by Roni Katz
I realized how much things are related to language. What I noticed about my behaviour yesterday is that when we get into an argument I feel like every word carries a ton of meaning and that makes me anxious about using words wrong. Wrong words means maybe words that imply different things for you and for me. I feel disadvantaged and that language hinders me from expressing my thoughts or feeling. I’m scared of being misunderstood, and of wording things that I don’t mean to without even noticing. I’m sure this happens to me in different situations. That’s when I get silent. Something in my brain just stops functioning, I have to do the process of translation which is confusing and tiring.
I sometimes feel similarly when we talk about Palestine-Israel. I think that I feel a little traumatized by our past discussion/arguments/conflicts on the topic that I don’t feel safe expressing myself to you on that matter. In a way I always feel like I need to prove to you my moral standards or ideology or accountability. And I can’t do that. Because I’m still asking myself all these questions and figuring things out. I know deep inside that you trust my intentions. I’m sorry this might sound harsh, I think also here it’s a language thing. I’m in a process and I want you to accept this place. It doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it, but something about the ground on which we’re engaging into speech needs to be reworked.
Decided to write a journal of this process and finish each rehearsal with a written documentation. Arrived to IKS1 40 minutes late. Talked with Nir, we shared the studio. Wrote down things on 17 A4 sheets which had unrelated things on their backside. Laid down on the floor. Thought about sex. About oppressive sex. Listened to Nir’s soundtrack. Barking dogs. Set an alarm. Answered 2 phone calls and made lunch plans. Thought about lunch. Went to the toilette. Looked at the time. Note to myself : buy notebooks. Asked myself how to proceed and what this is about. Felt confused but not yet discouraged. Felt tired. Let the sun fall on my face and on the paper. Forgot a pen. Wrote with a pencil. Looked at myself in the mirror. Decided not to look at the time anymore. Laid my head on my notebook. Still holding the pencil. Still sun. Stilling. Wrote down the date.
15.03.14 modified on 26.05.14
Things I won’t do during my next visit in Israel, in september 2014: Drive on the 443 road, consume products or services at or of ‹Coca Cola Israel›, ‹Aroma Espresso Bar›, ‹Abadi cookies›, ‹Ahava dead sea›, ‹Ahdut› Halva, ‹Angel Bakaries›, ‹Barkan wineries›, ‹Blockbuster›, ‹Castro›, ‹Cellcom mobile phones›, ‹Bank Hapoalim›, ‹Egged Transportation›, ‹Nitsan Haduvdevan›, ‹Teva Naot›, Escort with the car my dad’s bike trip beyond the green line, Hike in the Ramat Ha’golan(?).
I can only speak for myself and from my own experience. It’s raw material. I can use others’ experience as material but I can’t speak for others. I can integrate others’ voices. I’m asking myself who are the others. I’m asking myself where do I belong and where do I want to belong. I’m asking myself if I can choose where I belong. One can choose ones nationality. I’m asking myself if one can not choose ones nationality. I choose my people. I’m afraid of losing other people. I’m entangled between wills to detach, to attach, to differentiate between thinking and feeling. I want to utilize feelings. I’m pulling the premises on which I grew from under my feet and I’m falling into an endless burrow. It feels like excavation. Excavating truths. I’m undergoing a procedure of unlearning so that I could start learning. I’m altering self-definitions. I decided not to be afraid of being personal. I’m asking myself if this is art. I think art is about creation and activism is about creating changes. I’m doing this for myself, for now.
I used to brag about Israel’s gay politics, and I was quite shocked to realize that its a part of a grand plan called ‹Brand Israel›, conceived by the Israeli and American government. The plan’s goal was to change Israel’s image from militaristic and oppressive to ‹relevant and modern, vibrant and cutting- edge culture›. This is related to the concept of ‹Homonationalism› which takes place in countries where LGBT people are completely assimilated into the civil normative society and adopt its nationalist, patriotic, racist and anti-immigrant ideology. Israel is embedding this concept by legalizing gay rights, playing them up, and branding itself as gay friendly. This is a mist that allows the international community to perceive Israel as the most progressive and democratic country in the middle east and blinds it from seeing the violence coming about.
There’s been a lot going on in Israel/Palestine in the last month, but my research was on hold. I didn’t read the news or anything else. I’m back to Berlin and to the research and feeling overwhelmed by the current events. I get sick by reading my Facebook newsfeed.
I’m not sure if the anxiety is at the top or bottom of my throat. Things re-inflated after 3 Israelis were abducted in Hebron, and the country was filled with intense expressions of violence. Although there were evidences they were killed instantly, gag orders prevented the media to publish them and thereby created emotional manipulation to reinforce people’s faith in the government and to increase the incitement against the Palestinian population. About two weeks after, the three Israelis’ death was published and severe violent reactions against Palestinian people took place. Wave of vengeance acts rose. A palestinian child, Muhammed Abu Khdeir was murdered, burned alive by Jewish settlers. Vast military activity in the west bank has begun – houses in the suspects’ village were bombed and demolished as well as in other villages. More than 81 people were killed in Gaza in the last 3 days. I noticed that I’m using the passive voice. A while ago I read an article that showed how that is way of grammatically removing the actor from the scene and therefore the responsibility.
Since the beginning of the research I’ve been meaning to write a plate about 2 movements that initiated the boycott of Israel – BDS, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions and PACBI, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. I fully agree with the economic boycott, but even after being busy with this idea for so long, and even after starting to comprehend its power I still feel ambivalent about the academic and cultural boycott. I trust Judith and the rest that this can be an incredibly effective tool to end the occupation, as it was in the apartheid period in South Africa, but I still think that there must be a communication channel between Israeli academics and artists and the intellectuals who support and advocate the boycott. It’s crucial inspiration. I met Thomas Plischke after he and Kattrin came back from performing in Israel and I was surprised they didn’t hear about PACBI. A couple of months ago I found myself not going to the Israeli queer film festival in Berlin. I wish somebody would write guidelines for Israelis boycott of Israel and help me figure out how to comply with the boycott and still be able to support my friends’ work.
This is an invitation to be part of a problem. I would like to invite you to spend expansive time, as much as you will, with me and a little appetite opener in a problem. This is an invitation to sketch the problem on the map, amidst the stains, and occupy territory with mouths, noses and ears. A possibility to strategize an operation in public, no state secrets privilege from a birds eye view.
I can’t promise answers, but I’ll do my best to respond mouthful to your questions. I will not ask for your solutions, but I’ll recognize them among the vocal turmoil.
Revolving around the friction, some clouds will disperse and others will reform. You can always leave to digest or not and you can always try again.
I will probably still be here, excavating a pathway through leftovers and laundry, tracing inscriptions, taking a break for some fresh air or a cup of coffee. These are not times to be shy. Let’s not be shy.
1.830 people from Gaza and 67 people from Israel died since the beginning of operation ‹Protective Edge› on July 8th. In Hebrew the operation’s name is Zuk Eitan, literally translated to ‹stable cliff›. It sounds so poetic, like a name of a yoga pose. The image informing me about the numbers of people who died juxtaposes little people in orange colour on the right with little people in black on the left. The questions of sides lingers in my mind. Right and Left. Why am I, as a person born in Israel, being assigned to the Israeli side? Why do I let somebody set a devision for me, putting me vis-à-vis a group of people I don’t know and don’t have anything against? Why is the devision based on geographical and military borders? I’m trying to resist this devision but finding it challenging when taking part in the international discourse.
… I like what you said about how amplifying is not appropriating. I think you’re right. I’m not yet sure what this means for Stilling. While working on the patches today I noticed that I don’t feel anger nor real sadness. I feel far. I’m enclosed by mountains, fog, green. I don’t feel like I have access to empathy. I’m not letting this feeling make me stop working, I just know I will need to find my way back to the real world. Or rather, I know it will find it’s way to me. You wrote about the paradigm of privilege, I am now at the peak of this paradigm, potentially surrendering to it. I’ve been having bad dreams here. Tonight there was war in my dream, and people were fleeing. I don’t know if I was one of these people but I woke up with the feeling I’ve been chased.
So far, Stilling addressee was a non-Israeli audience. The festival in Tel-Aviv is an opportunity to take on the challenge of translating and adapting the piece and of testing its content in front of the audience about which it talks and to which I belong – middle class, Jewish, Israeli, Tel-Avivian. Towards a presentation in Israel I will have to call out new relevant questions. My role will turn from a know-all to one-of-many hostess, a hostess who struggles to facilitate an encounter that has great chances to become a didactic cliché. I want to dare and be that hostess, to try to intrigue and to come up with new ways to talk about the occupation with those to whom its a part of their everyday reality and are usually tired of talking about it. I hope that the trespassing from the private to the public and back will allow tackling taboos and will render the discourse urgent and critical.
Report from Irtach checkpoint
Attended: Tamar, Orna, Xenia, Roni.
We arrived around 5 a.m. We parked the cars with all the vans waiting to take the workers to the workplaces. We were surprised by the unusual sight of open gates. Tamar told us that the aluminium fence is new, put up so that we can’t see what’s happening on the other side of the checkpoint. We stood very close to the metal turnstile gate. There was great panic and passing looked dangerous. People were rushing and pushing. There were some metal objects inside the turnstile ‹cage› that made it difficult to pass. Literal sticks in the wheels. Some of the people climbed over the barbed wire fence to make it faster. We went to the other side of the checkpoint, where the workers come out. We tried to see how long it takes to pass. The workers, mostly men, told us that there’s only 3 windows, referring to the windows behind which the guards monitor them. Once every couple of minutes the armed guards froze the passing and people were held inside the checkpoint. Some of them already knew Tamar and told us what was going on inside. One of the workers told me that two years ago he was injured by the turnstile gate, his elbow got stuck between the metals and he couldn’t work for a couple of months. He works in construction in Tel-Aviv. We went back to the first side, before the metal detector. There were less people and passing seemed doable. Some people were holding coffee in plastic cups, sold by kids before they go to school. We approached the cars. Tumult. We saw a long row of people with their backs facing us, spread legs, praying. They need to wait for the other workers to make it through to hit the road. Tamar said we must make sure that they will open the checkpoint at 4 a.m. on Fridays as they do on the other weekdays. One of the workers asked me and Xenia what we were doing there and whether we speak English. I replied and asked him if he prefers to speak Hebrew or English. He replied in English and said : ‹I’m from Tul-Karem not from Israel›.
We made it back to Kfar Saba and saw Palestinian workers getting off a van by a branch of ‹Mega› grocery store.
The texts are one aspect of ‹Stilling›, a performative installation performed at HZT Berlin and at Het Veem Theatre in Amsterdam. http://hetveemtheater.nl/en/agenda/2014/09/11/production/stiling-2 https ://inzuchtfestival.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/stilling-process-inprogress/
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