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"Exposing crimes of the state"

By Anthony Arnove | March 30, 2007 | Page 12

The struggle for Palestinian rights lost an important voice on March 17 with the sudden passing of Israeli author and activist Tanya Reinhart at age 63.

Like her thesis adviser and friend Noam Chomsky, Reinhart combined a life of innovative work in linguistics with a passionate commitment to the struggle against the Israeli occupation, as well as other injustices.

"As all honest people should," Chomsky wrote March 19, "she focused her attention and energy on the actions of her own state and society, for which she shared responsibility--including the responsibility, which she never shirked, to expose crimes of state and to defend the victims of repression, violence, and conquest."

For years, Reinhart risked political isolation for her active involvement in anti-occupation struggles and her courageous writing in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth, which regularly challenged Zionist orthodoxy. Reinhart developed these arguments for international audiences in her books Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 (Seven Stories) and The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003 (Verso).

Born in Haifa before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Reinhart was the daughter of a communist mother and herself was active in the Israeli Communist Party and its youth wing. From 1977, Reinhart taught courses in linguistics and literature at Tel Aviv University. For many years, she also taught at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Tanya Reinhart's books

Tanya Reinhart's opposition to Israeli repression and her commitment to the Palestinian cause are illustrated in her books Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 and The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003.


But in December 2006, Reinhart left Israel and moved to New York to teach at New York University, after being driven from her post at Tel Aviv University.

Reinhart is survived by her husband, the Hebrew-language poet and translator Aharon Shabtai, who has also been an outspoken critic of the Israeli government.

Despite the setbacks she witnessed, Reinhart continued to believe that "persistent struggle can have an effect, and can lead governments to act. Such struggle begins with the Palestinian people, who have withstood years of brutal oppression, and who, through their spirit of zumud--sticking to their land--and daily endurance, organizing and resistance, have managed to keep the Palestinian cause alive, something that not all oppressed nations have managed to do."

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