ends Trips to Israel – “American Jews are better off Imagining Israel than Seeing It.” 

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