It’s Senior Week here at Vassar, meaning that I’m going to be eating insane quantities of food at the Culinary Institute of America with my family, attending my last TH party, and finally graduating on Sunday. However interesting my life may seem to be, it can’t be nearly as intriguing as what’s going on in Israel.
Yesterday was Nakba Day, which the Palestinians established long ago to mark the catastrophe that was, from their perspective, the creation of the State of Israel and the human rights abuses (forced exile, etc.) that ensued. While Yom Ha’atzmaut is celebratory, Nakba Day is a day of mourning, protesting, and airing grievances. Israeli security usually steps things up for Nakba Day, just as a precaution, and nothing major has ever happened. At least not until yesterday, when Palestinian demonstrators crossed the Syrian, Lebanese, and Gazan borders into Israel, illegally, and provoked the IDF to respond with tear gas and live ammunition. Thirteen were killed and many wounded. Violence also erupted in the West Bank, and a Palestinian youth was also killed in Silwan in East Jerusalem when
somebody opened the barred window of the third floor of the marauder house, “Beit Yonatan,” situated on the slope beneath us, pulled out a rifle and shot bullets into the boy’s stomach from a distance of 20-30 meters. A few minutes before, some boys had tossed Molotov cocktails at “Beit Yonatan.” Hours later, Ayyash, 17, drew his last breath in the emergency care unit of Al-Mukassad Hospital. (from Haaretz)
Some are calling Milad Ayyash the first victim of the Third Intifada. Most are saying that what happened yesterday brought the Arab Spring to Israel. No matter what happens, it’s certainly going to change things, and by that I don’t just mean Obama’s imminent Middle East speech.
Naturally, it is important to mention the Obama administration’s opinion on yesterday’s border clashes. The White House “accused Syria of inciting deadly border clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators, saying Damascus was trying to distract attention from its own violent crackdown on protests,” and spokesman Jay Carney “said Israel ‘has the right to prevent unauthorized crossing at its borders.’” (from Haaretz) The Israeli delegation to the United Nations announced that it would file complaints with the UN Security Council and Sec. General against Syria and Lebanon.
I think the main points are, first, that what the demonstrators did yesterday was illegal. Syria and Lebanon do not have peace treaties with Israel, and residents of those countries (including resettled Palestinians) are not allowed to cross the border into Israel. I do believe that Israel had a legal and moral responsibility to respond because the safety of its borders, and therefore that of its citizens, was at stake. The Israeli side of the Israel-Syrian border in particular is a very residential area. However, my second point is that these are legitimate grievances. The Palestinians do deserve their own state, and they deserve to the right to return to that state. But before any of that can be negotiated, Israeli Jews need to own up to Israel’s role in al-Nakba and the repercussions of Jabotinsky Zionism. As Noam Sheizaf wrote on +972, “Denying the Nakba—forgetting our role in it and ignoring its political implications—is denying our own identity.” There should be some acknowledgment on the national level, but who am I kidding. All Netanyahu had to say was,
“The Palestinians call this a day of catastrophe, but their catastrophe is that their leadership has not succeeded in reaching a compromise. Still today, they don’t have a leadership that is ready to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.” (from Haaretz)
It seems like this hurting stalemate just became a bit more painful for the Palestinians, but I think it’s safe to say that, for now, nothing will change. The spotlight may have been on Israel yesterday, but as long as the violence in Syria and Egypt continue, the Netanyahu government is safe.
And now for something slightly humorous but potentially serious. It seems that Australian red claw crayfish have infiltrated the Kinneret and could threaten its ecosystem by attacking local fish and disrupting their breeding. (from Haaretz) Click here to see an up-close photograph of this stealth invader. I’m also assuming this means that the Kinneret is no longer kosher.