We’ll All Be Punished for the Eviction of Givat Amal

Yair Assulin
Yair Assulin
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A protest by residents and activists in the Givat Amal Bet nighborhood of Tel Aviv, on Monday.
Yair Assulin
Yair Assulin

Tel Aviv will be punished for the eviction of Givat Amal. The State of Israel will be punished for the eviction of Givat Amal. Israelis will be punished for the eviction of Givat Amal. Not mythical punishments, not some lighting from heaven or a tsunami from the sea, nor simplistic punishments of physical revenge, God forbid.

Deep, emotional punishments, of the kind that derive from the situation itself, that derive from the very basic fact that injustices seep into the soul of society exactly as they seep into the soul of the place, and always muddy it from the inside in the end.

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One can look away, one can promote another public relations campaign of some kind, one can throw slime or simply remain silent, everything is possible – after all, we do that repeatedly in so many other spheres – but it’s impossible to evade this basic truth.

Those who understand something about the way stories work, in other words, about the way human awareness works, organizes, grows and survives, must understand that an event like the eviction of Givat Amal last week – even if only few people paid attention to it – is a blow by the government and the establishment to the soul of the human society that lives here.

And no less than that – and the depth of self-deception on this matter is heartbreaking – it is also a blow by the establishment against itself, against the remains of the trust that people still have in it, against words such as “justice” and “law” and “loyalty,” which it uses in order to motivate people to act.

After all, what is this aggressive eviction of Givat Amal – with large police forces, without even honoring the commitments that were already made – if not the ultimate illustration of the wide gap between the government, the establishment, the justice that it purports to represent, the law in whose name it speaks and acts, democracy and the people themselves, those whose interests it is supposed to safeguard and fight for.

Kafka in north Tel Aviv: The government, which promised the citizens to be their patron, to be God, is unable to provide a true solution for shelter from the rain.

And yes, Tel Aviv will also be punished for the eviction of Givat Amal. It won’t be tomorrow, but it will be punished. Disgust accumulates slowly, as do contempt and lack of trust and anger, and worst of all, indifference and alienation.

Tel Aviv is bringing them on itself in many ways. Givat Amal, its eviction, the municipality’s cooperation with this injustice, the profound estrangement of “Tel Aviv” from “Givat Amal,” the huge profit from the sale of the land, all that is already seeping into the true story of Tel Aviv.

Not the Tel Aviv that has been created artificially, rooted in a yearning for the past, covering itself with high-flown words, but the one that is actually coming into being, that is bubbling beneath the surface, in the unconscious of the onlookers, the one that in the final analysis is the only source of the city’s inexplicable vitality.

All the Israelis will also be punished for Givat Amal, for their silence, for thinking that it’s “them” and not “us,” for their lack of interest, the shrugging of shoulders, but most of all, for their inability or unwillingness to understand the degree to which this story, in all of its various manifestations – which are profoundly entwined with the pretense and the split personality of the Israeli story – is actually their story, your story, our story.

Not a story that “was,” but actually a forceful illustration of the story that will be, of the fight for freedom that will only become more extreme, of the blank stare with which the government regards the people while sending police officers to evict them from the home where it placed them.

And meanwhile, more and more “new fascists” who consider themselves liberals, who probably didn’t even say anything regarding the issue of Givat Amal, explain to us that if we only allow the government to “rein in” the technological revolution – which in fact strengthens fights for freedom, like the battle of the residents of Givat Amal, which gives them and us a voice – things will be better.

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