Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Israelis and Palestinians: civil disobedience at the beach

Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times
Palestinian women and girls from the West Bank at the beach in Tel Aviv, after a group of Israeli women snuck them into the country for a daylong excursion.
 Just yesterday, in Palstinian Children's Relief Fund: politics aside, I wrote of a visit to the West Bank with a Palestinian friend in 1978. In today's New York Times is a story by Ethan Bonner of civil disobedience: Israeli women 'smuggled' Palestinian women from their land-locked, guarded territories to the beach - for the first time EVER to enjoy the sand and surf.  Said one Israeli woman, Ms. Aharoni, when asked her thoughts, “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.” The New York Times reports that in a newspaper article the women wrote:

“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.”

Their story of moving incognito through the check-point is reminiscent of BZ Goldberg's journey in the documentary Promises when he takes an elderly Palestinian grandmother and her grandson from the refugee camp (once a collection of tents, now a permanent closed urban settlement), through a check-point, to visit the ruins of their ancestral home. It had been 40 years since the grandmother has seen her former village, now a rocky field, but she could still recognize the patch of land where her house once stood - and she still had the key to her front door. As is true too of the women in this article, both Jewish and Arab children in the film had seen their share of family members imprisoned or childhood friends killed. In both that film and this article, Jewish people are shown taking a small, personal step to reach out, make friends and literally lend a hand to their Palestinian friends and neighbors in gestures of humanity and goodwill. Yes indeed, politics aside.

For the full article, continue below or click here.
And for another look at the Palestinian conflict read Israelis and Palestinians: Soldiers, Children and War.

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