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“The sea is the same sea and the Arabs…” (2019) A film installation

The work juxtaposes audio recordings of vicious racial attacks against Palestinian Israeli citizens on the beaches of Israel with footage of Tel Aviv beach during the April 2019 election day. The film’s audio track, in addition to the sounds from the filming site, includes audio testimonies of the survivors of these attacks from Gaza, Tel Aviv and Haifa extracted from media reports. Another interview includes a short interview with two Palestinian women from a town in the Occupied Territories who were smuggled for a day visit Tel Aviv Beach and saw the sea for the first time. The interviews in the film’s soundtrack can hardly be heard and amount to bare background noise, depicting the attitude of many Israelis to the atrocities taking place in the Occupied Territories and the racial discrimination and attacks against Palestinians in Israel.

In the installation clear audio tracks with each of the five interviews can be listened to on the five headphones in front of the screen – forcing the viewers who would like to listen to partially blocking the projection with their bodies, casting their shadow on the screen.

The title of the installation “The sea is the same sea, and the Arabs…” is part of a well-known quote by Yitzhak Shamir, the extreme right-wing terrorist and former Israeli prime minister. The full quote, “the sea is the same sea and the Arabs are the same Arabs.” implied that “the Arabs had not changed their animosity towards Israel and their desire to throw the Jews into the sea” – a view cherished and propagated by the current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The film can be watched on https://youtu.be/rwxj1WCnLKQ

Below are the transcriptions from the audio recording and news clips which can be heard on the earphones at the film installation:

  1. Biet Omar to Tel Aviv [Add translation]

Heba:
The sea is a big thing. A very big thing. The sea, young and old, haven’t seen it.
We don’t even know it. For me to go in I need a pass “tasareeh” and will face many problems just for me to see the sea. The sea is ours. The sea belongs to Palestine. The way you see it, I also want to see it. Other than the sea. There are other things, like Jerusalem, you can see it and I can’t. What’s the problem? I don’t make any trouble or any problems so why can’t I be there?. The sea is something so big and beautiful.
Amal:
To me, it’s something else. It’s not just the sea to me, it’s like another world. Ok,
there’s swimming and nice scenery but It can also be a treatment. The water can be a treatment for the body and for self peace. It’s something you’ve always wanted to see, and other than that, when I hear that my family didn’t go to the sea, I go back and tell them what I saw the day I went to the sea, how I was happy and glad and it’s an amazing feeling. I can’t put into words the feeling and I want everyone to go like me, for them to get a pass or I don’t know how, but the main thing is for them to see like me and to feel like I did when I saw the sea.

Case Details

Palestinians from the occupied West Bank are not allowed to cross to Israel unless they possess a work permit. Since 2011, the organisation “Women For Civil Disobedience” have been driving, illegally, Palestinian women and children for a day to Israeli recreational sites and the beach, among them Heba and Amal. Many of these women have been investigated by Jerusalem police and have received official criminal records.

  1. Tel Aviv 2013
    “I was working on the sea promenade every day, and I usually go to a water fountain to drink cold water. When I got there yesterday a group of teenagers encircled me and said, “You are an Arab, aren’t you? You want a state, don’t you?” I told them to leave me alone and stop this nonsense, I told them it doesn’t matter if I am Jewish or an Arab I am a man and we are all brothers. I didn’t want to fight them, there were five of them, they were drunk, but it should not have been an excuse. As much as I tried to talk nicely, it didn’t help. They attacked me. They threw bottles at me. They hit me in the face and I couldn’t escape. They hit me again on my head and I fell unconscious. I woke up here in the hospital, I have no idea how I got here. I cannot remember anything…. “

Case Details: Hasan Ausruf a Jaffa resident and Tel Aviv – Jaffa municipality sanitary worker was attacked on Tel-Aviv beach promenade during his work, on February 25th, 2013. He was left unconscious in a pool of blood and where another worker found him. He was hospitalized for ten days and couldn’t work for several months after the attack. Consequently, he lost his job. Daniel Kerei and three minors were charged for grievous bodily harm but the charge fell short of including a racial motivation.

  1. Netanya Beach, 2015

“Kill the Arabs, Kill the Arabs…”

Abed: “Yesterday night we went out to have a walk and to buy some clothes, suddenly out of nowhere we heard shouts “death to Arabs” and a group of people charged at us. My friend managed to escape, but the group caught me and beat me up”

“I saw you had some injuries…did they stab you?”

Abed : “Yes, they did stab me with knives in my leg and then the police handcuffed me and beat me as well. “

  • What you are making of all of that?

Abed : “They are racists, people are racists”

  • Will you go back to Natanya ?

Abed : “No, not any more:”

  • “Why, are you afraid?”

Abed : “Because everybody is racist there.

  • “What do you say about this attack?”

Mahmad: “It is shocking. We are anxious about going to Jewish towns and places.

  • “Are you afraid to go to Natanya, Cafar Saba or other Jewish cities?”

Mahmad: “Afraid? no, but I will be anxious. It is scary. It is not the first case, there were many other very similar attacks. This is why I stop going there.

  • How do you explain it?

Mahmad : “It is shocking, inhuman, racism par excellence”

Case Details:

The attack took place on October the 9th 2015 in Natanya’s Independence Square on the beach promenade. The victim was Abed Jamal. Police suspected that the intention to lynch Arabs that night was planned ahead on social media. The recordings, published on Y-Net News site, includes footage recorded on a mobile phone by the attackers and posted on social media, and an interview with Mr Jamal and his lawyer Mahmad KasKus. The perpetrators of the attack were never found.

  1. Kyriat Haim Beach 2018

A: On the night between Wednesday and Thursday we went to the beach in the karyot. After about half an hour, a Jewish guy approached us and asked if we are Jews or Arabs. We asked him, “Yes, what do you want?” he didn’t answer and went away. We thought he was drunk or something… After two minutes he came back with lots of people, his friends probably, like a gang with knives and metal bars, and they started to beat us. They intended to murder us just because we are Arabs. It was pure racism.

B: “They continued until two Jewish guys who passed by stopped them and called emergency services and the police. I was in shock; I never imagined that in Israel it would ever happen to me.

A: I was injured in my head, in my arms, in my knee and in my back.

B: It hurts, hurts in my heart more so because of the way I?? treat Jewish people, I never care about the background of people, I have Jewish friends, I live among Jews. I treat people as people, no matter their ethnicity or religion. It really hurt.

A: I cannot say all Jews attack Arab or all Arabs are good. There are some like that and some like that. Because the ones who helped us were Jews. From the police, we heard today that someone was arrested and taken to court. I hope they will solve the case because it will be a shame if such demented people will be walking free.”

Case Details:
The attack took place on August 24th 2018 on a beach near Haifa. The attacked persons were Dr Muhamed Yusfin, who works in a hospital near Tel Aviv and Mohad E-yov and Muat-a-sam E-yov who works in the same hospital as nurses. A year on, the attackers have not been found.

  1. Gaza 2008 – needs a translation. Case Details:

On June 9, 2006, an explosion on the beach near the Gaza Strip municipality of Beit Lahia killed eight Palestinians. At least thirty others were injured.[1][2] The aftermath of the incident was captured on video and showed a distressed eleven-year-old girl, Huda Gahaleeya, reacting to the loss of her family. According to Human Rights Watch, the explosion was caused by Israeli artillery and a navy gunboat that fired 8 artillery shells at the beach, with two shells landing 200 metres away from the family.[6] The Israeli army and Israeli officials initially took responsibility but later on blamed it on a Palestinian Land Mine. The Israeli government have declined to take part in an independent investigation.

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