Sunday, January 02, 2011

Thirty Four More To Go

Here is a small hopeful bit of news from Israel, about two of the founders of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement.

From today's Haaretz:

The two doctoral students, the religious Tel Avivian and the secular Jerusalemite, have discovered that the struggle over Sheikh Jarrah has become the way to revive the Israeli left and build a bridge connecting Jews and Arabs. They were drawn into the vacuum between Kadima and Hadash left by the failing Labor Party, confused Meretz and somnolent Peace Now.

Veteran politicians and peace activists are keeping track of them with a mix of envy and concern. They're storming the campuses, and their friends say they wouldn't be surprised if next year Sharon and Inbar stormed the Knesset.

..."We are showing in practice it's possible to establish a genuine partnership between the two peoples," adds Inbar. "The Israeli left's big challenge today is to develop a civil, Jewish-Arab vision that will confront the racist and fundamentalist visions and spectacles being sold by the right."

In recent months the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement has turned into a national movement called Solidarity, like the workers' movement established in Poland 30 years ago. The weekly demonstrations in the small neighborhood have begun to spread to other neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. Last month they marched in Issawiya in protest against the authorities' harassment of the residents there, and last week they went to Silwan to protest against the removal of a local activist from the village.

Recently the movement has also begun to operate in Taibeh, the Wadi Ara, Lod, Al-Araqib and Beit She'an. Meanwhile, Inbar, Sharon and their friends are setting up three student groups - in Be'er Sheva, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem - under the slogan "Solidarity against fascism."

"Our method of operation is to expose people to the situation beneath the surface," says Sharon. "The Israeli majority is not aware that it is trampling the minority."

They take people to tour sites where the injustice is taking place and offer them lots of information and a bit of preaching. They seek to build a grassroots movement. They were particularly surprised at the tremendous response to Jewish-Arab activity in the Arab communities.

... We are not romantics, an aid organization or a human rights organization, say the two. We aren't coming to help, but to work together. We go to Taibeh or Dahmash, an unrecognized village next to Lod, in the belief that practical, ethical and political Jewish-Arab cooperation is Israeli society's only life preserver.


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