Last Friday, Adele Raemer, a 63-year-old teacher from Kibbutz Nirim, and two other Israelis testified in Geneva at another UN “Human Rights Council” anti-Israel farce whose name reveals its bias: The “Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Israel’s government won’t cooperate, justifiably. Why legitimize the latest UN lynch mob, targeting the alleged “military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018.” But these brave Israelis touchingly described how Israelis – and Palestinians – have suffered since Israel’s 2005 Disengagement-for-Peace from Gaza, what the UN falsely calls “the occupied Gaza Strip.”
“It’s a misnomer to call these ‘protests.’ They were violent attacks,” Raemer exclaimed in Geneva. Testifying for four and a half hours, she explained how Hamas bombs and burns her progressive paradise in the Negev – in undisputed, within-the-Green-Line-Israel. Asked, repeatedly, “Why do you stay?” she answers poignantly, patriotically, “It’s my home. Why should I leave?”
Resenting Israel’s impotence, she says, “I don’t remember voting for Hamas, but they – not my government – run my life. They decide when I go into my safe room – or not. They decide when school is open for me to teach – or not.” Adele, and her children, grandchildren, students, and neighbors, are held hostage by 30,000 thugs harassing the Jewish State instead of building the Palestinian state they claim to desire.
It’s a long way from the Grand Concourse in the Bronx to Geneva via the Negev, but this Bronx-born kibbutznik-turned-activist feels compelled to defend her home. Immediately after she finished Young Judea’s 1972-1973 yearlong course, the Yom Kippur War erupted. Adele returned to Israel to make her life with her people. Inspired by 1970s-style communal Zionism, she eventually settled on Kibbutz Nirim, today a farming community of 372, smack on Gaza’s border.
Back then, three decades after Egypt nearly overran the plucky, two-year-old kibbutz in 1948, Nirim was a Zionist cliché in living color, an egalitarian community making the desert bloom. These farmer-idealists weren’t limousine liberals but true progressives. Most supported a Palestinian state. They happily cooperated with their Palestinian neighbors.
Then, Hamas happened.
When Israel gave Palestinians a chance to control their own destiny in Gaza and Hamasistan emerged, Adele’s paradise was lost. Starting in 2006, Nirim began absorbing periodic Tzeva Adom (Red Alert) Kassams. The rockets were fired so regularly that the government built a concrete-saferoom for each home within four kilometers of the border -- essentially admitting it couldn’t control the violence but would minimize damage. In 2012, 13 rockets bombarded Nirim; in 2014, more than 50 did. One mortar trashed Adele’s bedroom. Another one killed two of her friends, maiming another.
Personally, Adele’s greatest joy is hanging with her four children and six grandchildren – she lost her fabulous husband Laurie in 2008. Professionally, no one dares stand between Adele and the latest teaching app or yet another creative idea for engaging her students. But these days, she spends too much time scurrying into bunkers, then articulating her neighbors’ pain on the air, online and in person.
Hamas terrorists continue launching rockets, digging tunnels, and are now turning balloons and kites into floating arsonists.
Their Kitetifada eco-terrorism set over 2,000 fires this year, incinerating agriculture covering two-thirds the size of Geneva. What the UN calls “protests,” the kibbutzniks experience as riots – attempts at mass invasion, with thousands trained to kidnap or kill Adele and her neighbors.
“I’m having trouble explaining to my readers that 150 Palestinians were killed in these protests,” a German reporter told Adele – who uses her English skills, her Zionist idealism, and her Bronx-born refusal to be bullied to become the Voice of these ignored Israelis. Noting how these supposedly innocent “protesters” were armed terrorists, Adele said, “You should be writing it’s only 150 killed in these violent riots.
“The IDF is the world’s most moral army,” she explained. “They aim for the feet. They ‘knock on the roof,’ warning dwellers to flee an apartment-building-turned-terrorist-base before destroying it. If, God forbid, Hamas had breached the fence, hundreds would have been killed.”
Some 40% of her students are in therapy, traumatized. “I have no safe place to be,” one says. “I am scared to sleep in my bunk bed,” another admits. Adele’s daughter Lilach, who lives with her husband and two children on Nirim – where all four were born – says, ”I am a prisoner of the Hamas as much as the Gazans are.”
Discussing the latest idiocy in America, with some anti-Zionist leaders of the Women’s March exposing their true Jew-hatred by associating with antisemites like Louis Farrakhan, I asked Adele: “At the UN, you defined yourself as widow, mother, grandmother, teacher. Don’t you expect some feminist empathy, woman-to-woman?”
“I see myself as a humanist first and foremost,” she replied. “This is responsible adultism, regardless of gender.”
It’s not “responsible adultism” for Linda “There’s-Nothing-Creepier-Than-Zionism” Sarsour to cavort with hate-mongers like Louis “It’s-God-Who-Put-You-in-the-Ovens” Farrakhan. It’s not “responsible adultism” to reject Farrakhan’s homophobia wholeheartedly while apologizing for your own antisemitism halfheartedly. It’s not “responsible adultism” to speak of “intersectionality” – emphasizing the suffering all oppressed people share – yet block Jews at the intersection, ignoring our pain, past and present. And it’s not “responsible adultism” to condemn Israel while romanticizing Hamas terrorists who reject compromise, hurting their people even more than they menace ours.
I know Adele because she’s my cousin. We all should know Adele because she’s become our Voice, speaking to reporters, broadcasters, and, now, the UN.
“I wanted to bring people’s stories,” she says, simply, humbly, kibbutzily.
And she did.Recently designated one of Algemeiner’s J-100, one of the top 100 people “positively influencing Jewish life,” the writer is the author of the newly-released
The Zionist Ideas, an update and expansion of Arthur Hertzberg’s classic anthology
The Zionist Idea, published by the Jewish Publication Society. A Distinguished Scholar of North American History at McGill University, he is the author of 10 books on American history, including
The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s.