[Marxism] We will not obey
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 27 10:25:22 MDT 2011
NY Times July 26, 2011
Where Politics Are Complex, Simple Joys at the Beach
By ETHAN BRONNER
TEL AVIV — Skittish at first, then wide-eyed with delight, the
women and girls entered the sea, smiling, splashing and then
joining hands, getting knocked over by the waves, throwing back
their heads and ultimately laughing with joy.
Most had never seen the sea before.
The women were Palestinians from the southern part of the West
Bank, which is landlocked, and Israel does not allow them in. They
risked criminal prosecution, along with the dozen Israeli women
who took them to the beach. And that, in fact, was part of the
point: to protest what they and their hosts consider unjust laws.
In the grinding rut of Israeli-Palestinian relations — no
negotiations, mutual recriminations, growing distance and
dehumanization — the illicit trip was a rare event that joined the
simplest of pleasures with the most complex of politics. It showed
why coexistence here is hard, but also why there are, on both
sides, people who refuse to give up on it.
“What we are doing here will not change the situation,” said Hanna
Rubinstein, who traveled to Tel Aviv from Haifa to take part. “But
it is one more activity to oppose the occupation. One day in the
future, people will ask, like they did of the Germans: ‘Did you
know?’ And I will be able to say, ‘I knew. And I acted.’ ”
Such visits began a year ago as the idea of one Israeli, and have
blossomed into a small, determined movement of civil disobedience.
Ilana Hammerman, a writer, translator and editor, had been
spending time in the West Bank learning Arabic when a girl there
told her she was desperate to get out, even for a day. Ms.
Hammerman, 66, a widow with a grown son, decided to smuggle her to
the beach. The resulting trip, described in an article she wrote
for the weekend magazine of the newspaper Haaretz, prompted other
Israeli women to invite her to speak, and led to the creation of a
group they call We Will Not Obey. It also led a right-wing
organization to report her to the police, who summoned her for
In a newspaper advertisement, the group of women declared: “We
cannot assent to the legality of the Law of Entry into Israel,
which allows every Israeli and every Jew to move freely in all
regions between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River while
depriving Palestinians of this same right. They are not permitted
free movement within the occupied territories nor are they allowed
into the towns and cities across the green line, where their
families, their nation, and their traditions are deeply rooted.
“They and we, all ordinary citizens, took this step with a clear
and resolute mind. In this way we were privileged to experience
one of the most beautiful and exciting days of our lives, to meet
and befriend our brave Palestinian neighbors, and together with
them, to be free women, if only for one day.”
The police have questioned 28 Israeli women; their cases are
pending. So far, none of the Palestinian women and girls have been
caught or questioned by the police.
The beach trip last week followed a pattern: the Palestinian women
went in disguise, which meant removing clothes rather than
covering up. They sat in the back seats of Israeli cars driven by
middle-aged Jewish women and took off headscarves and long gowns.
As the cars drove through an Israeli Army checkpoint, everyone
Earlier, the Israelis had dropped off toys and equipment at the
home of one of the Palestinian women, who is setting up a
kindergarten. The Israelis also help the Palestinian women with
medical and legal troubles.
Israel’s military, which began limiting Palestinian movement into
Israel two decades ago to prevent terrorism at a time of violent
uprisings, is in charge of issuing permits for Palestinian visits
to Israel. About 60,000 will be issued this year, twice the number
for 2010 but still a token amount for a population of 2.5 million.
Ms. Hammerman views the permits as the paperwork of colonialist
bureaucrats — to be resisted, not indulged. Others have attacked
her for picking and choosing which laws she will and will not obey.
The Palestinian visitors came with complicated histories. In most
of their families the men have been locked up at some point. For
example, Manal, who had never been to the sea before, is 36, the
mother of three and pregnant; five of her brothers are in Israeli
prisons, and another was killed when he entered a settler
religious academy armed with a knife.
She brought with her an unsurprising stridency. “This is all
ours,” she said in Tel Aviv. She did not go home a Zionist, but in
the course of the day her views seemed to grow more textured — or
less certain — as she found comfort in the company of Israeli
women who said that they, too, had a home on this land.
Another visitor lives in a refugee camp with her husband and
children. Her husband’s family does not approve of her visits (“
‘How can you be with the Jews?’ they ask me. ‘Are you a
collaborator?’ ”) but she did not hide the relief she felt at
leaving her overcrowded camp for a day of friends and fun.
The beach trips — seven so far — have produced some tense moments.
An effort to generate interest in a university library fell flat.
An invitation to spend the night met with rejection by Palestinian
husbands and fathers. Home-cooked Israeli food did not make a big
impression. And at a predominantly Jewish beach, a policeman made
So, on this latest visit, the selected beach was one in Jaffa that
is frequented by Israeli Arabs. Nobody noticed the visitors.
Dinner was a surprise. Hagit Aharoni, a psychotherapist and the
wife of the celebrity chef Yisrael Aharoni, is a member of the
organizing group, so the beachgoers dined on the roof of the
Aharonis’ home, five floors above stylish Rothschild Boulevard,
where hundreds of tents are currently pitched by Israelis angry
with the high cost of housing. The guests loved Mr. Aharoni’s
cooking. They lighted cigarettes — something they cannot do in
public at home — and put on joyous Palestinian music. As the pink
sun set over the Mediterranean, they danced with their Israeli
Ms. Aharoni was asked her thoughts. She replied: “For 44 years, we
have occupied another country. I am 53, which means most of my
life I have been an occupier. I don’t want to be an occupier. I am
engaged in an illegal act of disobedience. I am not Rosa Parks,
but I admire her, because she had the courage to break a law that
was not right.”
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