“Cuando uno atribuye todos los errores a los otros y se cree irreprochable, está preparando el retorno de la violencia, revestida de un vocabulario nuevo, adaptada a unas circunstancias inéditas. Comprender al enemigo quiere decir también descubrir en qué nos parecemos a él.” – Tzvetan Todorov

domingo, 31 de mayo de 2009


Last update - 19:06 30/05/2009

Can you tell the difference between an Israeli and a Palestinian?

By Dalia Karpel, Haaretz Correspondent

Adam Shurati, left, and Hadas Maor in the picture chosen for Suter's project

The advertisement published in Haaretz in March read "Wanted: people who look alike," and promised NIS 8,000 to anyone that could locate someone who looked like one of the eight people featured in the advertisement.

What the advertisement didn't say, was that the eight people pictured were Palestinians.

The ad was made by Swiss artist Olivier Suter, as part of his project 'Enemies', which focused on the absurd ways people identify "the other".

The advertisement is similar to a project Suter performed in Belgium, which asked viewers if they could dfferentiate between Flemish and French speakers.

Out of the dozens of photos he received, Suter picked a photo of an Israeli girl and a Palestinian boy who looked alike. The girl is one Hadas Maor, whose photo was sent in by her father, geography professor Yehuda Keidar.

Keidar, a long-time supporter of a two-state solution said "[David] Ben-Gurion was right when he said 'The Palestinians are not our cousins, they're our brothers. Turns out, they could be twins."

The Palestinian boy is named Adam Shurati and he was none too pleased about his likeness to a girl, according to his mother Nancy. Adam was further dismayed when his mother took him to have his hair cut to look like Hadas'.

Nancy, who lives in Bet Hanina, called the project "amazing" and said that her son's resemblance to an Israel girl surprised her.

"The project is a work of art meant for all of us, not just for the sake of art," Suter said.

Suter's next "Enemies" project will take place in Rwanda and the Congo

© Copyright 2009 Haaretz. All rights reserved


domingo, 17 de mayo de 2009

Please, with might - Gideon Levy

Last update - 03:07 17/05/2009

Please, with might

By Gideon Levy

The headline of this piece may be taken from a Kabbalistic prayer, but it's not aimed at God; this is rather an earthly plea to the American president. The statesman he will be hosting tomorrow has already shown during his brief tenure that might is the only language he understands. We should hope that Barack Obama will succeed just like the defense minister and the Histadrut labor federation chairman, who twisted Benjamin Netanyahu's arm in the budget deliberations.

A political U-turn by the prime minister is much more vital to Israel than his impressively sharp economic U-turn. Obama is the final hope: Only if he throws his entire weight into the process will anything in the Middle East start moving. Any American president could have long ago brought about substantial progress, first and foremost ending the intolerable Israeli occupation. But Obama's predecessors shrank from the task, preferring to yield to the Jewish and Christian lobbies and to engage in masquerades of negotiations leading nowhere.

A whole lot more is expected from Obama: "Change" in the Middle East; "Yes We Can" is also about Israel. This change must encompass two components: Genuinely pressuring Israel - and no, there isn't any other way - and demanding actions rather than words. We've had plenty of the latter, and it doesn't really matter if Netanyahu utters the words "two states" or if he does not.

The real test is Moshe and Mohammed. Only if both of them feel a change can we say a truly different president is now in Washington. Mohammed, any Mohammed living in the occupied territories, should feel his life has become more free and prosperous; Moshe, any Moshe living in Israel, must feel he is withdrawing from being an occupier, after two successive generations. At the end of the day, both Moshe and Mohammed will be grateful to Barack Obama.

It'll take more than sticky smiles. Netanyahu will be clinging to his usual excuse, the Iranian threat; Obama will have to explain that there is nothing like neutralizing the Arab-Israeli conflict to secure the future of the State of Israel. And this should be the order of the day, too: resolving the Palestinian issue as leverage for negotiating with Iran, even if Netanyahu tries to change the agenda and buy some time. Deep inside, we yearn for an Israeli prime minister who realizes that opportunities are running out and that the alternatives are dangerous, but this hope has long since been abandoned. Israel talks two states while expanding Ma'aleh Adumim; Israel talks peace and sets out on two unneccesary wars.

Which is why, sadly, nothing will happen without pressure, and true pressure can come only from Washington. An American president who is a friend to Israel not only can, but must, apply this pressure; Israel is a protectorate addicted to occupation - and the only way to ditch a habit is the hard way. A bogus friend sponsors the addiction, a true friend gets us into rehab.

Nor is this the time to present the Palestinians with endless demands or preconditions - to acknowledge, to give up, to compromise. They've done it plenty over the last two decades: Now is the time for the occupier to end the occupation, immediately, unconditionally, moments before the two-state solution draws its final breath and passes beyond the realm of possibility, if it hasn't already. Which is why Obama should be standing with a stopwatch, too: Time is running out.

There's one message that should emerge from Washington: Israel is beginning to act, not to talk but to act, to end the occupation. Freeze the settlements without any lies, dismantle the outposts without tricks, give Palestinians freedoms without feints, and establish a rigid agenda to dismantle the entire settler enterprise. Anything less will be seen as failure, any move less daring will ensure a deadlock that will bring more bloodshed and the eventual establishment of a permanent binational apartheid state.

Does it sound big and pretentious? Well, there's a big, pretentious president now sitting in Washington. The Arabs have already learned that Israel understands force and force alone; all its limited concessions were carried out after bloodshed, never before. It's time Washington learns the same lesson: Please, with might, Barack Obama, because there is no other way.


sábado, 2 de mayo de 2009

Sadly, Israel is no longer democratic - Shulamit Aloni

Shulamit Aloni / Sadly, Israel is no longer democratic

By Shulamit Aloni

Ha’aretz May 1, 2009

Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and philosopher Asa Kasher, two respected men around here, published an article entitled: "A just war of a democratic state," (Haaretz, April 24, Hebrew).

A remark about the first part: There are wars that are necessary for self-defense or to fight injustice and evil. But the expression "just" is problematic when speaking of war itself - which involves killing and destruction and leaves women, children and old people homeless, and sometimes even kills them.

Our sages have said: "Don't be overly righteous." And there is absolutely no question that dropping cluster bombs in an area populated by civilians, as we did in the Second Lebanon War, does not testify to great righteousness. The same thing can be said of using phosphorus bombs against a civilian population.

Apparently, according to the Yadlin and Kasher definition of justice, in order to eliminate terrorists it is just to destroy, kill, expel and starve a civilian population that has no connection to the acts of terror and no responsibility for them. Perhaps had they adopted a more decent and less arrogant approach they would have tried to explain the reasons for the fury and intensity that brought about the shocking killing and destruction, and even apologized for the fact that these exceeded any reasonable necessity.

But after all, we are always right; moreover, these things were done by "the most moral army in the world," sent by the "democratic" Jewish state - and here is the meeting point of the two concepts in the title of Yadlin and Kasher's article.

As for the army's morality, it would have been better had they remained silent and thereby been considered wise. This is because the statistics on the destruction and harm to civilians in the Gaza Strip are familiar to everyone, and not divorced from the oh-so-moral behavior of our army in the occupied territories. In the context of this behavior, for example, the army operates with great efficiency against farmers who demonstrate against the theft of their lands, even when the demonstrations are not violent.

The long-term evidence of abuse by soldiers against civilians at the checkpoints - including repeated instances of expectant mothers who are forced to give birth in the middle of the road, surrounded by armed soldiers who laugh wickedly - is no secret either. Day after day, year after year, the most moral army in the world helps to steal lands, uproot trees, steal water, close roads - in the service of the righteous "Jewish and democratic" state and with its support. It's heartbreaking, but the State of Israel is no longer democratic. We are living in an ethnocracy under "Jewish and democratic" rule.

In 1970 it was decided that in Israel religion and nationality are one and the same (that is why we are not listed in the Population Registry as Israelis, but as Jews). In 1992 it was determined in the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty that Israel is a "Jewish state." There is no mention in this law of the promise that appears in the state's formative document, the Declaration of Independence, to the effect that "The State of Israel will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex." The Knesset ratified the law nonetheless.

And so there is a "Jewish state" and no "equality of rights." Therefore some observers emphasize that the Jewish state is not "a state of all its citizens." Is there really a democracy that is not a state of all its citizens? After all, Jews living today in democratic countries enjoy the full rights of citizenship.

Democracy exists in the State of Israel today only in the formal sense: There are parties and elections and a good judicial system. But there is also an omnipotent army that ignores legal decisions that restrict the theft of land owned and held by people who have been living under occupation for the past 42 years. And since 1992, as we mentioned, we also have the definition "Jewish state," which means an ethnocracy - the rule of an ethnic religious community that strictly determines the ethnic origin of its citizens according to maternal lineage. And as far as other religions are concerned, disrespect for them is already a tradition, since we have learned: "Only you are considered human beings, whereas the gentiles are like donkeys."

From here it is clear that we and our moral army are exempt from concerns for the Palestinians living in Israel, and this is even more true of those living under occupation. On the other hand, it is perfectly all right to steal their land because these are "state lands" that belong to the State of Israel and its Jews.

That is the case even though we have not annexed the West Bank and have not granted citizenship to its inhabitants, who under Jordanian rule were Jordanian citizens. The State of Israel has penned them in, which makes it easy to confiscate their land for the benefit of its settlers.

And important and respected rabbis, who are educating an entire generation, have ruled that the whole country is ours and the Palestinians should share the fate of Amalek, the ancient tribe the Israelites were commanded to eradicate. At a time when a "just war" is taking place, racism is rife and robbery is called "return of property."

We are currently celebrating the 61st anniversary of the State of Israel. We fought in the War of Independence out of a great hope that we would build a "model society" here, that we would make peace with our neighbors, work the land and develop the Jewish genius for the benefit of science, culture and the value of man - every man. But when a major general and a philosopher justify - out of a sense of moral superiority - our acts of injustice toward the other in such a way, they cast a very heavy shadow on all those hopes.