Almost every Friday my family and I go to Modi’in, a settlement north of Jerusalem, to buy plants and flowers for our garden, ending our shopping spree with a delicious ice-coffee to quench our thirst in the blazing summer heat. As we waited at the Modi’in junction for the traffic light to turn green, Jewish settlement youth were distributing ribbons in two colors, orange and blue/white. The orange ribbons represent those ‘against’ the Gaza disengagement plan. The white/blue on the other hand represent those ‘with’ the Gaza disengagement plan.
As we waited I watched which cars opted for the orange ribbons and which cars for the blue/white ribbons. With no precise statistics I estimate that many religious Jewish settlers opted for the orange ribbons, while many seculars opted for the blue/white ones. If I were to view this as a game with myself as a referee, I would comfortably judge that the orange team won.
As these dedicated youth approached our car I contemplated for a moment which ribbon I would choose. I decided not to disappoint either team and took one of each. However, the main question is, which of these ribbons would I display on my car antenna to publicly reflect my political opinion?
It is not an easy decision to make especially when the question is put against the realm of the past fifty years, locally and internationally.
The State of Israel was created in 1948 as a necessity (to absorb a post Second World War Jewish exodus) and fulfillment of a long time dream of having a safe-haven for Jews in the diaspora, a place which Jews could call home and feel safe in times of danger, a place that God had promised Jews biblically. Creating this home did not take place and is not taking place undisputed based on its political, military as well as its historical/theological merit.
The decision to create this home was initiated and taken internationally. In 1947 the United Nations passed resolution 181 that recommended the partition of Palestine into two states, an Arab state on 45% of the land and a Jewish state on 55%, whereby Jerusalem and Bethlehem would become (corpus separatum) i.e. separate enclaves under the supervision of international auspices and the United Nations. Given a minority portion when at the time they formed a majority owning a majority of the land, the Palestinians (the local inhabitants of the land) deemed the plan unfair and abstained.
The plan was nevertheless implemented with the occupation of West Jerusalem, later self proclaimed by David Ben Gurion as effectively unoccupied territory and part and parcel of the State of Israel. This has led to displacing and dispossessing tens of thousands of Palestinians, forcing them either to relocate or to flee. However, the creation of the State of Israel and its expansion did not stop there. Another offensive was launched in 1967 when the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem were occupied. Even more Palestinians were once more being displaced and dispossessed and a unified greater Jerusalem self-proclaimed as the eternal undivided capital of the State of Israel.
Today, approximately four million Palestinians are refugees residing in neighboring Arab countries, or living in Diasporas world wide, with for most very grim prospects of ever being allowed to go back, let alone live, home. Israel does not stop there. Albeit the use of different tactics, eviction is up to this date still taking place. The Israeli government first makes sure that Palestinians adopt other nationalities or voluntarily leave the country before they resolutely revoke their rights from ever returning back home. This way Palestinians become either estranged from their homes, guests in their own homes, or tourists in their country of birth and upbringing, with Jerusalem being one of the present’s most acute examples of such practices.
Not having a home to live in or go back to due to uprooting, let alone having no say in ones own destiny is mental and emotional torture, if not a living hell. In the past, Sinai settlers and today Gaza settlers, in the past Palestinians and today more Palestinians are undergoing that very same torture as a result of arbitrary national and international governmental social and political engineering that determines, in fact dictates, human destiny without consultation.
As I watched the active Jewish settler youth lobby for support on the streets, and as I watch the media nationally and internationally covering the youth’s elders resisting this displacement, I cannot but feel with them in their plight and fervor. I feel every bit of pain as I watch how they have first been manipulated into settlement and then manipulated out of settlement. I cannot, as a human being, but extend my fullest sympathy to the Jewish people of Gaza and any people who are forcibly placed and displaced by manipulative policies.
For this reason, if I could, I would raise the orange ribbon. I would raise it with and for them and any human being subject/ed to displacement, dispossession and oppression. However, unlike the Jewish settlers, I am not allowed to raise anything to resist injustice. Why? Because I am Palestinian. If I raise my voice I will be accused of anti-Semitism. If I raise my hand I will be accused of crazy extremism and terrorism, parallels becoming more evident as evacuation day approaches.
But, as they say, behind every cloud there is a silver lining, for the Jews at least. Contrary to the tens of thousands to millions of Palestinians, at the end of the day the Jewish settlers receive financial and residential compensation, with educational, social and economic security to cushion it all. Above all, they receive worldwide media attention and sympathy. That’s more than any Palestinian received or can ever dream of receiving. If I were a Jewish settler, I would still count my blessings.
Tamar Amir is a pseudonym