Israel’s Prime Minister’s wife, Mrs. Netanyahu, became a symbol of insensitivity, a local Marie Antoinette, when she famously offered pizzas to students activists on hunger strike against rising tuition fees. She didn’t express support for their just demands, nor did she show any admiration for their sacrifice or sympathy with their suffering. All she displayed was the light minded selfishness and hedonism of someone who is complete stranger to the notions of a just cause, struggle or sacrifice.
Some of those who claim to be “Israeli intellectuals” have proven today that their arrogance and insensitivity far exceed those of Mrs. Netanyahu.
“Writers and poets, including Eli Amir, Amos Oz and AB. Yehoshua, turned in a personal letter to Samer Al Issawi, on hunger strike for more than 230 days, and called on him to stop the strike.” So we read in today’s (13/04/2013) press.
No, they did not wake up when Samer was arrest without any cause, as they didn’t protest at the imprisonment without trial of thousands of other Palestinians, including political activists, journalists and intellectuals. They didn’t even raise their voices while Samer was on a hunger strike for 200 days, as the continuing disregard to his cry for freedom puts his life under imminent danger.
What caused their response was Samer’s hearts’ breaking letter from his bed in the hospital, published in Haaretz by the courageous journalist Gideon Levy. Samer writes in his letter:
“… I’ve chosen to write to you: intellectuals, academics, writers, lawyers, journalists and activists in civilian Israeli society…
“Israelis, I’m looking for an educated one among you who has passed the stage of the shadows and mirrors game. I want him to look at me as I lose my consciousness. Let him wipe the gunpowder from his pen, the shooting sounds from his mind, and see my face’s features etched in his eyes. I will see him and he will see me. I will see how tense he is about the future and he will see me, a ghost clinging to his side and not leaving.
“Perhaps you will be asked to write a romantic story about me. You will testify I was a creature of whom nothing remained but a skeleton, breathing and choking from hunger, losing consciousness now and then. And after your cold silence, my story will be an achievement to add to your resume. When your students will grow up they will believe the Palestinian died of hunger … Then you can celebrate your cultural, moral supremacy with a death ritual.”
They did not rush to defend Samer Issawi, to demand his freedom, to save his life. They cried out to expel his living ghost, which knocks on their doors, breaking the peace of the occupation and satiety.
They did not, God Forbid, turn to the authorities to request for Samer’s release. They did not even care to ask what crimes he did that caused the State of Israel to chase him on their behalf, in the name of the public whose conscience and morality they purport to represent, to his expected and approaching death.
They requested Samer to stop the hunger strike unconditionally, to agree to be confined for many years in prison for no reason, in violation of the prisoners’ swap, when the only accusation against him is that he went out of the “restricted zone” drawn for him in his city Jerusalem.
Even the Pizza that they offer Samer is a used, worn and cold Pizza from the kitchen of Mrs. Netanyahu’s husband.
They write about: “New encouraging signs that the negotiations between the sides will resume,” adding that these measures may secure Samer’s release alongside other Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
Probably they don’t really live in Israel. Please remind me, Gentlemen, when did Israel release Palestinian prisoners due to negotiations and not in a prisoners’ exchange?
Of course, the Zionist morality is never far from self interests and the “current affairs” of give and take. As they do not oppose the occupation unconditionally, they are not demanding the unconditional release of any prisoners, even if there is no reason for their arrests. Why, what happened? How will Israel achieve its goals if it will not trade in occupied territories, in the freedom of thousands of prisoners languishing in its prison and in the lives of millions of residents humiliated every day while crossing military checkpoints and groaning in the big prison called occupation?
The Zionist intellectuals have a whopping bargain to offer Samer and the Palestinians, really the deal of the Century: Give up the right of return of millions of Palestinian refugees; Forget about the land that was robbed by the settlers through military decrees, faked papers and extortion; Recognize Israel as a Jewish state and give your consent to the status of your Palestinian brethren as second-class citizens. Only then would the Zionist intellectuals recommend to the government to bring the negotiations to a blessed conclusion and slightly loosen the shackles on Samer’s corpse.
This post was also published in Hebrew.