Frima (Merphie) Bubis comes from an Orthodox Jewish family in Jerusalem. As a teenager, she dreamed of wearing jeans and leading a less restrictive lifestyle. At 18, she joined the Israeli army, even though, as an Orthodox woman, it was not mandatory. Serving for two years as an operations sergeant in the Nablus region in the West Bank, she saw injustices suffered by Palestinians. These experiences led her to become a tour guide with NIF grantee Breaking the Silence. She is 24 years old.
This week, Bubis appears in the fourth installation of Trailblazers, a series of video shorts produced by NIF in partnership with Yediot Achronot to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary. For nearly 40 years, NIF has teamed up with trailblazers from communities including Mizrahi Jews, Palestinian citizens of Israel, Ethiopians, Russian-speaking immigrants, women, and LGBTQ people to create change. These are communities who blazed trails for inclusion, for equality, and for social change. NIF is telling the stories of those trailblazers who acted on their values and came together to fight for their rights and impact the lives of all Israelis.
“What moved me most coming from my background,” she recalls, “was the violence of the settlers. It could be young children from one of the settlements going out after Friday night dinner to throw stones at Palestinian cars, or a settler with a chainsaw cutting down olive trees.”
In this latest Trailblazer clip, we see Bubis taking Israelis around Tel Rumeida in Hebron near where Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who was later convicted of manslaughter, killed a Palestinian laying immobile and injured on the ground, after he had stabbed an Israeli soldier. “There are many incidents like that. We just don’t hear about them and they aren’t made public,” she says.
“People move forward,” she says, mentioning that nobody believed that the Berlin wall would fall or that there would be peace in Northern Ireland. “And things change. It won’t necessarily happen tomorrow, but I believe the occupation will end and things will be better here.”
Asked where she sees herself in the future, Bubis says she will carry on working for Breaking the Silence. “This is my way and it is perhaps one of the most important things that it is possible to do in Israel. I see myself as part of the struggle against the occupation and it doesn’t matter within which framework. I am part of the Israeli society that wants to change the situation from the ground up so that it will be better here.”
She adds, “The entire basis for settlements and for military control is because this place is sacred for us and important to the Jewish people. But from my point of view the right’s conclusion is completely wrong. In the name of the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs that are buried here, we are doing this to another people.”
To date, over 100,000 Israelis have participated in tours and lectures of Breaking the Silence, which was established by Israeli army veterans and exposes the realities of everyday life in the occupied territories.
NIF’s support for Breaking the Silence comes in the context of our support for a range of organizations working to document and monitor human rights in the territories (including B’Tselem, Yesh Din, Machsom Watch, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Gisha) as well as organizations engaged in educational efforts that counter racism, support peace, and engender tolerance (including Tag Meir, Peace Now, and Standing Together).