What’s the “Jewish Identity Administration” to me? | Machsomwatch
אורנית, מהצד הזה של הגדר

What’s the “Jewish Identity Administration” to me?

Raya Yaron


I grew up in Kibbutz Ginegar, raised according to values of the Zionism that was being reborn.  Those values still guide me today.  There was no need then for an “administration” to “administer” those values.  For my father, a member of the Second Aiiyah, Zionism meant establishing a home for the Jewish people.  We proudly made our donations to the JNF.  We were taught the IDF was Israel’s defense force.


Today, when I seek what remains of those values, I’m downcast in embarrassment.  Zionism, as a movement, ignored the local population, tried to distance it.  The names of localities were Hebraized – Jinjer became Ginegar, Na’alul became Nahalal, etc.


The IDF was transformed from an army of defense into an army of occupation (maybe that’s what it had always been), spending most of its time policing and carrying out nighttime operations for wanted men in the occupied territories.  Those operations, including violent raids into homes in the middle of the night, create more wanted men.


The Jewish National Fund, which purchased land only for Jews, is now demolishing the Bedouin locality of Al-Araqib, which existed before the state was established, in order to replace it with a farm that will be only for Jews.  We read recently that the Zionist Organization allocated to Jewish settlers in the Jordan Valley 5,000 dunums of privately-privately owned Palestinian land, for agriculture.  Is that what “Justice, justice thou shall pursue” means?


And now there’s a new Zionism, one that needs an “administration.”  The money it receives will be used to invade public schools and teach the children how to be Jews, a Judaism guided by Naftali Bennet’s rabbis:  orthodox, racist, separatist, glorifying and idealizing the settlement undertaking.


For years we, members of Machsom Watch, have been coming regularly to the occupied territories, discovering the injustices done to the Palestinians in the name of Judaism and “our right to the land.”  Restrictions on free movement, theft of land and water, shameful pay for the few Palestinian workers “lucky enough” to work in Israel or in the settlements (in “The Fading Valley,” Irit Gal’s documentary about the Jordan Valley, one Palestinian reveals the amount of his wage:  60-70 shekels for a ten-hour day.  Not in an air-conditioned office, but in the Jordan Valley, where the temperature is 104 degrees.


To make life even harder, checkpoints have been erected that often delay for hours Palestinians trying to reach their destinations, and regulations have been invented to determine who has a right to work and who doesn’t.  Restrictions on agricultural production, harassment and destruction of olive trees by settlers which a forgiving public characterizes as “weeds,” “kids,” “rootless.”  It’s them, not us.


For me, Jewish identity involves universal values.  Values that are only for Jews aren’t values at all.  They’re nothing more than racism.  Sounding a ram’s horn before battle is a call to the Lord, not in self-defense.


My own store of values is full.  So why do they keep trying to empty it by using “Jewish identity” as a slogan?