“I Used To Hate Israel”

Artist Nicky Larkin used to hate Israel. But no more.

nicky larkinI used to hate Israel. I used to think the Left was always right. Not any more. Now I loathe Palestinian terrorists. Now I see why Israel has to be hard. Now I see the Left can be Right — as in right-wing. So why did I change my mind so completely?

Strangely, it began with my anger at Israel’s incursion into Gaza in December 2008 which left over 1,200 Palestinians dead, compared to only 13 Israelis. I was so angered by this massacre I posed in the striped scarf of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation for an art show catalogue.

Shortly after posing in that PLO scarf, I applied for funding from the Irish Arts Council to make a film in Israel and Palestine. I wanted to talk to these soldiers, to challenge their actions — and challenge the Israeli citizens who supported them.

I spent seven weeks in the area, dividing my time evenly between Israel and the West Bank. I started in Israel. The locals were suspicious. We were Irish — from a country which is one of Israel’s chief critics — and we were filmmakers. We were the enemy.

Then I crossed over into the West Bank. Suddenly, being Irish wasn’t a problem. Provo graffiti adorned The Wall. Bethlehem was Las Vegas for Jesus-freaks — neon crucifixes punctuated by posters of martyrs.

These martyrs followed us throughout the West Bank. They watched from lamp-posts and walls wherever we went. Like Jesus in the old Sacred Heart pictures.

But the more I felt the martyrs watching me, the more confused I became. After all, the Palestinian mantra was one of “non-violent resistance”. It was their motto, repeated over and over like responses at a Catholic mass.

Yet when I interviewed Hind Khoury, a former Palestinian government member, she sat forward angrily in her chair as she refused to condemn the actions of the suicide bombers. She was all aggression.

This aggression continued in Hebron, where I witnessed swastikas on a wall. As I set up my camera, an Israeli soldier shouted down from his rooftop position. A few months previously I might have ignored him as my political enemy. But now I stopped to talk. He only talked about Taybeh, the local Palestinian beer.

Back in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2011, I began to listen more closely to the Israeli side. I remember one conversation in Shenkin Street — Tel Aviv’s most fashionable quarter, a street where everybody looks as if they went to art college. I was outside a cafe interviewing a former soldier.

He talked slowly about his time in Gaza. He spoke about 20 Arab teenagers filled with ecstasy tablets and sent running towards the base he’d patrolled. Each strapped with a bomb and carrying a hand-held detonator.

The pills in their bloodstream meant they felt no pain. Only a headshot would take them down.

Conversations like this are normal in Tel Aviv. I began to experience the sense of isolation Israelis feel. An isolation that began in the ghettos of Europe and ended in Auschwitz.

Israel is a refuge — but a refuge under siege, a refuge where rockets rain death from the skies. And as I made the effort to empathise, to look at the world through their eyes. I began a new intellectual journey. One that would not be welcome back home.

Read the whole thing.

 

About Aussie Dave

An Aussie immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave is founder of Israellycool, one of the world's most popular pro-Israel blogs (and the one you are currently reading) He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and girlie drinks

comments

  • Jim from Iowa

    This guy has been on quite a journery, from implaccable foe to ardent supporter of Israel, and all before the age of 30! Two thoughts come to mind. The first is the scene in Woody Allen’s “Radio Days” where it is revealed what happened to each of his classmates as adults. One boy reveals “I used to be a heroin addict. Now I’m a methadone addict.” The other thought comes from “The Book of Mormon” where one of the over-zealous American Mormon missionaries assigned to Uganda sings: “I am Africa. Just like Bono, I am Africa.”

    • Norman B.

      Your Woody Allen quote from “Radio Days” is actually from “Annie Hall”. A boy classmate says, “I sell tallises.” A girl classmate says, “I am into leather.”

      • Jim from Iowa

        The sad reality is, as you get older, memory fades. Alas, you’re right Norman. Thanks for the correction. I wish I could remember the exact quote (from “Annie Hall” – I think) but the Woody Allen character, in a life-affirming moment, points out that you can be a total maniac and still be a success in life.

  • juvanya

    And for everyone like him, ten go the other way. But perhaps he will reach people with this. Perhaps the tide is turning.

  • juvanya

    What makes no sense is the Irish hatred of Israel when they both had the common enemy of Britain.

    • Shy Guy

      Perhaps the Irish are green with envy?

  • SKWA

    As an Iranian residing in Australia, I have to admit that while I have never hated Israel, as a teenager I believed in the rubbish that was peddled to me by the media: “the poor poor Palestinians, Wah Wah Wah!”. Six years ago I finally realised how disgusting the bias against Israel is and the double standards applied to it. The media machine is ugly and incredibly dangerous. I am not a hateful person to any group of people but I am now sick to death about hearing about the palestinians and the so called “apartheid”. While I am ignorant when it comes to Judaism, Zionism and the relevance it has to Israel, but I do know how important it is in the existence of Israel as the Jewish homeland, and its struggle against its bloodthirsty, primitive, neighbouring sharks.

  • brett

    Hey Nicky, I still hate your formerly jew hating guts.

  • Takeshi

    This is an encouraging story and I had a similar journey. I was raised in Ireland and thought that the Palestinians were the victims of a major injustice and that they had the right to fight Israel to gain their independence.

    I began to question my support for them during the second intifada. I could no longer resolve my view of Palestinians struggling for freedom with the reality of suicide bomber targeting civilians and statements calling for the destruction of Israel. That was my starting point of actually listening to what each side said and did, aside from the anti-Israel propaganda that the Irish media propagates.

    I came to the conclusion that there is a moral imperative for anyone who supports freedom and democracy to support Israel.

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  • Yao Lang

    So great, good Australian, unlike those who speak ill of the Jews. I mean, I am just TIRED of the pro-Palestine BS, I really am.