Roger Hercz on Israel’s human face

lifted from, google translate


Israel’s human face
TEL AVIV: As I approached the station, I heard some delicious tones. Inside the station I saw why: A large, black piano was set up right in the arrivals hall.

Roger Hercz
PUBLISHED ON: 30 May 2016 KL: 9:55 –

The other day when I took the train in Israel, I experienced something I have neither seen or experienced before. It made me wonder.

It turned out that a piano is placed at all major railway stations in Israel, anyone can sit down and play. And people do that. They sit down and play, be it classical music, rock or shows. And people line up and listen.

what a great initiative, I thought, and continued on my way. Then I noticed something else. Just off the platform a bookcase was placed. According to the sign above the shelf people could help themselves to free books  to read a bit on the train, and then put the book back, maybe at another station, when the reading is complete. People were also encouraged to leave their used books.

Again I thought this was great. These two initiatives were taken by people who obviously appreciates culture and believed that culture was something in everyday life that everyone, regardless of background, should appreciate. And then I thought that it would have been great if we could have had something similar at train stations in Norway.

Harmful to reduce people
But this article is not written to tell railway stories from Israel. The most interesting thing here is not really what one such case tells the Israelis, but just as much the unusual reaction it will awaken in some of those reading this now.

Some readers, and unfortunately maybe not so few, will find that the text of the train stations are morally distasteful. Prejudice will certainly be supported by a kind of moral indignation. The reason is this: The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Many would probably argue that such a report is a “white wash of occupation”. That it is an attempt to give the Israelis a human face and place them in a positive light, when the only thing they deserve condemnation.

They should not be people who care about others, take care of their children or like to read books.

There is no doubt that the occupation is brutal and inhumane, but this was not the point of this little railway story. And here’s the point: Often, other people, in this case Israelis, is reduced to one- and two-dimensional people. And it is dangerous.

The only an Israeli should be, according to this view, the occupier, soldier and brutal. There should not be any other type of Israelis. They should not be people who care about others, take care of their children or like to read books on the train, because it undermines the political struggle against the occupation.

But this reduction in the strangers, of other people, is the beginning of a dehumanization. And this reduction is also the beginning of racism.

Then we have a problem.

The refugees will also be reduced
We journalists have an additional responsibility here. Especially foreign journalists. As purveyors of a reality that is far from home, it is important to avoid stereotypes and racism that we show people that they are full of complexities and contradictions. Here we’re not foreign journalists always done our job.

That newspapers these days prioritize foreign coverage and often send correspondents home, also comes at a particularly inopportune time. Precisely at a time when we need more information on “the other”, we will get less of it. And it can get political consequences, lack of knowledge is often the intolerant most faithful companion.

Sometime this may involve Israelis or for that matter Jews. Another time it may be about Muslims. And the question we should ask ourselves today is whether we in Norway have just embarked on this journey where Muslims, although we planned it, from now on will be reduced to such one- and two-dimensional beings. Thus, not full human beings like you and me.

In recent months, several thousand Muslims arrived in Norway. Just as there are legitimate arguments for Norway to accept more refugees, it is clear that there are perfectly legitimate arguments against accepting more.

Are not refugees suddenly been reduced from being complete people to become a “threat”?

1 comment for “Roger Hercz on Israel’s human face

  1. motti
    June 8, 2016 at 10:28 am

    No doubt the occupatioon is brutal and inhumane. What a a load of bollocks.
    Who is the author, as he is unknopwn to me?

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