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Anat Kamm, Let’s Talk About Palestinian Flags

חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli
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Palestinian flags seen at the Nakba Day protest at Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, Israel, this month.
Palestinian flags seen at the Nakba Day protest at Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, Israel, this month. Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli

This week, an intolerable sight was observed at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev: dozens of students raising Palestinian flags at a rally to mark Nakba Day, which was organized by the Arab students at the university. It was so shocking that quite a few Israeli patriots couldn’t stand it.

It turns out that it’s not only the garden variety right-winger who finds Palestinian flags an eyesore, but so does the Zionist left, who are suspected of being Arab-lovers and try with all their might to avoid being labeled “traitor” and “Israel basher.” That’s why Anat Kamm believes that “We must be allowed to talk about it. Because the Zionist left is the Palestinians’ only partner on either side of the Green Line.”

So let’s talk about it. First of all, let’s start with the question: “What’s the difference between the two? In other words, the Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. Is the battle of the former against discrimination equal to the battle of the latter against the occupation?” Well, both of them think that the battle against discrimination and the battle against the occupation are two sides of the same coin. This coin is called “Jewish supremacy,” and however you flip it, it always falls on the head of an Arab and crushes him.

Kamm claims that “These flags make our stomach churn … because, at least this week, it felt like the opposition was toward the very existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. The desire for a Palestinian state instead of Israel, not alongside it.”

Okay, we have to admit that on this point, Kamm is not entirely wrong. Quite a number of Arab citizens really do oppose Israel’s existence as a “Jewish and democratic” state, for the simple reason that it cannot be Jewish and democratic at the same time.

What turns Kamm’s stomach may be what she wants to deny and repress: That the Arabs in Israel want to live in a state with full equal rights, without first-class and lower-class citizens – but Israel can't imagine allowing them this self-evident thing.

After all, raising the flags is also a protest over the endless attempts by Israeli governments to repress, cancel and deny a Palestinian national identity among citizens of the country (the nation-state law). The anger at that increases on Palestinian national holidays, like Nakba Day (which many Israelis dub “Nakba Harta” or “Nakba Bullshit”) or Land Day. Kamm should reserve the stomach aches for days when laws such as the nation-state law are approved in the Knesset and met with Israeli cries of joy.

Kamm goes on to claim that “One of the expressions of identity politics is the expectation that others, certainly those who belong to the ‘hegemony,’ cannot discuss subjects that they don’t have personal experience with due to their identities.” That’s not accurate. The expectation of someone who belongs to the oppressing and discriminating side is that he should not be satisfied with recognizing the fact that he belongs to the side of the oppressor, but that he should understand that oppression has a real price, and raising Palestinian flags is a very low price.

As far as the implied threat at the end of the article (“Anyone who can’t talk to a left-wing Zionist about the problematic nature of dozens of Palestinian flags being flown by Israeli citizens, will be facing threats of a second Nakba from Likud MK Yisrael Katz”): Well, if Kamm thinks that it makes a difference to a Palestinian if he is confronting an overt racist like Katz, or camouflaged and well-behaved racists like the Zionist left, she is mistaken. Some of these nice people are responsible for the greatest crimes committed against the Palestinians.

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