Today was the second time I've ever cried at college, oddly enough, they were both about the same thing. The first time was on Yom Ha'atzmauot, because I wanted to be back. However; this was not that.
In my fiction writing class, we read a piece called "Means of Suppression" written by a former IDF solider who had attended Harvard at the timem her piece was published in The New Yorker. In a nutshell her narrative was a satire bemoaning the dramatization and false pretenses surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict. The focus is on individuals becoming jaded during wartime and the petty practices to use the media as a propaganda outlet to gain sympathizers.
Here is a single quote from the narrative made by a Palestinian protester at an armed checkpoint:
"Shoot and miss, just shoot and miss.... please," said the man. "We need to be in the newspaper. Page 5, even."
At the start of class the teacher decided to give some background to the Arab-Israeli Conflict.
"How many of you have never heard of the Arab-Israeli conflict?" Several hands jut into the air. And with that she began.
Direct Quotes From Class:
"Palestinians don't have an organized army,so they use whatever they have to defend themselves."
"The British created a Jewish homeland in Palestine. This means that if you are a Jew in Germany and your parents, grandparents, and ancestors lived in Germany, you now have the right to take Palestinian land."
"For decades the Palestinians did not resist."
"Israel responded by bombing the shit out of Palestine."
(Repeat after me style)
Teacher: "The IDF use...?"
Teacher: "Palestinians use...?"
Class : "Rocks"
After she had said all she wanted to in terms of historical context, she started to move into analyzing the text. A decision. Stay quite and live long and prosper- but people will be mislead- people who dont know the truth... God....
"I think the perspective you gave was a one-sided approach."
A long piercing stare.
"Palestine does not exist on the map."
(Am I even breathing?)
"What about the rockets in Gaza?"
Somebody stop me.
Professor at student- student at professor. A standoff. She made me look like an idiot. I made myself look like an idiot.
I could have talked about the fact that there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Israel for over 2000 years. I could have talked about the Zionist concept predating the Balfour declaration and it was not just a Holocaust guilt outcome as she had said. I could have talked about the hundreds of tunnels dug under Israeli fields and homes paved and paid with money sent to better the Palestinian socio-economic conditions yet used frivolously and maliciously to kill innocents. I could have said how the United Nations together with the Israelis agreed on a two-state solution back in 1947, and how it wasn't enough for the Palestinians who militarized and instead fortified with every available Arab nation to wipe Israel off the map, then lost, cried about it, and out of Isreal's generosity, given land in Gaza and part of the West Bank.
I could have. But I froze and in being dumbfounded, left Israel in a more precarious light.
After class I was warned not to sabotage the lesson again.
I walked in a dream-like state to a tree outside my dorm room and sat under a small, delicate sapling. Reaching for my phone, I called the only person I knew would understand.
"Bubbie," I said. "I'm having a bad day."
As always, her chicken-soup words filled me with the strength to continue. As I sat down in my next class familiar faces from the last class smiled at me. "Wow she really dug into you. The stuff she said about 'Israel bombing the shit out of Palestine' was not cool."
It was the second time I had cried in college--but right now--all I could do was smile.