Zionists of the World Unite! (Around Me)

Haim Watzman

Beware of Israelis who call for unity. More often than not, what they really mean is “everyone should unite around my political program.”

In yesterday’s Ha’aretz, Moshe Arens calls for unity with an invocation of American revolutionary rhetoric (”Divided We Fall”). Yet his bottom line is that unity means acceding to the agenda of Israel’s right-wing religious extremists.

Arens is a right-winger I like to disagree with. He writes well, argues cogently and logically, and sincerely believes both in Zionism and democracy. Like me, he grew up in the United States and absorbed the principles of liberal democracy. While he’s a territorial maximalist and a hawk to end all hawks, not to mention a talented political maneuverer in his Byzantine Likud party, he has devoted much effort to promoting minority rights in Israel, in particular serving an advocate for the Bedouin.

Read more

Journey to Wadi al-Shajneh: The Illusion of Quiet

Gershom Gorenberg

Dov, the guy who owns the hole-in-the-wall computer lab, explained to Elliott and me that the operating system was only in English; he didn’t have Arabic Windows. As for service, he said, that would be no problem, "as long as he brings it here."

Unfortunately, Muhammad Abu Arkub, to whom we were delivering the computer, has about as much chance as getting a permit to enter Jerusalem for a computer repair as he does of getting back his wife’s gold. Dov wasn’t being snide. He’s the old-fashioned gruff kind of guy who curses about everything and then puts in twice the work fixing your computer that he planned and charges no more, and would be embarrassed if you mentioned it. But the village of Wadi al-Shajneh, in the South Hebron Hills, is beyond where he does service calls. He was surprised when Elliott explained why we were buying the computer. "And you with a kipah ," he said. Not that he objected to what we were doing.

Elliott read about Muhammad in a Ha’aretz article by Gideon Levy, a few days after we went to Hebron to give a washing machine to Ghassan Burqan. If you read my previous post (Journey to Hebron: Nightmares and Hope ), you’ll remember that Ghassan had bought his own washing machine and was carrying it to his home in the Israeli-controlled side of Hebron when he was stopped by Border Police, beat up and arrested. The machine disappeared. In memory of our late friend Gerald Cromer, Elliott decided we should bring Ghassan a replacement.

Muhammad’s home was searched by soldiers who arrived at midnight. They said they were looking for weapons. The search lasted two hours. Muhammad, his wife Lubna, their two small daughters, and Muhammad’s younger brother Rami were all kept under guard in Rami’s home – a single-room shack built onto the side of Muhammad’s house. When the search was over, and the family rushed back into the main house, they found their computer and television smashed. And, they say, the jewelry box where Lubna kept her gold was gone.

Read more