Israelis Now Face the Consequences of a Long Occupation

A veteran reporter could see during a recent visit to the region that it was at a violent inflection point, but she never thought the catalyst would come from Gaza

Israelis Now Face the Consequences of a Long Occupation
Israeli protesters hold signs and flags during a protest against the government’s judicial overhaul plan in March in Tel Aviv. (Amir Levy/Getty Images)

On a warm, late spring day earlier this year, I had lunch at an East Jerusalem restaurant with a friend from Nazareth, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who works for an international human rights organization. We hadn’t met since I left the country in 2011, when a short reporting trip to revolutionary Egypt morphed into a decadelong absence from the region that I loved and loathed with equal intensity. Now, over a plate of vegan kibbe prepared by the restaurant’s Palestinian chef, a dynamic young woman with curly hair, my friend told me that a catastrophe was coming.

“You thought things were bad 12 years ago, when you left because you couldn’t take it anymore,” she said. “Well, compared to today, that was a golden time.”

The theme of a place quivering on the edge of catastrophe recurred in many conversations during that five-week visit to Israel and Palestine.

A journalist friend from Ramallah sat hunched over coffee in the shaded courtyard restaurant of the American Colony Hotel as she described, in an intense near-whisper, what she said was an unprecedented culture of fear among Palestinians in the city. People she had known for more than 20 years now refused to be interviewed, even on background. They had been crushed, she said. I asked her about the grassroots anti-occupation protests in villages like Bil’in and Nabi Saleh, where I had seen so much army violence in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Finished, she said. Crushed.

Create a free account to continue reading

Create an account to access exclusive content.

My account

Sign up to our newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy