The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Beyond the Border

Dr. Annie C. Higgins

Imagine you are residing in a besieged city, having lived in your occupier's neighboring land for ten years previously. You and your neighbors exchanged visits, and their children were part of your family home. You know the children's names and their favorite sweets. You know the things that make them laugh. You and they have shared experiences stored up for years.

Now one of these children is a soldier bearing arms against you. When you meet him in the street wearing military fatigues, you cannot call him by the name that brought a smile to your face in former times because people will consider you a collaborator with the oppressor. He cannot talk to you for the equal and opposite reason; his government will consider him a traitor or will try to exploit his relationship with you. It is safest to avoid eye contact when you happen to meet.

Imagine being in this situation. For some, it is a reality. It is the reality for the middle school teacher I met in Jenin recently, and for others like him. In addition to Palestinians who have made their home in Israel, many West Bank Palestinians have worked in Israel for years. Their families would dine with Jewish friends in Israel, and Israelis paid visits to Palestinian friends in the Occupied Territories. Jewish Israeli shoppers frequented Palestinian cities like Jenin where they found friendly service, lower prices, and a continuity of welcome.

How would it make you feel to see your former neighbor's child bearing arms against you? Would it make you feel angry? An energetic supporter of Palestine whose solidarity is based on righteous anger can take a page from the attitudes expressed by Palestinians living here now. Understanding takes shape as you expand your framework with great patience and increased inclusiveness. Anger is a luxury for which few can afford the price here.

Would you be willing to welcome joint economic activity with Israelis, the loss of which is one of the biggest concerns here? Would you be nonchalant about wearing a teeshirt with Hebrew writing on it? Would you enthusiastically belt out the Hebrew word for "okay/be-seder?" Would you welcome a phonecall from an Israeli citizen who is checking on your safety even as her government has arrested your family members and locked you in your home? People I meet here daily can answer "yes" to these questions.

Again, how would it make you feel to see your former neighbor's child bearing arms against you?Would it make you feel sad? Would it make you want to dispossess him of his weapons forcefully?

Or would it make you long for the day that you know will come, when the soldier of the occupying Army, your neighbor's child, puts down his weapon because it has become obsolete? You are in harmony with the vast majority of Palestinian voices if you align yourself with this view.

Does my view seem one-sided to you? I am speaking from where I am, in the reality of Jenin Refugee Camp in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I welcome another voice from inside Israel. Bear in mind that there is no Palestinian Army occupying Israeli territory, nor are there overflights of Palestinian F-16 fighter aircraft in Israeli skies, nor a single Palestinian tank parked in front of any Israeli school.

Do you long for the day when your neighbor's child puts down his weapon because it has become obsolete? You are not alone. You are in good company. Let us work for what we long for.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

19 January 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Fair Trial Not a Farcical Travesty
Bernadette Sands McKevitt


For Whom the Bells Toll
Anthony McIntyre


The Republic: Of Connolly, of Costello, of Kearney and Campbell

Terry Harkin


O Bradaigh versus Adams
Classicism versus Historical Consciousness

Father Sean Mc Manus


Beyond the Border
Annie Higgins


17 January 2003


No Rights For Humans
Anthony McIntyre


The Fight For America's Soul

Julie Brown


The Bloody Streets of New York
Mike Davis


The Left Betrays the Iraqi People by Opposing War
Nick Cohen


Missive To America
Annie Higgins


The Letters page has been updated.




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