Inside the Whale

September 17, 2006

Israel 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — noahsimblist @ 11:49 am

Thursday began with a meeting with Micha Odenheimer, a Jewish American immigrant who is a freelance journalist and the founder of an organization that does advocacy work for Ethiopian immigrants.

I then met with Shlomo Fox, a Conservative Rabbi and Jewish Educator who grew up in Israel, though his parents came from the US. He was quoted in a recent article in the “Jerusalem Report” about morality in the Israeli military.

I then met with Raneen Geries, a Palestinian woman who lives in Haifa. She is also an Israeli citizen and Christian. The terms of identity in her case are very complicated and delicate. For many Israelis, Israeli Palestinians are called Israeli Arabs. She grew up in Kufar Yassif, a village in the north of Israel. She grew up with an Israeli identity, though she rarely saw any Jews. Her village was composed of Christian and Muslim Arabs, many of whom had been expelled from their homes in 1948. Her parents and grandparents rarely talked about this history and it has only been recently, at the age of 29 that she has begun to discover her past.

She went to Tel Aviv University and as she learned more about her Palestinian identity, she has become more and more angry at the state of Israel. Her work for Zochrot, an organization that I talked about in the last post, has helped to educate her and to help her find an outlet for her sense of identity. She is educating herself about a lost history because even in a village school with Arab students and Arab teachers, the curriculum was carefully constructed to reflect a Zionist history, eliminating any violence or human rights abuses against Palestinians.

She told me a story that was very interesting. As a young girl her family was driving past a car of Jewish Israelis on Israeli Independence Day. They had Israeli flags with the Jewish star flying in the wind and she asked her father if they could have one also. He said no but wouldn’t say why. It is illegal for her to display a Palestinian flag in Israel. If she were to fly an Israeli flag it wouldn’t reflect her own sense of identity but she can’t fly a Palestinian flag. She said that if she could she probably wouldn’t bother but because of this symbolic lack, she feels a need to subvert the Israeli symbolic paradigm and keeps one in her room. As she told me this, a flash of mischief crossed her face.

Later that night I went out with Danny Yahav Brown and some friends of his to openings in Tel Aviv. The galleries were OK. Mostly pretty ordinary. But it was interesting to talk to Danny about the art scene in Tel Aviv. Here are some pictures,

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tel-aviv-1.jpg

The best was a show at a new museum in Petah Tikva. A group show, “Disruptions: Life in a Threatened Space” was up. It was about the political tensions of life in Israel and had some good pieces like the photographs by Guy Raz which showed a bus passing by at the same spot where one had been blown up by a suicide bomber

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and a video by Sharon Paz about the new wall being built between Israel and the West Bank,

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and an installation by Tali Ben Basat.

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2 Comments »

  1. Noah I met your mother at library book discussions (The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, tonight.) She told me of your blog which I found very interesting. I think you are doing important work. Thank you for blogging.

    Comment by Julie — September 19, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

  2. I enjoyed reading about your interviews today. What I find SO distressing is the way Palestinian Israelis are treated. The story you related about the woman who as a little girl wanted an Israeli flag, but her father said, “No” and she didn’t understand why reminded me SO much of when I was little, and some of the other kids who went to my elementary school had these really sweet little bibles, and I wanted one, but my parents wouldn’t go along…also, when I wanted to have a Christmas tree, and my parents’ explanation was that we were Jews, and Jews don’t have Christmas. Being kept outside the mainstream culture is really tough for children. I can understand why Israel is not interested in having a bunch of Palestinian flags flying, but I don’t understand why Arab Israelis are treated so shabily, and I DO understand why they feel a split allegience. I can’t imagine how you can immerse yourself in this cultural goo and not feel really depressed and hopeless. I hope you have another really great day tomorrow!

    Comment by Louise — September 19, 2006 @ 10:31 pm


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