Take a side — the side of justice

Listen to Anne Baltzer’s inspiring TEDx on having the courage to take a side and take a stand.

By Anne Baltzer | TEDxOcala | Dec 8, 2017

“Equality is about treating everyone the same. Equity is about leveling the playing field.”

“I found a system of segregated roads, with nice roads for Jewish Israeli settlers and separate roads for Palestinians. And all around me I saw inspiring Palestinian popular resistance and its violent suppression by Israel, a military superpower armed by my own country, the United States.

“And I knew that Israel would pay me to move on to that Palestinian land, simply because I’m Jewish. I did not know at the time that Israel’s Jewish majority could only exist through the removal of Palestinians. . . .

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What Gaza really needs is for Israel to recognize the humanity of its occupants


A boy scavenging bicycle parts in Gaza. (photo: Getty Images)

Israel and its supporters must separate the civilians from Hamas militants and stop the collective punishment.

By Mohammed Shehada | Forward | Mar 13, 2018

Whether you call it a crisis or call it a passing distress, names are irrelevant when you try to describe the impossibility of life in Gaza that no man could endure yet no man can escape.

On March 13, Jared Kushner and Jason D. Greenblatt held a White House summit on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza with leaders from Israel, several Arab nations and Western countries — but there were no leaders from either the Palestinian Authority or Gaza in attendance.

“We all know that none of this will be easy,” Greenblatt reminded those gathered at the summit. “Everything we do must be done in a way that ensures we do not put the security of Israelis and Egyptians at risk — and that we do not inadvertently empower Hamas, which bears responsibility for Gaza’s suffering. But the situation today in Gaza is unacceptable, and spiraling downwards.”

Any plan for Gaza would be better than the status quo. But if the summit is to accomplish anything, it must acknowledge three hard truths: Life in Gaza is unbearable. Unbearable suffering is fueling Hamas’s continued reign of terror. And the only way to free Gazans from their unbearable suffering is to acknowledge Israel’s role in it.

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Even in peace, the occupation will never end


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the Economic Club of Washington, Mar 7, 2018. (photo: Jose Luis Magana / AP)

Netanyahu envisions a future of permanent military occupation of the West Bank.

By Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man | +972 Magazine | Mar 8, 2018

“I don’t want the Palestinians as citizens of Israel and I don’t want them as subjects of Israel. So I want a solution where they have all the powers they need to govern themselves but none of the powers that would threaten us. What that means is that whatever the solution is, the area west of the Jordan — that includes the Palestinian areas — would be militarily under Israel.”
— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

He’s said it countless times before in myriad ways. But he usually only says it in Hebrew. This week, however, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said in English, and on camera, that under his leadership Israel will never end the occupation of Palestine.

Speaking at the Economic Club of Washington earlier this week, Netanyahu dodged a question about whether he supports a one- or two-state solution, and outlined a vision that sounds a lot like an entrenched and enhanced version of the occupation as it exists today.

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“It’s What We Do: A Play About the Occupation”

The play, adapted from the testimony of Israeli soldiers, was recently produced in Washington, DC.

By Pam Bailey | Mondoweiss | Feb 6, 2018

This oppression is destructive for everyone: Palestinian civilians obviously suffer daily, and the Israeli soldiers — who are told “your mission is to disrupt lives” — are forced to stop thinking and do what they are ordered to do, even when the must carry out actions that are inhumane. This is called “mind occupation,” and I’m glad that some soldiers have managed to free their minds and break the silence.

This video is a production called “It’s What We Do: A Play About the Occupation,” produced and directed by Pam Nice, a member of the Washington, DC, chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Although it is a drama, the dialogue of the soldiers is adapted from the actual testimonies of Israeli soldiers from Breaking the Silence, whose vivid memories continue to haunt them. The target audience is Jewish viewers. But several We Are Not Numbers writers, who have been “targets” of Israeli soldiers, watched the video, curious to see how far the the soldiers were willing to go in their confessions. It was difficult for many of them to watch, and their reactions varied. But they all agreed the video should be required viewing for people everywhere.

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As long as occupation exists, soldiers will continue to speak out


Palestinians clash with Israeli soldiers in Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of the West Bank city of Hebron, Dec 31, 2017. (photo: Wisam Hashlamoun / Flash90)

We must make our voices heard sharply and clearly — speaking out is not merely an option, it is a moral duty.

By Avner Gvaryahu | +972 Blog | Jan 26, 2018

It [is] important to remind the Israeli public why soldiers continue to break their silence. After all, the central reason for breaking the silence is the occupation. As long as there is an occupation, there will be those who choose to expose what the government is trying so hard to hide.

Like many who served alongside me, I preferred to remain silent. I preferred to forget, not to speak about the Palestinian homes I broke into in the middle of the night, forgetting the violence I carried out at checkpoints and the passivity required of me when settlers freely broke the law. When I was released from the army, I preferred to repress those three years, to put them behind me.

Only after I joined a Breaking the Silence tour to the South Hebron Hills did my eyes open. Only then, I chose to speak. That is how I learned that I wasn’t alone. I learned there are others like me — soldiers who see the situation the same way and choose to take responsibility and change the way they and their society, our society, talk about the occupation.

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Holy city of sterile streets


An Israeli soldier on a street that separates an Israeli settlement and a Palestinian neighborhood in the West Bank city of Hebron. (photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

To settlers, this is the first Jewish city in the biblical hills of Judea; to the Palestinian majority, this is their centuries-old home under relentless military occupation.

By Roger Cohen | The New York Times | Jan 20, 2018

“You are treating families in a way you would not want your own family to be treated. It’s as simple as that.”
— Anonymous IDF soldier

The Israeli soldier stands at the entrance to Shuhada Street. The street is deserted, its stores shuttered, doors welded shut. The old center of Hebron has been a ghost town for many years. The Israel Defense Forces refer to “tzir sterili,” or sterile roads, because no Palestinian is allowed on them, whether in a car or on foot.

The occupation of the West Bank is a half-century old. That’s a long time. Jews did not go to the Holy Land to deploy for another people the biological metaphors of classic racism that accompanied their persecution over centuries. But the exercise of overwhelming power is corrupting, to the point that “sterile” streets, presumably freed of disease-ridden natives, enter the lexicon.

The soldier at the checkpoint is a young man with a ready smile. He tells me he’s visited New York. He asks where I bought my watch. I ask him what he’s done to merit the punishment of Hebron. He laughs, a little uneasily. He’s clearly uncomfortable with his mission, enforcing segregation, and wants to connect. No doubt he’d rather be on the beach in Tel Aviv enjoying a beer.

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You don’t have to be anti-Zionist to listen to Palestinian voices


A Palestinian woman at an Israeli checkpoint. (photo: Getty Images)

An essay on “admitting Israel’s imperfections.”

By Matthew Gindin | The Forward | Nov 29, 2017

Harassment and inhumane conduct sometimes practiced by members of the IDF towards Palestinians has been well documented. It should horrify us, and we should make no excuses for it.

On November 27, the Forward published an opinion piece by Palestinian activist and journalist Mariam Barghouti, who asserted that one cannot be both a feminist and a Zionist. Despite the fact that the Forward’s opinion section published, on the same day, an essay promoting the point of view of “Zioness,” a feminist Zionist organization, The Forward’s opinion editor, Batya Ungar-Sargon, was besieged by hate mail from Jewish writers, including a threat to “rape and behead” her, as well as one calling her a “demented scumbag kapo.”

Although I am proud to write for an outlet that is committed to a pluralism of opinions and that publishes Palestinian voices, I don’t agree with Barghouti’s fundamental thesis. I do think one can be a feminist and Zionist, though of course, as many commentators pointed out, it depends on how you define Zionism and how you define feminism. In her essay, Barghouti makes feminism synonymous with general humanism. As she writes, “Fundamentally speaking, feminism cannot support racism, supremacy and oppressive domination in any form.”

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