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Writing Not to Them, and Not-writing to Them

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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A building being torn down in the Wadi Hummus neighborhood, part of the village of Sur Baher in East Jerusalem, on July 22, 2019.
A building being torn down in the Wadi Hummus neighborhood, part of the village of Sur Baher in East Jerusalem, on July 22, 2019.Credit: HAZEM BADER / AFP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

When I don’t write, for whom don’t I write? Just as writing entails an expectation that someone will take an interest and read, the same is true of not writing: It also sees before it a target audience of non-readers.

When I skip over another detail, and another one and another 30, in the story of our foreign, hostile rule over the Palestinians, and don’t report them, it’s not only because there are so many details, and there is need for a large staff of reporters to process all of them into orderly news stories. It’s not only because there aren’t enough editors to edit the stories and enough pages in the newspaper to contain them, or enough slots allocated to news from Mars on the home page of the website.

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When I don’t write, I’m thinking about those who don’t read in order not to know, because they know that knowledge is the path to awareness, and awareness is the key to essential action.

These words are being written on Monday morning, just at the time a gigantic force of policemen and soldiers is providing backup for preparations for the demolition of 13 buildings in the Wadi Hummus neighborhood, which is a part of the village of Sur Baher in East Jerusalem.

Activists, including quite a number of Jews from the American group All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective, who have been at the site for several days, have been sending photographs and videos in real time, since 3 A.M. The first, at about 4 A.M., when it was still dark, showed a crane with its arm extended toward an unoccupied eight-story building. The soldiers removed boxes from it and scattered them among the floors. Explosive devices, concluded the activists. Shortly after 8 A.M. they sent a photo with the smoke and dust rising from the explosion.

My non-readers are not the residents of the ever-expanding settlements and outposts – all of them illegal, all of them aggressive predators – that I pass by every day. The non-readers are not their representatives in the steadily strengthening, transfer-minded, right-wing parties.

Nor is the not-writing aimed at the soldiers and policemen whose job is to safeguard the illegal enterprise: They are too young, too gung-ho, to understand what is left unwritten and what is written. Let’s hope that some of them will join Breaking the Silence some day.

Nor are the non-readers the Supreme Court justices, who will be asked today, Monday, by the government to approve another method of forced removal of West Bank Palestinian communities and the demolition of their homes. (My apologies to my friends attorneys Tawfik Jabarin and Neta Amar Schiff, who filed the petitions against the order to destroy the communities of Jabal al-Baba east of Jerusalem and Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jamal in the northern Jordan Valley: I won’t be able to attend the court proceedings because I have to go to the ghost town of Hebron). The justices, as non-readers in the past, have already proven that they are groupies of former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, even before Ayelet Shaked and her war against the justice system were invented.

I saw you, my non-readers, during a rare visit to Tel Aviv a few days ago, between Dizengoff and Allenby Streets. How pleasant and welcoming this city is, what an atmosphere of freedom and serenity it radiates. Even the summer humidity doesn’t spoil it. You, my designated non-readers, represent many others and definitely not only in Tel Aviv, whose life experiences and education enable them to understand that denying liberty to the “other” is wrong. And also a two-edged sword.

Ethiopian Israelis, feminists, LGBTQ people, Arab Jews, second- and third-generation descendants of Holocaust survivors, cottage-cheese warriors, students and teachers of history and philosophy. I once expected them and others to make their voices heard, to oppose the evil. Not to be blinded by the gains yielded by evil, but to join the few who do dare to resist and thereby increase their numbers and power. And because I have given up, I am writing not to them, and not-writing to them.

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