On Returning from Israel: An Email to the Editors 

From: Marcelo Svirsky
To: Arena
Subject: RE: article for Arena?
Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2023 19:15:44

Dear …,

I hope this finds you well. Thank you for encouraging me to write on the present circumstances in Israel and Gaza, but the short answer is that I can’t.

I came back from Israel with my wife three days ago; we were more than lucky to have been evacuated by the Australian government as our flights back were cancelled. We were there when everything started.

I can’t write because to say something worth reading, I’d need more than one mouth to speak or more than just a pair of hands to be able to write multiple statements to be produced simultaneously. I’d need to write in parallel columns that should be read in tandem, and probably across each other. Linear writing wouldn’t make any sense.

I can’t ignore Hamas’ barbarism and I can’t live anymore with being identified as part of a nation that genocides another. The mantra that people like me represent another kind of Judaism is not appealing anymore; it is vacuous; we achieved nothing.

Since the beginning of this nightmare, while being there, I carefully listened to Israeli TV and radio news programs, all devoted now to war pornography. Mainstream journalists approve and cry for genocide, simple as that. The smallest comment about caring for the lives of innocent Gazans is punished with arrest, as many Palestinian citizens are already experiencing. Palestinian students in Israeli universities are being expelled just for showing empathy for the suffering of people in Gaza. Netanyahu is back on his horse, rallying a bloodthirsty nation to a Jihad of vengeance that would keep him in power. And the world applauds and sends more ammunition. I can’t get out of my head the atrocities committed by Hamas, which should not be dismissed as mere Zionist propaganda, as some are claiming.  And I can no longer bear to listen to my Israeli relatives calling to flatten Gaza. I’m terrified about what may happen to my nephews on the frontlines; their parents—my closest relatives—are the epitome of everything I have written about regarding Israeli education, parenthood and socialisation—tremendously failing to guide their families away from violence.

I’m withdrawing from writing and from public appearances because I can’t say anything valuable. I don’t feel I can appraise the situation correctly.

Sorry to disappoint,

Best wishes,

Marcelo Svirsky

No March of Redemption for Israelis: The Netanyahu government’s attack on Israel’s Supreme Court

Marcelo Svirsky, Mar 2023

As long as Israel could continue pretending to be a full democracy, the world could look aside and ignore the occupation.

About the author

Marcelo Svirsky

Marcelo Svirsky is a long-time friend of the Palestinian struggle. He is a researcher and teacher at the School for Humanities and Social Inquiry, University of Wollongong, Australia. He studies settler-colonial societies, particularly Israel, and focuses on questions of social transformation and decolonisation.

More articles by Marcelo Svirsky

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