Category: Israel’s Military Occupation

How to Get Detained by the IDF without Being Aggressive, Provocative or even Loud

This morning, I ventured out to the village of al-Mufaqara in the South Hebron Hills. I went with four members of Ta’ayush, an Israeli organization that challenges the Occupation by helping Palestinian farmers access and work their land (they usually go out on Saturdays, so I don’t go with them, but am a big fan of their work and was excited to have this opportunity to go on a non-Shabbat). Our intent was to help the folks in al-Mufaqara fix a dirt road for a few hours, and then to go meet up with a tour in Susiya, right near by, led by the Solidarity Movement. We did both, but were “delayed” for a bit, between steps one and two… (Explanation forthcoming. Below is a picture of a few of the 20 soldiers who came. Backup!!! That is to say: Boredom).

Also with us in al-Mufaqara were a few lovely and friendly Italian volunteers from Operation Dove, a group that does peace and nonviolence work in various locales throughout the world, and in Palestine is based in al-Twane. These activists in particular, and their group in general, struck/strike me as the exact opposite of the sort of international activists I wrote critically of last week, humble, loving, nonviolent, dedicated (one of the volunteers, who told me she plans to stay for two and a half years, inshallah, spoke excellent Arabic). Together with these two, and a maybe twenty young boys from the village, ages 5 through 20something, and a few older men from the village, we began shoveling dirt into buckets and loading the buckets onto a truck. My little writer’s hands started cracking immediately, and I could only laugh at the fact that the seven year-old Palestinians were shoveling much more efficiently than I was. We were there, of course, primarily in solidarity and as a sort of “protection” (if Israelis and internationals are present, chances of violence from settlers or the army are decreased).

Work goes great, as far as work goes, and then, as we are heading to a different part of the village, the kids see soliders, and start chanting:

1, 2, 3, 4

Ockibush No More!

Huh? Laughing, I clap along. And then I get it:

1, 2, 3, 4, Occupation No More had blended, in their minds, with 1, 2, 3, 4 HaKibush (Hebrew for Occupation) No More. 

Brilliant. Tamar, another one of the activists there, made a supersharp lingual observation that may translate only mediocre to English: The two words have the same root in Arabic. 

Ein Prat: “Forging a New Paradigm for Israel” (at the expense of Bedouin children)

At Ein Prat, which has both pre- and post-Army programs, young Jews from all different backgrounds, American and Israeli, secular and observant, liberal and conservative, come together to study canonical texts, both Jewish and Western. Nestled among rolling hills, these youngsters gather to “forge a new paradigm for Israel,” and in their spare time, some of them take part in a fun and funky Jewish music group called The Fountainheads.

Where does such a place exist? For some odd reason, Ein Prat’s location is not listed anywhere on its English-language website.

Here’s why:

Ein Prat’s programs, which attract many liberal-leaning American Jews, are located in Kfar Adumim and Alon. Kfar Adumim is a settlement, as is its satellite settlement Alon. Anyone who chooses to study at Ein Prat chooses to directly benefit from and support the continued military occupation of over two million Palestinians.

Picture from Ein Prat’s website.

To be clear: the people of Ein Prat, its faculty and students, could very well be -and indeed probably are- thoughtful, complex and kind people. I assume the same about most settlers, and most people. My criticism is not leveled at the character of the individuals of Ein Prat (many of whom I know personally), but rather at the system which Ein Prat necessitates just as much as do more explicitly ideological settlements like Yitzhar (home to Torat HaMelekh and active groups of “hilltop youth”). Indeed, without checkpoints, roadblocks and the denial of an entire people the right to vote for the regime that controls both their day-to-day life and their destiny, neither Ein Prat or Yitzhar could be where they are.

Of course, the students of Ein Prat would never go and beat up Palestinian children. In fact, Ein Prat probably encourages dialogue with Palestinians. And yet, the violence enacted by both places is, at its root, disturbingly similar: a systematic, structural violence.

Picture of Khan Al-Ahmar’s elementary school, which Ein Prat’s Host Settlement Kfar Adumim wants demolished.

Ein Prat students grapple with a whole range of issues, but do they grapple with the issues going on right around them?