two_sided-story      In her book Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State, author Shira Robinson discusses Israel as a settler state, and the policies that it put in place that disenfranchised and discriminated against Palestinians. While discussing Israeli law and military strategies, she also touches on the violence that erupted since the War of 1948, and the loss of life in instances such as the Dayr Yasin massacre.

In many cases, violence and bloodshed have defined the Israeli-Palestinian relationship from the War of 1948, the establishment of Israel, all the way to the present day. In response to this, overtime various grassroots organizations have emerged to help facilitate understanding and empathy between Israelis and Palestinians. One of these is the Parents Circle-Families Forum, a grassroots organization formed by Israelis and Palestinians that aims to foster compassion and understanding by facilitating dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis who have lost family members to the conflict. They see reconciliation as integral to achieving peace in the region, and by sharing stories of loss and grief the PCFF aims to challenge the binary of an “Us” and “Them” that both Palestinians and Israelis see one another through.

While on the ground the organization works with Israelis and Palestinians who have  lost immediate family to violence, the PCFF also uses the medium of film to disseminate its message for reconciliation and understanding to a broader audience. To show the necessity and effects of dialogue, in 2012 the organization produced the documentary film “Two Sided Story”. The film, directed by Tor Ben-Mayor, shows a dialogue workshop held in Beit Jala, where Arabs and Jews from different walks of life come to speak of their experience of loss of loved ones at the hands of violence. It displays the creation of a “third space” where dialogue is exchanged between Arab Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, in a realistic and productive manner. Rather than perpetuating an “ideal” situation where everyone understands the other’s perspective and struggle, the film highlights the uneven power dynamics between Palestinians and Israelis, and how often both sides do not understand the opposing perspective. Through “Two Sided Story” the PCFF shows individuals who while often not accepting one another’s politics, anger, or defense, find common ground through mutual grief and a search for peace.

 

Author: Mehr Ali

Bibliography:

“Two Sided Story.” Two Sided Story. The Parents Circle-Families Forum, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

“Two Sided Story.” Two Sided Story. The Parents Circle-Families Forum, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzJkBxQC4Tg

 

 

 

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f-16-pythonIn her book Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State, Shira Robinson explains how Israel utilized the idea of military rule, and how they deployed military force within their frontiers.

Living under military rule must have its repercussions. Israeli children probably adore their military. It keeps them safe; it protects them from “the terrorists’’. The book mentions the Israeli Government’s “fear-mongering” which ensures that the majority of the public continuously support their military expeditions.

gungirlsHowever, seeing drones flying over your head to bomb your neighbors constantly must normalize the idea. Government propaganda surely must glorify violence. This would foster within children, from a very young age, heartless tendencies.

Filmmaker Itamar Rose made a video that vividly reflects that.

Itamar Rose and Yossi Atia are both Israeli filmmakers of Israeli satire, aiming to bring to light issues that currently face the nation, including the issue with their Arab neighbors. Their films aim to make people see the truth of their reality and to take a new, fresh look at it.

 

In 2009, the two filmmakers uploaded a video named “The Jewish Arab State” through which they explored the notion of a bi-national state, asking Palestinians from Taybeh about how they would begin creating it. Ironically, they asked the interviewees to re-establish the idea of the “other”, choosing someone else to be discriminated against. The choices were haphazard and clearly born out of personal prejudice, hence proving the arbitrary nature of discrimination.

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Below is the video by Itamar Rose, interviewing Israeli children visiting the Israeli army museum:

 

 

Children are innocent, and easily impressionable. To see children speak of killing and war in such an offhanded manner is very telling.

The idea of the video is to depict the dangers of living under military law, having military-influenced education and how it can affect the mindset of the children.

Raising children to be so glory dazed, blinded by militaristic ambitions, can signify two things: one, Israel’s military will continue to grow, and two, the bloodshed will not cease. In fact, if anything, it might intensify.

In short, the main point of the video is: guns can backfire.

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Author: Rua Akhzami

Bibliography :

Robinson, Shira. Citizen strangers: Palestinians and the birth of Israel’s liberal settler state. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.

Israelis kids in the army museum . September 20, 2012. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp67KehlVGU.

“UN: Ensure Integrity of Children’s ‘List of Shame'” Human Rights Watch. June 04, 2015. Accessed February 20, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/06/04/un-ensure-integrity-childrens-list-shame.

“Yossi Atia.” Wikipedia. Accessed February 21, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yossi_Atia.

 

Playing a-nationally

February 16, 2017

Bi-nationalism is a perspective that relies heavily on cultural exchange, understanding and elevation.  Often times it is the cultural strangeness that can create the cleavages that serve to the detriment of peace and progress.  There are many different forms of cultural expression that can be transferred between religions, creating a new market for ideas and understanding.  There is a different way culture can create unity, albeit imperialist in nature.  The ability to connect on a level of universal culture; in my chosen case, Rock and Roll.

 

American cultural understanding has snuck its way around the world.  Not much can be done of this retroactively.  This can, however be taken advantage of as a kind of universal cultural language.  The band Typo is a result of this Rock and Roll expansion.  They have adopted this style of music as their form of expression.  Their name represents their philosophy: “Typos are arbitrary, just like everything in Gaza. We didn’t plan to have our band, it all happened suddenly, just like a typo.”  They are on a mission to “reflect on the experiences that [they] fo through in Gaza.”  This is a powerful message, being played through a medium of American/(I hesitate to say this because it irks me) Universal music.

 

They have faced some problems in creating a stable existence as a band.  They do look inward, not targetting an Israelis audience, but rather their own people.  This runs in to trouble as, with good reason, “Palestinians, and Arabs in general, do not easily accept foreign concepts, especially relating to culture and traditions.”  While this can be a problem internally, almost unintentionally, it can be a lubricant of understanding to the outward groups.  The hope, to me, is that Israeli citizens will be more willing to listen when the noise is coming from an inherently cague culture, uncapable of being confined to a state, nationality, or ethnicity.  In playing Rock and Roll while singing about the experience of Gazans, the band Typo has created a space in which, perhaps unsuspecting, Israelis and those with intellectual dissonance, can listen to the stories of others in a realm free of bounded culture.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/typo-band-gaza-we-play-rock-better-tomorrow-1366381785

 

Rocking Conflict

February 14, 2017

Ran Greenstein in, “Zionism and its Discontents”, discusses the Bi-nationalist perspective during the British Mandate. What was interesting was the struggle between various movements to agree on the Jewish initiative in Palestine. There was a misunderstanding between Arabs and Israelis because of, “lack of familiarity with each other’s language and culture”. This seems to still be a struggle of this conflict.

In the “National Survey of Arab/Palestinian/Jewish Dialogue Groups” one of the strategies mentioned in order to facilitate group dialogue and understanding is by creating intercultural events, dinners, and religious events. These events allow individuals of both groups to get to know each other, their backgrounds, and break the misperceptions that each group have about the other.

In 2014, two heavy metal bands (one Israeli, the other Palestinian) went on tour together in order to try to create peace. The Arab group called “Khalas” and Israeli group, “Orphaned Land” went on an 18 day European tour to create tolerance between both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They had concerts scheduled in the Middle East, however, when announced that it was a joint tour, some venues were cancelled. As stated by Hathut, Khalas’ lead guitarist, “In daily life, I feel that each side does everything to keep up apart. When people are afraid, it is easier to control them. What we do, our friendship, is very dangerous to those [leaders].”

This tour was a way to promote social justice and peace in Palestine/Israel. With individuals from each side hearing the same message, enjoying the same songs, and also being able to hear political statements from musicians they enjoy.

 

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“Abed (far left) of Palestinian band Khalas and Kobi (third from right) of Israeli band Orphaned Land Ami Bernstein.”  Courtesy of Independent.co.uk

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Kobi Farhi of Orphaned Land.

Author: Olivia Camper

Sources:

Mackay, Mairi . “Rock the Conflict: Jewish and Palestinian Metal Bands Tour for Peace.” CNN. Cable News Network, Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

Smallman, Etan. “Meet the Israeli and Palestinian heavy metal bands head-banging for Middle East peace.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

iNakba: the invisible land

February 1, 2017

Zochrat, or “remembering” in Hebrew, is the name of an NGO based in Tel Aviv that has been working since 2002 to disseminate accurate information about the Nakba of 1948 and encourage acknowledgement and accountability on the part of Israeli Jews.

The iNakba app was created using GPS technology and crowd sourced media — guiding users to explore locations of Palestinian localities that were destroyed during or because of the war in 1948. The tri-lingual app allows users to contribute to our collective knowledge about these forgotten histories by uploading photos and videos, as well as sharing thoughts and feelings through comments.

This movement has gained some traction over the years, and terming Israel’s “War of Independence” as Nakba has risen to the surface of Israeli discourse. Zochrat hopes that this app will remind Israelis of the hundreds of villages destroyed and thousands of Palestinian refugees that resulted from the creation of Israel.

Ideologically, Zochrot does not specify a political agenda pertaining to Palestinian’s right to return to these historic homes. However, they aim to challenge Israeli misconceptions about their history, derive a moral responsibility for for the return of Palestinian refugees, and understand their privileged power position under the current regime.