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An Anthropological Look at Israeli Ceremony


Yesterday was the Jewish Memorial day for "slain soldiers and victims of terror"*. This day tends to piss me off and not because I don’t respect the grief of families who lost loved ones. But because of the inherently propagandized role, this day and the following Independence Day (today), plays in the Israel psyche. (For all you literary types- here’s me pissed off.)

Memorial Day
Memorial day is not a choice, it’s socially mandatory. It starts in schools, where children are told to come in white shirts and blue pants (what happens is you got kids looking especially buttoned up, because most white shirts are button-down shirts, which Israeli kids, don’t usually wear), and are sent back home if they aren’t dressed as ordered. This results in an education that will last until adulthood, as many adults choose to wear this specific attire to work, as a mark of respect. Some work places, will ask workers to come specially dressed, as well.

In school the day’s study is usually either completely cancelled, shortened, or interrupted, and instead children attend school ceremonies, in which their pears participate (these talented few will spend about two weeks practicing). The ceremonies usually consist of saying Kadish (the Jewish mourning prayer), reading bits (usually a something a bereaved family member wrote, or a short story, or a published love letter from a soldier to his girlfriend), memorial songs (Israel is full of those) and any other artistic notion, a teacher or child may have (this is where children’s creativity is very much encouraged). And of course there is the siren, which usually starts off the ceremonies, as schools arrange that all kids will be present and in standing position, about a minute before it actually goes off. Children who break into laughter (as children often do), are usually treated to a dirty look by their teacher. In fact, children are so aware of the "proper" behavior in this scenario, that a friend might give him a nudge and whisper for the kid to shut up (not necessarily out of deep respect, but usually because he doesn’t want his friend to get into trouble).

Some work places also hold ceremonies. Some will just walk out beforehand, to an area where a half way lowered flag is, and stand at the siren. In some places people will just  stand in place. It’s a common sight, to see traffic stop, people get out of their cars and stand still. In businesses, both customers and workers stop and stand.

If you are not in an institution, then it’s made sure that you are aware of the day and its context. From the aforementioned siren to the Israeli television, completely dedicated to the day. The national Memorial ceremony is televised (in which heads of state go on saying a lot of scary, nationalistic things) and stories of dead soldiers and terror attack victims are on all channels; the one national channel and the commercial channels as well, with specialty programs. I didn’t check, but I’m sure Waltz with Bashir was a hit, this Memorial Day. The radio is of course dedicated to the cause with the wide selection of memorial songs, growing every year.

Independence Day
In order for the propaganda to be complete you have to side the victim stories with stories of heroism (not that you don’t get that on Memorial Day, but you have to balance the insufferable darkness of bereavement). Thus Memorial Day, in fact, ends with the kicking off of Independence Day. Once again, this is a national occasion. National- as well as other local- ceremonies are held country wide. People have their white and blue on, Israeli flags are hung about a month in advance, plastic flags are given to children, fireworks, BBQ’s, local carnivals and absolutely no mention of the Nakbah, and at who’s expense this independence came. Television is full of happy, heroic history- our "miraculous" defeat of four Arab armies and the rest of the drivel that has shaped minds in Israel for generations, with complete inability to question or judge status quo.
 
Al Nakbah through Israeli Eyes
The media has been, of course, completely enlisted into the cause. Articles of bereavement and ceremonies and "the ironies" of "fathers lost in the holocaust- sons lost in the fight for our great nation".

I got about one hour of this and couldn’t help but feel my stomach split. Not only are Israeli kids sent to fight battles they don’t understand in the name of reasons beyond their comprehension, their death is exploited to create more and more generations of complicit children, willing to die and loose limbs for the likes of joker-faced-Olmert and poker-faced-Netanyahu. On top of all this and one piece of the truth- the one piece that actually makes sense of all this loss- is never told: Palestinians.

Surprisingly, I did find one written article on the Channel 10 site (the fact that it was written means that almost no one read it), about Nakbah Day, that answers the question "how do you justify 61 years of ethnic cleansing?" I decided, as a way of standing in solidarity with Palestinians, on this Nakbah Day, to translate the whole damn thing and annotate it as I go along. It won’t be surprising to find more notes than article in the following text, but I did actually translate twice: Hebrew- English- Zionish. I know it’s an annoying format to read, but for those of you anthropologically interested in the Zionist mind, this will give you some insight (To avoid confusion: Notes are in the square brackets in dark blue. When I’m speaking from the Zionist perspective they will be in light blue):

Independence day: Here a Holiday, Around Us Mourning [the "they surround us" rhetoric will repeat many times in different guises]

At a time that, in Israel, we note 61 years of independence- around us [they surround us] a national mourning day will be noted- "Nakbah Day" [note the words Nakbah Day are always in quotation marks- subtle but effective]. Marches, rallies, demonstrations, strikes and exhibits [this conjures up Hamas demonstrations, which are never fully translated and always have gun waving] will be held in Palestinian Authority territories [this is one way of not saying "occupied territories"], to mark "the expulsion of Palestinians from their villages in 1948", as the Palestinians call it [quotation marks, "as the palestinians call it"- it must be a lie!].

In Israel, today, blue balloons are floated into the sky, but in the Arab world they do it with black balloons [this is actually true, but isn't it effective imagery: us-blue, them-black]. The Palestinians mark "Nakbah Day" that coincides with Israeli Independence day [they happen to coincide, one isn't a direct result of the other]. This day is seen by them ["seen by them"- the crazy terrorists that commit acts of senseless violence and want to push us all into the sea] as a national catastrophe due to the turning of thousands of them into refugees and the destruction of hundreds of their villages [this is a passive thing- they just turned into refugees, their villages were magically (maybe god did it?) destroyed. Oh! And no one was massacred in the process]. In the past few days, the Arab media [they mean Palestinians, but this way we sound more surrounded] has been noting the day of the declaration of the state of Israel (Hebrew date given here) as a traumatic event, that overshadowed the lives of the Palestinians for decades and still has an effect today [since this was said by "Arab media" it is, of course, untrue].

In the next few days, the families of the uprooted plan [they plan, doesn't necessarily mean they'll get to do so] on visiting the villages that they left or were expelled from in 1948 [yes, let's keep the myth alive- they left out of their own accord]. Zarifeh Hammadi, resident of Al-Mashhad village, next to Nazareth tells that "what happened in 1948 is unforgettable – Palestinians were expelled and murdered and Palestinian cities destroyed." ["she" says there were murders-she must be lying. And again, this passage is passive and implicates no one. I bet she said many other things, but this way we look all so democratic: "what other country would give voice to the enemy?!" says Zionist geek, on his computer reading this piece of filth.]

The Palestinian Press: Supporting Terror and a Call to Free Palestine [Those animals on our land have fascist press and it supports terror and screams crazy nationalist slogans like "free Palestine"]

The Arab press, especially Palestinian, has used the past few days to highlight messages that express the Palestinian’s determination to actualize the "right of the refugees to return to the places they have abandoned in 1948". [Nope, that ain't a quote- those quotation marks are there to signal yet another ridiculous Palestinian claim- that refugees have a right to their homeland. You know what makes it obvious that this isn't a quote? The fact that a Palestinian would have never "abandoned" his or her home. Another thing- refugees don't leave their home- then they wouldn't have earned the status "refugee"- that's not just a word, but a legal term.] In addition, there were many expressions of support to the "resistance", i.e. The violence and terror [the mainstream press loves intentionally misinterpreting this one, I've written about this before and I'm sure I'll write about it again], and the call to "free" all of historical Palestinian land. [I think they misplaced the quotation marks here- I think they ment to put them around "historical". But if this wasn't a mistake then I'd just like to say in the name of all of Israel "the territories are no longer occupied, we pulled out in 2005."]

[Scare tactics start here]
Hamas organization [as opposed to "elected government"] is expected to use Nakbah Day [where's the quotation marks? Is this where we arbitrarily pay respect to Nakbah Day, in order to insinuate that Hamas is abusing a day of mourning?] well, as leverage to the promotion of their Islamic Radical world view, that rejects all settlement with Israel and aims to destroy it with the means of violence and terror. [I'd just like to point out that "with the means" is as literal as I could make it. Hamas isn't just generally trying to destroy us, it has the means to do so, also this hints to a well rounded strategy, on their part.]

[Aren't spooked enough yet? Have another paragraph!]
As part of the events of "Nakbah Day" [the quotation marks are back!], every year, Hamas conducts an incitement ["incitement" is a key word, always used against anyone criticizing Israel] campaign against Israel, the Zionist movement [there isn't a zionist movement anymore, they got what they wanted. Now there are just Zionists] and the Jewish people [this is the part where they scream "anti-Semetic" at Arabs]. This in combination with hate messages against the West [little Israel will now commence defending the entire West (which it is undoubtedly a part of), or more specifically Papa USA] and blames thrown at the Arab world [It's not that we give a shit about the Arab world, but see how wrong Hamas is- it can't even get along with its own people!]. Hamas’ television channel El-Aquza plays a significant role in this campaign [oh the irony! And Channel 10 isn't even a government channel!]. In its broadcast, that are aimed at both children and adults [I don't know what it's like at other countries, but down here, both adults and children watch the government channel, and there are specially coordinated kids shows that explain holidays and mourning days, like Independence Day, for instance...], the channel airs shows that embed the demand for the right of return, shame the state of Israel and the West and praise the terror attacks and Hamas violence. [Oh the stinging irony!!!]

Also, in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates [oh my god!! They are all out to get us!! We're surrounded! Quick! Get the life jackets! I'd just like to calmly mention that I almost never here the term " United Arab Emirates", so this is an obvious ploy for the Israeli ear to hear "united Arab something or other"] support demonstrations for the Palestinians are expected [won't necessarily happen, but what the hey, let's pile it on for dramatic effect!] to be held. [A note on the term "support demonstrations"- it sounds like bad translation, but I am being literal as possible in order to convey the linguistics. I think this is intentional, because as far as I know, whenever the Palestinian cause is supported by demonstrations, it's usually called "solidarity demonstrations".] In similar demonstrations that were held last year, Israeli flags were burned and Palestinian flags waved. [Just making sure you understand how much they hate us.]

Gaza: Museum to Mark Nakbah Day [They say museum, but I have to wonder, what improvisation was erected in the midst of the Gaza ruins]

The association of protection of the rights of Palestinian refugees [I actually have no idea which association their talking about. I Googled their exact words, in hebrew, and there are no results leading to any organization, seeing as you can't get any online information about this association, it completely discredits them] published an announcement this week, which stated that "despite all that the Gaza strip has endured- the will of the Palestinian people to return to its land won’t be broken". Lately, in the Gaza strip, a plan has been formalizing [an evil plan], of preservation of testimonies of the elderly, that were in Israel’s territory [they were in the territory, they didn't live there and own property, or anything like that], in The War of Independence [they could have said "1948" again, but they went with " The War of Independence", that was against "the Arabs", which incidentally Palestinians are]. The aim of the plan is writing special [=evil] testimony booklets [not "books"] that will be passed on to the next generations. [This is a great time to note that the context here is very damning. After two paragraphs of Hamas propaganda, we are told about these "special booklets".]

With the patronage of Ismail Haniyeh [leader of Hamas! This must be a terrorist museum! It has weapons of mass destruction in it, like home made rockets!], "The Museum of The People’s Legacy" [I can't be sure but I have a feeling the quotation marks here are poking fun] to mark Nakbah Day [no quotation marks? Was it because the whole setting is completely inconceivable, so no need to deny it?]. One of Hamas’ seniors [this could have been said "government seniors", the man could have been mentioned by name, but this way we keep Hamas government an "organization" and "one of its seniors" a faceless terrorist] that was present at the opening of the museum said: "Even though over 6 decades have passed since the slaughter and expulsions, the Palestinian people continue to stick by the right of return." [first- the man was there, he didn't necessarily speak to the crowd at a podium. Second- this is the kind of crazy talk you get from these nationalist Arabs that want to "return" and drive us all to the sea.] The Museum includes pictures of Shahids [the use of the word "Shahid" {Martyr} is synonymous with "terrorist" in Hebrew, I doubt the average Israeli knows the translation. In evidence to my claim, notice that the word Shahid wasn't placed in quotations, even though this article is quite fond of them. On a side note, the word Nakbah wasn't translated anywhere in this article, either] that were killed [magically killed] in operation [not onslought/massacre/offensive] "Cast Lead", a special wing on the theme of Palestinian prisoners imprisoned in Israel [no mention of the illegality of the situation], a wing of Palestinian national cuisine and special workshops for kids. [The idea of these examples of wings is to show the "shocking" aspect of how Palestinians have "propaganda" iside by side with activities for kids.]

Shfar’am: Palestinian Flag or Israeli Flag?
The difference of opinion on Independence Day and Nakbah Day [the quotes are missing in order to convey balanced reporting] were expressed, this week, in the city of Shfar’am, the only Arab city, where there’s mixed residency [I don't know what they mean, there are many cities of mixed Arab/Jewish residencies. It's possible they're making the racist distinction of Arab city with Jewish citizens/ Jewish city with Arab citizens]. Anonymous Arabs waved Palestinian flags above the town hall building and lowered the Israeli flag that was waving over the building. [Calling them "anonymous" makes it seem like these were a rogue few. Calling them "Arabs" takes away their Palestinian identity, thus rendering the act of waving the flag senseless. In the eyes of a typical Israeli, this is a senseless act, and it proves all Arabs are the same (ironically, in this case they are) and want to push us into the sea.] The Palestinian side [can you imagine how confusing it is for the typical israeli to here that the Palestinian citizens of Israel are sometimes "Palestinians" and sometimes "Arabs". Another thing- it's separative to say "the palestinian side" when referring to your own citizens. One last point- it isn't said bluntly, but by the explanation, it seems that it was given by town hall itself- thus the whole Palestinian flag waving wasn't done by some "anonymous Arabs"] explained that the move was made following the initiative of Jewish town hall workers to wave israeli flags in neighborhoods of the city [this takes me back to the fascist march in Umm al-Fahem and why Palestinian citizens of Israel have every right to wave Palestinian flags and take down Israeli flags]. Despite of this, town hall was quick to react to the incident and take down the Palestinian flags, in accordance with regulations. [What fucking regulations! This is a democratic country! I can wave the flag of the Republic of Mozambique for all you care and you can't fucking touch me!]

At the same time, the Arab organization "Haifa Al-Fataa" [sorry can't find links and I probably spelled it wrong, but being an Arab organization, you should be very afraid] marks the "Haifa Nakbah" [good ole' quotation marks- means it never happened, right?], for the third year in a row, that they claimed [!!!] happened in April of 1948. In an announcement, published by the organization, they convey that they are organizing a cultural [*snicker*] tour in the city, this week, under the title "A Journey in the Train of Memory and Art", with participation of Arab  [rather than "Palestinian"] artists and public figures. "The activities, this week, are intended to immortalize the memory of hundreds of fallen Palestinians and the expulsion of 70,000 of them, at the time of the Nakbah," was written in the message of the organization. [Obviously this is a crazy Arab organization that wants to destroy us and they are lying.]  

Maps of "Palestine" with no Mention of the State of Israel [this is the usual ironic double standard, where we bitch about Palestinians not recognizing Israel, when, in fact, we're busy not recognizing Palestine]

As parts of the events of "Nakbah Day" [really, quotation marks are so small, so innocent looking...], special classes will be held in schools in the "territories" [this is a bit of an irony, because they don't say the word "occupied" so this is the word "territories" in quotation marks- rendered absolutely meaningless], in order to embed messages that deny the right of Israel to exist [bitchbitchbitch]. One of the news agencies [name your source!] published an image of a Palestinian teacher is seen in a school in Hebron, showing the children in a lesson about the "Nakbah", maps that the title "Palestine" clearly shows, in Arabic, and there’s no reference to the state of Israel. [On anything about Palestinian miseducation, I send you here.]

Embedding of messages that deny the right of Israel to exist, using maps, is a relatively common phenomena in the Palestinian education system and Palestinian society in general. [*cough*irony*cough* You think they walk around with maps of Palestine-with-no-reference-to-Israel and flash kids on the street?] The Palestinian educational system has customarily been ignoring the existence of the state of Israel [bitchbitchbitch] and the deep  and extended historical ties that the Jewish people have with the land of Israel. [distortdistortdistort]   

Just for laughs, here’s an article about evil Palestinians erecting an evil Jewish Holocaust museum, in a village that the wall is ripping apart, as we speak. 

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* "victims of terror" got in on the action a few years back, claiming that it’s not fair to mention a soldier’s name- that died in a a terror attack- and not mention a civilian’s name that died right along side him, in the same attack. Saying "we are all victims of the same terror war."

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