Noel Ignatiev's Blog

Proposal for Travel Course

By Noel Ignatiev

The college that employs me offers several courses for which students get credit for travel to other countries. Normally the courses are led by an instructor and take place over spring break. I proposed the following course. The committee rejected it without comment.

This course will take students through lands under Israeli authority, including territories occupied after 1967. Students will:

Visit a synagogue in Jerusalem and hear the rabbi denounce Arabs as “vermin” to be exterminated.

Visit the Deir Yassin Memorial, built on the scene of a 1948 massacre carried out under the command of Menachim Begin (later Israeli Prime Minister) which led thousands of native Palestinians to flee their homes.

Seek to discover the former locations of some of the nearly five hundred Palestinian villages destroyed before and after 1948, their names erased from maps. Meet refugees who can describe the location of the homes they once lived in.

Visit the Orthodox Jewish quarter in Jerusalem and be spat upon by residents who resent foreign women with bare arms and skirts above the knee.

Visit the Russian section and observe people nominally classified as “Jews” eating pork sausage and worshipping clandestinely in Christian churches.

See the structure Israelis call a “separation fence” and Palestinians call the “apartheid wall”─said to be the only manmade object, apart from the Great Wall of China, that can be seen from the Moon─cutting through Palestinian villages.

Stand for hours in the hot sun at a checkpoint and see Israeli soldiers, most of Russian or Ethiopian ancestry, insult and abuse indigenous Palestinians; with luck students may see a Palestinian woman, unable to get to a hospital, give birth in the field.

See settlements on hilltops with their own gas stations and stores, protected by Israeli soldiers, and hear settlers claim the land around them. Travel on “Jews-only” roads.

See Gaza, the world’s largest concentration camp.

Meet Mordecai Vanunu, the Israeli scientist who spent eighteen years in prison (ten of them in solidarity confinement) for blowing the whistle on Israel’s nuclear weapons program. (This may not prove possible, since as of this writing he is still barred from communicating with foreigners.)

Visit the spot where Rachel Corrie, the young American woman who went to Israel with the International Solidarity Movement, was run over and killed by a bulldozer as she sought to block a house demolition.

Meet and talk with representatives of various shades of public opinion, including extreme zionists, proponents of partition, and advocates of an Islamic state.

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