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MITA'AM - A Review of Literature and Radical Thought, Edited by Yitzhak Laor


STEEPED : In The World of Tea. A Literay anthology


Haaretz English edition, another omission:

Don’t Use My Mother’s Blood

I lost my mother to a cruel, tendentious, and unnecessary war. It must not be annexed to the occupation propaganda corps

Tamara Schreiber*

Translated by Daphna Baram

29 Feb, 2004

On Monday, February 23, our finest boys rallied in the streets of The Hague, wielding – against the enemy who lays siege to our wall – the doomsday weapon: the corpses of Israeli citizens. 1250 names, 927 photos. Anxiety choked me for a few seconds when I came across this piece of information.

Will she be there too? Could they pinch my own dead out of her grave and march her through the streets, a smiling Shaheedah, to fight in the Israeli government’s Jihad? Dare they? I feared they might. Not long ago I had learned that every year her name is read out in Memorial Day services for the IDF dead. Who asked me anyway?

The big attraction in the Wall campaign was the burnt skeleton of bus number 19 which was hit in Jerusalem. The bus is an excellent gimmick. In my case it managed to undo the lace of feelings, and throw me ten years back in time, to the afternoon of April 6, 1994, the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day when my mother, Ilanna Schreiber, was waiting for another bus in the city of Afula. There was a bombing there too.

The government of Israel and its spin doctors have coined a new incendiary equation: Wall = no bombings. They present terrorist victims as the accusers in a bogus public trial. It is a brilliant trick; Try telling an orphan, a widow or a bereaved mother that a “fence against terror” is a bad thing. How can one look them in the eye and wave statistics about 875,000 Palestinians harmed, about 65% of the agricultural land they’d lose, about inaccessible hospitals and families broken in two on different sides of the barrier? How would one point out to them that only in Newspeak could a wall eight meters high be called “a fence”?

Embarrassing. It seems that there’s not much to say, really, except “Touché! Ariel.” We shall be here, they will be there, and peace may be on Israel. But these mighty barriers begin to crack when it becomes clear that not only the court in The Hague retains the liberty to decide who is representative and who is not; a selection takes place on the Israeli side as well.

The official and semi-official Israeli delegations to The Hague are to include only those who support Israel’s position, said Deputy Foreign Office Director Gideon Meir. There is no shortage in those who libel Israel, he added. In other words: lefties are dirty linen, not to be hung on fences. But how about lefties who are also “terrorist” victims? Those who won’t abide by “Israel’s position” about the fence, and the occupation in general, but are mobilized carry this bomb on their backs by silent consent?

I did not apply for a ticket to The Hague, but I suspect that should I have sent my curriculum vitae (and Mortem), and explained that from my point of view generations of Israeli governments are responsible to my being an orphan, and that the wall is not a cure for my injuries, but more like salt rub, they would find me unqualified for service in the propaganda corps.

For only a mad woman could present such a bogus equation: minus plus minus, occupation plus an apartheid wall, equals a sea of death. Death is the most personal thing in the world. The cruelest truth, distilled by the loss of a loved one, is that in mourning one is always on one’s own; a person, not a people.

I am not pretending to be innocent. Obviously, death in a bombing has roots and political implications. But in Israel, where the politicization of such death is always connected to a wish to expand the circle of bloody revenge, even insistence on retaining one’s personal pain has become an ideology.

For ten years I was not really able, or willing, to get out of this closet. Today I cracked. I realized that my silence is compliance, a blank ballot, equally split between parties I would never vote for, not in my worst nightmares. So here, I place a different ballot in the box: I am the victim of hostile attack, I lost my mother to a cruel, tendentious, and unnecessary war. Millions of arrested, starved, humiliated, or dead Palestinians couldn’t fill the void inside me. On the contrary, each death in this symbiosis of violence makes it deeper. This blood is not a national asset to be incorporated and used as oil in the wheels of the occupation machine. You are not allowed to annex my tragedy.


Tamara Schreiber is an Israeli journalist. This article appeared in the Hebrew edition of Israeli daily Haaretz.