We meet some of the people who live in this little village who demonstrate peacefully every Friday. They demonstrate because the wall is being built around this village and soon some will not be able to reach their land to tend it. It will then become ‘deserted land’ in the eyes of Israeli law and will be taken by the state.
Before we walk with them to the ‘front line’ we hear this:
“We can talk weeks and months of stories of despair and pain but let’s talk about he hope. This is the power of the beautiful resistance. One day Rosa decided not to change the seat of her bus, small actions of beautiful resistance can bring justice and great change. This is why we do this every Friday. We choose eye contact over guns. We talk to the boys with guns. These are the great grandsons or even grandsons of the holocaust victims. This phenomena is happening all over again. It is not a religious conflict, it is about power and money and politicians use us all in a bad way. This is not an Arab Jewish conflict. This is something different.
Yesterday was for Israelis Holocaust Memorial Day, today for us it is the Day of Palestinian Prisoners. More than three quarter of a million Palestinians have entered Israeli jails, many are children. The frog in the water has been heated degree by degree and to many Palestinians this life has become normalised. This is what they want. So we will challenge this and will keep demonstrating non violently. We use our voices not guns, our words to explain to the Israeli boys what they are part of.”
And off we go up the road, obligatory chanting and singing and flag waving.
We meet the wall of armed soldiers ten minutes later. They move together like a caterpillar to block the way of Palestinians as they attempt to get through the blockade at first. We internationals are not stopped but then stand rather uselessly on the other side, not knowing what to do, so come back through to stand beside our hosts as they are eyeballed by the boys with guns.
They are mostly very young, and very beautiful boys, some mothers cherished son or daughter, with the middle aged, baby faced commander quietly present beside them, taking pictures on his iPhone of all of us ‘internationals’ in a systematic, smiley and cool manner. This is state intimidation of peaceful international protest at its most polite. I take a photo of him as he takes one of me. I thank him with a smile by return.
The demonstrators talk lengthily to the soldiers about the correlation between the behaviours of the nazi’s towards the Jews and what they are being led to participate in against the Palestinians. There is a constant heaving along the line as they move up and down the blockade.
Some of the uniformed lads try to stare the demonstrators down, some enter into condescending and badly constructed ‘banter’, a lot more look a bit scared. The guns are automatic weapons and I feel anxious.
I am distracted by a small rabble of children who try to barter with me for my iPad. 5 shekels? 10 shekels? Eventually I spend time at the back of the group chatting to them about where they live and football – in Palestine English league football is all – through a young girls perfect translation abilities. They lose interest as I try to explain the difference between the English and Scottish systems…
It’s time to go. The dance is done. We leave and the soldiers leave too. It’s a Friday ritual.