by Brooklyn Middleton
The discussion of the culture of violence between Israelis and Palestinians is a pivotal one to be having; but when the perspective contributes nothing but more noise to an already earsplitting dialogue it is not only an unnecessary contribution but a dangerous one.
On August 27th, 2012 Lori Silberman Brauner published a piece In the Times of Israel, Arab Men, Jewish Women in which the author provided a disorganized three-pronged discussion about the recent lynching of a young Palestinian, the shock she felt as a young woman when discovering a man she had befriended was Palestinian, and thirdly as the title reads, the relationship between Arab men and Jewish women.
As the author struggles to draw parallels between her own experience, the assault of the young Palestinian, and Arab men, Jewish women-the reader struggles to understand both where the article is going and what point is she trying to make.
Brauner does not just waste an opportunity to contribute to a much needed discussion on the culture of violence between Israeli and Palestinian youth; she makes statements that perpetuate that exact violence that she pseudo decries. Her baseless claim, with no point to so much as a mere statistic, that“…Israelis will rightly point out that it is not so safe for women or men to walk around the Arab shuk or parts of eastern Jerusalem while Arabs are largely free to roam around the western part of the capital…” alludes to the notion that Arabs should, indeed, be feared. In the sentence prior to the aforementioned one, Brauner writes, “I’m certainly not advocating for Jewish women and Arab men to date each other…” Brauner again makes a claim that only adds more cleavage between Israelis and Palestinians. Perhaps the author remains unaware of a report printed two days after her article by Haaertz that points to the distribution of flyers warning Arabs to stay away from Jewish girls. Haaretz reports that the flyer reads, “Just like you would do anything to prevent a Jew from dating your sister, so too would we…” Haaretz continues, “the flyer ties in the threats with the nearly fatal group beating of an Arab teenager in downtown Jerusalem earlier this month. Dozens of Jewish teens are thought to have been involved in beating the victim…” The very violence her piece condemns is strengthened and supported by her follow up comments that, even though violence is wrong, Jews and Arabs shouldn’t mix.
These types of claims contribute to a culture of fear and create an environment where hate crimes, like the one she begins her article with, become commonplace.
In an article supposedly meant to address the relationship between Arab men and Jewish women and/or Palestinian and Israeli youth relations, Brauner does neither. She instead reverts to old stereotypes and embarrassingly narrow minded personal admissions that, perhaps, just maybe- not all Palestinians are to be feared and distrusted.
The squandered opportunity to utilize her platform and add dialogue about the failure of relations and interactions among youth is unfortunate—her unsupported claims that contribute to fear, even more so.
In closing remarks, the author ties back to what is supposed to be the central point: “…we cannot stand idly by in the face of terror — regardless of who perpetrates such crimes.” Agreed; furthermore, we cannot stand by idly while writers make bigoted statements and cavalier generalizations about an entire ethnicity and culture- regardless of who is writing them.