March 21, 2007
By Joharah Baker* for MIFTAH
Most people hope that after they are gone, there will be something,
however miniscule, that others will remember them by. Linguist,
researcher and Palestinian rights advocate Tanya Reinhart far surpassed
this goal, because for many, the Palestinians in particular, she has
left behind a legacy larger than life. She will never be forgotten.
Tanya Reinhart passed away in New York City on March 17. Born an Israeli
citizen who lived most of her life in Israel, Reinhart lived her final
days in the United States, not by chance but by meticulous design. After
years of exposing Israel�s policies against the Palestinians in her
articles, lectures and two major books, Reinhart became one of the
precious few in this world who truly practices what she preaches.
Feeling she could no longer live in the place she called home because of
the injustices it perpetrated against another nation, Reinhart made the
painful decision in 2006 to leave the prestigious position of emeritus
professor at Tel Aviv University, and to leave her home, forever.
It was not only this act of courage that made this woman so remarkable.
It was the fact that, as an Israeli speaking out against the atrocities
of her own people, Reinhart knowingly placed herself in a constant line
of fire. It goes without saying that she endured blinding hatred by some
of her own countrymen, sentiments that only someone as strong-willed and
with such a high moral compass could ever endure.
Primarily a linguist, Reinhart studied with the best, working in close
collaboration with famed linguist Noam Chomsky. Of her passing, Chomsky
wrote, �She was on the front line of direct resistance to intolerable
actions, an organizer and a participant, a stance that one cannot
respect too highly. She will be remembered not only as a resolute and
honorable defender of the rights of Palestinians, but also as one of
those who have struggled to defend the moral integrity of her own
Israeli society, and its hope for decent survival,�
In addition to her contributions to the field of linguistics, Reinhart
also wrote several articles and two books on the conflict:
Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 (2002), and The Roadmap to
Nowhere; Israel/Palestine since 2003 (2006).
One of Reinhart�s noted positions, which also brought her stinging
criticism from many fellow Israelis, was in 2002 when she signed a
European petition calling for a moratorium on European support of
Israeli academicians in protest of Israel�s politics against the
Reinhart wrote tirelessly about Israel�s true intentions in the West
Bank, about the Israeli war on Lebanon and the so-called Israeli
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, insisting that nothing less than a full
withdrawal to all Palestinian land occupied in 1967 would be acceptable.
However, perhaps one of the �straws that broke the camel�s back�, which
ultimately drove her to leave Israel for good was the construction of
the West Bank separation wall. In October, 2006 as the wall�s
construction continued in full force, Reinhart said the wall was the
�first attempt in history to imprison a nation with a wall that cut off
villages from their farmlands.� Two months later, she moved to New York
For the Palestinians, Tanya Reinhart will be sorely missed. Not only was
she a staunch advocator of Palestinian rights but she was an Israeli,
which made her testimony that much stronger.
Reinhart dedicated her life to dispelling fallacies and exposing
Israel�s measures at a time when so much of the world has fallen into
the black hole of blind loyalty to Israel. �Palestinians should not have
to pay the price for the Holocaust,� she once said. The fact that she
was an Israeli Jew gave such a powerful and true statement exponential
In her life, Reinhart embodied what it meant to truly fight what you
believe in. In death, she has left behind some valuable lessons for both
Palestinians and Israelis. To the Palestinians, she has shown us not to
compromise on our principles, what we believe is right, just and true.
Reinhart sacrificed her home, perhaps friends and family and put her
reputation on the line in order to follow her passion, to enlighten the
world about what she believes.
To the Israelis, Reinhart has left behind an even more valuable lesson,
which could be applied to all nations and peoples. It is not enough to
know that your country is doing wrong. As Reinhart painstakingly
espoused throughout her life, when injustices are perpetrated by your
government and army, it is your duty, your responsibility as a citizen,
to do something about it. She believed the change must come from within
Israeli society, not only to do justice to the Palestinians but for
Israel�s own moral salvation.
Reinhart�s passing is a loss for us all, Palestinians and Israelis
alike. Although her time on this earth may have been less than expected,
it is our duty now not to let her message perish. For the Palestinians,
she was a comrade-in-arms, so to speak, waging our war for justice,
independence and a dignified life, right alongside us. It is our hope
that the inner strength Reinhart possessed and portrayed so fiercely
will emanate throughout her own society, touching the consciousnesses of
those Israelis who know in their hearts and minds that something must be
Ultimately, Reinhart�s message was one of justice, human rights, and
above all peace. This is how she should be remembered.
*Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Programme at
the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and
Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at email@example.com.
See articles by Tanya Reinhart previously published on our Palestine
Second Half Of 48- The SHARON-YA'ALON Plan
Justice and the Yassin Assassination
The Road Map
to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003
by Tanya Reinhart
An urgent and searing expos� of the "peace process" by a prominent
The Road Map to Nowhere is a devastating and timely book, essential
to understanding the current state of the
Israel/Palestine crisis and the propaganda
that infects its coverage. Based on analysis of information in the
mainstream Israeli media, it argues that
the current road map has brought no real progress and that, under
cover of diplomatic successes, Israel is using the road map
to strengthen its grip on the remaining occupied territories.
Exploring the Gaza pullout of 2005,
the West Bank wall and the collapse of
Israeli democracy, Reinhart examines the gap between myth�the
Israeli leadership's public affairs achievement that has
led the West to believe that a road map is in fact being
implemented�and bitter reality. Not only has nothing fundamentally
changed, she argues, but the Palestinians
continue to lose more of their land and are pushed into smaller and
smaller enclaves, surrounded by the new
wall constructed by Sharon.
Back to Top
� Arab World Books