8th Plenary Session: Personal, Social, Gender and Political Identities
Moderator: Attr. Tehila Friedman-Nachalon, Yerushalmim Movement, Yeru-shalem Coalition;
Yossi Sucari, Author and Lecturer;
Dr. Sharon Geva, Department of History, Kibbutzim College of Education
Dr. Anwar Ben Badis, Linguist and teacher, Al-Quds University and The Jerusalem Intercultural Center (Arabic);
Prof. Aeyal Gross, Faculty of Law, Tel-Aviv University;
Closing Notes: Dr. Udi Spiegel, Director of Education Department, the Jerusalem Foundation
Yearnings for a place, a city brings about war and bloodshed. I think this is an overrated thing. Do I miss Jerusalem’s soil, people, and historical sites? History is commentary, and history, as was said, is written by the winners. Is the place the language? Language depends on social context. What does it mean that I’m connected to a place? We have to challenge this basic premise. Unrestricted yearnings of different groups breed bitter wars and I’m not sure this is justified.
Regarding the issue of Jews from Arab countries, Tel Aviv for this matter is not a mixed city. If I’m not culturally represented, why do I have to pay taxes? My daughter not learning about the Jews from Arab countries is a crime. It needs to be repaired. I want justice on the issue of representation. If half of the Jews are from Arab countries, there is no reason not to learn their history. This is distorted.
We live in the Middle East. Zionism dreamt of a state in the Levant without the Levantines. This is the Middle East; Israel should merge with the East and understand that its central thread is black. As long as Israel is an extension of western culture it will antagonize. It is not Europe here.
Dr. Sharon Geva
The project “Raise Value: Returning women to History” began four years ago. It is a project promoting women’s presence on Wikipedia, writing extended and profound entries. The goal is not only to expand existing entries or write new entries, but to pay attention to the writing itself and make space for non-measurable activities, from women’s perspectives. The feminist task is not only to enter this space but to influence its contents as well. This is really changing the world, social action.
Prof. Aeyal Gross
I am going to talk about encounters between Arab men and Jewish women. I will present two stories relating to the legal world. A resident of East Jerusalem meets a Jewish woman and a connection between them is formed. He presented himself as a Jewish bachelor. Later the woman realizes that the man is Arab and married. He is sentenced and convicted with rape, sentenced with imprisonment and incarcerated. Consent that was fraudulently achieved is not real consent.
A legal precedent was formed here: If you are an Arab having sex with a Jewish woman, you can find yourself in prison. How do we determine our identity? This story demonstrates crossing borders, towards the privileged identity. In Israel the marriage institution is particular about national and gender order.
Mahmoud and Morel wanted to get married. This threatens the social order. The Jewish woman will be taken away from the nation by the Arab man. It is a national story, the woman as a property of the nation and the need to rescue her. The perception is that the groups need to be separated; therefore the private becomes a public issue.
Dr. Udi Spiegel
I would like to thank the many speakers who took part at the conference. A heartfelt thanks to the women of the Adam Institute: Yolanda, Deganit, Miriam and Dana. Thanks to Dr. Uki Maroshek who designed the contents, and invested thought and work. A special thanks to Leah Tobias, the Executive Director of the institute who worked hard to organize the conference. Thanks to the people of the Jerusalem Institute and to my colleagues form the Jerusalem Foundation.
A city is a complex, full, and multifaceted space. The question of mixing has been raised but not resolved. The conference is called “The City of Tomorrow” but it is difficult to speak about the future. The future is pushed aside. I don’t know whether this is because reality is what strikes us in the face, but the difficulty to plan ahead is apparent. Throughout the conference we have witnessed efforts to organize reality and to produce events to rationalize, create a sense of direction, progress. In days of chaos and disorder like today, this is not to be taken for granted.
I made sure that I walked with my child in Beit Zafafa, which is close to our home, even during these days. The order I create for myself keeps unraveling and I insist on recreating order. I keep wondering what I want from the other, from my child, from myself. At the end of the day we come back to our personal order and to the question of how we will be able to tidily organize this city, all mixed cities, in a better, worthier way. How can we turn the insights and the ideas into reality? It is important that theoretical order will be mundane, simple, and practical. We have to bring back trust and confidence in the other and create mixed cities that are suited for everyone.
In the hope for better days, see you at the next conference. Good evening.