Today is Land Day in Israel/Palestine, a memorial day commemorating the March 30, 1976 deaths of six Palestinian-Israelis, killed while protesting Israel’s practice of expropriating Palestinian-Israeli land.
Since then, Palestinians both inside and outside of Israel-proper have marked March 30 as a day on which to protest not just issues concerning land within Israel’s internationally-recognized borders, but also Israel’s generally discriminatory practices toward its Palestinian citizens, and the occupation/settlements.
For years now, I’ve written some version of the following words:
“All 22 members of the Arab League, including the Palestinian Authority, offered a comprehensive peace in exchange for a two state solution not once, but twice: in 2002 and 2007. Both times, Israel entirely ignored the offer.”
I wrote these words in good faith, but it turns out I was wrong. Wrong matters.
Late Monday night, while he was speaking to the annual J Street conference, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said this: “Those who say that Israel did not address itself to the Arab Peace Initiative do not speak the truth. Israel was prepared to negotiate within the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative.”
I took note but was busy transcribing the speech for a client, so couldn’t do anything at the moment. By the time Olmert was done, JTA’s Washington bureau chief Ron Kampeas had tweeted:
Olmert is right tt he said he was ready to talk Arab peace initiative at Annapolis. Saudis freaked, started babbling antizionism
I am familiar with the Arab peace initiative, which was born in Riyadh, affirmed in Beirut [in 2002] and recently reaffirmed by you in Riyadh. I value this initiative, acknowledge its importance and highly appreciate its contribution. I have no doubt that it will be referred to in the course of the negotiations between us and the Palestinian leadership.
That’s kind of the sum total of my review, because, dudes: Oh my God! So good!
Note: More images of badass women, after the jump. Jump, dudes!
Ok, there could have been a few fewer hand-held close-ups — but mostly they worked. And ok, Gale should have somehow been given a few more minutes to establish just how close that relationship is. And I’m not sure Lenny Kravitz was really meant to act.
But other than that? OH MY GOD. (And come on come on, the 12 of you who are silly enough to have any Josh Hutcherson [Peeta] hate. He.was.perfect. Haterz to the left! Done).
Plus, bonus: We didn’t go on our own. We brought the boy (who got me into the books in the first place) and one of his closest friends — two seventh grade boys absolutely determined to see a girl with a bow kick some serious ass on opening weekend. They loved it. LOVED it. The boy’s one critique? “Jennifer Lawrence was great and everything – I just wish Katniss could have been even fiercer, somehow.”
In Monday’s HaAretz, leading Israeli political columnist (and national treasure) Akiva Eldar wrote about a dicey Palestinian decision to call on the UN to investigate Israel’s West Bank settlements (about which I wrote here, if you’re looking for a brief primer) — his point boiled down to: Such a gambit is simply not likely to pay off for the Palestinians, and then what?
However, on his way to making that point, he also happened to sum up, almost incidentally, the last decade or more of Israeli behavior on the West Bank, which in turn boils down to: They do whatever the hell they want, no matter what.
Unlike in the case of Trayvon Martin, there are (as far as I know) no suspects in the case, there’s no phone record, there are no publicly available facts other than the above. There is a possibility, of course, that the killer actually knew Alawadi and the note was left as a diversionary tactic, and of course, one never knows what the investigation may reveal – El Cajon police Lt. Mark Coit very rightly told the San Diego Union-Tribune: “Although we are exploring all aspects of this investigation, evidence thus far leads us to believe this is an isolated incident. A hate crime is one of the possibilities and we will be looking at that. We don’t want to focus on one issue and miss something else.” This is what I want to hear from law enforcement: A willingness to go where the evidence leads, and nowhere else.
Yet having said that, and leaving room for the possibility of new information — I’m not the El Cajon police, and I can go ahead and make the leap of judgement. Shaima Alawadi was almost certainly killed for the color of her skin, the accent in her voice, and most importantly, the scarf on her head. The way in which she worshiped her Maker. And it just makes me ill.
If we are honest with ourselves, Americans will admit that we face a range of racisms that frankly boggles the mind. I suppose it’s not “Americans,” per se, I suppose it’s humans — but Americans are the humans among whom I live, among whom I raise my babies. It’s our racism with which I must grapple.
Asian Americans are our “model minority” today, stigmatized and locked into behavior and qualities that we claim to value, even as we reduce human beings in all their complexities to a check list of traits and expectations.
But in the 1940s things looked quite different. Japanese Americans — and often others, lumped together based on physical appearance — were such a threat that people felt the need to tear them from their homes and lock them away.
I don’t like to write about anti-Asian bigotry as if it began and ended with the internment of Japanese Americans, but those camps remain one of the greatest stains on our collective soul, a stain that I believe we are all too ready to forget.
Billy Bragg sings a song about those camps, something that you would think an Englishman would be unable to access, and sings it from the soul of someone else, almost, sings it from the dirt in which young men lay dead, in a war that engulfed a generation, even as some left mothers, fathers, wives and children back in internment camps in order to fight for the country that had put them there.
And thus my regular column at The Daily Beast/Zion Square begins! I’ll be running a post every other Friday, starting today (in addition to the occasional one-off piece, such as the one that ran on launch day).
You’ll find the top of today’s entry below — I suspect it will win me few friends, but there it is. One doesn’t get into the poorly-paying having-opinions-about-Israel/Palestine biz in order to win friends.
To read the whole thing, I encourage you to click here — and just like I did last week, I really mean it: Please click! (And of course: FB, Tweet, Stumble, Pin, Digg, etc, and so on. Tell your friends! Is what I’m saying here). I would surely take it as a kindness.
You Don’t Make Peace With Your Friends
I was at the grocery store on Arlozorov Street one bright spring morning in 1997. Tel Aviv was gearing up for Purim, so I likely had hamentaschen in the cart, certainly challah and probably milk. I was, no doubt, staring into the middle distance when I began to notice a certain agitation animating the store’s elderly security guard. He crossed the store and began to speak in urgent tones with his manager, radio in hand.
In Israel, these are signs that “mashehu kara,” something’s happened – and by “something” folks mean: an attack, rockets, Israeli death at Arab hands.
The security guard, it transpired, had heard news of another suicide bombing – but this one was literally around the corner from my apartment. On that spring day, three young mothers, out for coffee, were killed at the now-infamous Apropos Restaurant.