Labeled a Traitor, She Fled Israel. Now She Wants to Deconstruct Zionism

Cabinet ministers accused her of treason and she routinely received threats on her life. Yuli Novak, who headed the anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence, felt that her only recourse was to flee. After a long journey far from Israel, she concluded that the Israeli left must now take more radical directions

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Yuli Novak
Yuli Novak.
Shany Littman
Shany Littman

Something or someone behind my back is stressing Yuli Novak out. She’s talking to me, but her eyes are constantly darting beyond me, and she’s not finishing completing her sentences. Turning around, I see a young guy standing at a distance of about a meter from me, seemingly immersed in his phone.

“I don’t like the looks of him,” murmurs Novak. At the far end of the square, not far from us, a line of people wait to enter the tent where COVID tests are being administered. Novak continues to stare at the guy with the phone and finally says hello to him. A brief conversation reveals that he’s waiting his turn to be tested, and in the meantime is roaming around a little. The possibility that he is infectious provides a good excuse for asking him with a smile to move off, without having to explain that the real reason has nothing to do with the pandemic and everything with the feeling of fear, or paranoia, that strikes Novak whenever she returns to Habima Square in central Tel Aviv. It was here that she first felt that her life was in danger.

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