Regional Programs > Israel
& Palestine > Next Story
Anarchy in our souls
Gila Svirsky, Israel
April 25, 2004
I just spoke to Molly Malekar on her way to the hospital from a
demonstration in Bidu, and here is what she reported:
"We were about 60 women, only women: roughly 1/3 Israeli, 1/3
Palestinian, and 1/3 internationals. We gathered at Bidu to protest the
construction of the wall in this village. It was a quiet march, with
women carrying signs and walking toward the area where soldiers were
guarding the construction of the fence. At a distance of about 10 meters
(30 feet) from them, we stopped walking because the soldiers turned to
point their rifles directly at us. I called out to them in Hebrew, "Don't
shoot, we're not armed, this is a nonviolent demonstration." Suddenly
there was an onslaught of tear gas and stun grenades, falling all around
us, completely out of proportion to the quiet, nonprovocative nature of
our action. The grenades fell right there at our feet and we were
choking, unable to breathe. Most dispersed and ran back. Soldiers
charged toward us and fell upon the women, grabbing some whom they
arrested. By then, there was no demonstration at all, nothing to
disperse. Most of the women had run back, trying to recover from the tear
gas, but I stayed as I wanted to talk to the soldiers to prevent the
arrest of the four women. Suddenly out of nowhere four horses charged,
with border police mounted on them. I started to run away, but one of
them ridden by a young woman in uniform caught up with me and she struck
me on my head with her billyclub. I fell, and then a second horse charged
toward me and I felt more blows on my head and back. There was no
provocation whatsoever at any point while this was happening."
Molly is the director of Bat Shalom, which is the women's peace
organization that forms the Israeli side of The Jerusalem Link (the
Palestinian side is called the Jerusalem Center for Women). Molly is the
most wonderfully serious and thoughtful woman you would ever want to have
at the head of your organization. Anyone who has ever met Molly knows
that she has never engaged in provocation, but has only been cautious and
respectful. I asked her by cell phone, on her way to the hospital, how
she feels and she said, "A horrible headache, my ears hurt, and I'm aching
from the blows. But let's think about how to wake people up to what is
happening out there. We have to wake people up."
Wake up, world! Hear O Israel, wake up!! Israeli soldiers have made
brutality a way of life against Palestinians, then they turned their
weapons and death upon international peace activists, and now they are
brutalizing Israelis who express disapproval of their ways. Who will be
the first one killed?
Writes US woman activist Starhawk, who participated in some of these
actions, "The Israelis who are involved in the day to day resistance ...
said to me that they know it is only a matter of time before there is an
Israeli ‘shaheed‚’ a martyr of the occupation. Being Israeli is no longer
a protection against the violence of the military."
What's worse: Nonviolence is no longer protection against the brutality
of the military, regardless of whether you are Israeli or Palestinian or
international. No one should be assaulted for peacefully demonstrating,
and yet that has become the norm. Today, all demonstrations that take
place in the territories—whether by Palestinians or Israelis, women or
men, nonviolent or violent—are treated to the same brutal behavior of
guns, stun grenades, and clubs. And no one investigates the incidents in
a serious, unbiased manner, meaning that the soldiers learn that they can
be cruel with impunity.
What has happened? The occupation has happened. The occupation has
corrupted the soul of Israel. A situation of "Ein din v'ein dayan", as
the Bible says: "No law and no one standing in judgment".
There is anarchy in the soul of Israel today, and it won't be gone until
we uproot the occupation from our land and from our hearts.
Gila Svirsky is a peace and human rights activist.