16 July 2011

Saturation Point [?]

I feel that I have reached my saturation point with the conflict. It breaths through me, it invades my dreams, it passes by me on the street and it sits next to me on the bus. As strange as it may sound, it has become closer to me than a lover – in certain ways. This blog is about my personal experiences as related to the conflict – and its different elements and layers. The main theme running through my novel is the conflict. Even the contents of my paid work include the conflict. Almost everything in life becomes marginal as the conflict digs in further and deeper into my bones.

So – do we not also reach a saturation point? I wonder. Since last September, I’ve been going through a long process of distancing myself from the conflict in different ways. And now I see that this has become something systematic, and indicates a turning point. A turning point which also requires taking time to think.

So, what happened in September that initiated this process? I participated in a seminar on project planning, organized by a Swedish foundation. From inside Israel, we were four women – two working at Palestinian feminist organizations in Israel and two working for mixed Palestinian and Jewish organizations. The first two days of the seminar went by smoothly. On the third morning, one of the Jordanian participants stood up in front of the whole group of about 20 participants, and said that she is withdrawing from the seminar because there are women from Israeli organizations at the seminar. She claimed she didn’t know this beforehand (although she received a participants’ list with our organizational affiliations, and I introduced myself on the first day as a member of a mixed organization). She was only referring to me and the other participant from the mixed organization. Her claim was that this was a normalization of the occupation and thus she will have no dealings with any Israeli organizations. Her last sentence almost knocked me off my chair. She said: “It’s nothing personal.”

How dare she tell me that it’s not personal when it was my very personal decision to work at a mixed organization? This was a big trauma for me, the story of course doesn’t end here, but it just gets too complicated to write about.

Anyway, this is where the current phase started for me. Up until then, I was still in the steering committee of Isha L’Isha’s Women, Peace and Security project. When I returned from the seminar, I took a break from the steering committee, thinking that I only need some time off my activism. Well, I’m still on that break. Many activities have been going on since then – there was a learning group on citizenship and feminism, of which I only attended the first meeting. Now I hear about plans for a weekend retreat to work on a feminist vision of citizenship. I was excited at first, and was even looking forward to participate. Now I’m hesitating again. Isha L’Isha was also just approved a big grant from the EU for the Women, Peace and Security project, and I got excited and thought to come back to the steering committee. But nothing happened and I am still not back.

I’ve been preoccupied by this process for the past few weeks, feeling that something is not right here. How come I am applying so much resistance to going back? What is it I fear? Yes, the contents are difficult to cope with, but I have a community of supportive friends who make the burden bearable. Or have I just reached a saturation point? I even went so far as calling the coordinator of our Women and Medical Technologies project, telling her that I’d love to become more active and volunteer in the project she’s coordinating.

But today I stop to write. Today I stop to think. Putting thoughts into concrete words on the page helps to make things clear. It helps to see the process. In the past years, I’ve had my “vacations” from the conflict – short two-three month breaks to get some air and then go back with renewed energies. This time, it’s been almost a year. I still do write about the conflict on my blog, and it still takes up the bulk of my novel. But no actions. Only words.

And when I think of the saturation point, I get scared. Because do I have the moral right to turn my back on the conflict? Tutu’s sentence keeps popping up in my head: “If you are silent in situations of injustice, you have taken the side of the oppressor." Does this mean that if I go on to pursue other things and become active in other, less “urgent” issues, that I have taken the side of the oppressor? And then, who is to decide what issues are more urgent than others?

I’ve read something that Talma recently wrote. She wrote that her mother told her to do anything she wanted, as long as her reflection in the mirror was clean. I think I will adopt this sentence for myself. It is such a simple yet strong image. And I know that I want to see a clean reflection of myself in the mirror. Clean and clear.

No. I don’t have an answer. The writing of this is only part of the process, and I guess I will continue to think it over. Fur now, I am at the stage of saturation. But then, things change all the time. One thing I know for sure: that the conflict will keep getting into my bed at night, if only as a dream. It will keep occupying a central place in my life, even if there will be long periods of time where I am not active in any physical sense.

Tomorrow is a new day.


  1. my feelings too
    as the french sentence says: if you are not active in politics, olitic will come and knock on your door!

  2. as the french sentence says: if you are not active in politics, Politic will come and knock on your door!
    or in other words...
    Si tu ne t’occupes pas de politique, la politique s’occupe de toi


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