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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le temps est venu de nous libérer

The Time Has Come to Free Ourselves

Translated Saturday 9 May 2015, by Spencer Russ

A message from two Israeli activists by Eitan Bronstein and Éléonore Merza, Founders of De-Colonizer (www.de-colonizer.org)

It seems that on the 67th anniversary of the State of Israel’s independence, its citizens are further than ever from the “freedom” promised on the day of its creation. A war with the goal of “freeing” Jews, in 1948 ended in a military occupation and the expulsion of most Palestinians from the country. Even more perversely, the occupation has transformed the collective Israeli identity into a colonialist identity. The majority of Israelis are committed to the pursuit of this colonialist identity and are not questioning the sacrifice of their children in these perpetual wars.

The successful implementation of this identity is reflected in the concealment of the occupation itself. For most of the “peace camp” and the Israeli Left, the occupation is a project which began in 1967, creating therefore the illusion that it was merely a deviation from the original Zionist project. Yet this occupation is nothing but the culmination of a project which began at the dawn of Zionist immigration. The segregation between “settlers” and natives, in the name of “reclaiming” the land, was a rationale which was bound to reach its final form: the establishment of a Jewish state by expelling the Palestinians and turning them into refugees over the course of the Nakba.

The fact that the Ministers of Education and Culture define the Nakba as a day when the Palestinians went into mourning over the creation of Israel not only demonstrates the degree of ignorance among Israelis, but also feeds the common impression among them: the Palestinian identity is limited to the hatred of Israel and of Jews. In Europe, the first Zionist leaders used the term “colonialism” to describe their project in “Eretz Yisrael”. The colonization continues today with the limited but constant expulsion of Palestinians and the draft bill designed to define Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people”, among other examples.

The time has come to invent a new word in Hebrew to define the process of decolonization which can liberate us from this occupier’s identity and which must confront Israel’s origins themselves, not only the occupation of 1967.

The occupier’s identity is so strong that any steps in the direction of a peace agreement, which by definition requires compromises with the occupied, is presented as an existential threat with the end goal of the total destruction of Israel. This suggests – without needing explicit reference – the Holocaust. Many Israelis see an anti-Semitism and a self-hatred in the recognition of the rights of Palestinians and the idea itself that they are their equals. We think, on the contrary, that the recognition of the Nakba – and the right of return of Palestinian refugees – is an opportunity to reach this long-awaited “freedom” that will guarantee, to each and everyone, a perennial security rather than further illusions of calm during the ever-shorter periods between two wars.

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