Published May 24, 2021
For the past 12 days, my body and brain have been divided between two time zones. As midnight approaches in Buffalo, I call my family and friends who are just waking up in Israel/Palestine. “How many times did the rockets wake you up?” I ask my Jewish niece, who lives just across from where the first Jewish person was killed by a rocket.
Without discounting the pain of my people, I cannot ignore the suffering inflicted upon millions of Palestinians. For seven decades, Israel’s laws and policies have maintained Jewish supremacy both within and outside of the Green Line — the internationally recognized border of Israel drawn up in 1949.
A Palestinian-Israeli friend feared sending her kids to school this morning. One of the few mixed schools in the country, this school was burned down recently by Jewish extremists. Staying at home no longer feels safe, either. She tells me about Jewish vigilantes combing the streets for Palestinian-Arabs, and forwards me a video of a friend in Haifa chased by Jews.
The Israeli police and courts do close to nothing about this, indicating the government’s support of such discriminatory eruptions of violence. Instead, 900 Palestinians have been arrested (compared with 150 Jews) and 116 Palestinians were indicted (zero Jews). The numbers illustrate the asymmetry of this relationship: both sides suffer, but one side suffers much more, while the other is backed up by a powerful state.
As an Israeli-Jew who grew up in Jerusalem and an academic studying environmental racism, the latest events have made me realize this: that while the media focuses on images of rockets blazing through Tel Aviv’s night skies and massive explosions erasing apartment buildings in Gaza, the most striking changes are happening elsewhere — in Israeli cities where Jews and Palestinian-Israelis reside side by side.
Here, it has become obvious that the separation between Israel within the Green Line and the occupied territories outside of the Green Line, if one ever existed, is becoming irrelevant. The problem is not only the occupation, but what is increasingly viewed as an apartheid regime thriving both outside and within the Green Line.
The current events are engendering unprecedented Palestinian unity on both sides of the Green Line. Simultaneously, Jewish settlers from the occupied territories have arrived by busloads to incite riots within the Green Line. The State of Israel controls both spaces, ignoring the Green Line when convenient.
The Green Line is a hoax. It distracts us from the long-term dispossession of Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line from their lands and rights. While I remain compassionate toward the suffering of my people, I believe that we must recognize the violence inflicted on Palestinians by Israel and move toward reconciliation. Until then, my body and brain will continue to live in split time zones.
Irus Braverman, who also holds an appointment as an adjunct professor of geography, is the author of nine books, including “Planted Flags: Trees, Land, and Law in Israel/Palestine.” She is currently working on the book “Settling Nature,” which examines Israel’s wildlife protection and conservation management practices.