I carry with me good news and bad news. Which would you like to hear first? Did I hear you say ‘the bad news’? I agree, let us get that part out of the way.
To be clear, I write this to my Jewish cousins. Please look around you; I do not want anyone else peeking in on this conversation. You do recall that we are cousins, right? Stupid question, sure you do. That common patriarch of ours, Prophet Abraham, really did us in. After having two sons, Ishmael, the older, and Isaac, here we are, their descendants, barely able to have a civilized conversation, so many centuries later. You know the region’s culture and norms as well as I do; as a descendant of the older of the two, I feel an obligation to tell it to you like it is, with the caring love of cousins, of course.
Before I get on with the news, let me first be more precise about who I am directing my words to. I send this out to all of Isaac’s offspring, every Jew, as well as every Jewish community worldwide, almost. There are some exceptions.
This is not meant for that rapidly growing number of Jews who already know what I’m about to explain and have either already seen the light — think Ilan Pappe, Amira Hass, Jeff Halper, and Gideon Levy — or who are currently in this difficult transformation process — think Peter Beinart.
This is also not meant for the illegal Jewish settlers in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Addressing lawlessness with logic is a futile exercise. However, I assume one could make an exception to the exception for those settlers who, unbelievably, are still unaware that they are settlers. Yes, there are many such ignorant settlers; they are Israel’s collateral damage in this mayhem. Israel incentivized them to settle in the occupied territory upon their immigration to the country and built them expansive settlement infrastructures to make them falsely believe their place of residence is merely an extension of Israel. My values do not allow me to address those settlers directly, but I assume it is alright if they eavesdrop.
Of course, I also exclude all those Jews in Israel and across the world who are bent on propagating violence and my people’s ethnic cleansing. I am sure you know who I refer to. People like every Israeli cabinet member since the establishment of the State of Israel, not to go further back in history. I include in this exclusion all of those persons, I call ‘human animals’, who serve or have served as torturers in Israeli prisons; you may not recognize them because, today, many walk the streets of Tel Aviv pretending that their past is behind them. They forget that the scars they have etched on Palestinian bodies and souls are an everlasting reminder that will never fade until justice is served. How a society thinks you can be an occupier and torturer one day and go home, the next, and be a good mother or father will never cease to amaze me.
Lastly, I must also exclude every Jew who currently wears an Israeli military uniform and, knowingly or not, serves as a pawn in the deadly game of Israeli military occupation. I am sure some of these young men and women are fine people, but, when they accept to be an occupier, they need to realize they have crossed a line that will haunt them for life. I salute all those who have refused conscription, thus refusing to be my oppressors.
Now that it seems that only you and I are left in the room, I will make this brief.
So, the bad news.
Most of what you know about Israel is a myth. Your education and communal institutions, and maybe even your parents, steered you wrongly. They hid from you the reality of Israel in the hopes that teaching you what they desired Israel to be would keep you loyal to your community. They somehow attempted to define your identity by extending an umbilical cord between Judaism and a member state of the community of nations called Israel. I cannot totally blame them. An ideology called Zionism forced this artificial construct down their throats since childhood.
Now, I know not all of those who call themselves Zionists today are bad persons, not by any stretch of the imagination. I doubt many even know what political Zionism means. Some fancy the term in a variety of flavors, such as Practical Zionism, Synthetic Zionism, Labor Zionism, Revisionist Zionism, Cultural Zionism, Revolutionary Zionism, Religious Zionism, Reform Zionism, Environmental Zionism, Christian Zionism, Neo-Zionism, and Post-Zionism, just to name a few. I must be honest with you. I have little idea what all those mean. The only Zionism we Palestinians know is the political one that has usurped our land and ripped our lives and livelihoods into pieces.
But, if you want to call yourself a Zionist, be my guest. After all, I call myself a farmer. In my ancestral city of Al-Bireh, like so many Palestinian cities and villages, people identify themselves to this day as either an “urban dweller” or a “farmer.” This probably had much more relevance decades ago, when life was much simpler, but how I, a computer technologist, born in Youngstown, Ohio to a Palestinian father and Lebanese-American mother, can self-identify as being in the “farmer” class is beyond me. I do not have the faintest notion of how to farm, albeit I anxiously await taking a whiff of newly tilled soil. That is the closest I come to farming. But I refuse to stop associating myself with being a “farmer.” So, let us just agree for the time being that you are a Zionist and I am a farmer, but we can still talk with one another.
Now, for the good news.
There is still time to change course, although we are in the “Eleventh Hour.” It is imperative you learn where Israel came from, what it has done and continues to do in your name, and the point it has reached today. This journey will not be easy, but it cannot wait any longer. We Palestinians have been trying to spoon feed this to you for decades, because we are fully conscious of the mountain that your community has erected between you and reality. Such an approach is no longer possible.
Israel and the US are fast preparing what they intend to be the fatal blow to our struggle for freedom and independence. Of course, they will fail, but when they do, we need you to know your facts. You are about to get a deep drill-down of the Palestinian narrative, without novocaine. A younger generation of Palestinians who are technologically savvy, well-educated, armed to the teeth in storytelling skills, and having lost all fear of their oppressor, are bringing to your doorstep the issues related to the core of this conflict, things you very well may never have heard before. Why does this worry me? Because what will follow will shatter your sense of self-identity as you have been taught it to date. The last time that happened was in Europe by Europeans, but we Palestinians paid its heavy price, and we keep paying, every day. We must work together to end that ongoing payment and ensure that no one, we or anyone else, pays such a price again.
To help in this difficult learning process, allow me to share some recommended readings here, many by Jewish writers. Rest assured that you will not be alone as you embrace Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) with real knowledge.
Don’t worry, cuz; I know this seems like a daunting task, but we will get through it, together.