Taking One for the Team

Today I want to focus on Jews in Israel who oppose the Occupation and work to end it. A clearer eye you probably can't find.
I could not stand aside. Sensing that the forcible removal of the family’s possessions (or most of them) was about to cease and the demolition begin, I seized the moment and rushed into the home, planting myself in a corner of what had been the kitchen before the surprised Border Police could react. The head of the police unit rushed up to me sitting on the floor and ordered me to leave.

My conscience as an Israeli, a Jew and a human being forbids me to permit this illegal and immoral act of demolition from taking place, I told him. In fact, I informed him, I am placing you under citizen’s arrest for violating the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 53), which prohibits the demolishing of homes in occupied territories. I thereby asked the accompanying policemen to arrest him. Sputtering, furious, he placed plastic handcuffs on me and had me forcibly thrown out of the house.
Just before this happened, one of the soldiers had made the most appalling comment - a comment which reveals in all it's ugliness the nature of the Occupation and the racist attitudes of those who support it.
Only one small but devastating incident distinguished the Hamdan demolition this past week from the normal routine. As Shaadi Hamdan and I were standing in front of the home, we were accosted by a slim, blond Border Policeman, probably of Russian origin.
“I was born to demolish Palestinian homes,” he informed us mockingly, a big smile on his face, a swagger in his movements.
“I love demolishing homes. I wake up in the morning hungry to demolish homes.”
With that he walked away. I can’t convey the mixture of anguish, anger, bewilderment and resignation that crossed Shaadi’s face at that moment. He simply stood aside as his home was demolished for the second time.
People like this soldier and the settlers who murdered this Palestinian teenager are simply full of hate. There's no other explanation for the sadistic pleasure they take in bringing suffering to other human beings who have not harmed them.

As Jeff Halper accurately states, nothing will change until those of us who are not currently threatened will have the courage to stand up and be counted.
Nothing, of course, happened to me, besides a few bruises. The Border Policeman “born to demolish” paraded around me repeating his delight at the day’s events, all of which ICAHD activists recorded on film. But we Israeli Jews enjoy a privileged position. We know the police or soldiers will not shoot us, will not beat us, will not detain us for long, and so we exploit that privilege in ways that Palestinians can’t. Shaadi would have been shot for doing what I did. We also know another sad fact: that unless an Israeli like me performs such a dramatic act, no one will notice the demolitions that take place almost daily in Jerusalem, the West Bank and, yes, Gaza.
The news spread quickly throughout the world. I was interviewed that day, my hands still in handcuffs, by radio stations from South Africa to Norway. I tried, of course, to put my action in context, to stress that my experience paled next to the crime that had been perpetrated upon the Hamdan family by the Israeli authorities. But I knew the truth: only the arrest of an Israeli makes the news; Palestinian suffering, as their very claim for justice, is ignored. Still, resistance is necessary.
This man enjoys great moral clarity, and he uses that clarity to confront the evil of the Occupation. He puts it into words on the internet so that someone like me thousands of miles away can find it. It brings me hope, and I post it so that you, dear reader, might think to yourself, "Yes, maybe I can have a little more courage, too." Though the house was still demolished, now at least a few people know that others tried to stop it. That knowledge alone, even though it doesn't seem like much, is actually huge because it binds us with the invisible cords of love. We are on the same team - the human team.

I will leave you with words from the last page of People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck.
I cannot be any more specific about the methodology of love than to quote these words of an old priest who spent many years in the battle: "There are dozens of ways to deal with evil and several ways to conquer it. All of them are facets of the truth that the only ultimate way to conquer evil is to let it be smothered within a willing, living human being. When it is absorbed there like blood in a sponge or a spear into one's heart, it loses its power and goes no further."
Will you take one for the team?

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