So kittens, this happened a few days ago.
A bunch of Israeli women marched for “peace” in yet another pointless whitewashing exercise that will accomplish nothing. I was rather disappointed to see activists covering this as some act of bravery and saying this wasn’t covered in the media(it was in Haaretz, Ynet, the Washington Post and a bunch of other media – no, I’m not linking, this travesty doesn’t deserve the clicks). This had plenty of media coverage and it was designed to do so, because this is yet another whitewashing propaganda stunt… perhaps I should call it peacewashing.
Peacewashing, or putting up a phony facade of “peace,” in order to continue the status quo in Israel/Palestine, is another tactic, usually used by Liberal Zionists to push the narrative that Israelis just want peas. Peacewashing is shouting “peace” very loudly and doing photo-ops and not actually doing anything. What does “peace” mean? What does a march with no concrete objectives (apart from peas, peas and more peas) accomplish?
It is designed to tell a story – a story where Israelis want peas, and Palestinians(whose peaceful protests are described as violent because they are constantly and brutally attacked by the Israeli military every time). It is designed to tell a story that merely changing a few politicians will change a system that has been built on racism and ethnic cleansing.
You know what isn’t covered in the media? The Israeli activists who risk their lives and safety every week when they go out and work to prevent the demolitions of homes and villages alongside Palestinians. The Israeli activists who help Palestinians harvest their crops because racist settlers would attack them otherwise(with the IDF’s help). The Israelis who support BDS from within, the ones that refuse to serve in the army and are imprisoned for it. It isn’t covered because that is real solidarity.
You know what isn’t covered? The non-violent Palestinian activists fighting to prevent their homes and towns from being demolished, coming up with new ideas year after year after year just to keep the occupation from destroying their way of life. The media doesn’t cover the LGBT and feminist activists in Palestine who understand that fighting Israeli oppression is a fight for all people.
You know else what isn’t covered? The hundreds of non-violent protests where Palestinians are brutalised, the execution of children in the (occupied) streets, the torture of children in prisons, the daily violations of the “ceasefire” in Gaza, exclusively targeting civilians(usually farmers or fishermen).
Real solidarity isn’t just waving a peace flag. Real solidarity has objectives.
Here is the mission statement of Women Wage Peace, can you spot the objective of the group?
1. A large and varied group of women are dedicated to our cause and recruited for action.
2. We promote an agreement that would be acceptable to most of the population, both Jewish and Arab, and not a specific political solution.
3. We cooperate with relevant factors (not party affiliated) in Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the world.
a. Using digital media to share content, generate dialogue and get more people involved.
b. Using local and foreign media to put public pressure on policy makers.
c. Visibility – wearing white with colored scarves.
d. Mapping relevant forums of decision makers.
e. Locating women and promoting their involvement in the forums.
Yeah, me neither.. oh yeah, white scarves, that’s like revolutionary and stuff.
By the way, how many of these peaceful white-scarved ladies have sons and daughters proudly serving in the IDF, manning the checkpoints and raiding the villages of the Palestinian people these women claim to be in solidarity with? Palestinians who have been involved in these peacewashing efforts report that this is a pretty common thing.
Compare that with the Israeli group Call From Within that supports BDS from inside Israel
We endorse the Palestinian call as is. We stand against all forms of racism and oppression and support and encourage BDS actions as a legitimate political activity and a necessary means of non-violent resistance. We will act inside and outside Israel to promote awareness and support of BDS.
Unlike the peacewashing group, this organisation has concrete objectives, it expressly rejects racism and stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
And kittens, that is how you distinguish actual solidarity efforts from groups that are using peacewashing as a tactic to maintain the status quo. Real solidarity has objectives, it has specific goals, it has tactics that will lead to peace and don’t just involve shouting “peace” “peace” “PEASSSSSS.”
Real solidarity centers the people who are the targets of oppression. Fake solidarity centers the oppressors who are so oppressed by the fact that they are oppressors.
Real solidarity is anti-racist because the foundation of the Israeli/Palestine issue is racism. Fake solidarity, like “Women Wage Peace,” often will not even mention the word “racism” or refer to it. Fake solidarity has no solutions to racism, except sometimes an explicit endorsement of segregation and apartheid and sometimes even overt racist talk.
Because peace can mean a whole lot of things. To the Israeli mainstream, peace means either the completed ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, or them being cordoned off in ghettos as to not be seen, so Israeli can go on about their lives, in “peace” and the status quo at the moment is accomplishing exactly that. In order for there to be real peace, there needs to be reform, there needs to be substantial change, there needs to be the centring of Palestinian voices, and there needs to be discomfort and there are Israelis that are risking their livelihoods and lives every day to make it happen, and they may be a tiny minority but they are the ones who, along with the Palestinian people and activists all over the world are going to make change and eventually make peace.
But they are not being covered by Haaretz or Ynet or getting praiseworthy articles in the Washington Post, they are fighting for something real.