Fair Policy, Fair Discussion

December 12, 2009

Heroic, anti-colonial Israelis

Filed under: Activism,Israeli peace activists — Helena Cobban @ 10:15 pm

From David Shulman, via Phil Weiss, comes this great account of the Israeli security forces laying into a crowd of more than a hundred, apparently Jewish, Israelis who held a peaceful demonstration at one of the Palestinian houses in the Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, that has recently been taken over by settlers.

Shulman writes this about the police violence:

Somehow it begins. Someone gave the order. I don’t know who. Later someone says it may have been connected to the flags. It’s possible—I didn’t see it—that one of our demonstrators reached the window of the stolen house and tore down the plastic Israeli flag. Maybe that triggered it. But I think they were anyway just itching to tear into this crowd. So when the moment comes, it starts somewhere at the edge of the family’s tent set up in what’s left of their own front yard and then swirls rapidly in widening arcs and circles, a vortex drawing each of us in.

Eddies of dizzying attacks all along the street. Another wave. Now they have drawn blood, and they seem to like the taste of it. They want more. More and more. They go after the drummers, arrest them. Many seemingly random victims, too. Sandy says to me: “They’re like storm troopers. No other image comes to mind.” Some of our people are crying. Another charge. Young girls carried off, screaming. Sarah thrown to the ground, pounded, dragged over the stones. Again we try to close ranks. More waves. Time expands, elastic, twisting and turning back on itself, remorseless; this misery will never stop. Some of the border police are spraying us with an aerosol mix of chilly pepper and tear-gas, at close quarters, straight into the face. It’s not like the usual tear-gas canisters I know well; this is concentrated, and it burns and scorches as if it had burrowed into the pores of your skin and, in particular, your eyes. Even now, two hours later, my face and lips feel singed by flames.

– In the middle of it all—perhaps you won’t believe me—an elderly Palestinian gentleman from one of the evicted families materializes with a round bronze plate loaded with dozens of tiny white plastic cups of Turkish coffee. He moves, dreamlike, among us, an imperturbable, humane host worried about how his guests are faring. He calmly offers us coffee. Vicious bursts of staccato blows and intimate violent follies spin madly around him…

– Tonight is the first candle of Hanukah, another one of those alleged Jewish festivals of freedom. Early this morning, at Kafr Yasuf in the northern West Bank, settlers set fire to a mosque. They left some graffiti on the walls: “We will burn you all.” Copies of the Koran were torn and torched, prayer-rugs burnt. Jews did this. It’s important to understand what this sentence means. Burning means something to us.

Big thanks to Phil, David, and these other courageous, anti-colonial Israeli activists.



  1. – Tonight is the first candle of Hanukah, another one of those alleged Jewish festivals of freedom.

    That’s an anti-Jewish slur and repeating it does you no credit.

    Comment by Joe in Australia — December 13, 2009 @ 6:13 am | Reply

  2. Joe, go read the whole of the piece by David Shulman, a Jewish Israeli peace activist who probably knows a lot more about what he’s writing about than you do?

    Comment by Helena Cobban — December 13, 2009 @ 8:29 am | Reply

  3. I did read it all. I hope you would object to a right-win blogger talking about “the alleged Moslem religion of peace”; you should similarly object to “another one of those alleged Jewish festivals of freedom”. It implies that Jews are hypocrites.

    While I’m on the subject, you linked to an article on Legistorm at the foot of which are some of the most virulently racist comments I’ve ever seen. But you described the website as being “excellent and informative”. Did you not notice the comments?

    Comment by Joe in Australia — December 13, 2009 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

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