30 Stories from this desperate July. A recap of the July Story Journal.

On June 30th, 2014, I publicly committed to telling or posting one story every day for the month of July (July Story Journal- Introduction). Things were tense then, but I did not and could not know the ways in which this month would unfold, and the importance the Story Journal would take on, for me. Here is a recap of the stories featured here, from 14 different writers, Israeli, Palestinian, American, Jewish, non-Jewish, from Tel Aviv, Gaza, Berlin, Jerusalem and onwards.
I watch him as he scoops the little balls out of their oily birthplace and into their brand new bready vehicle. He looks glum. I think about the boys who were killed, and wonder if he is thinking about them. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe he’s just glum. Did I make him glum?“Listen,” I say, “I wasn’t upset earlier- I was just curious. I mean, you were right! I am a native English-speaker. But how did you know without talking to me?”“I just guessed,” he says…These chickpeas are representative of chickpeas and are not meant to resemble any specific chickpeas from said falafel place or elsewhere anywhere
Later on July 1st: So are you for or against expelling all the Arabs? (written with Yuval Orr)
One of the boys sitting down asks:

“What are you, leftists?”

His friend chimes in:

“What are you two, together?”

The girl continues:

“Haven’t you heard of Kahana? He said to kill all of the Arabs, and he was right.”


Why are you at this demonstration?

“I feel like soon, I won’t have a place here.”

In Israel?


In what way?

“That I won’t be able to tolerate the violence, the racism. Really, I am worried, for myself and for my children. This week was the first time in my life -and I’m not young at all- that I’ve felt that maybe I don’t want to live the rest of my life here… Give me a second before you take my picture? So I’m not crying in the photograph.”

Screen shot 2014-07-03 at 12.51.31 AM

90% of The Arabs want to kill Jews? 

“Yes, at least.”

How do you know that? 

“I know, it’s common sense.”

Have you spoken to 90% of the Arabs?

“No, but I’ve spoken to a lot of them.”

Do you speak Arabic?

“No… but I live near Sheikh Jarrah.”

The Muslims

That we all are capable of extreme brutality and violence. That ‘nonviolence’ is not genetic, and while that it may be culturally influenced, I have yet to encounter a broad culture in which nonviolence has truly taken root. Certainly not in Israeli culture and certainly not in Palestinian culture. Over the last few weeks, according to reports (none of which are finally confirmed), at least two Palestinians kidnapped and murdered three Israeli children and six Israelis were involved in the kidnapping, torture and murder of a Palestinian child.

I felt guilty for leaving. So much so, that I almost didn’t want to write this post, even though I’d promised to write a story every day for the month of July. Everything at home feels jagged, hot, urgent, and here I was, boarding a plane to Southern Germany… But now I’m here, and the fact of the matter is that, well, I am here. I cannot write any reports from any ground except for this ground. And from this ground, I report: the air tastes like mountains and crisp summer nostalgia and mountains look like legends and make me want to weep and the raindrops twingling on my skin feels like the sky is weeping on me and I can only look at the Alps and marvel at how wide everything looks.

photo 3

July 8th: Reflections from a visit to the Abu Khdeir family’s home in Shuafat (by Liana Rothman)


This place, Jerusalem, the holy of holies, where today a large organized group of people, mostly Jews, piled on buses and went to Shuafat, to experience communal mourning and offer condolences to the family of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. It felt powerful, and calm. It felt correct and nice. It also felt deeply strange, and somehow wrong. Walking down the assembly like line of Muhammad’s family members, shaking hands with each was in fact powerful. So powerful, that in a way I forgot that we were there for them, and not the other way around.
Two seconds later, she came up to me and said, “Ohhh, Angie. You’re not used to the booms, right?” Two immediate thoughts in my head. The first: Oh, damn. Do I really look that pathetic? How embarrassing. And the second: Yes, exactly. I am not used to them. Good, I do not want to look (or be) used to waking up to a siren as my morning alarm and the sound of rockets being intercepted by a massive piece of military equipment before hitting the city I live in.
tel aviv
Dave, your wall is less colorful now. Younger than the part you are sprawled across.

The wall, in Palestine, a tall and mighty one. Grows, creating a perpendicular monster, flat screened TV, forever on a channel I would rather not be watching. Perpendicular to this land that has been deemed holy. Holy for holy wars, holy for god and his chosen people, holy to host and remember a rich history of kings and prophets.

Dave, the wall runs a most uncomfortable juxtaposition across our hill tops. Holy and TV.

photo (16)

And it all just looks absurd. But sitting in Germany, of all places, of course I am aware of how easy a society can be swept away by absurd, low-quality nationalism and stupid flags and the sight of guns and a dehumanized Other who becomes The Enemy. I know I need not take it there to “make my point.” It’s just where my mind took me, on this chilly and lovely and strange evening in West Berlin.

Our choices: swarm the flag, aim the guns, or create a human chain against all forms of dehumanizing nationalism

“Pack of hypocritical traitorous autoantisemites.” Those were the words my cousin used to describe me and my co-conspirators, the few hundred people who planned to attend an anti-war demonstration organized by the Coalition of Women for Peace. It is odd to admit, but my cousin’s words frightened me more than those of the stranger in Jerusalem who told me one week earlier, face pressed to the lens of my video camera, “We should kill you leftists one by one. You are despicable.”
photo 4
Reply to the Leftern Wall: Hitler was Right. Hitler did nothing wrong.

That was the first thing I saw this morning when I turned on my phone. There is a backstory. I was sitting in the Berlin airport, waiting to fly back to Tel Aviv after a week of speaking throughout Bavaria about nonviolence, anti-collectivization, Israel’s military occupation and my own refusal to take part in that system, and a weekend of exploring Berlin. An article on twitter caught my eye: Jews in Paris were hiding in a synagogue after a violent group emerged from within a protest in support for Gaza, seeking to harm Jews.

I tweeted:

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July 15th: Facing the massacre with eyes shut tight (by Idan Landau)
One incident that did seep into the media was the murder of eight members of the Kaware family in Khan Yunis, as “punishment” for their familiar relation to Oudeh Kaware, a Hamas member. On July 8th the IDF struck this house with a “warning missle” -a light missile that is shot that the roof of the building to warn that it is going to be shelled- at 2:50 PM, and at 3:00 PM a missile was shot at the building from an F-16. Six children were among those killed.

The IDF's Collateral Damage. Photo: AFP.

A story: Jerusalem Day, 2012. I am standing at the Damascus Gate, before the Israeli parade has made its way from West Jerusalem into the occupied parts of the city to celebrate “reunification.” I am watching two small demonstrations, separated by a small police barrier. On one side, there is a group of young Israelis, mostly teenagers. They are waving Israeli flags, and their veins are bulging as they scream “Mavet LaAravim! Mavet LaAravim!” Death to Arabs! Death to Arabs! On the other side, there is a group of young Palestinian men, and they are also chanting and waving Palestinian flags, their fists clenched and their shouts filled with testosterone, “Khaybar Khaybar ya Yehud!” A reference to an incident in the 7th century in which Muslims forcibly expelled the Jews of Khaybar. And I think:

Damascus Gate, Jerusalem Day, 2014

The were really scary and really angry and really young and really seemed like they would like to do violence to us. One who squeezed through the police line began yelling:
“I hope you all die! I want you leftists to die more than I want the Arabs to die!”
A young woman standing next to me murmurs, “And what if I am a leftist and an Arab? Double death?”
photo 5
I was starting to feel good. We found a “Kahane Was Right” sticker pasted to the sidewalk and leaned down to peel it off. As we kneeled to the ground, it felt like we were simultaneously mourning and building. The act of peeling, digging into the cement with our finger-nails, felt like a prayer. Until I felt a hard kick against my arm.

Up near the police barrier, a man stands holding an olive branch. He doesn’t speak and he doesn’t move. Occasionally, he switches hands. Suddenly shy, not wanting to disturb whatever this man is processing- Who is he? What have his eyes seen? Who does he know?- I tentatively ask approach him:

“Can I ask you why you are holding this?”

He looks at me, his eyes meet mine. He responds, quietly:

“I believe in peace. It’s that simple for me.”


July 20th: Meanwhile in Haifa: One demonstrator tells of being punched in the head in the city of tolerance (By Samuel Tell)


On the way, and in clear view of the police, I was suddenly punched in the back of the head and then, as I bent over, was kneed in the face. Luckily my hands were in front of my face and absorbed most of the blow and luckily my attackers decided to run off. The only person who came to my assistance was a woman who started to cry as she asked me if I was OK. “I can’t believe this is happening in Haifa!” she sobbed. “When did we become like Jerusalem?”

Demonstrator wounded from a glass bottle thrown by a right-winger

July 21st: What is the connection between SodaStream and Gaza? (By Jacob Udell)


Today I could not tear myself away from the gruesome photoscoming out of Shujaya. I read as a sort of intellectual grieving (and as a break from the photos): the transcript of an interview with a Gazan human rights leader who said “Cast Lead was a joke compared to this,” reports of the anti-tank mine blown up under 7 Israeli soldiers, an inquiry into the war crime that was the bombing of the the Al-Wafah hospital. I also read that a group of 60 Palestinian workers were collectively fired from SodaStream.

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum visits Palestinian workers in SodaStream's Maaleh Adumim Factory (Credit: YouTube)


Today was my July 22nd, 2014 in the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the place that I still choose to believe has room in its cracking coasts and hollowed hills to allow itself to be described as Israel-Palestine. As I finished writing this, the bus I was on from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv pulled to stop, in the middle of the highway. The cars around us had almost all stopped as well. Some people are crouching on the side of the road as the siren bookends this morning. Then the bus started moving again.
If Hamas started to aim their rockets only at military bases, the homes of generals, or homes in which generals were visiting inside of Israel– would we then forgive them for children they killed?
Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 6.43.19 PM

-You know, no one likes the Palestinians… Not in the Arab world, not here.

-Sort of like Jews of the past, huh?

-Hmm. I think you’re right. I feel badly for them. Most of them probably used to be Jews, you know.

-What do you mean?

-I mean that when Muhammad undertook his wars, he converted all sorts of Jews in this region to Islam.

-Like Christians before…

-[Laughing] And before that? Us! The Jews! Joshua Ben Nun. We’re such racists…

An amazingly worded lock in Sheikh Jarrah, reminding of the obligation to speak out in every day culture as much as in high politics


I don’t know how it started, but I do know that I looked over to see the rightists begin hitting people on the heads with their flag poles, blue and white flags crashing down. I rush over to try to calm things, speaking in an easy tone, making eye contact, and it seems to work with a few of the guys, who hesitate as they look at me. And then:


And my eyes are burning.

photo 5

July 27th: The Moon and a Homeless Man as seen from My Mid-Twenties


There lies man with yarmulka tilted
only half off head horizontal
on a park bench (no park for meters)
And the car nearby still hot and odd-
Their chants touched on a number of now-familiar tropes (“Go to Gaza! You’re all traitors! Gaza is a cemetery! Go get f**ked in the a**!”) but also took on an uglier, more personal element, targeting Udi by name, branding the demonstration as his “gay coming out party,” calling him a “son of a whore” as he stood by his mother.
udi walks
July 29th: The Things We’ve Lost (By Rebecca Hughes)
Sirens ring out across the country and their wails lend a melody to chants of “Death to Arabs and leftists.” Facebook and social media have become platforms for extremism, and the faces of the dead flicker across computer screens and televisions. I’ve seen blue and white dildos waved threateningly at peace protestors, and heard both sides justify the violence that results in the deaths of people who represent entire worlds for the survivors. I have lost nothing in the recent weeks, but there are many who have lost everything.
what we lost
We ran into the street without thinking. I ran for about three kilometres, shoeless in streets covered with glass and stones. I found a piece of white cloth that I waved as a white flag, and ran after my husband, who was carrying my son. We passed just metres away from the Israeli tanks.

Fleeing in Gaza. Photo: Iyad al Baba/Oxfam


July 31st: The Catastrophe of Losing Everything You Own (By Kamal from Gaza)

At least in the Oxfam office I found a place to stay – others have no place at all to go. My 90 year old uncle is sheltering in a school. Most of the people in my area make their living from animal farming – but many of their animals are now dead and missing. Losing all your resources can be catastrophic.

Destruction in Gaza. Photo: Iyad al Baba/Oxfam


But just as your uniform comes off, you are informed that actually, you did know one of them. Not so well, but enough to make it hurt. To cause all the walls of defense and denial you’ve built, for the glory of the State of Israel, to fall apart and crumble. A sweet, charming kid who’s grandmother lives next door to your parents. You have an orange tree in the garden, but don’t have energy to pick the fruit. He comes every year to pick them. At the end of the day, he knocks on your door, and with a bashful smile, gives you a bag full of that year’s harvest. You remember the last time you saw him — two years ago, in the middle of your finals.

Photo: Creative Commons


July 31.5th (ie. still August 1st): A Conversation That’s Been Had (a story from a bus in Jerusalem) (By Amani Rohana)

Orthodox Jew: Are you an Arab?

Arab: Yes. Wow you speak Arabic?!

Orthodox Jew: Yes, I lived in Argentina for a while and many Arabs were living in my neighborhood, so I learned Arabic.

Arab: Nice. I am from Jerusalem.

At this point I thought to myself: this could turn out to be one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever eavesdropped on.

Orthodox Jew: Really? So you were born in Jerusalem?

Arab: Yes. But I am a Christian.

“BUT I am Christian.”