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My Less Equal Israel

Illegally occupy land, get politely moved. Protest for social justice, get beaten. I’m joining the protesters.

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A young Israeli protester inside a tent in Tel Aviv on June 26, 2012. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
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Helping Israel Help Itself

Supporters want to know how to assist the Jewish state. Here’s a way: Back Tel Aviv’s tent city protesters.

My father was a Revisionist, a follower of Ze’ev Jabotinsky. During the last months before he died this spring, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time talking with him—about what he thought of the State of Israel when he arrived here after World War II, and what he thought of it before he died.

Many of his stories had to do with the difficulties he had as a member of the Herut, the more right-leaning party, in the Israel of the 1950s and ’60s—a time when, if you didn’t have a membership card to the Histadrut, the labor union affiliated with the ruling socialists, you were a second-rate citizen. “This country,” my father told me, “has never been egalitarian. And in our family, when it came to ideology, we somehow always went for the less equal side.” When I saw Daphne Leef and her friends shouting familiar slogans and getting severely beaten, I couldn’t help but think about my father, may he rest in peace.

But I also thought about the residents of the Ulpana outpost, now required by a Supreme Court ruling to evacuate their homes, built on Palestinian-owned land. If Leef were a settler, I have no doubt that the Israeli police—and our prime minister—would make a concerted effort to show patience and sensitivity toward her, even if she’d chosen to break a law. Netanyahu would likely offer her alternate housing on nearby military land, like the Kirya in the middle of Tel Aviv, and he wouldn’t even do that until after the Supreme Court ruled against her.

But Leef isn’t a settler, so she’s doomed to be beaten. If Israel’s elite once carried the red Histadrut membership card, today the country has a new elite. A quick glance at the manner in which the law is enforced with regard to illegal construction in the occupied territories and on this side of the green line and we can see clearly that you’re better off breaking the law in the territories. If you’re ultra-Orthodox, you’ll find it much easier to meet the criteria for accessible housing set by the Minister of Housing and Construction, Ariel Atias, a member of the ultra-Orthodox religious party Shas. And if you’re a tycoon, you’ll find out soon enough that paying full taxes is merely a recommendation.

But even the country’s elite are allowed their moments of anger. So, if you still decide to break the law and damage property, as right-wing activists did in the Jewish-Arabic village of Neve Shalom, you’re better off scrawling on the vehicles you destroy, “Regards from Ulpana” and not, “The people demand social justice.”

I want to make it clear that I think smashing bank windows, as a few demonstrators did in the last protest, is wrong—if slightly less wrong than beating foreign workers, throwing rocks at the commander of the Ephraim Division, or building on land legally owned by someone else, all of which you can easily get away with here these days. Still, the lawbreakers who smashed the bank windows should be punished, but so too should the policemen who star in the YouTube clips hitting demonstrators without provocation.

And yet, all of this moral venting cannot be separated completely from the violence that is rearing its ugly head all around us—not just in the dark corners of our Israeli democracy, but also in the Knesset. When an entire leadership tries to pass laws to circumvent Supreme Court rulings and finds all sorts of ways to legalize the illegal, and when members of the government and the Knesset call foreign workers a cancer and make ignorant assertions about gay men and lesbians, the general atmosphere becomes such that it doesn’t always make it easy to distinguish between what is permissible and what is not.

I’m going to be at the next demonstration on Saturday. When the right to take to the streets and demonstrate is threatened, participation becomes compulsory. I read in the papers that the police are considering arming themselves with tasers this weekend. It’s not going to be pleasant, but that’s how it is when you decide to demonstrate—and you’re on the less equal side.

Translated by Sondra Silverston

***

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JamesGarbarzewich says:

No wonder this chap is a fiction writer. All over a poor imitation of occupy wall street.

Dude, the Tel Aviv protests started before OWS.

shalomfn says:

I don’t find this particular moral venting very informative. It shows Mr. Keret is on the side of the ‘angels’ most important for his own career. i.e. Those whose actions will be supported by the liberal media elite in Israel and especially in the United States
. But it does not show a fair and realistic presentation of problems in Israeli society including government budget problems.There is after all the need for a kind of fiscal responsibility which will prevent Israel from going into major debt and deficit problems. Already Treasury Secretary Yuval Steinitz is speaking honestly about rises in tax rates for 2013.
In other words Keret’s position seems to me self- righteous irresponsible moral posturing.

JamesGarbarzewich says:

JAP, it is a poor imitation of ocuppy wall street.

PhillipNagle says:

“Social justice” is just another term for “give me more at someone else’s expense”. The settlers, unfortunately are being driven out by a supreme court gone wild. On that score Americans can sympathize with them.

brynababy says:

Neither one is right! Not Keret who’s position is incredibly one-sided and lacking context, nor the Settlers, the majority of whom are takers.

Wow. One must be a complete ass not to remember how the police treated the “orange” protesters against Gaza disengagement back in 2005 and the settlers in Amona in 2006. Back then, Keret didn’t have a problem with police brutality, because he hated the protesters who were beaten up – and, may I add from personal knowledge, beaten much more severely then the “social revolutionaries” of Tel Aviv. Just like any other typical Israeli liberal, Keret is a shameless hypocrite and a liar, who doesn’t want to stop police violence – just to direct it against those he consider enemies.

PhillipNagle says:

I would be less sympathetic to the settlers had not the PA decreed that selling land to Jews is subject to the death penalty.

41953 says:

More power to the movement for social justice. But to provide the money to address issues of poverty etc., it is necessary to reduce the military budget, end the occupation of the West Bank and stop subsizing the haredim

I got as far as Leaf not being a settler so she got beaten. Where the heck does this guy live? Settlers get beaten everyday. BTW, Ulpana only got turned over to the Pals because the left insisted, not because there was any proof of ownership. Typical lefty – living in a dream world.

Perlade says:

The budget proposed by the Alternative Expert Committee of the Israeli Social Justice Movement did not find this necessary to meet their goals. Instead, their proposal relies on a few small increases in corporate and individual taxes. Interestingly, the Netanyahu government’s Trachtenberg Committee called for a reduction in the defense budget.

Perlade says:

https://www.facebook.com/moveisrael for daily updates on the Israeli Social Movement in English.

yevka says:

Tablet did not even touch J14 last summer which more proves its relevance to the intellectually lazy..If only there were some writers here who were worth their ink and could actually think. I expect little when I surf by this site. Occasionally I am surprised but that is more and more seldom.

aradi says:

This falls right into the category of stuff you can sell American readers. Settlers (or Haredi) protests were treated in the past FAR more harshly than Leef’s crowd ever was. For that matter, most “occupy” protests in the US were, as well.

The violence Keret writes about occurred in a demonstration where police were attacked, bank branches’ windows broken and there were attempts to break into the city hall.

Last summer most Israelis were in favor of the protests, and hundreds of thousands took part. Now these are several thousands at best, mostly of the hardcore left (red flags of the communist party are prevalent)

mouskatel says:

Seriously this is just so disingenuous. What planet does Etgar live on? Amona? Any random demonstration by hilltop youth? Who’s showing any patience and sensitivity to settlers? If he’s thinking of the images on TV from the disengagement, yes, that was a massive, large scale operation that was well-trained for and highly photographed, so patience was a virtue. Any random demo? No way.

The Leef fiasco was highly staged. I’m very suspicious that last summer’s demos managed to go from week to week without so much as a broken fingernail and all of the sudden, now Leef “can’t take it anymore” and things go to hell in a handbasket within hours? Doesn’t smell right. I’m surprised that someone as intelligent as Keret would fall for this so easiily.

mouskatel says:

WTF. Open up Wikipedia or any reliable news source. The Israeli protests started in July, OWS started in September:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_Wall_Street
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Israeli_social_justice_protests

And poor imitation? We managed to pass a law guaranteeing free education from age 3 for our kids within six months of the protests. What did you get? The Supreme Court giving a thumbs up that everyone finally has to buy health insurance? We did that 17 years ago. Way to catch up.

JamesGarbarzewich says:

The ultra left imitates ocuppy wall street. Disorganized and overall Loosers. An islamo fascist no more no less.

JamesGarbarzewich says:

Maybe just maybe the USA 3 billion military gift to Israel should be diverted to health care coverage for the poor. What do you think moussaka .

JamesGarbarzewich says:

And that is every year. Grind your teet moussaka.

JamesGarbarzewich says:

Edgar make sure you bring along some islamo fascists. Now if you joined protesters in Syria , we wouldn’t hear from you again. Bless the Lord you live in a free society. the ultra left are pitiful, no wonder they lost any appeal.

mouskatel says:

Really, that would be interesting, because that would be 3 billion dollars less for Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon and numerous other AMERICAN military contractors who might be a little pissed off at losing a major “customer” for their products (because I’m sure a well-read gent like yourself knows that the military aid goes right back to American companies to buy American military products). Why don’t you write to the Congressmen for these companies’ districts and see how they feel about this peachy idea?

mouskatel says:

Yes, every year the military aid buys American military products. What exactly am I supposed to “grind my teet” about?

Joe Blow says:

There is no such thing as legal, historical or moral Arab national (“Palestinian”) ownership of Israeli real estate. It is not “justice”, social or otherwise, to pretend those anti-Semitic fantasies are a legitimate basis to require the Jews to surrender their Promised Land.

Etgar’s usage of “ultra-” to describe his estrangement with Israel’s emerging mainstream majority dovetails with his concern for the rights of terrorists to present a gloomy picture of a twisted, self-hating ignoramus.

What you’re claiming is not true from a halachic perspective. That is why Rav Steinmann asked the the MK from United Torah Judaism not to support a change in law that would have contradicted a clear din: a non-Jew property rights on land in Israel are recognized by halacha, as in Ulpanah for instance.

What you’re claiming is not true from a halachic perspective. That is why Rav Steinmann asked the the MK from United Torah Judaism not to support a change in law that would have contradicted a clear din: a non-Jew property rights on land in Israel are recognized by halacha, as in Ulpanah for instance.

Ma Hah says:

Joe Blow wrote about the myth of “Arab national (‘Palestinian’) ownership of Israeli real estate”, and Raphael Judas Kaufmann mixed his apples into Joe Blow’s oranges by discussing the very real possibility of “a non-Jew” legally acquiring a plot in Israel (which has nothing to do with what Joe wrote about).

Joe Blow didn’t state that an individual non-Jew can’t buy property in Israel.

Are you really confused about the difference between the right of a gentile to lawfully acquire property from a Jew in the Jewish homeland and the crime of a foreign power illegally conquering Israel, expelling its indigent Jewish population, and fabricating a national “Palestinian” historical narrative for the sole propaganda purpose of weakening Israel’s sovereignty? If so, it reveals a lot about your understanding of the halachos, dinim and rabanim.

“the crime of a foreign power illegally conquering Israel, expelling its indigent Jewish population, and fabricating a national “Palestinian” historical narrative for the sole propaganda purpose of weakening Israel’s sovereignty”
Literally everything you ascribed to the Palestinians is EXACTLY what Zionists did during the founding of the Stateo of Israel.
The creation of Zionism and the push to return to the land of Israel is just as much of a “fabricated national historical narrative” as Palestinian nationalism, American nationalism, Canadian nationalism, or basically ANY nationalism in the world today. The basic lack of empathy you have is astounding in its heartlessness. You recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s national claims but completely deny (with zero basis in morality, history, international law, logic or facts) the national liberation of Palestinians.

“There is no such thing as legal, historical or moral Arab national (“Palestinian”) ownership of Israeli real estate.”
The entire world community (excluding Israel and the U.S.) have consistently declared that the occupation IS illegal every year for the past 30 years.
Palestinians have historical claim to the land based on the fact that they personally (or their parents and grandparents) lived on the land before they fled and were evicted by Israel forces in 1948.
There are countless moral reasons why Palestinians should be treated with the same dignity and compassion we reserve for Jews. For one, the Torah states “You must not mistreat or oppress strangers. Remember, you
yourselves were once strangers in the land of Egypt.”
All human beings were created equal, according to Judaism. Therefore, we must extend our love and compassion to all. This is beautifully summarized by Hillel’s famous statement: “that which is hateful to you, do not do unto your fellow.”

“”Social justice” is just another term for “give me more at someone else’s expense”.”
Kind of like the settlers, who are illegally occupying more land at the expense of the Palestinians?

PhillipNagle says:

There is nothing illegal about the settlements and the so called Palestinians have no more claim to the land, which everyone now agrees was illegally annexed by Jordan, than the Jews. The 1948 cease fire lines ended when Jordan violated them to side with Egypt in 1967.

paul delano says:

As long as Israel was a land of swamps and desolation, a backwater of
the disintegrating Ottoman empire, the agglomerate of Arabs (Egyptians,
Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese) who subsisted in the Jewish homeland never
felt the need for much of anything, least of all independence. Not a
single Moslem on the planet saw the Turks as invaders or usurpers. After
all, they were Moslems, and that’s what Moslems are supposed to do.

But now it’s controlled by non-Moslems, kafirs. So what if they are the
true sons and daughters of the Land? Worse still, with their labor and
intellect, they strived and succeeded where Moslems had only failed.

How appropriate that this motley crew of Moslems now became
“Palestinians” (stealing the word from the Roman Palestina, which in
turn stems from the Biblical P’lesheth, the land of the Philistines).
There is no Palestinian language or culture or history; there is no
justification for a Palestinian state. But that’s not the point, is it?
The Jews, and the West, cannot be allowed to succeed, thus showing up
the Ummah for what it is.

Trish94903 says:

People like JG are quick to reveal either bias or ignorance when they characterize low-interest loans for the purchase of American products (made by American workers) as “gifts” — Israel is one of the US’s few allies who actually repays those loans with interest and on time.

Trish94903 says:

“The entire world community (excluding Israel and the U.S.) have consistently declared that the occupation IS illegal every year for the past 30 years.” Only proving that propaganda and Oil Money works…the entire world community consistently declared that the world was flat for centuries. Declare all you want–it is meaningless mouthings in the face of law and facts.

Trish94903 says:

Nobody denies the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign nation of their own where they can exercise that sovereignty–that’s been the offer on tap since the Partition. The problem is the Palestinian revanchism in their educational system, their media, their Arabic discussions in which Israel is not the sovereign Jewish state but instead “the ’48 lands” which prevent an end-of-conflict agreement because the next generation of Palestinians has the “right” to “liberate” those lands….until the PA leadership deals with the reality of Jewish national liberation, and teaches peace and coexistence instead of hate and conquest (and genocide, if you include the Hamas Charter) the conflict will continue.

A lot of those poor people ARE Haredim.

Oh, Etgar, you are sooooooooo brave! We shall all pray for your safety!

bobschwalbaum says:

I’m an observor outside of israel.. a Jew in the USA who has sadly never been to Israel..
I see a familar ring in all these comments.. very similar to the left-right divide here in the USA.
The BIg difference here is that.. if the left wins in Israel.. it will not just be another regime like Obama’s.. it will mean the death and destruction of the State of Israel.
You Israeli leftries have a death wish.

Azmi Bishara, Palestinian and former head of the National Democratic Assembly, in 1994: “I think there is an Arab nation. I do not think there is a Palestinian nation. I think it’s a colonialist invention… When were there any Palestinians? …until the 19th century Palestine was the south of greater Syria. See by yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3n5-yG-6dU

At the Arab League meeting in Amman in November 1987, King Hussein of Jordan said: “The appearance of the Palestinian national personality comes as an answer to Israel’s claim that Palestine is Jewish.”

The PLO itself states it clearly in its current charter: “The Palestinian people are a part of the Arab Nation… [and] believe in Arab unity…. However, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity.” Martin Sherman to comment: “How is any fair-minded person to avoid concluding that at a later stage there will be no need to preserve their identity or to develop consciousness thereof?”.

There’s no parallel whatsoever between the Jewish nationhood that traces back 4,000 years and a heterogeneous group of Arab families from different tribes living in the Land of Israel.

So actually, morality, History, international law, logic, facts and the statements by local Arab leaders themselves plead against the invented Palestinian nationhood.

Azmi Bishara, Palestinian and former head of the National Democratic Assembly, in 1994: “I think there is an Arab nation. I do not think there is a Palestinian nation. I think it’s a colonialist invention… When were there any Palestinians? …until the 19th century Palestine was the south of greater Syria. See by yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3n5-yG-6dU

At the Arab League meeting in Amman in November 1987, King Hussein of Jordan said: “The appearance of the Palestinian national personality comes as an answer to Israel’s claim that Palestine is Jewish.”

The PLO itself states it clearly in its current charter: “The Palestinian people are a part of the Arab Nation… [and] believe in Arab unity…. However, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity.” Martin Sherman to comment: “How is any fair-minded person to avoid concluding that at a later stage there will be no need to preserve their identity or to develop consciousness thereof?”.

There’s no parallel whatsoever between the Jewish nationhood that traces back 4,000 years and a heterogeneous group of Arab families from different tribes living in the Land of Israel.

So actually, morality, History, international law, logic, facts and the statements by local Arab leaders themselves show that there is no Palestinian nation other than the attempt to fight the Jews coming back home.

You’re correct. After I read the post again, I realised Joe Blow addressed the issue at a collective level while I responded at the level of the individual. Joe Blow is 100% right in his post, there is zero ground for “Palestinian” nationhood but the desire to wipe us from our homeland.

Hmm. You can’t possibly be this historically retarded. Oh wait, you can. You and the rest of the world for the past 30 years. There has been a Jewish presence (occupied or free) in the Land of Israel for over 3,000 years. Muslims occupied the Land much later (636 -1099 C.E.). And while were are on the subject, Palestinians are Arabs—there is no such thing as the “Palestinian people.” Palestine was the name given to the region after the last and final Jewish revolt against Rome (135 C.E.). It means “philistine,” the long-time enemy of Israel from Biblical times, a people who longer walk the earth. It was to humiliate the Jews.

Re treating Arabs with compassion. Israel does this well enough considering that the PA leadership is ideologically and theologically committed to destroying Jewish life. Take for example an excerpt from the Hamas Charter in Arabic with an English translation (the English portion if their website is currently conveniently “under construction”):

From Article 15:
يوم يَغتصب ا
لأعداء بعض أرض المسلمين، فالجهاد فرض عين على كل مسلم. وفي مواجهة
… اغتصاب اليهود لفلسطين لا بد من رفع راية الجهاد
ولا بد من ربط قضية فلسطين في أذهان الأجيال المسلمة على أنها قضية دينية، ويجب
… معالجتها على هذا الأساس
.والذي نفس محمد بيده لوددت أن أغزو في سبيل الله فأُقتل ثم أغزو فأُقتَل ثم أغزو فأُقتَل

“When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, Jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims. In order to face the usurpation of Palestine [i.e., all of Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza] by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad … We must imprint on the minds of generations of Muslims that the Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise … I swear by that who holds in His Hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill”

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My Less Equal Israel

Illegally occupy land, get politely moved. Protest for social justice, get beaten. I’m joining the protesters.

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