When It Comes to Ending The Occupation Intersectionality is Key

Intersectionality, a political term used by activists who combine multiple struggles together, is a concept often applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Usually, however, intersectionality is applied in such a way which applies to the exterior activism against The Occupation which by definition takes place outside of Israel. An example of this type of intersectionality would be Black Lives Matter protesters engaging in Palestinian activism as part of a shared struggle of sorts. While this intersectionality is necessary to end The Occupation outside of Israel, it is also important that this intersectionality is used by activists inside of Israel who oppose The Occupation. The reason for this is that only when the politics of Israel changes (meaning shifts to the left) will the political will be formed to finally end the disgrace known as The Occupation.

The concept of intersectionality inside Israel as applied to The Occupation is based off of the idea that nearly every problem which Israeli society faces can be linked in some fashion back to The Occupation. At the very least, the vast majority of problems inside Israel have been worsened by The Occupation.

What many outside observers do not understand is that Israelis have a variety of political concerns which are not exclusive to security and military policy. For example, many Israelis are concerned about rising house prices while others are angry at discrimination against Jews of color. Whatever the concerns might be, every Israeli must understand that the vast majority of these problems have been worsened by The Occupation.

A significant economic concern to many Israelis right now is the rising housing prices. The crisis has become so severe that Holocaust survivors have been expelled from their dwellings. For this to be happening in the one and only Jewish state in the world is an outrage. And justly, many Israelis are angered by this. But what they fail to comprehend is that The Occupation only stymies Israel’s ability to address the housing crisis head on. Currently Israel gives significant tax subsidies to housing in the settlements (which have fueled The Occupation). These subsidies cause Israel to lose revenue which it could have used to subsidize housing in Israel proper and for Holocaust survivors. Furthermore, the cost of Israel’s military presence in the West Bank prevents Israel from investing more money into housing in Israel proper. What this also means is, since Israel is not building as many housing units as it could without The Occupation, that there will not be high enough of a supply of housing units available to slow the cost of housing. Israelis, the vast majority of whom reside in Israel proper and not in the settlements, should object to having to pay for subsidies in settlements while they can barely afford the houses they live in.

Furthermore, many Israelis worry rightfully about discrimination against Ethiopian and Mizrahi Jews. They should worry about this. In Israel Ethiopian and Mizrahi Jews face significant discrimination. In the spirit of this discrimination, Mizrahi and Ethiopian Jews are often sent to perform the most grueling tasks of maintaining The Occupation. While Ashkenazi Jews are often privileged with more luxurious jobs in the army (such as working on the radio), Mizrahi and Ethiopian Jews are often charged with jobs such as the Border Patrol, which often involve violent encounters with the Palestinians. It is in this fashion which Ashkenazi Jews are able to assert their dominance over Mizrahi and Ethiopian Jews. In this sense Jews of color and Palestinians suffer under the same grueling Occupation.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews should be weary of The Occupation as well. In Israeli society Ultra-Orthodox Jews are often in the economic periphery. They face significant discrimination from some in Israeli society who feel they do not do their fair share. While it is true that Ultra-Orthodox Jews must be better integrated into Israeli society, it is also true that Israeli society makes it hard for them to do this. Ultra-Orthodox Jews want to be left alone and not forced into the army. This is a reasonable request, but sadly it is one which has less chance of being granted if The Occupation continues. Politicians across the political spectrum, under the guise of enforcing an “equal burden”, advocate the passage of legislation which would force the ultra-orthodox into the very army which enforces The Occupation. This legislation passed in the last government session but it has since been rolled back due to the presence of ultra-orthodox parties in the ruling coalition. The problem with the “equal burden” concept is that it rests upon the notion that this burden is a worthy burden to bear. The truth of the matter is that there is nothing worthy of any burden which forces one person to oppress other people. If Israeli society truly wants the ultra-Orthodox to not receive a disproportionate amount in government assistance then they should end The Occupation. The reason for this is that ultra-Orthodox individuals, largely exempt from military service, reside disproportionately in settlements compared to other Israelis. Thus, when Israelis are enforcing The Occupation, they are maintaining settlements which are disproportionately inhabited by the ultra-orthodox which many in the ultra-orthodox community will not defend themselves!

It should also be remembered that The Occupation makes life worse not only for Palestinians but for Israeli Arabs as well. While Israeli Arabs are at least roughly equal to Jews under Israeli law they still face significant amounts of discrimination. The Occupation only worsens this discrimination. The reason for this is that The Occupation is inherently racist in that it rests on the notion that an absolute sense of Jewish security should come before the rights of Arabs. It is the idea that somehow it is justifiable to deny people their right to vote, freedom of movement and basic human dignity just so radicals can settle in the West Bank. The Occupation is justified through the racist notion that somehow Arabs are naturally violent and cannot handle democracy. It is based upon the notion that the only language an Arab understands is violence. Not only is this wrong, but these attitudes affect how Jewish Israelis view and treat Arab Israelis.

However, there are other reasons for The Occupation to be opposed by Israelis which are not just related to people. If it were not for The Occupation, Israel would be able to do far more when it comes to the environment. For example, Israel could be investing billions upon billions of dollars into solar energy which would significantly help not only Israel but the entire world. Tragically, Israel squanders this much needed money into pointless settlements and other unfortunate aspects of The Occupation.

In women’s rights the same applies as well. Israel could be spending more on women’s healthcare but instead it wastes money on settlements. Furthermore, the Israeli Defense Forces is set up in such a way to be patriarchal in nature, with women often facing discrimination. Thus The Occupation only enforces this patriarchal structure by maintaining the army’s power.

The only way to help resolve Israel’s problems once and for all in a very significant manner is to end The Occupation. Until Israel does that only more problems will come its way.

About the Author
Zachary Kolodny is a senior in high school. He lived with his family in Israel for almost a year. His passions include politics and civil rights. He is a liberal Zionist who cares deeply about Israel.
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