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On Belonging

“The Group”

My sense of belonging to a group that delighted me at Jerusalem’s Balfour Street demonstrations (to vanquish Netanyahu) was tinged with a sense of fakeness. I felt a lack that deepened when the Bennett-Lapid government was formed. I knew that the people delighted around me do not know that this kind of democracy is no longer relevant in the State of Israel. That night, below the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) I realized that I am only now beginning to look for my true belonging group, the one that had been missing from in life until now.

I knew that the protest momentum at Balfour must undergo a distillation at the end of which many in Israeli society would have to mobilize and struggle against the occupation. Everything consolidated in my worldview for years has concentrated on this single critical point: there will be no democracy here, nor any future for a liberal, enlightened state as long as Israel holds millions of Palestinians under its occupation boot. At the same time, I knew painfully that this simple and clear absurdity is not appealing to most Israelis, and that I must therefore make an effort to find those who are not willing to go on denying this terrible crime that continues to grow in our name and money – the Occupation.

Inside the Balfour protests were people who have never stopped their struggle against the occupation. They continued from there and formed “Looking the Occupation in the Eye”, an organization that is being built during an endless run. In this group I found my own belonging, not too early and not too late in my personal chronology.

This entire introduction has only been written to express my deep appreciation for the people around whom I have been inspired and functioning for nearly two years now. They are people in the ancient sense of the term mensch.

People who are devoted to struggle against the occupation 24/7. Their spiritual power amazes me every day anew. Yes. Their humanity includes bitter arguments and anger and silences coming from stormy souls, but their pure, tough determination to go on struggling has not lost impetus. They embody anti-establishmentarianism so rooted, they are used to function inside great chaos, with meager means. Apparently, they speak and write and drive and carry and accompany shepherds and organizes tours and attempt to mobilize others on a constant run. I hear their panting and it both worries and calms me. They pay a steep price in personal matters, in body and spirit. But none of them ever consider stopping, beyond a very short break.

They continue in spite of the din around them, the harassments of colonists, rightists, policemen, soldiers, anger of the “blue and white” demonstrators. Against all chances to see the occupation end in their own lifetime, they insist on distributing information about the daily injustices taking place throughout the West Bank, details that the fore-sold mainstream media do not. Insistent reports about the massacre of children and women and men who simply happened to walk into the wrong alley at the “wrong time”,

the numerous woundings, the burning fields and homes and property sabotaged and the killing of sheep, the robbing of land and farm equipment. Everything the colonists and the Israeli army do to Palestinians. The people I write about get up before dawn to accompany Palestinian shepherds to their meager grazing grounds, because the presence of Israelis there fends off the terrorist-colonist somewhat. They remain there to protect the shepherd even as the sun seethes over the thorny ground.

This group of people created a body lacking any kind of financial backbone, disconnected from any kind of political party backing, nearly without any internal hierarchy, for no one there is interested in leading anything.

I know very few personal details about any of my team mates, but I know everything about them that is needed from people at the side of whom I stand with my sign: There is no democracy with occupation!

I feel safe around them, a feeling that this is the place and these are the people and I shall go on standing with them until my strength runs out.

The fact that I write about them as if from the outside only attests to the fact that there is no other way of expressing a great love and gratitude.

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