When we first started providing Protective Presence at the school in Al Minyah, our guide strongly advised against standing at the crosswalk on the very busy roadway adjacent to the school. Across from the well armed soldiers who menaced the paths the children took.
“It is not good to be there,” he told us, “the settlers [illegal Israeli colonizers] will stop and harass you. It is too much trouble. There has been very much trouble in the past.”
Being who I am, a person motivated strongly against bullies, I thought, one day, we might test the issue. Wondering what, exactly, a settler could do to us. We knew they attacked Palestinians with impunity, but had not heard of too many attacks on ‘Internationals’. On consultation our team decided to go there anyway.
It didn’t take long. Maybe a day. The first car with Israeli plates (many pass by every day on their way to Jerusalem from the illegal colonies) stopped just past the crosswalk disgorging a smiling, European looking man with a cell-phone camera pointed at my face.
“Who are you? Where do you come from? Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be in an Arab dictatorship?” All the while trying to take my photo.
He could tell who I was, I was wearing an observer vest, standing where others had stood before me. His purpose was to intimidate me, post my photo on social media as an interfering International and to draw both Palestinians and soldiers into a confrontation. Our guide had stories of past encounters where soldiers ended up threatening teachers who’d come to an EA’s defense. After that incident I stopped standing where the colonizers could see me. Revealing myself only to soldiers and students. I wasn’t going to be the excuse the colonizers needed to start a confrontation with teachers and soldiers.
It did make me wonder though. Why are the colonizers so determined to get rid of witnesses? Why do they attack us if they are so convinced of the righteousness of their cause? Other EAs have been spit on, pushed, even deported for their witness. Why?
Colonizers are convinced their actions are in the aid of their country and people. They see themselves as warriors in the cause of justice. So why not be pleased to have witnesses? I think they are, on some level, ashamed of themselves. It must be hard to see yourself as a freedom fighter while acting like a bully. A terrorist bully, at that.
Burning farmer’s fields, cutting olive, pomegranate, date and fig trees, grape vines at the root. Taking wells, stealing land, setting dogs on shepherds and sheep, firing rifles at school children, burning people alive in their homes, shooting random Palestinian travellers, throwing rocks at houses, screaming vile words at children and their parents, using David’s Star like a swastika in terrorist acts of graffiti. Running people down on village roadways, irrigating your lawn with their water while their children go thirsty. Flying drones over their homes daily, shutting down their access roads.
I’ve interviewed families attacked by colonizers, seen the evidence of vehicle’s slashed tires, rocks thrown against houses. Fences cut, land taken, bodies slashed, legs broken.
Why don’t the Colonizers want witnesses? Why do local Zionist supporters of Colonies and Colonizers shout down witnesses at meetings on Vancouver Island? it’s happened here, in Duncan. Because they are ashamed, I figure. They cannot believe what they’ve become.
Neither can I.