On Saturday, thousands gathered across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to demonstrate against the Prawer-Begin Plan—a controversial bill currently under review in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) that could displace up to 40,000 Palestinian Bedouin from the Negev Desert.
When I was twenty years old I got my first tattoo—it says “We Will Not Be Silent” in Arabic. It is located on the back of my right shoulder—just small enough to be discreet and easily covered around family, but just large enough to start conversations were my sleeve or strap to slip slightly off of my shoulder.
“Free, Free Palestine!”
I used to lead the chants at protests as a teenager, but I was never entirely sure of what they meant. Of course, I knew my history. I knew that in 1948 the state of Israel was established leading to the expulsion of 100s of thousands of Palestinians to villages and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza. I knew that many more had fled the country, creating a diaspora of Palestinians larger than the amount of Palestinians that remained in Palestine. I knew that it seemed that at the slightest flinch from Hamas that Israel bombarded the Gaza Strip with F16s and drones, raining missiles from the skies over a strip of land that was already described as the largest open-air prison in the world.
When I heard that two bombs had exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, my heart sank.
Please, please don’t be an Arab-American. Please, please don’t be one of us.
What just happened?
First, President Barack Obama landed in Tel Aviv—he stepped onto the tarmac, said “Shalom” and the crowd went wild. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers saluted him and religious leaders greeted him. “It’s good to be back in the land of Israel,” he continued, in Hebrew.
Judith Butler, Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism. Columbia UP, 2013
Having made her name in the early 90s with Gender Trouble, a densely-written look at the ways in which gender is culturally performed, the American cultural theorist Judith Butler has over the last decade turned her eye towards ethics and violence. 2004’s Precarious Life began her evolution with an in-depth meditation on the ethical resources of the Judaism in which she was raised, with her analysis of the Iraq war and the charge of anti-Semitism levelled at critics of the state of Israel.
“What is the purpose of your stay in Israel?”
For outsiders, the Israeli occupation of Palestine starts at Ben Gurion Airport.
If you are Israeli, welcome home. Go through customs, get your luggage and be on your way to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa or any number of Jewish settlements that you might call home. If you are Palestinian and live in the West Bank, you are probably not here. Even though it is only a 45 minute taxi ride to Jerusalem and from there an even shorter bus ride to Ramallah, Ben Gurion Airport is in Tel Aviv and Tel Aviv is in Israel—to be here, you need a travel permit from the Israeli authorities, which is difficult to obtain.
On Sunday, 35 militants attacked a border post with automatic gunfire and grenades in the Sinai Peninsula—killing 16 Egyptian soldiers, and injuring seven others. After attacking the soldiers, the militants hijacked two Israeli armored tanks, which were then destroyed—one exploding, and the other targeted by Israeli fire—killing eight of the militants as they tried to infiltrate the Israeli border.
It is suspected that the militants are Islamist and Salafi jihadists from Gaza and Sinai—though their exact identities are still unknown. Certain sources claim that the militants hijacked the armored vehicles to abduct an Israeli soldier. Some claim that the smuggling operations between besieged Gaza and Sinai are the structural cause for frequent bouts of regional violence. Still others claim that the militants were deliberately trying to incite war between Egypt and Israel.
If someone were to have a heart attack in Gaza, the ambulances might not come. Due to the current fuel crisis in Gaza, one third of the ambulances have completely run out of fuel—the other two-thirds are relying solely on the fuel in their tanks.
Over the past year, Gazans have routinely smuggled fuel in from Egypt through underground tunnels that run between the two countries. These tunnels have long served as an economic lifeline for Gaza, importing black-market goods that would be otherwise banned due Israel’s blockade on Gaza—a blockade that bans the import of “anything that could be construed as a weapon.” On this list is everything ranging from pipes—making repairing factories and sewage treatment plants difficult, fertilizer—which makes farming and food production difficult, and of course, diesel and petrol.
Khader Adnan is a 33 year-old Palestinian baker and master’s candidate in economics at Birzeit University. He lives in Arrabeh—a small village in the Occupied West Bank, just outside of Jenin with his wife and two—soon to be three—children. On December 17th, 2011 at 3:30 in the morning, Israeli Authorities raided his home, arresting Adnan in front of his family and taking him away to be interrogated, and later detained for alleged involvement with the Islamic Jihad.