Israel, Politics, Religion

Sara Benninga of the Sheikh Jarrah protesters on erev yom haatzmaut

Last week I attended an alternative beacon-lighting ceremony on the eve of Israeli Independence Day. This ceremony, organized by Yesh Gvul, an organization which supports soldiers who refuse to perpetuate the occupation, honored leaders of the fight for justice in Israel. Those who fight “for an immediate cessation of senseless violence and of the occupation regime that generates it, for a correction of the wrongs caused by Israeli society, for an improvement in our attitude towards the weak and the needy among us, and for peace with all our neighbors.”
After some negotiations with the police (who almost didn’t allow the ceremony to take place), there were songs and speeches from a dozen or so activists (full list here). Among them was Sara Benninga, one of the organizers of the protests in Sheikh Jarrah against the continued illegal settlement in East Jerusalem (background here and here, and especially here). I’ve done my best to translate her speech below. The Hebrew version can be found here.
I see no better way to honor this country than by supporting those fighting for justice within its borders. I hope to see you all at the Sheikh Jarrah protest on Friday.

Sara Benninga, Erev Yom HaAtzmaut 5770
I light this beacon in the name of the activists of the Jewish/Arab struggle in Sheikh Jarrah. I light this beacon for the sake of the burning questions that must be asked.
What kind of a country makes people into refugees for a second time under the pretext of the rule of law? A regime of descriminatory laws based on racism which at the same time claims to be democratic? What people allow these injustices to exists in their cities and country and don’t stand up and say, “enough!”?
My generation, which grew up during the second intifada, understands that what must be struggled against is the regime of separation, based on the propaganda of security. My generation understands that the struggle for justice is the stuggle for the future of our society and state, because an unjust society is a society which is bound to disintegrate and turn against itself.
The is a struggle of Palestinians and Jews who understand that it is impossible to struggle against the monstrocity of the occupation and settlement without mutual partnership. This is a struggle, growing from within this partnership and mutual responsibility, which works to create here a future based on equality and justice, not on racism and discrimination. This struggle will not be resolved on paper or in the courts, rather on the ground, the hills and olive groves, in the neighborhoods and streets. This courageous popular struggle grows from below.
Today, there is a new generation of the Israeli left growing. A generation that knows that the occupation will not be ended by singing in the square.
Until the Al-Rawi, Hannoun and Al-Kurd familites are not returned, there will not be peace, because peace does not grow through discrimination, oppression and theft.
I invite everyone who came here today to come and be part of the shared struggle in Sheikh Jarrah, because we all know that there is no holiness in an occupied city. We will continue to march in this joint, non-violent struggle, because we know that this is the only way. This is the struggle for justice and the future of each and every one of us.
In the name of the Sheikh Jarrah activists I am honored to light this beacon and say, “Sheikh Jarrah, do not despair, soon we will end the occupation!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.