Last night, in Jerusalem, thousands of Israeli and Palestinian citizens came together in solidarity, to protest the enduring state of chaos and civil strife perpetuated by decades of violent military oppression imposed on the region.
Yuli Novak, executive director of “Breaking the Silence,” a group of former Israeli soldiers who have come forward to shed light on the horrors of modern day colonial occupation to the international community, spoke to the masses on the importance of such solidarity and resistance in the shared struggle for peace.
In a blog post published on Israeli news site +972, Yuli’s speech has been translated into English, from her native Hebrew tongue:
“These are dark, somber days. Our country is dominated by occupation, messianism, racism, ignorance, callousness, and violence. Blaming the right-wing government won’t help. Nor will sitting in our living rooms fantasizing about the day they’ll be replaced. And please, enough with the “Anyone but Bibi” rhetoric — Yair Lapid is no different.
The change we need to enact here requires courage, honesty, and the willingness to sacrifice something – the willingness to give up privileges and pay a price. Show me one politician – one! – who wants to be prime minister and is also willing to do this.
During dark days like these marked by daily violence, intensifying hatred, terrible racism, the occupation, there’s only one way to win: resistance. Struggle. Solidarity. That’s it. Resistance — that’s our strength and the regime’s weakness. Joining struggles is our hope, and what will bring about the collapse of the regime. Solidarity is our civil power, and the regime’s greatest fear. And there’s nothing more frightening for bad regimes than the moment when citizens stand up, resist, and fearlessly struggle.
When Palestinians do so in nonviolent demonstrations in the occupied territories — in Bil’in, in Hebron, in Sheikh Jarrah — the regime’s response will always involve violence and force. This is why we need to join forces. Because resistance and civilian struggles are the only means to challenge violent regimes. They’re the only means that cannot be suppressed with guns or clubs.
Solidarity is a state of mind. To be willing to sacrifice for the other and to understand that it’s the only act the regime can’t tolerate. Solidarity isn’t an empty slogan. It’s a tool which we’re neither sufficiently familiar with nor trained to use. This state of affairs is convenient for the regime, and has been fostered for decades by right- and left-wing governments – making sure we keep thinking solely of ourselves, keep living in existential fear, keep perceiving the occupation as necessary, and keep looking at racism as something that defines us.
Solidarity is the only act capable of deconstructing such perceptions that have been instilled in us from birth. Solidarity is not only recognition of others’ pain and suffering. Solidarity is, first and foremost, recognition of one’s right to struggle for freedom, and recognition of our responsibility, and duty, to conduct this struggle together. And pay a price together. And be liberated together.
This is also the reason that the government invests the majority of its efforts into incitement, division, creation of hatred and fear.
For those who believe in freedom, equality, and life, we no longer have the privilege of sitting at home. Democratic public spheres are disappearing. Culture, academia, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, democracy, equality, morality and justice — all of them have become victims of the regime on the altar of occupation, settlements, and corruption.
This struggle is critical, and it doesn’t solely belong to Arabs, human rights organizations, the homeless, or Ethiopians. It’s the struggle of all those who wish to live in a liberal democracy. This struggle is against the nationalistic, messianic, racist, destructive regime of occupation.
To avert one’s eyes from the occupation is to cooperate with the wicked regime. To yield before violence is to strengthen it. To remain silent before racism is to legitimize it. To surrender to fear and intimidation is to accept this dark reality, allowing it to continue and intensify.
Each day that goes by without resistance is another day of deteriorating democracy. Each day that goes by without a struggle is another day of violence against Palestinian children. Each day that goes by without solidarity is another day in which racism and nationalism trump morality and justice.”
Search IMEMC: “Breaking the Silence”