Monday, April 23, 2007

Zionism 101 - Day 2 of the Visit

If there's one theme that keeps coming up in our conversations during Khaled's visit it's the different versions to history out there. Don't get the wrong impression, we don't actually spent too much time arguing about facts - for one thing we do mostly agree on the facts, for another thing, when we disagree we usually agree that it's not that important. All the same, it's fascinating for me to see how the same facts can be construed into such essentially different historical narratives. It sometimes takes someone who looks at the same facts from a totally different angle to help you see that, I guess.

Yesterday's visit to the museum of the Palmach was prime example. I have been to this museum several times before. As I warned Khaled prior to his visit, this place gives you a hardcore Zionist experience, telling the tale of the war of 1948 from the Zionist perspective. All the same, it never fails to move me and my family when we visit there. Granted, the exhibition is well thought out and planned to pull at the heart strings. We can see as much by ourselves. The story is told through the eyes of a group of Palmach members, and you can't help but like these young men and women, with their very human feelings of love, fear, humor. When several of them get killed during the war, it's heartbreaking. Like a good soap opera, if you like. Still, as I said, it's effective...

When Dovale (one of the characters) talks about how he saved his little sister from the concentration camp in the end of the war and brought her into the country aboard the Exodus, and how painful it was for her to be sent out to another fenced camp after having walked on the soil of the Land of Israel for only 20 meters, it breaks my heart, Sorry. The fact that we were visiting there during the Eve of the Memorial Day only added to this. I had to reign in the tears, not wanting to make a fool of myself in front of the group of young tank guides (all women) which we were assigned to go the tour with. If those teenaged girls managed to keep a stiff upper lip, I figured I should as well. There was only so much I could do though, by the end I was crying. Sue me.

So, we're walking out of the museum, and asking our guest how he found the museum. To our great disappointment, Khaled showed no inclination to join the IDF and fight for the cause alongside our wonderful people. He actually, ummmm, found the exhibition to be well carried out but quite biased and one-sided, or as he put it, "propaganda". So, there you have it, I have seen this several times, and it never actually occurred to me that the Arab side isn't really represented in the exhibition. In fact, there isn't too much animosity or hostility towards Arabs there. The Arabs, other than in their role as the military forces against which we've had to fight, simply aren't there. Through out the years prior to 1947, the storyline relates to the Nazis and the British, and to internal fights within the Jewish settlers. Arabs? What Arabs?

I digress into an analysis of the exhibition here, but I'm using it as an illustration of something that I am seeing through out the visit so far. It's a positive thing, it's what I had hoped for, in a way. A fresh perspective for us, a well as a way to show our perspective to Khaled. Some things we seem to be taking for granted here, and it's always good to have someone rattle your ideological cage and make you think.

So... back to the descriptive account of our day. We came back from Tel Aviv and went through shopping center to get some groceries for dinner, then headed back home. The kids were being looked after by my dear mother-in-law and were all excited to see us. It took longer than expected to get dinner going, but we managed to do that eventually. The fact that IsraeliDad here decided to join his father in another hot air balloon escapade wasn't very helpful either... They didn't fly aboard one, but they flew a small one up the air. It flew further than expected, sending ID running after it through town. We still don't know where it landed, but apparently no huge fire registered in the vicinity.

1 comment:

YMedad said...

Well, Khaled is right. Where are the Arabs that the Palmach killed in the northern Negev? Those in Balad A-Sheikh (Sefer Palmach II pp. 55-56); Ein-Zeitun (see Netiva Ben-Yehuda); Sassa (Sefer Palmach II 117-128); etc. Well you get the picture - that part of the Palmach is lost in the museum whereas the Palmachniks will always slur the Irgun/Lechi for Dir Yassin.