a force more powerful

“We may not currently have the might of the Israeli army and the power of traditions confine us in certain roles, however, we know that one woman standing behind another in a line of solidarity is a force more powerful than both.”
–kefah, speaking in at-tuwani village, west bank, palestine

i am going to start with kefah. kefah will be on a speaking tour in italy this fall.

i met kefah in the fall of 2004 under horrible circumstances. we were living in the southern west bank. and a couple of international friends had been walking with palestinian children passed an israeli settlement, when the israeli settlers jumped out of the woods and beat my two friends down. luckily, the kids weren’t physically hurt, but they were scared, very scared. but my two friends were taken to the hospital with a punctured lung, broken knee and arm, and psychological trauma. so i and a couple of other internationals who were living in palestine went to at tuwani and walked with the children the next day passed the settlement. and the day after that.
those kids were amazing. they faced death just so they could go to elementary school.
the israeli soldiers told us that if the settlers attacked us, they would not protect us. and we believed them since a lot of the soldiers were from neighboring israeli settlements.
at night we slept in the women’s museum, a palestinian women’s craft co-op started by kefah.
kefah is amazing. she is a wife, a mother to four sons, a self-avowed feminist, a leader in her village, a visionary, a business woman, a community organizer. when i think of revolutionary motherhood, i think of kefah.
and she has a great raunchy sense of humor.
kefah expanded for me what i understood motherhood to mean. well, actually not just kefah, a lot of palestinian women did that for me. women who daily confront israeli soldiers just so they can work in their fields, harvest plants, leave their house, go to the clinic, go to the neighboring town. women who do it with a babe riding on their shoulders. women who do it with little money and a lot of strength. women. who. do. it.
dont get me wrong, i dont romanticize living under an occupation. its not pretty. its too little food, and too many people dying. its your husband, your son, your father, your brother in jail and you trying to figure out how to get the money to get him out, if that is even allowed. its eid under curfew. its watching your house be demolished simply because it was standing and then rebuilding it just to watch it be demolished again. its your mosque, your school be demolished. apartment buildings being shelled. its never having enough. its living on the breath of survival. its life. and its painful.
revolution aint pretty and it doesnt come cheap.
but it was kefah that i became friends with. and kefah who i watched as she organized women while mothering young boys.
and it was kefah and her village, at tuwani, that i wanted to return to when i tried to return to palestine in the winter of 2009.

======

in late december of 2009 israel decided to bomb gaza. and bomb her and bomb her. my lil family and i traveled during the bombing. first to scotland to see our friends theresa and jim. and then we got on a plane in mid january and flew to tel aviv, israel. (you have to enter israel in order to enter the west bank). instead of allowing us to enter israel, the airport security put me, my partner, and my one year old daughter in israeli jail for three days. (and no, we dont know why they would not allow us to enter israel, israel is like that, we have some good guesses, but no hard facts…)
there is a lot i can say from those three days in jail. i can tell you that all the guards are hopped up on speed and uppers and live in a world of paranoia that wafts through the jail like cigarette smoke. i can tell you that they refused to give us diapers for aza so she had to piss on the floor for a day until the cleaning lady came in and told the guards to give us diapers or else. i can tell you that in the cell next to us was an eight month dutch nigerian pregnant lady with her husband who had their passports confiscated. and that through the vents aza and i heard the guards torturing him while they videotaped it.
and there are things i cannot tell you. i cannot tell you the sound of aza screaming because she was locked in a room for over twenty four hours, ill never forget it, but ill never be able to describe it either. i cannot tell you the soft look in aza’s eyes when the guard told me: i dont care what happens to your daughter, whatever happens to her is your fault. because you are in here.
even though i had spent the past couple of days trying to get the fuck out of there.
i can tell you how by the end of that experience, no matter how horrifying many of the guards had been, i was so grateful that i was not them. that i still walked with my humanity. that i still could feel compassion for them even if they could not afford to do so for me.
i can though tell you that what we experienced was normal. and whatever was abnormal about our experience in jail was due to the privilege we were extended as us citizens.
after three days they let us go and flew us to amsterdam.
the bombing of gaza ended while we were in jail. and obama was inaugurated a day after we got out. i can tell you that i wasnt feeling very much hope as i watched pieces of the inauguration celebration from our hotel room television set.
i was missing palestine deeply. i wanted kefah to meet aza.

======

a lot of people want to quibble over israel and palestine. they want to start with the right of israel to exist. they want to start dividing up land for a two state solution. they want it over with. done with. cause they are tired of it.
no body i have ever met is more tired of the occupation than palestinians. bone tired. they dont get a day off from genocide.
and that means they dont get a day away from struggle.
people ask me what do i think about hamas and their refusal to acknowledge israel’s right to exist.
ummm…i have a lot of critiques of hamas. a lot. but israel does not have a right to exist. no nation based on occupation and genocide does (and that most definitely includes my home country the us of a). and no one should require that the oppressed acknowledge the ‘right’ of the oppressor to abuse, violate, and murder. no real peace can be bought at such a price. (i do not believe in rewriting history and so israel does exist, whether or not it has a right to. and we have to deal with it as it exists. but damn, dont ask for the natives to thank the conquerors for their chains…)
and there are few places where this is better articulated than in palestinian hip hop.

so i will end with darg (da revolutionary arabian guys) team. a few amazing mc’s from gaza. they had been trying for months to be allowed to leave gaza and after the massacre on the mavi marmara a couple of months ago and in response israel opening the gazan borders, darg team was able to escape to switzerland where they are hanging out now, planning to come to the states in september and go on tour. if we can get the visas and the funds for them to do so.

“on December 27th 2008 Israel started it’s first strike on Gaza killing hundrends no thousands of lives for 23 days. DARG TEAM after the war recorded and filmed it’s first video clip ‘23 yoom”.
today, one year after the war and DARG TEAM steps in again but this time calling every one to participate and start rebuilding what the war left behind.”

rebuild by us

(it’s in arabic. i really can’t translate it.)

the question i hate the most when i write or speak about palestine is: but is there any hope? did you feel any hope when you were there?
what. the. fuck?
hope? fuck hope.
i saw mamas breastfeeding babies. and old men tending flocks of sheep in full defiance of the israeli military. i saw wild poppies covering a graveyard. and a boy etching graffiti on the apartheid wall. and a 12 year old girl in hijab and school uniform sing umm kulthum with a tenor that would make the stoic weep. i have seen a full bellied palestinian pregnant woman turn her back to an israeli soldier who had a gun pointed at her so she could talk on the cell phone to her four year old son and tell him that she would be home soon. and communities get together and remove the large earth mound road blocks that the israeli army puts down in the middle of highways to cut off transportation between neighboring cities. and grandmothers who will yell at soldiers and lock arms protecting their sons. thrown rocks off of mountains with seven year olds (who had a much better arm than me) and drank tea in front of the rubble that used to be my hosts bedroom.
hope? i have seen much more than hope.
i have seen life. and love. and revolution.

and someday i will see kefah again.


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94 comments for “a force more powerful

  1. PrettyAmiable
    July 29, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Jennifer B.
    July 29, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    My sister just came back from Palestine a few days ago. She had NO problems with any Palestinians. The only hassle she got was from the Isreali soldiers “warning” her about going to Bethlehem and Ramalah. She has very pale skin, brown curly hair, and a large nose. Most people in america would say she looks very “jewish”. And yet, not *one*single*problem*. And already she wants to go back.

  3. July 29, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Weeping. This is beautiful.

  4. July 29, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    so powerful.

  5. Jadey
    July 29, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    There is so much power in you. I don’t know if I will ever understand comprehend where it comes from, although I know you are explaining it here. I think I am scared to.

    This post was hypnotizing.

  6. jemand
    July 29, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    thank you for this post

  7. LJ
    July 29, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    thank you for this amazing post and the courageous work that you do. i hope your friend is well and that you are able to see her again. as you say, you “cannot tell” us how it felt to experience an israeli prison with your daughter. it is unimaginable. i hope you haven’t received too much flack over this, as you have for bringing your daughter into far less traumatic environments (e.g. bars and restaurants). i hope the focus remains, instead, on what the prison guards did and what kind of environment they deliberately subjected a mother and child, an environment that probably could not exist without the support of the united states. without our tax dollars. without the tax dollars of american feminists.

    “i dont care what happens to your daughter, whatever happens to her is your fault. because you are in here.”

    i think this sentiment, perhaps in quieter, subtler, more civilized turns of phrase, is familiar to us all.

    in the u.s., a former apartheid state, the public sphere still tacitly belongs to white adults who obey social norms, which range from “keep your voice down” to “keep your legs crossed”. in israel, there is no such subtlety. jews are people, while arabs are literally expendable. i accept that these are controversial statements within mainstream american culture, but i’m surprised at how much bitterness results when this is stated within feminist spaces.

    i call myself a feminist, because i take the title seriously. i believe in freedom and equality for every woman and child on the face of the planet. i think it’s laughable for anyone to call sarah palin a feminist. and i don’t understand how anyone can call themselves a feminist and not be sick with horror at what israel does to palestinian people every day.

  8. Spencer
    July 29, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    it is true what you said in your first post that the “balanced” perspective is an illusion.

    I think that what is important for us to note as commentators is that the situation is incredibly complex and cannot be reduced to a simple good vs. evil binary.

    I am worried that some people might take your post to mean “israel is evil. israel is the problem.” The vast majority of people living in Israel are decent, kind, hard-working people. Much like the vast majority of people living in the Palestinian territories.

    For every issue that one can be critical of Israel for (occupation, settlements, nuclear policy, etc.) there are issues to be critical of the Palestinian authority for (suicide bombings, persecution of homosexuals, reproductive and relationship justice, etc.)

    The balance of power is undoubtedly unequal, but that doesn’t absolve any stakeholder of responsibility.

    I think that the building of settlements is tragic and wrong, but I also deeply disagree with you that it’s a genocide. There are more Arabs living in Israel as citizens than there are living in the Gaza strip.

    To the extent that any modern state is founded on violence and is inherently at-odds with our common humanity, no state has the right to exist. But in the context of a Jewish diaspora and presence in the Middle East that is constantly threatened by leaders who argue that the Holocaust didn’t occur, or that it must be repeated, the state of Israel seems essential to protecting Jewish identity.

    I just don’t hear Israeli leaders calling for the destruction of all Palestinian-identified people. Nor is there evidence of it in practice.

    I welcome your comments and criticism about the issue, but I would humbly request that you be less quick to apply terms like “genocide” and work to complicate and not reduce the political issues involved.

  9. July 29, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    This is right on. It makes me sad that we can’t take the Palestinians who are bone tired of the occupation and the Israelis who are bone tired of sending their children off to become killers and give them all the power and just fuck Likud and fuck Hamas. It makes me so so so sad. And it makes me so angry how many of my fellow Jews would call you a liar for what you’ve seen and experienced. Or defend the actions of the Israeli government and those soldiers. These are not acceptable actions and they really need to stop. I just have no more patience these days.

  10. Shelley
    July 29, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I read a lot of articles in ANTH about Isreal/Palestine from a gender perspective, and the militarized masculinity of Isreal’s culture is not worth defending, IMO. This post is very well written; it’s very interesting to read the first hand accounts of how Palestinian’s are being treated. I am appaled by Isreal’s behavior in this instance and many, many more..

  11. PTS
    July 29, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    “(i do not believe in rewriting history and so israel does exist, whether or not it has a right to. and we have to deal with it as it exists. but damn, dont ask for the natives to thank the conquerors for their chains…)”

    I get the point and I more or less grant it. I don’t think it is put very well. Here’s why:

    Of course, everybody lives where they live because they displaced someone else. Or their ancestors displaced someone else. So, on your view, no one has a right to anything, including the Palestinians. After all, a Palestinian state will require that some Israelis get uprooted (and some were back in the 40s), so there goes the Palestinian moral claim for a share of sovereign territory. A literal reading of your claim proves too much.

    What I took away from your comment, which I agree with, is that the Israelis are much, much more powerful and hold all the cards. As a consequence, to demand reciprocity in the diplomatic situation is a moral absurdity. The Israelis have the power, they are (mostly) in the wrong, and they have an obligation to redress the wrong they are committing regardless of what Hamas does.

    P.S. I would also note. That the “right to exist” stuff isn’t a hangup for some people because someone decided to take an eraser to a textbook. It’s a hangup because people have these unfortunate habit every so often of trying to kill every Jew that lives around them. Just a little context.

    P.P.S. I thought this was really powerful stuff. I am glad to have read it.

  12. July 29, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Powerful. Moving. Beautiful. Thank you.

  13. Sid
    July 29, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    The guest posts have been awesome and educational, and you in particular have been ingenious. With all due respect to the regulars, this blog in the past week has been more thought-provoking than the rest of the past year combined.

  14. djf
    July 29, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    but israel does not have a right to exist. no nation based on occupation and genocide does (and that most definitely includes my home country the us of a). and no one should require that the oppressed acknowledge the ‘right’ of the oppressor to abuse, violate, and murder. . . . dont ask for the natives to thank the conquerors for their chains

    This canard has been repeated by every country Jews have ever lived in. I’m not here to argue with your one-sided portrait of Israel-as-oppressor. I don’t deny yours or anybody’s experience. But please don’t refer to Jews or Israelis as foreigners who are somehow not native to the land where they were born.

  15. LJ
    July 29, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    @djf: i don’t see mai’a calling jews “foreigners” or “not native” anywhere. (although it is true that a good chunk of israeli jews were born in the u.s.). instead, i see a critique of the “right” of any nation/state to exist. i know, i know, i KNOW that this goes with the territory, but it would be nice to see this issue discussed without derailing accusations of anti-semitism where there clearly isn’t any.

  16. July 29, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    djf:
    This canard has been repeated by every country Jews have ever lived in. I’m not here to argue with your one-sided portrait of Israel-as-oppressor. I don’t deny yours or anybody’s experience. But please don’t refer to Jews or Israelis as foreigners who are somehow not native to the land where they were born.  

    djf, I think what she’s saying is that the nation-state of Israel doesn’t have a right to exist, not that Jews don’t have a right to live in or access the land. It’s crucial that we don’t conflate these two positions.

  17. July 29, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I agree with Sid (#11) that your posts have been phenomenal and very educational. I know that, in the US, I don’t hear a lot of negatives about Israel. Israel is our ally, Israel can do no wrong, poor Israel is being harassed by those ungrateful Arabs…It’s refreshing and educational to hear a perspective from someone who has actually been there and experienced it, and who doesn’t immediately justify all actions done by the Israeli government.

  18. Kai
    July 29, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Awesome.

  19. Kristen J.
    July 29, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Wheewww…very powerful. When I finish crying may be I’ll come up with something eloquent…but that’s all I’ve got at this point. FWIW, I think it’s possible to acknowledge the horror of what the government of Israel and some Israelis are doing to the Palestinians without vilifying every Jewish person and while also acknowledging the oppression Jewish persons have experienced and continue to experience. Although, I don’t think many will use the same nuance in responding to this post. I don’t have anything else useful to say except that I am sending you my “good vibes” to use as strength for surviving this comment thread.

  20. Vanessa Goldman
    July 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Shoshie: This is right on. It makes me sad that we can’t take the Palestinians who are bone tired of the occupation and the Israelis who are bone tired of sending their children off to become killers and give them all the power and just fuck Likud and fuck Hamas. It makes me so so so sad. And it makes me so angry how many of my fellow Jews would call you a liar for what you’ve seen and experienced. Or defend the actions of the Israeli government and those soldiers. These are not acceptable actions and they really need to stop. I just have no more patience these days.

    THIS! EXACTLY!!!!!!! i have long wished for something like this, not only re: the Israel/Palestine conflict, but wars and militarization in general. Some way to get the everyday people who WANT PEACE in power, and send all the war hawks to an island somewhere where they can play soldier and kill each other off if that is what turns them on, and let the rest of us focus on more constructive endeavors, like making sure everyone has a decent place to live, food to eat, health care, education…you know, all the things that currently have to have their budgets cut so that the warriors can waste millions on killing and destroying.

    For that matter, i’d also love to send the likes of Donald Trump and the other Capitalist elite away, so we can build a world where people really matter more than money.

    On Pink Floyd’s last album with Roger Waters, there is a song called “The Fletcher Memorial Home” in which Waters imagines locking the “overgrown infants” and “incurable tyrants and kings” of the world away in a place named for his father (Eric Fletcher Waters) who was killed in World War II. Since the album came out in 1982, the names of the leaders (Reagan, Thatcher, Begin, etc) are a bit out of date, but the idea seems like a good one anyway.

  21. Shelby
    July 29, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    I can’t read all of this at once. Picturing Aza being treated like that..
    I don’t even know what to say, but thank you. I’m crying and I want to punch something and drag Jezebel by the neck and rub all their smug, racist faces in THIS RIGHT HERE and I don’t even know what I’m talking about, just rambling… But thank you so much, Mai’a. Your work is beyond amazing.

  22. djf
    July 29, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    @Julie:

    djf, I think what she’s saying is that the nation-state of Israel doesn’t have a right to exist

    . . . because it’s “based on occupation and genocide.”

    @LJ

    i don’t see mai’a calling jews “foreigners” or “not native” anywhere.

    She refers to Jewish Israelis as “conquerors” and compares them to the “natives”, i.e., Palestinian Arabs.

    it would be nice to see this issue discussed without derailing accusations of anti-semitism where there clearly isn’t any.

    I really tried to use my words carefully. I didn’t accuse Mai’a of anti-semitism but she referred to Israeli Jews in a way that is traditionally anti-semitic. When Jews hear that kind of language, we get defensive, which is understandable if you know a thing or two about Jewish history.

  23. Amy
    July 29, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Yes, of course, Shelby. Violence solves so much. Do you really think your attitude shows any respect to Mai’a’s work? Hardly.

  24. GinnyC
    July 29, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Mai’a. This. Thank you for saying this. In solidarity.

  25. Dana
    July 30, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Thank you for writing this. I found it incredibly moving/thought provoking.

  26. sadie
    July 30, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Maia, wow. Thank you.

    I have never been to Palestine, and yet it is in my heart; and every person I know who has been there has an even larger piece of their heart devoted to the people and the land. May you see Kefah again, soon.

    On the question of if Israel has a right to exist, I get so tired of that. It’s like this huge stumbling block that means nothing, nothing concrete. Israel is there, it exists. Wether or not people acknowledge it means nothing beyond that it is a way for Israel to refuse to engage in any meaningful peace process. And where is any acknowledgement about the right of Palestine, as an autonomous entity, to exist? I know people say this is about wether or not jews can be safe, but we need a world where jews are safe wherever they are, wether they live in the holy land, in brazil, in the usa, in russia…etc, and where no one is living under occupation or driven from their ancestral homes.

    I am so sorry to hear about your detention. I know many people who have been detained by Israel, but this is the first I’ve heard of someone who isn’t a Palestinian being imprisoned in Israel with a baby (happens to Palestinians a lot, I understand).

    anyway….thank you. SO MUCH.

  27. tinfoil hattie
    July 30, 2010 at 1:39 am

    I think it’s possible to acknowledge the horror of what the government of Israel and some Israelis are doing to the Palestinians without vilifying every Jewish person

    So it’s good that Mai’a’s breathtaking post did not do this – did not even come close to doing this.

    and while also acknowledging the oppression Jewish persons have experienced and continue to experience.

    … because we can’t possibly have a post that talks about the Palestinian experience, right?* Maia is obligated to talk about and “acknowledge” Jewish oppression in a post about her experiences living in occupied Palestine.

    *See: “Men suffer, too!” comments on almost any feminist-related post.

  28. Feelkindabadforasking
    July 30, 2010 at 1:46 am

    But it seems like the type of commentators on this post would know where I could start. I’ve tried googling information about the Israeli/Palestine conflict, but as you can imagine, it’s hard to find good information. It’s important to learn about, I feel, but I also get overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.

    I’m not asking the original writer since she’s not required to teach us less-informed, but I would really like some links to places that would help me understand the history outside of what I’ve been taught in US high school.

    Sorry if it feels like I’m making y’all do the work for me. I’m not lazy, I swear.

  29. RD
    July 30, 2010 at 2:27 am

    Amy: Yes, of course, Shelby. Violence solves so much.   

    Uh right. On THIS post, you would say that…to Shelby. Wow.

  30. July 30, 2010 at 2:50 am

    This post? Awesome. Thank you for writing it. Thank you for taking your experience and turning it into these words.

    But: See: “Men suffer, too!” comments on almost any feminist-related post.

    Yeah. I wondered how long it would be before the “But – But – the Israelis are suffering TOO!” comments showed up…

    This is an awesome piece of writing, not least because of the story of the prison cell, the baby without diapers who had to piss on the floor, and the first person who could stand up to the guards was the woman who cleaned the cell.

    I have been accused of anti-Semitism for listing the names of the dead, just because there are so many Palestinian dead, so few Israelis.

  31. LJ
    July 30, 2010 at 3:08 am

    djf:
    She refers to Jewish Israelis as “conquerors” and compares them to the “natives”, i.e., Palestinian Arabs.   

    palestinians have been forced off their land and now live under occupation as a result of the creation of the state of israel. this is a historical fact and it’s important not to conflate historical fact with antisemitic tropes. maybe i should give you the benefit of the doubt, but i find this to be a very sinister tactic.

    djf:
    When Jews hear that kind of language, we get defensive…   

    i think you meant that when you hear that kind of language, you get defensive. i don’t accept that you speak for all jews. many israeli jews are against the occupation and even refuse military conscription. there are many israeli jews who have relatives that were killed in the holocaust and are horrified at the way their suffering has become a shield for the israeli government to hide behind as it kills and oppresses with impunity.

    djf:
    which is understandable if you know a thing or two about Jewish history.  

    there are no winners in the suffering olympics.

  32. Kristen J.
    July 30, 2010 at 3:10 am

    “So it’s good that Mai’a’s breathtaking post
    did not do this – did not even come close to
    doing this.”

    Yeah, I know…that was sort of what I was saying…that she described the experience without doing that…but that I thought this was going result in the knee jerk reaction where any mention of the inhumane treatment of the Palestinians is thought of as anti-semitic. Which you have to admit happens a LOT. So I was attempting to be supportive by expressing that I understood where she was coming from…

    As for the whole comparing the oppression of the Jews to the oppression of men…well…that’s your deal not mine. I always try to acknowledge the intersectional oppression that people face even if those people are gay men, men of color, non-binary self-identified men, trans men, men with disabilities….

  33. LJ
    July 30, 2010 at 3:16 am

    tinfoil hattie: See:“Men suffer, too!” comments on almost any feminist-related post.  

    this! ha ha

  34. Kai
    July 30, 2010 at 4:06 am

    The world is watching.

  35. July 30, 2010 at 7:40 am

    What happened to the rest of the post?

    Last night, there was a pretty mind-blowing post here, and now there is just an amazing quote. Is the new comment system eating posts or something?

    Anyway, what I was going to say in a comment last night is that your work in Palestine is inspiring, and Kefah’s story even more so. Thank you for writing about her.

  36. Shelby
    July 30, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Amy: Yes, of course, Shelby. Violence solves so much. Do you really think your attitude shows any respect to Mai’a’s work? Hardly.  

    Huh? I typed what I was feeling. Literally as I was sobbing. There’s barely one complete thought in that entire blurb. How did you get me advocating for violence (or anything..)?

  37. July 30, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Ok, I just want to point out that as a male of Jewish ancestry in the US- I have privilege. Perhaps if being of Jewish stained your skin a different color. Perhaps 60 years ago when being a Jew was more an identifiable other I wouldn’t feel as privileged in the the US as I do. But I really don’t buy the Jew in contemporary US as ‘oppressed minority,’ based on my own experience.

    My great-grandparents were killed in the holocaust and I only found the full story about what happened to them a few years ago- but for fuck’s sake people, that was literally 66 years ago- how on earth could I ever point at that to excuse countless deaths or even as stated in mai’a’s case- the horrible treatment of a woman who was just trying to help people (not to mention her child)?

    Now does that mean I agree with the point that “but israel does not have a right to exist. no nation based on occupation and genocide does (and that most definitely includes my home country the us of a).”?

    No, I don’t think that makes sense. If there was a Palestinian state it would be based on ‘occupation and genocide.’ However, I don’t read this as ‘Israeli Jews don’t have a right to exist,’ note the US comments. Perhaps if people thought of the nuances of what is meant by ‘Israel’s “right to exist” maybe Israelis would be able to negotiate with people who don’t think ‘the state of Israel has a right to exist.’ After all, most libertarians should be against nation-states anyway, which makes many Republicans no different than Hamas in that respect.

    I admit there are people unwilling to listen on both sides…look at the following example in this very thread:

    Amy: Yes, of course, Shelby. Violence solves so much. Do you really think your attitude shows any respect to Mai’a’s work? Hardly.  

    RD:
    Uh right.On THIS post, you would say that…to Shelby.Wow.  

    WHat an unbelieveably arrogant comment from RD

    RD demands that no one criticize someone named Shelby on THIS thread. If it’s not about criticizing someone named Shelby, it is even more arrogant as it assumes that Amy is unreasonable for not knowing why specific ‘Shelby’ is beyond criticism. I don’t see how Amy would know that, even if it is true. I don’t see how RD even knows which of the thousands of Shelbys in this world wrote this comment as there is no link to her writing or anything.

    In the other thread I criticized people for going off on mai’a and bfp without reading their stuff, which I felt put their comments in context. RD, why do you assume everyone knows exactly who this ‘Shelby is’ in as intimate a way as you do?

    And RD, I agree with much of what you’ve said previously- I just don’t get criticizing some one for condemning violence.

  38. July 30, 2010 at 8:26 am

    RD, I just realized you may know who Amy is as well, and if there is history between Amy and Shelby, I apologize. I am just treating them as if they are random commenters.

  39. Elaine
    July 30, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Like sabotabby said, what happened to the original, lengthier post? I saw it last night and looked forward to reading it this morning when I had more time, but now it’s just a quote.

  40. RD
    July 30, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Uh…what? People’s reactions to my comments have been so bizarre lately. I don’t actually know Shelby at all. I was reacting to the fact that in this powerful post about horrible (real!) violence, somebody is saying to someone who was just expressing how that powerful post made her feel, that she was advocating VIOLENCE! On THIS post! I was stunned by that!

  41. July 30, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I’m seeing the same thing as sabotabby… but I never even saw the original post!

    maia or other mods: Do you know what happened? Is there another site where this is posted where I can read it?

    Thanks.

  42. Meredith
    July 30, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Seconded sabotabby. I didn’t find this post until this morning, and it looks like I missed a lot. I’m confused. I clicked on the electronicintifada link, and I’m fairly knowledgeable about the basics, but it seems like I missed an amazing personal narrative. What happened?

  43. July 30, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Folks, it seems that right now no one knows what happened to the post … we’re working on it.

  44. July 30, 2010 at 9:11 am

    RD: Uh…what?People’s reactions to my comments have been so bizarre lately.I don’t actually know Shelby at all.I was reacting to the fact that in this powerful post about horrible (real!) violence, somebody is saying to someone who was just expressing how that powerful post made her feel, that she was advocating VIOLENCE!On THIS post!I was stunned by that!  

    Oh, sorry, then. I feel like a dick for having mentioned it.

  45. July 30, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Okay, though we currently still don’t know what happened(!), I found a cached copy of the post and have restored it, we hope, as it originally was.

  46. Shelby
    July 30, 2010 at 9:26 am

    @Fat Steve; Not sure, but I don’t think RD meant anything specific in regards to me. Maybe he/she knew from the other thread that I’m Black? So Amy policing my “violent” attitude on a post about state-sanctioned abuse and torture is kind of extra fucked up? I dunno. I’m just confused all around to be honest. In my comment, I said I felt like punching “something” and that I wanted to grab the blog Jezebel by the neck to make its commenters (who spewed a bunch of racist, violent shit about Mai’a’s daughter, Aza) look at this post. I think it was pretty clear in my comment that I was venting pain and frustration and not literally advocating beating someone up.

  47. July 30, 2010 at 9:26 am

    djf: When Jews hear that kind of language, we get defensive, which is understandable if you know a thing or two about Jewish history. djf

    DJF-
    Please don’t deign to speak for me. You may feel defensive when you hear people talk about how Israel has oppressed them, but I don’t. I feel shame and anger. Also, I know more than a few things about Jewish history.

    Fat Steve: But I really don’t buy the Jew in contemporary US as ‘oppressed minority,’ based on my own experience.

    OK, this is starting to get off topic, but please consider that yours is not the only experience.

    Fat SteveNow does that mean I agree with the point that “but israel does not have a right to exist. no nation based on occupation and genocide does (and that most definitely includes my home country the us of a).”?No, I don’t think that makes sense. If there was a Palestinian state it would be based on ‘occupation and genocide.’

    I think this is starting to get into the politics of nation building. But I think it makes total sense to say that I don’t have the right to plop myself down somewhere, declare a new nation, and drive out everyone I don’t like. Or even one person. I don’t have the right, as a nation that exists, to oppress others. I think that makes total sense.

    It’s possible that a Palestinian state would be built on blood and oppression. Of course, it could also be built on diplomacy and peace. It’s really not my call. And you have no way of knowing how it will go. I think most Palestinians would rather have a nation built on peace, just as I think most Israelis are tired of having their nation built on violence.

    Fat SteveI admit there are people unwilling to listen on both sides…look at the following example in this very thread:WHat an unbelieveably arrogant comment from RD
    RD demands that no one criticize someone named Shelby on THIS thread.

    Bwa…? Did you even read Shelby’s comment before going on your diatribe? Seriously?? I don’t care what Shelby’s background is, her comment was not particularly violent, though it was angry. But why is her anger such a problem?

    For what it’s worth, I’m sorry that Mai’a felt the need to take down most of the post. I thought it was really important, though the quote that remains is really good too.

  48. Shelby
    July 30, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Oh ok, just now seeing RD’s comment. Yeah, I’m just a random. No pre-existing internet beef that I’m aware of ::shrug::

  49. July 30, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Shelby, RD, Amy I apologize again, I thought I wandered into an internet fight which provided a good analogy.

    Now I know why analogies are usually crap!

  50. bfp
    July 30, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I wonder if it’s so easy to take singular snippets of white women’s perspectives and focus such intense scrutiny on them–such that a singular snippet (Israel….right to exist. I want to punch something…) two words. (fuck feminism) suddenly represents an entire message, idea, or even person. would it have been as easy, say, on the post on learning to love your inner sexuality, and how to embrace it, to spend hours and hours and days and hundreds and hundreds of comments, to argue endlessly over her use of the word slut? To have comment after comment saying, but YOU SAID, *SLUT*. You said it! I don’t think it’s appropriate, I don’t think it’s right, it’s saying all women every where should be sluts, I DON”T AGREE!

    what is the difference here? I’ve seen several phrases coming from women of color that are being latched onto and mystifying, enraging, pissing off, and causing continual debates. Why are these conversations not happening on other posts?

    And i wonder if mai’a’s writing style has something to do with it being harder when writing this way, for it to make logical sense to yank a single phrase and force that phrase to exist as representative for an entire person, thought process, movement, people.

    I wonder if that’s what people are struggling so hard with–that this may be the first time they’ve HAD to take a black queer mama that just so happens to have done incredible activism and has an opinion about that work and the situation that led up to her doing that work as a whole person rather than a single identifying feature like her hair, her skin color, or her lazy welfare queen status.

  51. July 30, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I love this post (and the links), maia. It shows what people are capable of when there is solidarity. This is exactly why individualist solutions don’t work. An individual can’t stand against a literal army—but a collective can.

  52. July 30, 2010 at 10:01 am

    @bfp

    100% agree with you. Reading mai’a’s other work made me understand her posts here in a way I didn’t when I read the first one.

    Plus, when I read your first “inflammatory” post on the ‘shorter…’ thread, I immediately clicked on your link, read a few days worth of blogposts and completely read the comments in a different way.

    Having read both your and mai’a’s blogs and seeing how much of your person you put in your writing, provided a totally different perspective (which didn’t mean I agreed with you all the time, but I didn’t get offended like some people.)

    That is why these guest bloggers have been so enlightening. I don’t think I’d have come across your blog had you not commented on mai’a’s and that would have been unfortunate.

  53. July 30, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Thank you Cara and others working behind the scenes.

    And thank you once again maia for sharing your experiences here.

  54. Kai
    July 30, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Whoa, Cara, that was weird. I was watching late last night; first the comments shut down, then the body of the post disappeared, and the comments creepily re-opened. Did y’all get hacked?

    bfp, yes. I’m pretty much beyond wondering and actually am quite sure these things have something to do with it. Granted, I’m also quite sure anyone who writes about Israel’s right to exist knows that one statement might possibly overshadow anything else you say. But more broadly, it seems to me that the angry buzz around mai’a’s posts aren’t only about what she says, they’re about who she is. A black mother, and a free spirit. An internationalist, a citizen of the world and a freedom fighter. No mere theorist, a practitioner of her values and beliefs. I think certain folks find her existence, the very presence of her energy, to be threatening and upsetting; so they rush to put her in her place. A force more powerful indeed, and they know it.

    • maia
      July 30, 2010 at 11:56 am

      ==honestly, i have no real idea why they got their panties all in a twitter. but my experience here has brought me to doing some reflections and brought some new insights.
      it is true that in bringing up israel’s right to exist, i understood i was taking a chance. but at this point? god, who knows. i did not– as i had originally conceived this post — start off with that statement. which was not a choice based upon the feministe readership, but based on how the tone and vision of the piece changed as i was writing it. (yeah believe it or not, folks, –i dont mean kai or bfp, but those of you who dont know me–i do think about what i am writing critically, my choices of words are not arbitrary, and neither are other choices. but i cannot really see the future. and hindsight is 20/20) and thank you for your kind words.
      ==yeah i thought the same thing about getting hacked. the post disappearance was all just a lil too weird and specific for my taste.

    • July 30, 2010 at 4:33 pm

      Kai: Whoa, Cara, that was weird. I was watching late last night; first the comments shut down, then the body of the post disappeared, and the comments creepily re-opened. Did y’all get hacked?

      I know what happened with the comments – a moderator with a very dodgy internet connection inadvertently closed comments when intending only to put the post in full moderation. I re-opened them on her request, and I should have noted that on the thread at the time, because obviously no explanation looks creepy. I was just trying to get it fixed, and didn’t think the rest of it through.

      I still have no idea what happened to the text of the post. I didn’t need to touch that part of the editing screen in order to deal with moderation status and re-opening comments, so I didn’t even look at it.

  55. July 30, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Thank you Cara! Mai’a, thanks again for sharing this story.

    Seconding what Shoshie said: DJF doesn’t speak for all Jews, and certainly not for me. I’m Jewish, and I’m also Canadian, and I can’t imagine feeling defensive if someone criticized Canada’s treatment of its indigenous population. It is a shameful thing, just like Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Atrocities committed by one group of people on another does not justify that group of people committing atrocities on an entirely different group of people.

    • maia
      July 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm

      what i have been asking myself and put to you is: what is hope? and when is hope an appropriate response and when is it not? what does it mean when we say that we ‘hope’ that there is ‘peace in the middle east’. how much responsibility are we, as human beings, as citizens of the earth, as citizens of nation states, saying when we ‘hope’. what is the action, the practical application of ‘hope’?

  56. Kristen J.
    July 30, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    maia: yeah i thought the same thing about getting hacked. the post disappearance was all just a lil too weird and specific for my taste. maia

    It was weird. At first I thought perhaps you had taken it down in response to commentor overload. Then a friend of mine who lj privately about living in Iran mentioned you might have determined the information was too specific wrt something or someone and decided to take it down for their safety like she’s done a few times. I’m glad that isn’t the case. In any event is very weird…creepy weird and I hope its possible to figure out what happened.

    Also, in case you also found my prior comment ambiguous…I thought this was extremely powerful and I’m grateful that you’ve shared it with us even as I’m extremely saddened that you (and others) have had suffer so greatly.

  57. July 30, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you for sharing this truth with us. Too often it is forgotten that the occupied continue on with daily life. Part of the agenda of the oppressors is to maintain a sense of fear and inability despite it being a lie. Thank you for sharing your experiences in Palestine and in trying to get to Palestine. Your energies toward and your actions in the revolution are inspiring and connect me to the movement of freedom. My prayers are with you and kafeh and your families.

  58. John
    July 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    every time I see something like this I think about my ancestors & how much they loved Spain. I think about how even though they still had to keep their “Jewishness” hidden, they still loved THEIR country because they considered themselves Spaniards. I think about our beautiful secret language Ladino & how we still attempt to keep it alive by passing it down to our children, about how our food is nothing like the Ashkenazi except for being kashrut or even the songs of love that our mamas, nanis & tias sang as they cooked for Shabbos. I think of all this and the rest of us each in OUR respective countries, England, France, Germany, Poland, Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt, Portugal, Turkey, etc… and the love each and every one of them felt for the countries which they were raised by generations of Jews. but something happened, something always happens with us, for some reason we were not allowed to stay, why is that I ask?

    yes we all prayed for “next year in Jerusalem” but that’s all it was back then, just a prayer that would go unanswered until the end of days. we did not worry about it too much because only the Meshaich could take us back & we have learned from many past experiences to not hold our breath for him. why does Israel exist then? why was there a need for it? why is it that a collective group of people who had just gone through one of the most horrible periods in their history are now forced to treat their stepbrothers & stepsisters in such a way that it makes us look like the same monsters that wanted to put an end to us? It exists because nobody wants us in THEIR country.

    I don’t doubt your experience one bit or the fact that there are many Israeli Jews who treat Arabs horribly. I understand it, your pain, your suffering, the feeling of not being allowed to be human like everybody else, I can empathize with you because I have felt it too, my whole life. The loss of life, the feeling of helplessness & the complete loss of hope are things that I have struggled with for so long now, that every day I am tempted to just give up. But I don’t want to…not yet…because a life without hope is not a life that I want to live.

    My question to you is the same question we have been asking for 2000 years, where do we go?

  59. Jigae
    July 30, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    This is amazing. The paragraphs about kefah are beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  60. Shelby
    July 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    maia: what i have been asking myself and put to you is: what is hope?and when is hope an appropriate response and when is it not?what does it mean when we say that we ‘hope’ that there is ‘peace in the middle east’.how much responsibility are we, as human beings, as citizens of the earth, as citizens of nation states, saying when we ‘hope’.what is the action, the practical application of ‘hope’?  

    Thinking about it this way, it seems like “hope” must necessarily be devoid of action. To “hope” that something happens seems to mean that you’re giving up your own agency to *make* it happen.
    But I’m not really ready to say hope doesn’t/couldn’t have a productive function. I know many of my ancestors got by on hoping for freedom through “salvation” ie. death, the afterlife. But maybe that’s “survival” and not life or liberation. Hope allows me to dissociate from right now, to put an extra layer between my mind(?) and the pain I’m feeling in this moment in my body– because I’m “hoping” for tomorrow I don’t have to fully sit in today’s pain.
    And, again, for people who are at the epicenter, who are the direct targets of occupation and violence, “hope” is maybe a powerful way to continue living. To keep getting up and eating and visiting loved ones…
    For those of us further out though, I don’t think “hope” is so useful. It seems more like a way to shake off responsibility or to cope with feeling helpless.

    Not sure if I’ve caught on completely to what you’re asking, but really interested to hear what your thoughts are!

  61. djf
    July 30, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Shoshie: Please don’t deign to speak for me. You may feel defensive when you hear people talk about how Israel has oppressed them, but I don’t. I feel shame and anger. Also, I know more than a few things about Jewish history.

    Shoshie, please go back and reread what I wrote. I didn’t say anything about Israeli oppression. I was referring to the way Maia refers to Jewish Israelis as “conquerers” and Arabs as “natives”. It’s absurd and offensive to say that people born and raised in Israel conquered anything. On top of that, it’s reminiscent of the old anti-semitic canard that Jews are the ultimate Other.

  62. IrishUp
    July 30, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    maia: what i have been asking myself and put to you is: what is hope? and when is hope an appropriate response and when is it not? what does it mean when we say that we ‘hope’ that there is ‘peace in the middle east’. how much responsibility are we, as human beings, as citizens of the earth, as citizens of nation states, saying when we ‘hope’. what is the action, the practical application of ‘hope’?  (Quote this comment?)

    For me, Hope is in whatever I do that is centered on a better day to come, a better world to come. It is not the little-h “hope you feel better” from your boss when you’re calling in sick, not the vague “I hope for world peace” from a fauxgressive, and certainly not the kind that precedes anything hatefull or spitefull.

    When I read the links in an OP like this one, and see people trying to turn death into scratching out a living; trying to turn scratching for life into educating their children, trying to turn their educated children into tomorrows leaders, that is Hope. Our daughter has been gravely, life-threateningly ill for 4 years, and everything we’ve done to save her and heal her, has been Hope. When I call and write and email political leaders, and sign pettitions, even some posts on websites, small as those things are, that is still Hope.

    For me, Hope is not simply wishing for a better $_X at some $_FutureTime, it’s actions small and large, piled together, aimed at making sure the things that are intolerable right now don’t stay that way. My Hope expects more. My Hope expects more of me than simply wanting or wishing or wailing (althoug each of these has it’s proper place).

    My belief that those changes will come is Faith.

  63. Jessie
    July 30, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Your posts have fascinated/intrigued/troubled/provoked me. I have been struggling with them all week. It’s so different from anything I’ve known/ experienced. I’ve been startled by my own ignorance.

    People live like that? People think like that? People love like that?

    It reminded me of a piece by Chimamanda Adichie, The danger of a single story. (for interested parties, found here: http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html )

    My life has had a lot of single stories. You’re blowing my mind.

    Putting a story together with the person who lived it is powerful.

  64. sadie
    July 30, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    My question to you is the same question we have been asking for 2000 years, where do we go?  

    I want to tread very carefully here because I don’t want to come across as though I am disregarding the full weight of the reality of anti-jewish oppression, which dates from long before the holocaust. But I’ve encountered this question before, or an assertion that Israel is the only way for jews to be safe.

    and first i wonder, is that true? are jews safer in israel, and are jews around the world safer because of israel?

    but second, i think, jews are not the only people with a long history of oppression. and I wonder if separate homelands for each oppressed people is actually a viable answer, especially if, as with the state of israel, it creates another diaspora of brutalized and displaced people? how can that be an answer?

    third, I wonder how it is that we can’t imagine some sort of a homeland for jews in the holy land that is not based on oppression and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous palestinians? Especially because even when jews were a minority in historic palestine, before the beginning of the zionist project, jews for the most part lived in peace with their neighbors (and vice versa) and were safer there than in many parts of the world. usually people say that the ‘arabs” would never let that happen…but it DID happen when the area was controlled by Arabs. I know that many pro-zionists quake at the idea of a democratic state that encompasses all of historic palestine (Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank) because then it wouldn’t be jewish controlled, and they fear that the palestinians would do to them in turn what had been done to them…but the current situation is untenable and a gross injustice. I’ve heard and read so many Palestinians talking about the need to live side by side as neighbors, to recognize that the Israelis need the Palestinians need the Israelis, and so I believe that a non secular democracy is possible…that Israel/Palestine could be a homeland for both the jews who choose to go there or are already there, and the Palestinians who have managed to stay or who choose to return.

    But it’s also not up to me to decide. But I bet if every person in that region had an equal say, that’s what you’d end up with.

    • maia
      July 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm

      i just want to point out that i end up having a lot of conversations with american jews who appreciate the existence of israel– more than i do. and one of the questions i put to them and i will put to you is this: if jews need a seperate homeland because of the historical oppression they have faced, because it is not fair that they have to remain a diaspora. then what do we in the african diaspora need? and who should we colonize and occupy in order to fulfill that need?
      i ask this because if you know anything about the founding of liberia, then you know that it was the 19th century response to the genocide of africans in the new world. and if you kknow anything about the history of liberia, then you know that black americans colonized that country, reducing the native africans to second class citizens and that this is the foundation that in the late 20th century caused so much bloodshed in that country. i always remember the founding of liberia when we talk about ‘where do we go?’

  65. sadie
    July 30, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    to add to my previous comment…imagine a world in where all the military, political, and economic strength that the USA currently uses to support Israel were instead used to support the safety of jewish communities around the world, wherever they may be. Obviously it’s a problematic idea because US intervention rarely works out well, but the idea I’m trying to express is, Israel exists largely because of the massive US support it gets. what if that support was actually for jews, wherever in the world they are, instead of for a state?

  66. Anjanette
    July 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I followed the link to your website and read the more detailed description of what happened; I am so sorry that you and your family were put into jail in Israel.

  67. July 30, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Maia, your writing reminds me of how political realities affect real people in real and horrible ways. Thank you for that. It helps to motivate me to do more to make the world a better place.

    For those unfamiliar with Jewish people who do not support the idea of a Jewish state in Israel, I highly recommend Joel Kovel’s book, “Overcoming Zionism.” He reminds us that Jews and Arabs have spent centuries living together in peace. We need to return to a situation in which we can respect each other again.

  68. WestEndGirl
    July 30, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Ok, I’m not going to beat around the bush, I’m not going to hedge my words on this subject (for a change).

    Where the Palestinians are now is shit. How they are treated by the Israelis, how they are treated by their Arab “brothers” in Lebanon, Syria et al AND how they are treated by their own leaders. It’s shit.

    But, unlike most left-wing, alleged progressives and anti-racists, *I’m* not going to be racist and deny Palestinians their agency. *I’m* not going to absolve the Palestinian people for their consistently appalling political leadership from al-Hussayni before and onwards. Arafat? Meshaal? Utter scumbags. Abbas? Wrote a bloody Holocaust denial piece for his PhD ffs.

    Just the same as Israeli people has to account for having absolute toerags and cretins like Sharon and Netanyahu (to name just two) running the country, then the Palestinian people should have to account for its failures. The Shaw Report, the Haycraft Report, the Peel Commission, you name it, the cause of violence springs from the Arab massacres of 1919 onwards, motivated by often religious hate.

    There were numerous options for landsharing, federated states or one pan-Arab state. But violence caused Britain to wash its hands (perfidious Albion indeed) of the Mandate, otherwise there would be no Israel. It would have never been born in its bloody way.

    But instead the Palestinian people allowed al-Hussayni, who partnered with Hitler, who abused the Mufti position to preach violent hate, whose actions directly created what became the IDF, to represent them. Hamas did not suddenly appear as part of the Palestinian movement after 70 years of non-violent resistance. Leaders who advocated finding any kind of accommodation with the Yishuv were assassinated, dishonoured, quite literally shot down in the Palestinian community pre-1948.

    The situation for Palestinians is shit. But 2010 didn’t just happen. There were huge huge number of economic, political and violent interactions stretching way back into the 19th century. And the violence was not started by Jews.

    Why does this matter do you say?

    It matters because, to me, it is not acceptable to view what is happening right now without making the Palestinians accountable for their political choices so that a solution can be found. But right now, for everyone allegedly progressive, the answer is so simple. It’s the Occupation stupid.

    But unfortunately that answer doesn’t actually explain much. It doesn’t explain the al-Nabi Musa massacres, the Hebron massacres, the Jerusalem massacres, the 1930s, 1950s massacres does it?

    The failure of the Palestinian people to mobilise an effective political movement that was about state-building, institution and law-building and economy-building rather than continually on ‘resistance’ is the reason for the failure of Palestine to be born.

    From the massacre of Hebron to the fedayeen via Ma’alot and the Dolphinarium, these political choices have brought the Palestinians nothing but blood and bruality towards them.

    The Israelis have become a brutal, violent people because they were forced into it, they reacted against violence with violence. And now they are a brutal violent people, the political progressives hate them. But it didn’t just *happen*. No group of people are innately brutal.

    Well continue to hate them, the Israelis clearly don’t care what a load of people who don’t care about their history, or cause, or reason, or agency or truth think about them.

    Instead of these type of posts and comments revelling in just how brutal and evil the Israelis now are, perhaps you should be worrying and discussing instead about if/when/and how the Palestinians will get a decent leader who will seize the opportunity this time to make a state. Not just skimming over the little ‘issues’ with Hamas, Islamic Jihad et al of sending THOUSANDS of rockets for years at civilians, because they are ‘resisting’ the evil, brutal Israelis.

    Because the Palestinians need a state and to run their own lives. The Occupation needs to end. But nothing I’m seeing here today or in the allegedly progressive movement is doing a darn thing towards it. Rather than spending time villifying Israel and wringing hands over its current brutality which everyone agrees on, perhaps the people who like to go to the West Bank and agitate, should instead be working politically with Palestinians to persuade them to support Salam Fayyad instead. Violent resistance is futile. It started this mess and it will continue this mess.
    http://www.onevoicemovement.org
    http://cfpeace.org

    • maia
      July 30, 2010 at 9:49 pm

      @west end girl,
      ok. i dont have time, unfortunately, do go through all of your historical inaccuracies, but let me say this:
      1. abbas was chosen by the usa and israel as the leader of palestine. yes, there was a vote. but it was also clear to many palestinians that if they did not vote for abbas they would be punished by the powers that be. and there is so so so much critique of abbas even before he got into power.
      2. the founding of the israeli government was done so by destroying 450 palestinian towns and villages in what is now considered ‘israel’ proper in the war for independence in 1952. if, as you say, violence only begets violence, then you need to take a long hard look at the founding of the israeli state.
      3. britain washed its hands of the mandate because they promised the same piece of land to jews and to the palestinians during ww2.
      4. hamas did not suddenly appear. hamas was first supported financially by the israeli government as a way to mitigate the power of fatah.
      5. and i would never deny the impact of anti semitic massacres that happened in palestine before the founding of the israeli state. i lived in hebron. and i would remind you that there were also palestinians who sheltered jews during the massacre. and that there are jews who left hebron after the massacre who have argued passionately against the settlements in hebron because even they do not think that there is a justification for israel’s genocide of palestinians.

      look, i am betting you are used to making these sort of historical lectures on posts that are pro-palestinian. but this is not a place to argue israel/palestine history of the past century. and if you, or anyone else, attempt to make it about that, i will delete the comment. im not interested in that kind of cluster fuck. feel me?
      cool.

  69. bfp
    July 30, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    I disagree with almost every single thing West End Girl says–in particular that the violence of oppressed peoples “made” Israeli people into brutal violent people. That logic is used all the time in abusive situations–she was being a bitch and wouldn’t shut the fuck up–she *made* me hit her. No. I challenge that logic and work against it in everything I do.

    I also want to question why the only possible solution is for Palestinians to get their own state. To “be accountable.” Why aren’t other options on the table–options that many Arab and Palestinian activists have called for, such as equality and the end of an apartheid regime?http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11411.shtml#top

    And Palestinians seem to be speaking out just fine against Abbas. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11433.shtml

    As they also seem to be working quite “non-violently” for their rights as well.http://bdsmovement.net/

    Maybe there should be some discussion on why certain voices are privileged in most discussions about Israeli occupation and apartheid over others.

  70. tinfoil hattie
    July 30, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I always try to acknowledge the intersectional oppression that people face even if those people are gay men, men of color, non-binary self-identified men, trans men, men with disabilities…

    So no post can be just about women, or just about Palestinians, or just about Jews, or just about lesbians – because every post has to acknowledge “intersectional oppression”?

    Not in my world.

  71. July 30, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    thank you, bfp, for sharing that and responding. because i really couldn’t do so in a productive manner. i am still stuck on how someone can, within one comment, say

    “*I’m* not going to be racist and deny Palestinians their agency.”

    AND

    “perhaps the people who like to go to the West Bank and agitate, should instead be working politically with Palestinians to persuade them to support Salam Fayyad instead”

    because telling people to persuade the Palestinian people of anything *is* denying Palestinian agency.

    and i guess, yes, i read this from the perspective of a First Nations/NDN/indigenous person who is auto-rankled at the correlations i see between the U.S. – as a nation-state that we have to deal with and can’t dismantle but still need to be able to talk about how it came into being thru genocide against us – and Israel. so when i read these things, i really identify with the Palestinians. and that doesn’t mean i think that First Nations or Palestinians always make the “right” or “best” choice, or that we don’t have corruption/problems in our governments. but i just don’t see how our internal problems/difficulties that actually stem from having been/continuing to be oppressed and having our self-autonomy wrecked is somehow an excuse for that oppression continuing.

  72. July 30, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    good point on the Liberia issue too, Mai’a (although honestly, i think most N. Americans are scratching their heads when you bring it up, LOL). i had a friend in elementary school (well, i was in the 6th grade & he was in 5th) whose family came over here from Liberia with refugee status because of how dangerous it was for them there. Black indigenous to Liberia people who were chased up off their own land by fellow “displaced” (yes, i am using that term in irony) people attempting to create a homeland. his family was the first refugee family i knew (not the first immigrant family, but first refugees) and as i have become a more conscious person and active in supporting refugee and immigrant issues locally, i wonder about him all the time. i wonder what it would be like to hear his story now as an adult with more understanding of the nuances and historical context. and of course i pray that he is well.

    • maia
      July 30, 2010 at 10:39 pm

      which reminds me. lets get the official definition of genocide up here:

      [G]enocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
      (a) Killing members of the group;
      (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
      (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
      (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
      (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

      so yeah, what israel is doing in the west bank and gaza strip is genocide. according to the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which was created in response to the holocaust.

  73. July 30, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    bfp:
    I also want to question why the only possible solution is for Palestinians to get their own state. To “be accountable.” Why aren’t other options on the table–options that many Arab and Palestinian activists have called for, such as equality and the end of an apartheid regime?

    I think that is obvious, and I’m rather shocked you don’t know…unless this a rhetorical question.

    The Israeli govt. fear that Jews will become the minority in an equal state, and they also fear the reprisals (that they very possibly subconsciously think they deserve.)

    I’m not dismissive of this fear- it certainly needs to be addressed.

    How do you convince a group of people who have been oppressing a minority that they won’t be oppressed when they become a minority?

  74. July 30, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    tinfoil hattie: So no post can be just about women, or just about Palestinians, or just about Jews, or just about lesbians – because every post has to acknowledge “intersectional oppression”?

    Not in my world.

    What world do you live in, then? In what world is someone just female or just Palestinian or just queer?

    Mai’a’s posts on mothering aren’t important just because of how mothers are treated in our society – they’re also important because mothers who are women of color are treated differently than white mothers. You can’t compartmentalize these issues!

  75. Kristen J.
    July 30, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Tinfoil Hattie,

    Again, it was a response in anticipation of the shitstorm that would follow. It wasn’t about OMG the Jews are oppressed…just a comment about how I thought Maia’s comments were part of a productive discussion even though I was concerned people wouldn’t see them that way.

    As for the intersectionality argument, I’m not going to derail further. I shouldn’t have mentioned it in the first place as I was acting out of irritation.

  76. Aidan
    July 31, 2010 at 12:50 am

    The failure of the Palestinian people to mobilise an effective political movement that was about state-building, institution and law-building and economy-building rather than continually on ‘resistance’ is the reason for the failure of Palestine to be born.
    From the massacre of Hebron to the fedayeen via Ma’alot and the Dolphinarium, these political choices have brought the Palestinians nothing but blood and bruality towards them.
    The Israelis have become a brutal, violent people because they were forced into it, they reacted against violence with violence.

    Victim blaming. “forced into it?” Please.

    No one is saying that Palestinians don’t have to take responsibility. In fact, they must in order to reach a just, strong peace built on accountability and justice. But the state of Israel doesn’t get a free pass on taking responsibility either. It is not the victims responsibility to first be nice and then be rewarded with the end to abuse. And the vast majority of Palestinians are vicitms–farmers, family members, children. They did not choose violence and nothing justifies that which they receive. They choose life. Contrary to your suggestion that if they would only calm down and do as they are told, many of them choose peaceful resistance in towns like Hebron, and are met with violence.

    And as for their ‘failure’ to mobilize…they’re oppressed. Israel systemically sabotaged peaceful council-style governments pre-intifada.

    I wish i had the knowledge of what specific UN resolutions to refer you to, and which human rights orgs’ reports, but i dont. My apologies.

  77. Sojourner
    July 31, 2010 at 1:43 am

    “The Israelis have become a brutal, violent people because they were forced into it”
    What bfp said with regards to other abusive situations. Your victim blaming is just disgusting. And what mai’a said about the destruction of the 450 Palestinian villages. Israel had its beginnings in ethnic cleansing. It is not possible to do otherwise when you move to a land WITH people.
    “Opportunities for land sharing?” Why do you get to show up in other people’s land and expect that they happily share their land with you? By “holding Palestinian’s accountable” Do you mean that they deserve death, destruction, and occupation b/c of their “political choices”? Does the same thing apply to Americans, Brits, etc? Does it apply to 9/11 victims? Or is it only just Palestinians that are expected to eat shit and shut up about it? Palestinians do not owe Israel anything. Oh, and by the way RESISTANCE does not require scare quotes. See also what mai’a said about the beginnings of Hamas, as well as the “election” of Mahmood Abbas. And anyways, since when is occupation supposed to breed a healthy political culture?
    mai’a puts her life on the line to help Palestinian women and children and you come here to lecture her about how she is not doing anything and instead she should be “be working politically with Palestinians to persuade them to support Salam Fayyad”. No seriously, who the eff are you?
    @ mai’a
    “look, i am betting you are used to making these sort of historical lectures on posts that are pro-palestinian.” Yep, you would absolutely be right about that. You can see for yourself if you look through previous Feministe threads on Israel/Palestine. I am now eagerly awaiting the “OMG ANTISEMITISM!!!!!11” comment.

  78. gadgetgal
    July 31, 2010 at 7:33 am

    Beautiful writing about a harrowing situation – I’m sorry for what you went through and I hope you see Kefah again soon. I’m also of the opinion that countries based on occupation and genocide shouldn’t exist, but I’m also not really into the idea of borders and boundaries in general. They mean nothing to many people, especially those who live on the borders themselves, and a line on a map seems such a random way to determine who people are – people are made up of themselves, their own lives, the people they know, the communities they live in, and many many other things that have nothing to do with artificially created blocks of earth.

    It’s a shame the polarisation of opinion on Israel versus Palestine seems to stop any meaningful dialogue or solution to the situation in the US – and I say that as someone of Jewish origin from Europe where anti-semitism is rife and rising year by year. But I can still see that defence of Israel is indefensible, just as I would never defend the UK’s involvement in Iraq, regardless of my origins. Doesn’t mean I don’t have sympathy with why many Jewish people globally feel the need to defend Israel, since every time anything happens there violence towards Jews increases sharply (especially in Europe), but that just makes me angrier, not only at the perpetrators of the violence, but also at the catalyst for it.

    I liked sadie’s comments at 69, about how maybe the US needs to withdraw their support of Israel in the conflict and perhaps put that money and effort into helping stop violence towards Jewish communities around the rest of the world – I don’t know how this could be done in practical terms, but the potential for helping the people remain in their homes who don’t necessarily want to support Israel but end up going there in the end anyway because they don’t feel welcome anywhere else makes sense. I’ve never seen how arming any country or government has ever helped decrease mistreatment and violence anywhere, whereas groups who work through non-violent means to achieve change (most of which are not government funded but rely upon charitable donations and the goodwill of volunteers) manage to do so much more good.

    So re-direct money there, and into aid relief for the Palestinians, and into political (not military) pressure to find a solution – if the US and Europe stop arming the Israeli government they’ll be under pressure to come to solution sooner rather than later, and Europe especially needs to work on stopping anti-semitism in their own countries – all it does is increase emigration to and support for Israel, which is not a good thing!

    And just in case anyone thinks I’m being impractical (probably thinking “what a daydreamer!”), I will repeat that aid organisations and non-violent pressure groups have shown how amazingly successful they can be relying upon donations and volunteers alone, and military power has so far never really solved anything, since it tends to sort out one problem and create another dozen or so as a result – practically speaking governments investing in these groups rather than weapons or military might makes more sense!

    Maia, your writing is amazing, you’ve really inspired me to think about others, and maybe about what I can do to help too – you need to keep letting the world hear your stories, they’re too important for people not to hear. I may not comment again but I’ll definitely keep reading!!

  79. Sara
    July 31, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I liked this post a lot.

    However, I’d like to remind everyone that human rights are a recent developement and since everyone gets to decide that they think is right and wrong I believe this is a gross oversimplification. I live in Western Europe where I can walk down the street and I don’t have to fear for my life. No dangerous animal is going to kill me, probably no dangerous people either. No people in all of history have had freedom like we enjoy now. Freedom isn’t universal or natural. It’s something that people have to create and it isn’t easy to maintain. The creation of things like freedom and human rights come from agreement and cooperation. That’s not happening in Israel so no one is going to be free. The oppressors live in fear, surounded by their enemy and the oppressed are struggling for survival. In this situation I think saying one group is right and the other is wrong doesn’t create freedom for anyone.

  80. Bagelsan
    July 31, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    So re-direct money there, and into aid relief for the Palestinians, and into political (not military) pressure to find a solution – if the US and Europe stop arming the Israeli government they’ll be under pressure to come to solution sooner rather than later

    If Israel suddenly lost a lot of its military funding and US support wouldn’t that just ramp the pressure-cooker situation up a lot more? I mean, clearly a lot of Israelis feel very unsafe and insecure (no matter who’s “fault” it is you can’t say most people in Palestine or Israel are in a comfortable position) and I can only imagine that an abrupt drop in their defensive capabilities would only make everyone involved freak the fuck out.

    Like, yes, they’ll be under more pressure to come to a solution but I can’t think it would be anything but a terrible solution. Whether or not a nation is actually backed into a corner or under threat, if they feel that way then I imagine that backing them further into a corner will only make things worse. And I’m not convinced that Israel hasn’t got itself backed into a corner — they’re pretty unpopular with their neighbors.

    There needs to be a better solution than the US and Europe just getting fed up and pulling the rug out from under everyone. Taking a bunch of scared people and then trying to scare them further so that they’ll start behaving more kindly and rationally strikes me as reeeally bad strategy, no matter how immediately emotionally satisfying it might be.

  81. TeeDub
    July 31, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Sid: The guest posts have been awesome and educational, and you in particular have been ingenious.With all due respect to the regulars, this blog in the past week has been more thought-provoking than the rest of the past year combined.  

    I’m late to the party, but this is exactly how I have felt since reading mai’a’s posts. The words “different perspective” don’t do justice to the direct, lived experiences that she so powerfully and eloquently describes.

    I feel like addict….I need another hit of mai’a. I can’t wait for her next post.

  82. sadie
    July 31, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    “The Israelis have become a brutal, violent people because they were forced into it”

    *head asplodes*

  83. ekdotin
    August 1, 2010 at 12:01 am

    one or both sides of this argument (Israel vs Palestine) is going to need to put their pride away. Violence begets violence.
    someone needs to put the guns down first.
    someone will need to stop exacting revenge first.

    I am us centered – first generation american with both indian and canadian parents. I identify as neither indian nor canadian. I don’t cry any more over indian deaths than I do over japanese deaths or italian deaths.

    people are so mired in tradition that it appalls me. Tradition gets people nowhere. Tradition is “status quo.” being a radical should not mean upholding the status quo.

  84. August 1, 2010 at 2:23 am

    Thank you for this. This was difficult to read, and moving. The comments, of course, are exasperating and enlightening by turn.

    I’m in a high-rise hotel in Tel Aviv right now. I’ll be in the West Bank at some point later this week, and will certainly go up to Hebron to the tomb of the patriarchs, where I’ve been before, and to Nablus, where I haven’t been. I’m gearing up for the emotional shock of the transition between these two worlds.

    I thought long and hard about coming to Israel this time, spending money here in the midst of widening calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. We will do our best to do as we did when we were last in the PA in 2007, which is spend money on Palestinian-owned businesses as well as Israeli ones. That may be too easy, too self-serving.

    I want a Jewish state that is democratic, secular, and inclusive. I fear I want an oxymoron: pluralism and zionism. I feel a strange, deep emotional connection to this land (which is hotter and “humider” than Miami or Houston at the moment). So I support the J Street Project and the Meretz Party and hope, hope, hope.

    But that seems like a lot of bourgeois Western guilt. And useless in the face of what happened to Ava.

  85. KatinPhilly
    August 1, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Hugo,

    Palestinians also feel a “strange” deep emotional connection to the land, too. And they actually are made to suffer for it everyday of their lives, in the hopes they will “go away”. This is clear-cut ethnocide.

    Second, you can’t have a Zionist state and a democratic, secular, inclusive, pluralistic state for all its citizens, anymore than you can have a such a state with ANY hyper-nationalistic, hyper-militaristic religious-ethnic based ideology as the foundation for citizenship. It just doesn’t work, no matter how much you try to twist or contort your way around it to justify its existence as such.

    J Street and Meretz won’t work, either. Those truly dedicated to a pluralistic Israel and a real end to the occupation got out of Meretz a long time ago (research its history). J Street is just clutching pearls, making noise, without a real commitment to real change in the status quo, whether in the US Congress or in Israel.

    Many Jews like myself realized a long time ago that our attachment to some mythos of Zionism which never existed in reality versus our commitment to a truly inclusive, secular, democratic state whether here or in Israel or anywhere else in the world…well, we had to either shit or get off the pot, so to speak. I and others got off the Zionist pot. The contradictions, the cognitive dissonance, the confusion, the self-delusion and obfuscation, were too great and painful to keep bearing, and just plain morally wrong. I can tell you it was liberating.

    And more (young, I am happy to say) Jews are realizing that they have to make that choice too, if we are going to have a better world for all our children and all people in the world. You are going to have to make that choice, too, if you are to stay true to your principles. This has nothing to do with your attachment to the land. Simply put, as a person committed to justice and equality, to ending oppression and racism and exploitation and militarism and never-ending war wherever you see it, you can’t have both. You just can’t, period. I can see you already have your doubts about staying on the pot. Don’t be afraid to make the final leap; we are waiting for you.

  86. tinfoil hattie
    August 1, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    What world do you live in, then?

    I live in the world where the person writing a post for a blog gets to decide what the post is going to be about, and how it is written, without having to worry about discussing every single form of “intersectionality” in said post.

    The world where if one wants the post to say something else, one gets one’s own blog, and writes to one’s heart’s content. The world where everything isn’t about me, me, me! And my causes! And my intersections! And my wants!

    The world of being interested in what another person has to say, without immediately deciding what’s wrong with the post, and how it should have said this or that, and how the writer is being unfair.

  87. August 6, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    mai’a, thank you for sharing your story. Your words are powerful and moving. It is so important that we all hear each others’ stories.

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