Activist Story - Guy Hirschfeld
Updated: Mar 14, 2022
Twelve years ago, when the wave of evacuations of Palestinian refugees from their home in Sheikh Jarrah began, I returned to activism for the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. I realized that I had to act and not just speak out against the injustices of the occupation.
Since then activism has become my life, and together with Israeli and Palestinian friends I do my best to ease on the Palestinians, and fight for the image of my country, that despite everything- I love.I started my years as an activist within the Ta'ayush organization in the southern Hebron Mountains. In 2016 I, together with a number of friends, established the activity in the Jordan Valley. The activity is non-violent, mainly to accompany the shepherds while grazing. The undeclared goal of the State of Israel is ethnic cleansing of the Jordan Valley from the shepherd communities. There are many cruel ways to do this, which include grazing prevention, house demolition, boycotts, water prevention, arrests, violence and more. All this is done by the official and unofficial occupation forces, the army, and police, and residents of the illegal outposts in the area. Everything with the knowledge of the senior echelon. In the last year, despite the "government of change" that has arisen here, there is a severe escalation and an attempt by the people of the extreme right to challenge the new government.
I coordinate the activity of volunteers who come to the shepherds early in the morning and go out with them to the pasture to prevent violent actions against them, and report any wrongdoing committed there.
Our presence there manages to slow down the process and make it a little easier for the shepherd communities and also shows them that there are Israelis and Jews who oppose the occupation and its conduct towards them. We as Israelis have the privilege of protesting and resisting, in contrast to the Palestinian activists who are more challenged by the occupation regime. We must take advantage of this in the face of the treatment of Palestinians and Palestinian activists in particular.
Such activity also has a social, family and emotional cost, but it comes mainly from a lack of understanding and knowledge of the majority in Israeli society, who does not know, neither the real situation under the rule of the occupation nor our activities on the ground. I think I am in the right place at the right time and therefore willing to pay the price for my activities
In the last six months, together with a number of members of the Democratic protest (Netanyahu's removal protest) and occupation activists, we have established "Looking the Occupation in the Eye" in Tel Aviv. Today, "Looking" is indeed a small movement, but it has a significant presence in the public sphere and its purpose is actually to bring what is happening under the occupation to Israelis. Without filters, without shame and without apology, thus bringing about a change in the discourse within the Israeli public.
All our activities are voluntary; once a week we set up our encampment in the center of Tel Aviv for 24 hours to bring to the public what is happening in the occupied territories with the help of conversations, lectures, videos, and more. On Saturdays we are also present on 15 major bridges in Israel, and once a week we stand in solidarity with Palestinian society at one of the main intersections in Palestine with large signs in Arabic. We have discovered that doing so contributes greatly to the morale of the Palestinians passing us by.
In addition, we recently issued a letter to international leaders and Jewish organizations calling for intervention and pressure on the State of Israel and an end to the conflict.
Most of our activities are shared with the Palestinian side in the belief that this is the right way and that in the end, no matter what the solution will be, we will have to live together.
We continue our activities as much as we can from within Israel but we understand that without pressure from abroad, our ability to change is limited.
We see in you the power that can influence and explain to the State of Israel that this current situation cannot continue. Including not being ashamed to explain what consequences can be caused by the continuation of this situation and even take such actions.
With every day that passes, the Palestinian people continue to suffer and be killed and every day Israeli society is destroyed and crumbled. Everything is done partly because of the silence of the masses.
So on behalf of my Israeli and Palestinian friends we call on you to stand up and take action.