Deena Hurwitz (editor); New Society Publishers, in cooperation with the Resource Center for Nonviolence.
Every once in a while, a book comes along which forces us to reevaluate some of our most cherished political notions. Walking The Red Line: Israelis in Search of Justice For Palestine, is such a book.
Having recently concluded a personal trek of Israel and the Occupied Territories, I found the copy I back-packed with an enormously helpful tool to penetrate the complex history and oftentimes impregnable wall of Middle East hatred and violence.
Deena Hurwitz of the Resource Center for Nonviolence in California bound together the essays of Twenty Israeli writers who collectively question the underlying premises of nationalism, loyalty, militarism and a national security ideology that rationalizes a self-perpetuating sate of emergency and the systemic social repression of the Palestinian people.
Inspired by the monumental reforms in Eastern Europe,and South Africa, the contributors yearn to prevent Israel from becoming an international pariah state, endeavoring to overcome the growing estrangement between Israel, its people, and the world's moral community.
To achieve that end, their individual approaches vary only in degree not direction. they argue persuasively, and passionately, that they/we must disturb the national "consensus" to effect justice and social change.
Some writers have been imprisoned for their "selective refusal" to mandatory military service beyond the Green Line and in Lebanon. all have been explicitly or implicitly forbidden from working intimately with Palestinians. All understand that their national tragedy requires a peace which is more
than the absence of war-it's building a togetherness in dialogue, in cooperation with these people who have a shared destiny.
In a country where the borders f dissent are rarely breached and is usually viewed as blasphemous self-hatred, these writer-activist essays will become a lasting contribution of the progressive forces within Israel. Each essayist addresses the important questions confronting all of us who wish not only to disapprove of immoral state activities but seek to be empowered to act, to refuse to collude with the effort to make the unacceptable into the socially respectable.
The contributors refuse to be border guards or partake in house demolitions, teargassings, and torture. They strive to break the conspiracy of silence that drains the lifeblood of their beloved home. they believe in an end to the Occupation, an Israeli-Palestinian partnership created at the Green Line, a meeting place between two states that share one future.
However, they clearly argue that a personal regeneration must first occur to permit this political transformation to reconciliation. They point the way, by defining their own "red lines" beyond which they cannot and will not go, where they no longer bear the burden of shared responsibility for state violence.
This ground-breaking activist-primer is essential reading for all those who hope, believe and struggle for a peaceful future in the Middle East.
After reading this deftly seasoned collection of views, I realize how utterly inadequate and in some instance mistaken, my knowledge of the root issues underlying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been. The volume provides the vitally necessary "insider" analysis needed by the international community, if we are able to fully grasp the core issues and endeavor to assist the Israeli-Palestinian peace forces. The historical urgency for such assistance is acute, accentuated by the recent election of Yitzhak Rabin and a Labor-led government. If Rabin's "new seriousness" in peace negotiations is to amount to anything more than conciliatory gestures aimed a American largesse, and not soon fall victim to the demands of extremists, we must all work towards an informed international public awakening in personal nonviolent struggle.
Everyone who reads Walking the Red Line: Israelis In Search of Justice for Palestine is challenged to make it happen.
For further information about the Community for Active Nonviolence call (604) 247-7464.
Review by Howard Breen-Needham, the Canadian national contact person for the Community for Active Nonviolence, who was recently jailed with over a hundred activists for attempting to cross the "Green Line"