By Jody Williams
Today is Monday, and we’ve been back in East Jerusalem since late Saturday night. But before that, we spent time with people in Haifa and then in Nazareth.
I have to keep consulting our itinerary to see where we were when on our very packed itinerary. We are here such a short time, we try to see as many different women – mostly — as we can. Different voices. Different points of view. Three different hotels in three different cities in as many days.
Before, during and after some of the meetings, I feel sort of whip lashed. Nuance of feelings, nuance of thoughts shift – sometimes ever so slightly as to almost not be noticed. Then there is the big wave of emotion. Not always pleasant. And retreat to being internal. A constant struggle, being of a nature that gains energy from solitude and becomes like a limp dishrag after seemingly endless time in the company of others. And this journey of the “company of others” is draining to my maximum at times.
Again, I want to write here things I have heard said by Israeli Jews, Palestinians in Israel, Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Things I’ve heard from lawyers, feminist peace activists, former military, politicians, human rights defenders:
“Not only do we Palestinians struggle against occupation, we struggle with the Palestinian Authority that does little for us, but works to maintain its own power.”
“Israel’s policies in living situations are that of segregation. Israeli master plans set the rules for land development into the future. With segregation, it is much easier to discriminate against the Arab community. We fight segregation by taking cases before the Israeli Supreme Court.”
“What makes my friends angry about the cases I work on before the Court is that they say, ‘We were ignorant and made us see.”
“Security here in Israel is narrowly defined. We want to broaden widely what security means. The government’s view of security is promoted through fear.”
“We are brought up to see ourselves as a persecuted nation threatened by everyone; threatened with extermination. So we must always be strong. We have this indoctrination since kindergarten.”
“We don’t live a normal life here in Israel. It is not ‘normal’ to live by occupying another people.”
“We have to make people recognize here that we have responsibility in 1948 too – deporting the refugees. There is a common belief that occupation began in 1967.”
“This is not a western. All the good guys don’t wear white hats. The bad guys don’t all wear black hats and they aren’t all men. And the good guys aren’t called ‘us.’”
“The occupation corrupts our children. It corrupts us.”
“Please work to have the U.S. stop supporting Israel. Without U.S. money, Israel could not do this.”
“Yes, we live in an apartheid state that is particular to our own situation.”
“Most of the people in power draw that power from the conflict and they have no interest in ending it.”
“How Israel silences criticism is to call those who criticize “anti-Semitic.” Please bring our voice to others. It is in our long-term interest to end the occupation. It is terrible for the Palestinians and it is terrible for us as the victimizers. We want peace for Jews. We want peace for Palestinians. We want to live in Peace.”
“We were the majority here before 1948; now we are a minority. When we talk about “Jewish Israel” we are talking about Israel for the Jews.”
“It is not about delegitimizing Israel; it is about delegitimizing the occupation.”
“I feel as an Israeli that the biggest threat to peace are the settlements.”
“Israelis must understand that giving up the West Bank is in their long-term security interest. For 43 years, we have been taught that to be secure, we must have the West Bank.”
“We live in fear and fear drives you the wrong way.” ###