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“I’m not Allowed to Think What I Think.”

Yoni Mishal Aug 10, 2006

TEL AVIV—I’m a part of Israel’s activist left. I feel physically threatened and really afraid. I’m not allowed to think what I think. Not for the past two years, when fighting with the Palestinians in Gaza was escalating to new dimensions, and not now, when rockets are falling on Israel and bombs are tearing up Lebanon.

There was a protest in Rabin Square recently, but I doubt it will make any difference. I’m afraid for what will happen to my future, and the outcome of this fighting may not matter any more. The society is corrupt, hiding behind hollow statements and flags: the country is covered with signs of Israeli flags saying “We Shall Win”, “Israel Is Strong!” and “Together We Stand” taken from the early 1950s – sponsored by cell-phone companies and banks. This hurts me so much.

This is my country, these are the people I am fighting with for better education, for a better society. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. But this is not something I can go on about. I try not to watch TV, but it’s enough to read the headlines about the intention of the Israeli military to destroy entire villages, or the calls for revenge to see that some demon is off the chain.

It’s something I can’t explain in words. This is not easy for me. I use words for a living, I’m a writer and a teacher. It frightens me. Anyone who thinks differently is a traitor in the eyes of the people here, and I feel how my family and some friends are backing off of me. They don’t want to understand what I feel, or hear what I have to say.

Large parts of the left, including some close friends of mine, are supporting this so-called “war.” And I just can’t believe it. This can’t be true. I see how little girls and boys in the north are given bombs to decorate before they are shot in to Lebanon. There is not a bit of humor, when these photos are captioned “kids from the north sending a message to Nasrallah” my heart losses a beat. “No” is all I can think. Who are the parents of these kids? And why don’t they take them away from this horror?

I have a group of friends that see through all this, and we will be at the protest tonight, but we are alone. I never felt so lonely in this battle. There is no one to call for help. When about 2,500 people protested the invasion of Lebanon, and the killing in Gaza. I wondered if more than double that number in the entire country supported this view. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been called up for reserve duty in September. I don’t intend to go.

Yoni Mishal is a community coordinator in Florentin neighborhood in Tel Aviv, and a teacher at Hamidrasha Arts College.