Stop the Show, But Continue with the Education


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“Our work is in the field of education, teaching and research. We study the Occupation, analyze what it is doing to people on both sides of the border, and discover instances of social injustice (inside Israel proper as well). Those of us who are also activists are working on the creation of a different reality: a reality without Occupation, and without infringements of human and civil rights.

“Therefore, we must go anywhere and talk with anyone, even if it is really very hard for them to listen to what we have to say and for us to listen to what they have to say, even if they express anger and resentment, and we feel anger and resentment, even if they do not respond politely to what we have to say, and we have to struggle to respond to them in a polite manner. We have to go anywhere and talk with anyone in order to spread our knowledge, our insights, our understandings and our experience in peace building and elimination of social injustices.

“We do not have the privilege to say: “I won’t go there and talk to them.” As opposed to the Israeli artists, our ‘show’ must go on….”

Author: Julia Chaitin, Ph.D., professor in the Dept. of Social Work – Sapir Academic College, Israel
Published in: Huntington News Network (at http://www.huntingtonnews.net/)
Date: September 1, 2010

For the full article:
Stop the Show, But Continue with the Education
(629 words)
by Julia Chaitin, Ph.D.

More than 270 Israeli academics have signed a petition supporting the Israeli actors and artists who, earlier this week, publicly announced that they refuse to perform in Jewish settlements across the Green Line, in the West Bank. The artists state that they will not entertain the settlers.

In the academics’ petition, they write that they, too, will not participate in any lectures or seminars in any of the settlements.

I support the actors, and I signed a petition expressing this support. I wrote talk-backs supporting their stance. In my opinion, they are brave people for they came out publicly against the injustices of the Occupation, and put their own careers and livelihood at risk.

I do not buy products made in Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories. I do not participate in any activity that could be construed as giving legitimacy to the Ariel University Center of Samaria.

However, I cannot sign the academics’ petition for the following reasons: In contrast to the artists (the actors, directors, writers etc), we are academics. A number of us are also peace and social justice activists. Our work is not connected to art, leisure or entertainment.

Our work is in the field of education, teaching and research. We study the Occupation, analyze what it is doing to people on both sides of the border, and discover instances of social injustice (inside Israel proper as well). Those of us who are also activists are working on the creation of a different reality: a reality without Occupation, and without infringements of human and civil rights.

Therefore, we must go anywhere and talk with anyone, even if it is really very hard for them to listen to what we have to say and for us to listen to what they have to say, even if they express anger and resentment, and we feel anger and resentment, even if they do not respond politely to what we have to say, and we have to struggle to respond to them in a polite manner. We have to go anywhere and talk with anyone in order to spread our knowledge, our insights, our understandings and our experience in peace building and elimination of social injustices.

We do not have the privilege to say: “I won’t go there and talk to them.” As opposed to the Israeli artists, our ‘show’ must go on.

In spite of all of the difficulties (and it IS very difficult for us to speak to ideological settlers), we need to use our expertise in education and teaching to reach more and more people and to undertake discussions that deal with the harsh realities and issues of the Occupation.

To make my perspective clear:
The Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegitimate.
The Occupation is immoral.
And we need to do everything that we can to bring about its end as soon as possible.

However, to refuse to talk to those others who do not agree with us, is not the way. Just as we (Israelis) need to make peace with the Palestinians, we (Israelis) need to find the ways to make peace with one another.

It is true; it is easier for many of us to talk and make peace with Palestinians than it is with the settlers. However, for good or for bad, we need to continue to live here together with Jewish-Israelis who do not share our perspectives on the Occupation. Instead of calling for a boycott of talks with the settlers in the West Bank, we should instead come out with a massive call to all academics and peace activists to hold discussions and seminars with the settlers – yes, even in their communities – so that we exploit every opportunity to spread the messages that we know need to be spread.

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Julia Chaitin, Ph.D., is a professor in the Dept. of Social Work – Sapir Academic College, Israel. She lives in Kibbutz Urim, near Gaza.