To the sound of drums, the songs and slogans of the Israelis that every Friday demonstrate in the Gardens of Sheikh Jarrah, occupied East Jerusalem, capture the senses and taint with magic the struggle against apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Enchanted by the music, I asked an Israeli girl about the song, the message she was carrying: “it is an Israeli folk song of which we have changed the words” she said. An ingenious transformation directed to the conscience of the Israeli society, a qualitative change in the fight for Human Rights.
Soon I could spot who – armed with a loud speaker – directed the choir, not being intimidated by the soldiers in front; a patrol of the so-called IDF that, with assault weaponry, recorded the event from the beginning to end; neither by the policemen stationed nearby. Sara Benninga, a student of fine arts 28 years old, is the leader (at least one of them) of The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, the flowers’ movement; those of the eponymous Gardens. With them they approach the victims of a messianic project of colonization to offer them their compassion and solidarity; flowers instead of guns, walls and barbed wires.
They are a minority, small, but their symbolic value far exceeds what the silent majority in Israel can withstand. They have already won the (moral) battle, that of the spirit of humanity against God’s determinism, the one that would have promised the land of Palestine to his chosen people; they are the winners, now and in the times to come. Then they will be remembered as those who did not remain silent and were not drawn by the crowd, those who were not intimidated by the might of one of the most powerful states in the world. The Jewish State that, for Christian Zionists, particularly American Evangelicals, would be a wish of God and a clear sign of the arrival of the Messiah. An entity (fiction as they are all) product of a historical aberration that, armed and protected by the U.S., has a nuclear arsenal which international hypocrisy prevents all discussion of; unlike the one Persia is suspected of being able to acquire in the future, just that much larger. For mainstream Israelis, Sara and her colleagues are traitor-like fellow citizens. However, it depends on them to change the final course of history in Palestine that – since the demise of the Sublime Porte – seems to be determined by the stars. The same ones that sealed the fate of al-Andalus, a country of Jews, Christians and Muslims (i.e.: people) in Europe a long time ago that had the same fortune; that of being re-conquered.
The demonstrations of The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, started in late 2009, are joined by a handful of international activists from so-called Western countries (those of the OECD) that, despite the tough screenings are able to sneak through the airport of Tel Aviv, former Lydda, on whose debris was built the State of God. Among them was Jimmy Carter, former US President and the architect of Camp David, currently short of a pariah in Israel. Most of them are young people with the same spirit, nonconformist with doom, the one probably epitomized by apartheid and the West Bank Wall.
Sara and her colleagues assert their views with the security that gives them the Israeli citizenship and, above all, the fact of being Jews; something stated in the passports to prevent any misunderstanding. The same security enjoyed by Westerners travelling across the Occupied Territories; secure not only as citizens (unlike the Palestinians) but also first class ones. But also aware that too much defiance can make them a Western martyr of the occupation. One like Rachel Corrie, the American girl 23 years old that defied a Caterpillar bulldozer of the Israeli army in front of a Palestinian house in Gaza; the very Israeli housing policy in the territories occupied since 1967.