The Leftern Wall’s Top 14 from 2014

2014 was a heartrending year, filled with some devastatingly low lows and a few moments of decency shining between the cracks.

There’s been substantial interest in the goings-on here in Israel-Palestine in general (especially in July-August, 2014), and over the past 363 days, this blob has hosted just under 50,000 unique visitors, who, together, have read Leftern Wall posts over 84,000 times. The top ten countries in terms of readership, have been, in this order: United States, Israel, the UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, State of Palestine & Jordan. Along with tens of thousands of folks from another 154 countries (with twice as many readers from “Réunion” (4), which I’d never heard of until right now, as from China (2), leading me to believe that this blob is either censored in the People’s Republic, or folks in Zhōngguó have greater walls to focus on, as it were).


Below are the 14 top pieces from 2014 (in terms of readership and shares), in case you missed them, including pieces from guest writers, photo essays, reports, analyses, satire, slivers of hope, shards of anguish, and many, many words:

1. Clarification: I do not think Palestinians are more moral than Israelis. (July 16h, 2014).

”This is not a story of Cruel Israelis or Evil Jews versus Good Palestinians or Noble Arabs, and the answer will not come from simply reversing power structures. It is a story of mutual dehumanization and un-mutual power, and the answer has to come from creating power structures in which human beings’ violent, narrow instincts are checked and our capacity for decency is uplifted. And that is something no bomb, no burning, no rifle, no bullet can ever accomplish.” (Read on)

Both sides have flags and chants. But one has the added bonus of armed horse-mounted police.

(In addition to being the most read piece on-site, this one was crossposted on the blog Jewschool, and shared there another 3,782 times). 

2. Pepper Sprayed & Pursued in North Tel Aviv. (July 26th, 2014).

“It happened after the demonstration -the biggest in Tel Aviv against the war yet, estimates of over 6,000 demonstrators- had mostly dispersed. The now-familiar group of right-wing demonstrators had worked themselves up into a frenzy throughout the speeches by left-wing Knesset Members and bereaved parents and chants to end the war, end the siege, end the occupation, end the violence.  They were screaming: “Traitors!” “Death to Arabs and Leftists!”…” (Read on)

photo 5

3. What to do when rammed by a man in an electronic wheelchair fundraising for 10 needy Holocaust survivors: (May 10th, 2014).

If Israelis want to be here, 

the sound of a wheels and a small motor

a sharp cry of “Go away!” in English.

(If Israelis want to be here!)

They are welcome to apply for a per-CRASH.

(They are) –what’s going on?

–Oh my God –(welcome to) –hey, 

stop, please –

At first I am only vaguely aware of what’s happening, still in the zone, fuzzy, focused, removed, and then I feel myself losing balance, the chair jerking violently under me, as if alive…” (Read on)

Photo: A. Daniel Roth
Photo: A. Daniel Roth

(This piece was reblogged on +972 Magazine. Following the publication of this piece, Morris, the man who featured in the first post, wrote the following, heartfelt, heart-opening response. This exchange was one of the highlights of my life as an activist since moving back to Jerusalem 3.5 years ago). 

4. Ten Reasons You Should Never Visit the “City of David” [Again] (February 6th, 2014).

”The fact that you learn almost nothing about the City of David from the City of David’s website is not accidental. If you were to stumble upon their website in, say, The Lonely Planet or the Israel Ministry of Tourism, you would have no idea why in the world a nice 24 year-old Jewish boy named Moriel Zachariah Rothman would possibly write an article beseeching and urging You, as someone who believes in the values of equality and peace, and is thus uncomfortable with ethnic dispossession, never to visit the “City of David”… (Read on).

Screen shot 2014-02-01 at 6.48.08 PM

5. On Empathy, Death & Context: 39 Recommended Readings About Israel’s Latest Attack on Gaza (August 7th, 2014).

”After receiving similar requests from a a few readers, I’ve decided to try to assemble a collection of 39 recent pieces that have struck, moved, taught, challenged or shaken me (not an exhaustive list, by any means, just a beginning). Before doing so, it is crucial that I acknowledge my biases as a reader: I am an Israeli-American Jew living in Tel Aviv. I am/was vehemently opposed to Israel’s war on Gaza (I also hold that other, more severe terms than “war” are valid). I am committed to nonviolence, and hold the Israeli government and Hamas both responsible for their mutual adoration and glorification of violence. With that, I hold that the Israeli government more responsible for the current situation, not from a place of seeing Hamas as more “moral,” but from a place of seeing the Israeli government as far more powerful, both in its capacity to kill and in its capacity to change the political situation. That does not mean forgiving, supporting or justifying Hamas’ horrific actions or intentions, but it does mean that the primary focus of this list is what Israel has done wrong and what it could do in order to do right…” (Read on)

6. Guest Post by Angie Hsu: “Between Guilt and Regret as Sirens Sound in Tel Aviv” (July 9th, 2014).

”I did not want to come to work today. A combination of coming off the high of getting married five days ago, being surrounded by friends and family from all over the world and showered with their love and good vibes, and then this morning waking up to a siren that depleted me of all motivation to continue the day. I finally got to the office, where a co-worker smiled at me and said hi, I returned both the smile and the hi, and we parted. 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.” (Read on)

tel aviv

(This piece was part of the “July Story Journal,” which featured a different story or reflection almost every day in July. Here is the rest of the July Story Journal). 

7. Eight Questions About the “Oops” Justification (July 23rd, 2014)

 ”Isn’t it clear which side is the side of moral decency?


It is not clear.

1. If your siblings and cousins were killed by a massive bomb, would you be comforted by the reassurance that that bomb was actually intended to kill their neighbor?

2. 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?

3. One could argue that Hamas has been shooting “warning missiles” at the South of Israel for the past decade, or at Tel Aviv over the past month. Is the blood of the people in Sderot on their own hands if they refused to flee? And mine?” (Read on).

Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 6.43.19 PM

9. Guest post by Yuval Orr: “Pack of hypocritical, traitorous autoantisemites” (July 13th, 2014)

”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.” (Read on).

Screen shot 2014-07-03 at 12.51.31 AM

(This piece was part of the “July Story Journal,” which featured a different story or reflection almost every day in July. Here is the rest of the July Story Journal). 

10. Four suggestions for an American Jew navigating Israel-Palestine discourse during the Gaza crisis and in general (August 15th, 2014)

”I come from an orthodox background, and the fact that I am no longer religious makes my opinions even more easily dismissable. Right now I’m just at ‘I refuse to take sides’ and ‘I don’t want to talk about this.’ Neither of which are honest… I was thinking there are likely many others like me, so it might make a good blog post, offering some sort of advice for Jews living in America faced with the eerily one-sided dialogue that is all too common in our communities.”

This was part of an email I recently received from a friend of a friend. She said that she has been reading this blob, and has found points of resonance and hope, and continued with the above. I responded, asking her to write some specific questions. Her questions are below, with my suggested answers after each. (Read on).

11. Guest post by Amani Rohana: “A Conversation That’s Been Had (A Story from a Bus in Jerusalem). 

”I was waiting for the bus when the lady asked what time it was, and when she couldn’t figure out my accent from the few words I exchanged, she kept talking until she was sure I was Arab. For the past 4 years, being an Arab usually meant that I was spared whatever “conversation” is about to come. Lately, being an Arab means the exact opposite. It means that inevitably, things are going to happen, I am going to be asked to talk about my “Arabhood,” about how moral the Israeli “Defense” forces are, and about how good it is to be a “citizen” of the Jewish state.” (Read on).


(This piece was part of the “July Story Journal,” which featured a different story or reflection almost every day in July. Here is the rest of the July Story Journal).

12. BREAKING NEWS: Hillel International Revises Campus Guidelines [*SATIRE*] (April 3rd, 2014).

”Hillel will not partner with, house, or host organizations, groups, or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice:

(A) deny the right of Israelis and Palestinians to exist and live in personal and collective safety, security, freedom, equality and peace, regardless of border-arrangements or lack thereof.

(B) demonize Israelis or Palestinians — or African Asylum Seekers or Orthodox Christians or Mizrahi Jews or Filipino Migrant Workers or any other national, religious, social, ethnic, racial or identity-based collective of human beings.**

(C) support violence -defined as an act aimed to kill, or severely harm, physically or spiritually, another human being or human beings- against Israelis or Palestinians or any other group. Examples of violence include: blowing up busesopening fire on busesshooting rockets at civilian-populated areas, dropping bombs (or white phosphorus) on civilian-populated areas, night raids, arbitrary detentions without trialmurdering kids as they try to gather weeds, murdering families, including children and infants, as they sleep, torturing children, and so on. Examples of violence do not include: Harshly worded critiques, soldiers’ testimonies of abuses they witnessed, advocacy of economic boycottsdivesting from corporations, et cetera.” (Read on).

13. Guest post by ”E”: The Orange Tree: An Israeli reserve soldier speaks about loss (August 1st, 2014)

”You can continue with the regular rituals. Tell yourself it still isn’t close “enough”, isn’t really part of your inner circle, or alternately prove how close it actually is and therefore hurts so much. His parents pray at your synagogue, and your younger sister knew him through the Bnei Akiva youth movement. He studied in high school with kids you counseled, and even served in your first army unit.

But you decide to focus on this small, banal memory. The orange tree. Even though years have passed, experiences have been experienced, and who even remembers that anyway. And suddenly a realization seeps in. You begin to understand that the circles of pain and loss are wider and slipperier and more evasive than you could ever describe or imagine.” (Read on)

Photo: Creative Commons
Photo: Creative Commons

(This piece was part of the “July Story Journal,” which featured a different story or reflection almost every day in July. Here is the rest of the July Story Journal).

14. Guest post by Hannah Stonebraker: A Simple Manifesto: They too are people (A photo essay). 

”One must recognize they too are people.” (Read and look on)

Photography by Hannah Stonebreaker
Photography by Hannah Stonebreaker


Which is a good note to end on. Thank you all, contributors, readings, askers, doers. May this next year be less violent and more humane, less ugly and more decent.