Is Our Jeremiah an Arab Woman … and Can We See Her on Channel 2?

 

I have never met Rosa Parks, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. So, I may not know all that much about speaking truth to power. But, it seems to me that I just met the Jeremiah of our age. At the local Hillel House.

Lucy Aharish, a veteran newscaster, who now serves as a morning anchor on Channel 2 in Israel, made a stop in Minnesota this week. She was mid-way through a collegiate tour across the United States.

Her remarks, for 30 or so students and faculty members from the University of Minnesota, began with a personal story. She recounted how she was introduced to violence in the Middle East through an early trauma. At the age of six, while her family was returning to their home in Dimona (in the South of Israel) from a day trip in Gaza, a Palestinian militant tossed a Molotov cocktail into the family automobile. While the Aharishs were Arabs, and observant Muslims, their car had a yellow Israeli license plate. To the militants, blind with hatred, the Aharishs appeared to be Jews; and thus deserved to die.

For Lucy, the searing flames of the explosion had a permanent effect, but one that few could have imagined: From the crucible of mistaken identity she became a determined enemy of bigotry, sectarian thinking, and violence.

This story was a beginning for her, and her talk that night, but it led to still more determined challenges to the “isms” of our world. Moving methodically across the timeline of her early life – as one of the only Arabs in Dimona, the only Muslim student at her high school, and a trailblazer for women and Arabs in Israeli broadcasting – Aharish has lots to say about sexism, racism, and parochialism. When she speaks, nothing is off limits and no one is exempt from the critique. We are all, quite literally, in this together.

Aharish maintains that when we are so slow to critically examine our own beliefs, and quick to discount the dignity of others, we end up depriving ourselves of the very things that we say we want for the Middle East: peace and justice in the region. She argues that it is our individual and collective failures to confront bigotry and small-mindedness that has produced the much larger spiral of bloodshed, conflict and war. Through her own stories, and the milestones of the shared history of Israel, Aharish assembles a bracing set of indictments. She excoriates the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement as irretrievably misguided and harmful, but does not spare the Netanyahu coalition from her rebukes either. At each stage of her presentation, it was plain that she was acting as a journalist first, and that she wanted to follow the facts wherever they led; even to her own mirror.

Perhaps because Aharish’s unsparing call for self-examination and change cannot be contained, I recalled Jeremiah from Scripture. Her words gush out, in waves, overflowing the audience. On the evening that I heard her speak, she held forth about the Mideast, energetically and extemporaneously, for more than two hours. Yet, from beginning to end, not a single soul in the room moved, and at every pause in her delivery you could have heard a pin drop. I have listened to a lot of speeches in my day, delivered by national presidents and college presidents; Prime Ministers and Baptist Ministers. But I have never heard anything like this.

Which is why I am hoping that her remarks will transform still further – into a set of videos or a book. Hers is a message that everyone should hear and reflect upon. She provokes and challenges her audience, and we’re better for it.

In the meantime, however, I am certain to be watching Channel 2.

There are 11 comments.

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  1. Mountie Coolidge
    Mountie
    @Mountie

    I can’t find a link to her schedule. Might like to go listen to her.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Thanks, Eric. Her view reflects my own reasons for going back and forth in my perspectives on the Middle East, on Israel, on Muslims and Jews, on Islamists and Islam. It is difficult to rest in one perspective because the issues are so complicated. I think she is calling us to look at the places where we stand hard and fast and question ourselves continually to determine our openness to other ideas and solutions.

    • #2
  3. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Do you have contact information for her?

    • #3
  4. Eric L. Lipman Member
    Eric L. Lipman
    @judgelipman

    iWe (View Comment):
    Do you have contact information for her?

    I don’t.  But there is a Facebook Fan Page, as well as Twitter, Instagram and Linked-In profiles for her.  Also, Mako TV, the parent company for Channel 2, has an outfit called the “Department of Public Inquiries.”  Its E-mail address is: info@mako.co.il

    I think that these would be promising routes.  Best of luck.  ELL

    • #4
  5. Snirtler Inactive
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    Thanks for putting an interesting person on our radar.

    • #5
  6. Eric L. Lipman Member
    Eric L. Lipman
    @judgelipman

    Mountie (View Comment):
    I can’t find a link to her schedule. Might like to go listen to her.

    With regret, Channel 2 is a pay service.  However, you can see (wholly uncurated) samples of broadcasts on You Tube from here and here.

    If you do tune in, perhaps you could let us know what you think, at a post here.

    Warmly, ELL

    • #6
  7. Mountie Coolidge
    Mountie
    @Mountie

    Eric L. Lipman (View Comment):

    Mountie (View Comment):
    I can’t find a link to her schedule. Might like to go listen to her.

    With regret, Channel 2 is a pay service. However, you can see (wholly uncurated) samples of broadcasts on You Tube from here and here.

    If you do tune in, perhaps you could let us know what you think, at a post here.

    Warmly, ELL

    In the post you said “She was mid-way through a collegiate tour across the United States.”. That’s the schedule that I was looking for.

    • #7
  8. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    I hope she gets her message organized in a digital form.  It would be interesting to listen her point of view.

     

    • #8
  9. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Does she talk about how she would be killed (or at least threatened) for her politics in the PA or in other Muslim countries?

    • #9
  10. Eric L. Lipman Member
    Eric L. Lipman
    @judgelipman

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Does she talk about how she would be killed (or at least threatened) for her politics in the PA or in other Muslim countries?

    Henry, yes, indeed.

    But one not need travel over the Green Line, to Nablus or Ramallah, for her to have heard such things. She recalled how, in 2015, the announcement that she would be given a place of special honor in Israel’s Independence Day celebrations sparked threats to her home and family.

    An Arab Member of the Knesset, Basel Ghattas, declared publicly that her participation in the ceremony represented “the internalization of the defeat of the victim to the point of admiring the oppressor and his victory.” No one doubted the implications of such a charge.

    She gave her rejoinder during the ceremony, mere steps from the graves of Israel’s founders and war dead.  She said:

    For those who were but are no more, who fell victim to baseless hatred by those who have forgotten that we were all born in the image of one God. For Sephardim and Ashkenazim, religious and secular, Arabs and Jews, sons of this motherland that reminds us that we have no other place. For us as Israel, for the honor of mankind, and for the glory of the State of Israel.

    In defiance, and good measure, she spoke in Arabic, saying: “For our honor as human beings, this is our country and there is no other.”  You can see a subtitled version of those remarks here.

    Among the things that was so powerful about her address last week was that this erstwhile beneficiary of identity politics — she is Arab, Muslim, olive-skinned, female, young, from a rural area at the edge of the desert, etc., etc.– at every turn runs with all of her strength against those very silos and categories.   She did this from the pinnacle of Mount Herzl, before an audience of millions, and, more recently, in a small circle of folding chairs on the prairie.

    • #10
  11. Jerome Danner Inactive
    Jerome Danner
    @JeromeDanner

    Thank you, Mr. Lipman, for putting her on my radar!  This video clip that I found of her seems to show her passionate views on issues.

     

    YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rYCQjQkRGs

     

    <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/8rYCQjQkRGs” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

    • #11

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