The photographs of two cemeteries come to mind as I think about my journey away from my former Zionist self. In the first photograph I am a skinny five years old, holding my beautiful blond mother’s hand as we are paying our respects at the funeral of Theodore Herzl, the so called founding father of Zionism. Herzl died in Vienna in 1904 but his remains were reburied in 1949 in the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, named in his memory.
I was born in Haifa, Palestine. My parents’ nationalities were registered as ‘Palestinian’ by the British Mandate authorities, yet the State of Israel re-issued my birth certificate in which my birthplace was changed to ‘Israel’, even though I was born four years before the state. I grew up in Israel, the daughter of migrants from Bucovina, Romania who did not question the Zionist colonization of Palestine.
The second photograph is of two tombstones, taken in December 2016 when I travelled to Haifa to bid my last farewell to my parents in their resting place on the slopes of Mount Carmel, during what was to be my last visit to my former country.
A long time passed between my two cemetery experiences, as other cemeteries were filling with the graves of Palestinian men, women and children murdered by the Israeli racial colony, and of Israel’s sons and daughters, conscripted to kill for their state.
Continue reading “Two cemetries: Waking from my Zionist dream”
Journal of Holyland and Palestine Studies 19(2)
In Traces of Racial Exception, Ronit Lentin prefaces her book with a list of crimes that the Israeli settler-state committed against the indigenous peoples of Palestine. After each crime, Lentin concludes with but that’s not who we are, we are better than this (vii–viii). This stylistic and sarcastic approach not only introduces the readers into the overarching argument of the book but also functions as the author’s firm declaration of positionality as a member of the colonising collectivity (7). Therefore, this book is not about Palestine — since Lentin cannot speak for or on behalf of the Palestinians — but, rather, it is about Israel or the perpetrators and the permanent war against the Palestinians. Lentin’s book particularly focuses on the centrality of race to the Israeli rule of Palestine (3). To illustrate and support this overarching claim, the book initiates each chapter with an example of the daily crimes of the Israel state, that are racially motivated, against the Palestinians and Arab-Jews. Then, Lentin moves to theoretical debates and conversations that connect the lived experiences of the Palestinians with the academic efforts to theorise this case of colonisation. Her book becomes an attempt to understand the puzzle of the Zionists’ rule over Palestine that is only comprehensible, she concludes, through the lens of race.
Continue reading “Ronit Lentin, Traces of Racial Exception: Racializing Israeli Settler Colonialism”