the deterioration of events against the background of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, the present situation in Israel is most severe. A serious and murderous wave of violence,
which finds expression in attacks against Jews and against Arabs, has struck
and strikes us all. These eruptions of
violence lead to strong feelings of fear, frustration, hate, and great despair.
who observes and follows these pronouncements of mutual hate and incitement can
only lose hope in the possibility of a more normal future for all of us in this
country. The number of believers and
activists working toward a shared future and peace has even begun to contract
and has entered the circle of this terrible despair.
the beginning of October 2015, the status of a young Jewish woman was displayed
somewhere on Facebook in which she said: “Hating Arabs isn’t racism, it’s
principles.” Yes, this is a “status”
that a young woman posted on her Facebook page and it got more than 15,000
course, similar posts were displayed by young Palestinians, whether they be
from Gaza, from the West Bank, or young
Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. A few months ago, we were witnesses to a
trend in which hundreds, if not thousands, of Jewish youth added “Death to
Arabs” alongside their names on Facebook.
The response of Palestinian youth, which was no less horrible than the
first, was not late in coming.
these days of November and December , the Coalition against Racism in Israel is
leading a campaign under the banner, “I, too, am against violence and racism,”
which will continue until the middle of December. The campaign has been seen by hundreds of
thousands of surfers on Facebook and has received at this stage thousands of
“likes.” One should note that along with
the “likes,” the campaign has gotten hundreds of responses, most of which are
alongside the positive, responses of hate from both Jews and Palestinians are
displayed. Here are some examples from
the responses of three Palestinians: “I, too, am a big racist and not against
violence.” / ”Against racism and against violence? A nice expression with which
they want to defeat us, is protecting our homeland violence” / ”Proud to be a
racist and with strength.” And also
examples from the responses of three Jews that do not contribute to the
atmosphere: “Keep on dreaming ... you’ll wake up in the grave that your
“friends” have already dug for you, stupid is a compliment for you.” / ”I am
for driving out all the Arabs, the left, the High Court of Justice to Syria, it’s all great in Syria!!” /
”Disgusting, interesting who is causing terror, to be a racist, that’s
should also note that, while the majority of the responses are positive and
support the campaign along with thousands of “likes,” there are still these
responses that symbolize the deep crisis in which we are stuck and that is the
crisis of faith. The hate and the
violence continue because that active minority, which does not believe in the
possibility of a shared life and peace, sets the pace. That group benefits from the silence of the
majority and that situation leads to the falling away of active believers.
I spoke with a Jewish woman from Israel
who, with her two children, has worked and lived for a few months in Berlin. She told me about a racist incident that
happened to her: a drawing of a swastika on the window of her house. She told me about the fast and supportive
attention she received from the authorities there. But even more, she stressed the responses of
the German community in her neighborhood, which came out in opposition and
expressed their solidarity with her.
I ask how long will the silent majority in Israel continue in this
status? What are we waiting for?! For some “mega-event”? What exactly has to happen in this country in
order for us to grow into the place where the German nation is today, where the
authorities fight the fanatic right in Germany with no compromise?
are stuck in a violent and murderous conflict, which brings more and more pain
and suffering, more reasons for hate and for feelings of revenge, to thousands
of families on the Palestinian side and on the Israeli side. I constantly wonder: who is leading us to this
the route to the paths of hope, I thought, perhaps with some naivety, of the
possibility of forgiveness between the two sides and I asked myself: Is the
time ripe for forgiveness? Forgiveness requires maturity, wisdom, containment, and a
process that heals the wounds. And as I continued to think, I was reminded of a
poem by the late great Palestinian poet, Samih Al-Qasim, from Kafr Rameh in the
Galilee, who asks his murderer to use the travel tickets that were in his
pocket to travel to peace!
Tickets – Samih Al-Qasim (Trans. A.Z. Foreman)
killer, rifling through my pockets,
find travel tickets:
to the fields and the rain,
the conscience of humankind.
killer of mine, I beg you:
not stay and waste them.
them, use them.
beg you to travel.
* The author is the director of the
Coalition against Racism in Israel.