- [Editorial note: I received today the following commentary from Israeli leftist Yonatan Preminger on the recent JWN post on Dov Khenin/Chainin, Bil’in, etc; and I’m publishing it here with his permission. You can read some more of Yonatan’s work here. Thanks, Yonatan! ~HC]
From Yonatan Preminger:
As you note on your blog, MK Dov Chenin was indeed “gassed” by the IDF, as were all the demonstrators who had turned out in force to protest the nighttime arrests of Bil’in village residents during the preceding week. The army also fired tear gas canisters at children who had – as children will – run over the hill on their own and were throwing stones. And finally, when we departed, the army thought nothing of sending a few more volleys of gas canisters in our direction, to ram the message home as it were…
You are probably aware that Bil’in residents, together with Israeli activists, have been protesting the route of the so-called “security” fence every week for four years. Two years ago, the Israeli high court ruled that the route had to be changed, but nothing has changed on the ground. And last April a veteran protester from Bil’in, founder of the Popular Committee dedicated to organizing the protest, was killed when the IDF shot a gas canister directly into the crowd. All the demonstrations have been non-violent. This is a basic principle of the Bil’in protests.
However, I would like to add a few words about Chenin. He did not run for the [Tel Aviv] municipal elections as leader of Hadash, but as leader of a new list known as “Ir l’Kulanu” (“a city for all of us”). In its founding meeting, at which I was present, the “party” claimed to be somehow apolitical. Ideology – including socialism, heaven forbid – was notably absent. So were the Arabs.
The Arabs, in this case mostly from Jaffa which was appended to Tel Aviv, were given their own Hadash-backed list. I am certain that the vast majority of Jews who voted Ir l’Kulanu would not have voted for a “Jewish-Arab” party. Chenin knew this. The strategic choice was to split Hadash along national and nationalist lines, and Ir l’Kulanu was the result.
Chenin is a brave MK, one of the few who are ready to take to the barricades. Unfortunately, he heads a party that has not only lost its socialist and communist roots, but says one thing in Arabic and another in Hebrew. The phenomenon of Ir l’Kulanu reflects the bubble known as Tel Aviv, a bubble located far from the front which sparks up every few years, far from the murky occupation, and far from the Arabs – including Israel’s Palestinian citizens. This bubble claims to be liberal and open-minded, but Israel’s insular nationalism is as deeply rooted here as on the hilltops in the occupied territories.
Thank you for your Counterpunch article quoting Dov Yermiya. His letter received too little notice, unfortunately. I hope it appears elsewhere.