Al-Ma’asara, a little village near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, has begun to develop a reputation for its silly, creative demonstrations against the occupation, from dancing like birds to speaking to the soldiers in joyful gibberish. I think that there is a lot of subversive power to humor and art, so when a few friends asked I wanted to go this week, I happily said yes.
We arrive; the air is summer heavy, dripping.
The first thing I hear: the bvvvt bvvvt bvvvt of horn-kazoos, only sort of matching the tumble of drums.
The first thing I see: a friend of mine, Amitai (who recently started a blog about his own set of leftist escapades– highly recommended), dressed as a clown and sitting on the ground, surrounded by soldiers.
Soldiers: You’re under arrest.
Amitai, in clown voice: But, but why?
Suddenly a winged creature swoops in and envelops the sad clown in her light forrest wings. Laughter. The soldiers look confused. A sun beam glints off of the blade of a knife attached to the uniform of one soldier. Someone tells them they have No Right to Arrest this Clown! The soldiers back off.
There is more dancing, and silly movements, and gibberish. Clowning, all of us, in the face of this absurd reality, copy-pasted onto the faces of these kid-soldiers.
Kids shouldn’t be soldiers. But they should dress up in suits. Because it looks super cool and adds to the environment of cognitive dissonance.
And that’s all. The demonstration ended on the demonstrators’ terms, not waiting for the soldiers to close it down. No arrests, no injuries. Sweat. Laughter.
And it was good. I did have a moment, though, where I had to remind myself of a parable I recent heard from a taxi driver recently, in regards to activism/social change work.
In this work, there are humans and there are cats. Injustice runs into the kitchen like a mouse. A cat will chase the mouse out of the kitchen, and so will a human. The major difference, though, is that the cat hopes that the mouse comes back, and that more mice come. The human hopes that the mouse leaves, and does not return.
Remember to be a human.
That was an important note to keep in mind: as fun as this demonstration was, I don’t want these demonstrations to keep going. That is to say, demonstrations and other forms of direct resistance (in various forms, of course) need to keep going as long as the injustice of occupation keeps going, but its important to remember, especially for me, a citizen of the privileged class, a person who does not directly feel the crush of occupation except when I choose to, to remember that protests are not a goal in and of themselves. To remember at all times to be a human.