Opinion |

If I Were God, I Would Command Israelis to Observe Yom Kippur for 48 Days

Sana Knaneh
Jewish men cross an intersection at the gateway to Jerusalem, just after sunset and the start of Yom Kippur, this month.
Jewish men cross an intersection at the gateway to Jerusalem, just after sunset and the start of Yom Kippur, this month.Credit: Maya Alleruzzo,AP
Sana Knaneh

If I were God, I would command you to observe Yom Kippur for 48 days.

The Day of Atonement is over, but I’m not sure for what most members of the Jewish people asked forgiveness. I don’t think many sought atonement from Allah for the Nakba.

I want to tell the Jewish people what I, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, do not forgive them for. And why I would command them to fast for 48 days of atonement if I were the God of everyone.

I do not forgive any Jew who, when I tried to tell them about the Nakba, burst into tears over the Holocaust and silenced my pain.

Nor any Jew who seeks to perpetuate the Zionist aggression, which is meant to force us to accept the state of the Jews by capitulation rather than by consent, and even calls this aggression “desensitization.”

Nor any Zionist Jew who has chosen to be blind and refused to see the suffering their people have brought upon the Palestinian people, every day and in a million different ways, simply to avoid feeling guilty.

Nor Diaspora Jews for being coarse, egotistical and cowardly, because they are willing to let Palestinian refugees continue to wander around the world – some of them in subhuman conditions in refugee camps – so that they can have a house in Herzliya or in Jaffa where they can spend the Jewish holidays.

Nor any Jew who immigrated to Israel knowing their life was not in danger, and by coming here reduced the chances of a Palestinian refugee being allowed back as part of a possible peace agreement.

Nor any Jew who immigrated here and pretended not to know that in order for her to have a home, the Israel Lands Administration stole the land of Hala’il Jaris from my family in order to build the community of Mitzpeh Aviv.

Nor any Jewish organization that runs a program like Masa or Taglit-Birthright Israel and brainwashes young Jews to convince them to move to Israel, without informing them that our homes were destroyed as part of the Israeli government’s attempt to reduce the area of Arab towns and villages in favor of expanding that of Jewish communities in order to accommodate the immigrants.

Nor any Jew who calls himself a peace activist while urging us, the Palestinian citizens of Israel – residents of Jisr al-Zarqa or any other town – to gush over Juha’s Guesthouse, which was built on the ruins of the village and is meant for Jewish and Arab guests so that it can make a claim of “coexistence” in Israel.

Nor any Jew who ever did or will ask or expect me to ease her guilt feelings about Zionism, the same Zionism that crushes and tramples my people.

Nor any Zionist Jew who worked with me on any peace initiative out of the hidden agenda of improving Israel’s image abroad rather than a genuine desire to hasten the end of the occupation.

Nor any Jew who calls themself a “peace activist” and sleeps soundly while knowing they could have prevented an incident of racism or discrimination, even within their own organization, but chose to remain silent so as to look good and not to wash dirty laundry in public.

Nor any Zionist Jew who expected me to dance at some tatbia (normalization) party so that they would feel safe and accepted in the Middle East.

Nor any Jew who expected me to celebrate the “use once and discard” pattern that has characterized the behavior of successive Israeli governments toward Arab Knesset members, including when the United Arab List joined the current government.

Nor any Jew who chooses to call Palestinian children whose lives have been ruined by the occupation “terrorists” and who turned them into security prisoners in order to ease their conscience of the burden of the injustice of stealing their freedom.

Nor any Jew who sleeps soundly as long as they are fine, far from the suffering of the Palestinians, even while knowing in their heart of hearts that their state was born in sin and continues to sin against my people, the Palestinian people, yet asks me for a declaration that will absolve them of guilt in the name of the suffering of the Jewish people, which is supposed to justify the suffering they have brought upon the Palestinian people.

I do not forgive! And if I were God, I would command all of you to fast for 48 days of Yom Kippur, so that you would remember the number 48 very well, together with the meanings it holds in the collective memory of my people.

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