Standort: / Meldung: "Shalom Israel?"

Riem Higazi

Cultural mash-ups, political slip-ups, and other things that make me go hmmm.

18. 1. 2013 - 17:41

Shalom Israel?

Upcoming elections are set to move the Holy Land even further to the right.

 An Israeli surfer rides a wave inside the break-water at a Tel Aviv, Israel beach


An Israeli surfer rides a wave inside the break-water at a Tel Aviv, Israel beach

The country I have most submerged myself in professionally and privately without ever having set one actual foot in, is Israel.
I have faint childhood memories of my Egyptian father telling stories of how lovely it was as a beach holiday destination but also of how horrible it was with regards to how Arabs such as himself were treated.
As a teenager, via The Diary of Anne Frank, I started a journey into the past that still continues and affects me profoundly, not just because of the impact of the Second World War and the Holocaust, but because of the survivors I have had the privilege to meet and their enduring message - those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

An Israeli cycles past election posters showing the right-wing  Likud party with current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and the Hatnuah (Movement) party showing centrist Tzipi Livni


An Israeli cycles past election posters showing the right-wing Likud - Yisrael Beitenu party with current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and the Hatnuah (Movement) party showing centrist Tzipi Livni in Petah Tikva, just outside Tel Aviv

I have found identical character and behaviour traits between myself and the many Israeli friends I have met in the course of my life so far... I have felt such a familiarity and kinship and had some major laughs (my friend Avi became my de facto brother when we both lived in London back in the day).

An instant camaraderie hasn't just been restricted to private friendships. I will never forget the occassion of a Middle East Women in Journalism Forum I was asked to host at Vienna's Bruno Kreisky Forum, a quite serious affair punctuated by the roaring laughter of yours truly and three ladies from Israel, Egypt, and Gaza, each respectively well-known in their region for their media presence. We couldn't stop laughing because even our laughter sounded the same.

This type of kinship and a deep-rooted respect I have not only for history but for every human being's right to exist and live a life of dignity and equality, is the reason any accusation of anti-semitism pointed my way, feels like a stinging slap to my face and a sharp punch to my stomach.

Because that's what I have gotten.

For questioning the policies of a government occupying the land of a people and forcing them into what has been termed the world's largest prison. For criticising the erection of a wall, the demolition of houses, the destruction of crops, the poisoning of water, the building of strategic settlements, the massive imbalance between numbers of casualties, between people hurt, between people broken.

A worker of the Central Election Commission in Israel organizes ballots boxes in preparation for 2013 Israel elections, in Shoham, Israel


A worker of the Central Election Commission in Israel organizes ballots boxes in preparation for 2013 Israel elections, in Shoham, Israel

Accusations of anti-semitism are hurtful and make me angry but the accusation of being a bleeding-heart-idealist/dumbass for applauding the efforts of such grassroots organisations as Israel Loves Iran and Real Democracy Israel, that really gets my goat.

Is it so wrong to strive for peace? Is it so wrong to think that just because something has been one way for generations, it can't be another way in the future?

I want to visit Israel someday. I want to soak in the sun, swim at the beach, visit the sites. I want to kibitz with the people and greet everyone I meet with a hearty shalom (a traditional Jewish greeting or farewell and it literally means 'peace') knowing that peace is really what's on offer. I continue to hope the day will come when I can set foot on the land of milk and honey and finally be able to say, "Shalom Israel!"

The polls suggest that a government ranked as one of the most rightwing in Israel's history is set to be replaced by one even further to the right. The elections set for January 22nd have already unleashed a torrent of discussion on the future of The Holy Land and The Occupied Territories. With a look at an initiative wherein Israeli "gift" their ballot to ineligible Palestinian "voters", the platform of a party headed by an Israeli-Palestinian woman, and an introduction to the ultra-ultra-nationalist Jewish Home Party, Riem Higazi presents "Israel Votes: An Election Preview"

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Zum Eingabeformular Kommentieren

  • biased | vor 1731 Tagen, 18 Stunden, 30 Minuten


    I think your view of these things represents the mainstream position of european based left wing politics.

    My problem with it is not that I would consider it is wrong: it isn't.

    It is just a view that looks at things through the mindframe of European based left wing citizens, who live in the longest era of peace, wealth and security ever achieved on the European continent.

    You look on theses thing s through ideological glasses, and through the eyes of the people who are involved.

    The biggest problem with Israel according to leftwing politics is that the Israeli Government is a right wing one and therefore a warmongering, the war crome of buliding houses committing bunch of tank commanders.

    An "arte" documentary about the uprcoming elections is called: Frieden oder Gottesstaat. That's absurd!

    Before talking about Isarel/Palestine without taliking about antisemitism/racism it is necessary to see the picture thorugh both eyes and I really don't think at all, that left wing citizens in Europe can do that.

    That's my call: Give it up to make judgements based on your sets of values, accept that there are values and human decisions made by right wing...

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    • riem | vor 1731 Tagen, 13 Stunden, 29 Minuten

      Thank you for your input biased. Your and makronaut's replies have given me plenty of food for thought.

  • makronaut | vor 1732 Tagen, 14 Stunden, 57 Minuten

    so, riem,

    people accused you of being antisemitic - despite all the stuff you think you have to write a whole article about.

    how might that be?

    maybe it is because you
    a) omit the israeli position COMPLETELY? where are statements by isralis who are fed up with rockest from gaza? testimonials from people in ashdod?

    b) you have an account about the "most rightwing government" without definging why it is so.

    c) your "correspondent" can accuse netanyahu of "not going ahead" with the peace process" and state, that what he "clearly wants, is to prevent any progress of the peace process" - and taking this without question - even if this is utter bs.

    d) accusing "israel beitenu" of being "ultra-ultra-nationalist".

    e) stating, that palestinians in east j'lem weren't allowed to vote.


    just to put this into perspective:

    a) instead your colleages spread antiisr propaganda. look at my (still unaswered) posting there:

    b) wikipedia: [citation needed]/[says who]
    -> ever heard of menachem begin?

    c) the mideast quartet(!) once stated, that the building of settlements are IRRELEVANT for negotiations. bibis settlement stop for ten months was answered with NO NEGOTIATIONS STILL from the palestinian side. the israelis since years are sitting on the...

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    • makronaut | vor 1732 Tagen, 14 Stunden, 57 Minuten

      ...negotiation table, waiting.
      but who is allegedly stopping the process: bibi.

      d) and not mentioning the poor palestinins, who, after the COMPLETE israeli withdrawal from gaza in 2005, in 2006 votet for hamas (60%+ of the seats). and this BEFORE egypt(!!) and israel established the blockade in 2007.
      this doesn't make lieberman better - but it shows, what you are ommiting.

      e) "strange", that your "correspondent" does not mention, that all these people are offered israeli citizenship. a recent poll found, that lots of these palestinians would move to israel, if east j'lem would fall to a palestinian state - another population transfer would ensue.

      -> there is a "3D" approach to contemporary antisemitism concerning israel (which is a working base for the eu as far as i know:
      - demonization
      - double standards
      - delegitimation

      and when you look at the above: what do you see?

      notorious/famous hendrick broder established the concept of "antisemitism without antisemites". a case study was delivered by the recent augsein-debate in germany:
      people who would not dream of labeling themselves as "antisemitic" making open antisemitic propositions and/or "3d"-propositions.

      this is what you do at fm4 - e.g. in this article.


      so if someone accuses you of being...

    • makronaut | vor 1732 Tagen, 14 Stunden, 57 Minuten

      ...antisemitic - i have no doubts why this might be quite justified, if it is based on your statements.

    • makronaut | vor 1732 Tagen, 14 Stunden, 56 Minuten

      have you ever thought of this perspective:

      the germans in '39 startet a war of annihilation. the arabs did so in '48, '67 and '73 (not counting the asymmetric terror).

      the germans were defeated. the arabs also.

      the germans wanted peace. so they accpted (among other things)
      - demilitarisation
      - losing large pieces of land (now poland and czech)
      - to absorb millions of refugees
      - to refrain from their capital
      - long occupation

      and now it is a thriving country.

      imagine what germany would look like, if instead the germans would have acted like the arabs did. it might look like in the territories - but lot worse, since the israelis hve quite high moral standards compared to the allied forces in ww2.

      think about this perspective when you next blame the israelis for being the obstacle to peace.

    • riem | vor 1731 Tagen, 20 Stunden, 16 Minuten

      Thank you makronaut for your impassioned reply. Two things-my request for interviews with representatives of the Jewish Home Party and Likud went unanswered. And I do not blame Israelis for being the obstacle to peace, quite the contrary.
      The reenforcement of the notion that questioning an administration's approach to the Occupied Territores is equal to anti-semitism within your reply is ...well, you are of course entitled to your opinion. I would certainly never accuse you of being racist for it though. Or even of participating in racism without being a racist.

    • makronaut | vor 1731 Tagen, 13 Stunden, 48 Minuten

      i thank you for your answer!

      1) "I do not blame Israelis for being the obstacle to peace, quite the contrary."

      you do not? well - you "accuse" the israelis of goint to vote the allegedly most right wing gouvernment ever in israel, which is allegedly led by a guy who "clearly wants, […] to prevent any progress of the peace process".

      -> this doesnt' really fit, does it? o_O

      2) you did not read my posting carefully. i also question, how the administration of the west bank is run there is LOTS to improve. but that doesn't make me (or you) an antisemite.

      BUT: what you do is taking part in this permanent process of demonization and double standards.
      i elaboreted this point but there seems to be need for further clarification on the topics mentioned above:

      a) by omiting the israeli position and reasons for the vote the israelis are about to give you leave us with the picture with a people consumed with anger, revenge and brutality.
      but the contrary is true. it might help to actually set a foot in this country befor you judge the people there.

      b/d) see a) and question yorself(!!), why you think you have to...

    • makronaut | vor 1731 Tagen, 13 Stunden, 47 Minuten

      ...propose superlatives and super-superlatives ("ultra-ultra-nationalist") - as the purpose of this vocabulary is clearly demonization and nothing else.

      c) double standards and demonization! as i already pointed out in 1) and a) there might be good and perfectly sensible reasons for netanyahu's behavior. he doesn't get voted for nothing. and as in your answer you pointed out, that you actually think that you don not think the israelis were an obstacle to peace - "quite the contrary".
      in regard of the things i wrote this might also be true to soy of netanyahu. just be honest about yourself and the the discrepancy between the palestinian's officiall intentions and their actual deeds.

      also to understand the israelis position better consider a thought or two on the "german perspective" i laid out above.

      e) again: why this demonization? even if likud or jewish home deny to give statements - why is there a need to show only one side? a side which thinks it to be necessary to not tell even half of the truth on eastj'lem?
      and - even worse! - leave it that way?

      -> you mentioned the israeli control of the westbank. as i pointed...

    • makronaut | vor 1731 Tagen, 13 Stunden, 47 Minuten

      ...out there is lots of room for improvement. but how could israel ever withdraw, as long as the palestinians response to a complete withdrawal is support hamas and over 12.000 rockets and grenades fired at israeli civilians? and hamas as well as fatah leave little doubt, that the 2-state-solution is only a step to a further "greater palestine"!

      THIS (and the deeds of your colleagues mentioned here: ) is what i consider to be antisemitic! this relentless effort of demonizing the jewish people as being "right wing" and voting for people "clearly want [...] to prevent any progress of the peace process" - without showing ANY reason for their behavior and at least some hints, WHY "quite the conrary" might actually be true.

      instead you establish double standards by sticking to the palestinian narrative (which is by foundation extremely right, anti-gay, -women, -semitic and nationalist) without questioning it in ANY WAY!

      don't you see that regarding this it might seem nothing but lip service, when you combine this with a whole article on how much you love this country?

      how fitting it is to categorize this as "antisemitism without antisemites"?

      your "reenforcement of the...

    • makronaut | vor 1731 Tagen, 13 Stunden, 47 Minuten

      ...notion that questioning an administration's approach to the Occupied Territores is equal to anti-semitism"-victim thing doesn't really make things better.

      because this is not what i do.

      i point ot the demonization that is going on - not the critizism.

  • biased | vor 1733 Tagen, 12 Stunden, 16 Minuten

    It is not wrong to strive for peace, it is...

    ...just useless

    But let's ask this question the other way round: Why has striving for peace never worked?

    It is simple to answer this question by taking a side: Isarel is the guilty part, the Arabs don't want peace etc.

    It is much more difficult to accept, that being ready for war did work in the past and will work in the future.

    Isarel has survived 7 decades because it was ready to fight. Tanks and artillery saved its existence, nothing else.
    It is this ability to fight by any means necessary that guarantee one's survival. That is the real lesson from the Holocaust: striving for peace will eat you killed.
    Or as Lou Reed put it:
    The goodly hearted made lampshades and soap.

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