Skip to main content

...not about my sexual orientation, but about something else which I have been afraid to publicly declare. So please bear with me, as this was not an easy post to write, and I can think of no other phrase given the context than "coming out." The reasons for which will become apparent (I hope) by the end.
                                     Cross-posted from Tikkun Daily
This is true:

Five years ago, I visited the East Jerusalem home of a Palestinian family I'd never met. It was an attempt at dialogue -- an attempt, for all of us, to meet with and better understand the other.

We were on opposing sides of an ever-expanding equation, and were supposed to be enemies. This was the working assumption upon which we were simultaneously operating and trying to smash.

That much was clear.

When I crossed the threshold, the matriarch was standing before me, arms crossed, as her older son my age beckoned me to a couch. Porcelain cups of tea steamed on a platter as a clock's swinging pendulum marked my breaths. Click. Click. Click.

As we sat, and after I ceremoniously burnt my tongue, sipping too eagerly, we began to chat with the help of a translator.

To my great surprise, and to the surprise of my hosts, as we began the delicate task of reconciling a rift none of us had personally created, we agreed on nearly everything: the horror of violence on both sides, the desire for peace, the need for two self-determining states -- for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to end.  

However, there was one thing we were unable to agree upon, one thing which remained incomprehensibe to this Palestinian family: that there were Israelis and Jews abraod (of which I was one) who sought an end to the conflict and to the occupation of Palestinian territories.

I was an anomaly. An aberration. A (welcomed) freak.

I insisted there were more like me, Jews and Israelis who not only understood the wrongness of the occupation, but who wanted to end it, who wanted peace by ending it.

They were suspicious, the mother shaking her head. The brother laughing it off, as though I had told a joke.

Of course, if I had been in their shoes, I would have laughed as well, witnessing years of ethnic cleansing and settlement construction in their neighborhood of Silwan and watching weekly images on the news of Palestinians being beaten, humiliated, evicted, killed.

I would have laughed as well.


This is also true:

Today, it's been reported that a judiciary panel, headed by a former Supreme Court justice and appointed by Israel's Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has come to the following conclusion:

                                         There is no Israeli occupation.
Full of delusional legal propositions long-supported by the right-wing settler bloc in Israel, the panel proposes that the State of Israel designate all settlements in the West Bank as legal and relax a slew of measures which would make Jewish settlement more convenient in this land that is not occupied.

While Israel's Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, plans to reject the panel's findings, the damage has already been done.

See, the panel was hand-picked by Netanyahu and created after intense pressure from settlement leaders, and its conclusion -- that Israel is not an occupying force -- represents the strengthening of the settlement bloc in Israel. And Netanyahu will almost certainly adopt some of its recommendations.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
                            See? I told you there's no occupation. (John Brown)
Troubling? Yes. However, even more troubling is the absolute failure of Israel's internal mechanisms to solve the crisis of Israel's occupation. And this report has concretized one simple fact: Israel will never solve it on its own.

Noam Sheizaf, who so often says what I am thinking, only better, writes:

Now that we found out that there is no occupation and there never was, I wonder how the great minds of the Israeli legal community would justify the two separate legal systems Israel has in the West Bank – one for 20 percent of the population (Jews) and one for the other 80 percent. If it’s not occupation, how do we call a situation in which millions of people are deprived of freedom of movement, tried in military tribunals, and don’t even have a recognized nationality or a passport? And don’t say Apartheid, because you’ll be called an anti-Semite.

This absurdity is a good opportunity to give up on the notion that the internal process in Israel will end the occupation. “The internal process” has turned the Israeli legal system into a joke, and resulted in a political system in which all mainstream parties share the same denial of reality. Israelis truly believe that there is no occupation, or that Palestinians could be made citizens of Jordan, while Israel keeps holding the territory they live in (this is the popular idea the right is pushing).


This is what I keep coming back to: Israel's internal process alone will not end the occupation.

And then I read this week that there are others who are beginning to recognize this fact as well, and are exploring boycott options, such as a small collection of nations otherwise known as Europe:

European governments, including Britain's, have received legal opinion from a leading international counsel who argues they would be fully within their rights to ban trade with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The formal opinion from James Crawford, professor of international law at Cambridge University, is likely to inject fresh momentum into campaigns in the United Kingdom and elsewhere for a ban, at a time when some EU member states are examining ways of hardening their position on the imports of settlement produce.

And the Presbyterian Church's general assembly in the U.S. voted this week to boycott all products made by Israel's illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories:
The church resolution that passed calls for “the boycott of all Israeli products coming from the occupied Palestinian Territories” and for “all nations” to prohibit settlement imports. The resolution also singled out AHAVA, an Israeli cosmetics company that has a main factory in a West Bank settlement, and the Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers, also made in an illegal settlement. The Palestine-based Boycott National Committee recognized this victory, stating that Palestinian civil society “warmly welcomes the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s resolute vote to boycott all products from Israeli colonial settlements.”


So here I am. Just one writer, one Jew, who thinks about the Palestinian family with which I met -- who thinks about them laughing when told that Israelis and Jews want to end the occupation.

I no longer want them to be able to laugh.

And I think about Israel's inability to stop the occupation on its own, about how the only way to stop it may be for outside pressures to bear down upon the country I love.

Sanctions. Boycotts. Divestments. (BDS)

These are the tools Israel and Israeli propagandists fear greatly, for they are tools with potentially sharp teeth.

And so we come to the confession, to the coming out: as an American Jew invested deeply in Israel's success and survival -- which in turn drives my investment in stopping one of the greatest moral challenges of my generation: the occupation -- I have no choice but to formally endorse and embrace BDS.

That's a difficult statement to make, for in both my personal and professional worlds, making such a statement could bring ostracization, condemnation or censure.

To some Jews, I will now (wrongly) be viewed as an enemy, as anti-Semitic, as anti-Israel. Some in my community may, upon reading this, choose to withdraw. It's happened to others.

As it is, I have long been uncertain about supporting such measures, afraid of the long-term damage a sustained BDS movement might do to Israel, and concerned about the anti-Israel motivations of segments who push to sanction Israel.

However, I know this for a fact: those who claim in Israel that there is no occupation have only one goal in mind: a single-state solution, a Jewishly-controlled Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

And it's an unworkable, unsustainable goal that will be realized -- one state -- unless outside forces are brought to bear.

And this post serves, minute as it is, as such a force. And if nothing else, perhaps it will inspire others who feel similarly to stand up and be counted.

Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG

Author's Note:

12:23 pm EST: I'm stunned and humbled by the response this has received. When I have time, I promise to go through and read all of the comments, and hopefully respond to some.

Thank you for the civility and for your support. I'm deeply moved.

To read more pieces like this, sign up for Tikkun Daily’s free newsletter, sign up for Tikkun Magazine emails or visit us online. You can also like Tikkun on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Originally posted to Writing by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Adalah — A Just Middle East.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, kimo, N in Seattle, social democrat, Alumbrados, Superskepticalman, Doug in SF, Mimikatz, DeminNewJ, vicki, KeithH, Marek, TXdem, CJB, PrahaPartizan, Sean Robertson, Mogolori, melo, Timaeus, native, SaveDemocracy, Phoenix Rising, Geenius at Wrok, MarkC, NYmom, janinsanfran, PeterHug, greenbird, dengre, Shockwave, wu ming, donna in evanston, billlaurelMD, CupaJoe, mntleo2, lysias, eeff, rubyr, polecat, TarheelDem, Ahianne, zeroooo, Heart of the Rockies, Morgana, rasbobbo, opinionated, TheMomCat, bronte17, litho, Wee Mama, mint julep, nyceve, ask, KibbutzAmiad, boadicea, mikidee, stevej, mkfarkus, Kerry Conservative, chimpy, Torta, Bill Roberts, Nate Roberts, fumie, Iberian, bitter leftie, Texknight, menodoc, tidalwave1, psnyder, Joe Bacon, minorityusa, sockpuppet, Kamakhya, lucid, Dr Colossus, pat bunny, wordene, Lawrence, gerrilea, Hawksana, HeyMikey, NYFM, dwahzon, Catte Nappe, renaissance grrrl, riverlover, Sophie Amrain, outragedinSF, Oaktown Girl, ralphbon, zett, zerelda, ybruti, Kitsap River, mungley, lonespark, Deward Hastings, Emmy, Nova Land, eztempo, rmx2630, Armand451, oortdust, Green Mountain Flatlander, sb, julifolo, G2geek, humphrey, ExStr8, Bluesee, Simian, 3goldens, DianeNYS, denise b, blueyedace2, caul, JanetT in MD, Heiuan, sc kitty, Alice Venturi, basquebob, terrypinder, i m bobo, juliesie, TigerMom, Brooke In Seattle, ratzo, bleeding blue, Sun Tzu, HugoDog, McMeier, Kayakbiker, sofia, lotlizard, Little Lulu, most peculiar mama, blue jersey mom, ivorybill, markdd, babatunde, kaliope, LucyandByron, rb608, spunhard, WisePiper, Ginny in CO, sodalis, Rogneid, Unduna, Box of Rain, Land of Enchantment, RainyDay, ChuckInReno, Jim P, parat, kishik, martini, elliott, K S LaVida, Shef, poco, esquimaux, rcbowman, Kingsmeg, aloha and mahalo, 417els, ferallike, BlueInARedState, profundo, 8ackgr0und N015e, HoundDog, Yellow Canary, AoT, UntimelyRippd, deha, New Rule, fromer, rhetoricus, raincrow, SarekOfVulcan, Lefty Coaster, MJ via Chicago, philipmerrill, 4Freedom, gpoutney, uniqity, Crashing Vor, JVolvo, happy camper, unclebucky, Preston S, ER Doc, democracy is coming, WarrenS, blueoregon, shaharazade, Statusquomustgo, crystal eyes, blueintheface, kml, Quicklund, Nulwee, ZenTrainer, jobird, tegrat, One Pissed Off Liberal, Msanger, pgm 01, BeninSC, Winston Sm1th, ksp, leema, ColoTim, karmsy, FishOutofWater, DvCM, Hafez of Shiraz, la urracca, david mizner, daveygodigaditch, Matt Z, gustynpip, terabytes, Dave in Northridge, deepeco, sfbob, heathlander, bnasley, Aunt Martha, Killer of Sacred Cows, SeaTurtle, jnhobbs, Librarianmom, CT Hank, uciguy30, Puffin, cacamp, Vinnie Vegas, Assaf, the1sage, Terra Mystica, TomP, Empower Ink, Palafox, MKinTN, adrianrf, TruthFreedomKindness, davidseth, JeffW, ChocolateChris, kimoconnor, fuzzyguy, iglarmobley, wayoutinthestix, scooter in brooklyn, Robert Naiman, zerone, poligirl, OleHippieChick, Sixty Something, AshesAllFallDown, crescentdave, mikeconwell, beltane, Lujane, rssrai, Ocelopotamus, davekro, Cassandra Waites, triplepoint, TokenLiberal, carver, Tam in CA, mofembot, Gemina13, Horsefeathers, sewaneepat, get the red out, dan667, BYw, Karl Rover, HarpboyAK, Nica24, Robobagpiper, watercarrier4diogenes, lissablack, oldliberal, Celtic Merlin, maggiejean, LinSea, RenMin, be the change you seek, dark daze, pvlb, FinchJ, shopkeeper, mkor7, CamillesDad1, JesseCW, dRefractor, petral, elziax, dskoe, glitterlust, COwoman, Denise Oliver Velez, kevinpdx, Keith Pickering, histOries Marko, stevenwag, moviemeister76, cachola, Flyswatterbanjo, Little Flower, Hark, strangedemocracy, jfromga, nancat357, schnecke21, davespicer, montecristo, citisven, Leftcandid, French Imp, Lefty Ladig, Railfan, Just Bob, mamamorgaine, henlesloop, confitesprit, FogCityJohn, p gorden lippy, icemilkcoffee, flitedocnm, Susan Grigsby, politik, Observerinvancouver, The Free Agent, on board 47, angelajean, FrankCornish, ko62, alguien, freeport beach PA, netop, JoanMar, gulfgal98, CayceP, samanthab, pixxer, ItsSimpleSimon, ramara, ban48, Funkygal, Betty Pinson, orlbucfan, Maverick80229, elengul, Otteray Scribe, USHomeopath, soaglow, stevenaxelrod, Wisdumb, ciganka, no way lack of brain, Onomastic, MidwestTreeHugger, meralda, ladywithafan, I love OCD, ozsea1, slowbutsure, implicate order, firstalto, MaryinHammondsport, Susipsych, southernmapper, FarWestGirl, Nicci August, lillyspad, California06, Teiresias70, theano, marleycat, zukesgirl64, soysauce, grannysally, Cinnamon Rollover, Claudius Bombarnac, dle2GA, downsouth, worldlotus, MuskokaGord, peregrine kate, CorinaR, Safina, bluedust, PhilJD, dibsa, M Fox, VTCC73, Crazy Moderate, Friendlystranger, jolux, SoCalSal, Mentatmark, SouthernLiberalinMD, Kurt from CMH, The BigotBasher, No one gets out alive, deltadoc, DawnN, SuWho, AnnetteK, quill, absdoggy, Only Needs a Beat, Tentwenty, Pinto Pony, Liberal Granny, anodnhajo, isabelle hayes, angry marmot, Mindful Nature, IndieGuy, orestes1963, SilverWillow, dance you monster, David54, tb92, S F Hippie, Deep Texan, 420 forever, 2thanks, Steve Masover, congenitalefty, This old man, kait, chipmo, mapamp, peachcreek, Tyler R, reginahny, Keith B, MartyM, doroma, OllieGarkey, Brown Thrasher, oldpotsmuggler, arizonablue, rat racer, Victim of Circumstance, Diane Gee, John Kelly, Robynhood too, BradyB, Canis Aureus, SwedishJewfish, Lily O Lady, TheMeansAreTheEnd, countwebb, Lurker in the Dark, Late Again, JayRaye, glorificus, Setsuna Mudo, equalityrules, broths, Ree Zen, howabout, Smoh, Avilyn, solarbay, ApatheticNoMore1966

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site