Re: [sixties-l] request for help:past and present

From: Jeffrey Blankfort (
Date: 09/14/00

  • Next message: Jeffrey Blankfort: "Re: [sixties-l] list rants and flames"

    M Brody poses a problem which for him, personally, is his own creation.
    He decided to live in a religious Jewish "settlement" on occupied
    Palestinian land, and he is evidently resigned to what he believes will
    be the inevitable necessity of killing Palestinians who object to his
    continued occupation of that land. In making that statement, I assume
    that the "settlement" is not within the confines of what is today
    Israel's self-declared borders. 
    Although I am Jewish, my experiences and position re Israel are very
    different.  In 1970, I went as a photographer with Liberation News
    Service to live in and photograph Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon
    and Jordan, and spent four months sharing, to the extent such was
    possible, the Palestinian experience. It was not pretty, seeing what
    happened to some of the 750,000 people who were forced from their
    homeland by the creation of Israel in 1948, and who had not given up
    hopes of going back. (In fact, a major demonstration will be held this
    Saturday in Washington, defending the Palestinians' Right of Return.)
    I returned in 1983 for another four months, a year after Israel's bloody
    invasion of Lebanon, and before going to Lebanon, I interviewed a number
    of Israeli reservists who had opposed their country's handiwork in
    Lebanon, some who had refused to go in the first place, and others who
    refused to return after seeing the atrocities that the Israeli military
    had committed there and chose to go to jail rather than return. 
    M Brody's question is best answered by a story told to me by one of
    those reservists, Gideon Spiro, who in 1973, had been recognized as a
    "war hero" in Israel when he jumped behind Egyptian lines. 
    Spiro, one of the founders of the Israeli Committee Against the War,
    found himself at a party at a kibbutz in which an Israeli commander was
    bemoaning how he had been "forced" to have his men fire at a hospital in
    Southern Lebanon when Palestinian fighters had taken refuge there, and
    how it had turned into an ugly, bloody affair.
    When he finished speaking, Spiro, who happens to be a very large and
    tough guy, shouted to him that he was a "war criminal," and that when he
    made his decision to participate in the invasion, he had made the
    decision to fire into the hospital.
    So, I say to M Brody, think about what you were doing in the 60s and see
    if what you are doing and where you are doing it today is not
    inconsistent with what you were doing back then, and then be ready to
    take responsibility for your actions.
    Jeff Blankfort
     M Brody wrote:
    > In the light of Country Joe's post about ranters and flamers destroying the
    > list, maybe I should add my request for help, before you all leave...
    > My problem is coming to grips with the present, in light of the past:
    > the Past:
    > organizing against the war [1966, Century City LA "hey hey LBJ, how many
    > kids did you kill today?"]
    > against the draft [Oakland Induction Center- meeting the kids being hustled
    > off the buses, pleading/dragging them down to "last chance draft counseling"]
    > helping to build People's Park in '69, and then patching up our wounded as
    > a medic during the struggle against the combined Bay area police forces and
    > the national guard.
    > After I got my "1A", I asked the Berkeley draft board to accept me as a
    > medical corpsman [unarmed], but they just laughed at me ["You can't be a
    > conscientious objector boy, you're not religious!"].
    > in Between:
    > ten years Underground in the forests of New England till finally Jimmy
    > Carter gives me a passport- and I leave Amerika behind.
    > Getting to Israel, I work on a Kibbutz, learn Talmud, become a citizen,
    > and... join the Army as a combat medic [even though already past age 30]
    > and delude myself that maybe, just maybe I can finally kiss goodbye to
    > Vietnam [where I wasn't] and all my friends [class of '68] that ended up on
    > that long black wall...
    > join a religious settlement, build a home, plant an organic vineyard, raise
    > kids, do my annual army reserve duty, cross the age of 50 ...
    > the Present:
    > as I write this to all of you, I look out the window from my home on a hill
    > overlooking the city of Nablus [Palestinian Autonomy] less than 5
    > kilometers away.  For the past few months every night is a super concert
    > and light show-
    > bursts of automatic weapons fire, tracers painting the sky, fireworks and
    > occasional unidentified "BOOM".  There's almost no fighting going on- this
    > is just their preliminary enthusiasm...
    > I'm very sure that sometime in the immediate future my Palestinian cousins
    > from down below will stop shooting randomly into the air, and start to
    > climb up this hill I am sitting on, and there I will stand with my
    > neighbors to meet them, and blood will flow.  Lots of blood...
    > I have been downloading lots of 60's songs from the internet, songs I
    > haven't heard for 30 years.   Phil Ochs: "I ain't a marchin' anymore"...
    > I have always thought  that people really don't change, even as they
    > mature, gain experience, learn the hard way, etc... the ideals remain.  I
    > also feel that I am on a fairly straight path that connects past with
    > present without any reversals.  But now I feel it is all coming to a head,
    > all boiling down to that instant in time, very close to now when I raise my
    > Amerikan made M-16, and carefully line up front and rear sights with the
    > chest of he who is running towards me [holding his Russian made AK-47
    > pointed straight at me], and decide if to squeeze the trigger...
    > I would welcome your comments...
    > Menachem Brody
    > Elon Moreh
    > Israel

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