Dear Israel: This is why my children are not growing up in Israel.

Israeli Border Patrol - not exactly cops on the beat. (Source: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

I’ve been particularly fixated this week on this story out of East Jerusalem (which, it should be noted, is a misnomer for the Palestinian neighborhoods and villages in and around Jerusalem which Israel is steadily Judacizing, many of which were not part of Jerusalem when Israel captured the city in 1967 but have since been unilaterally annexed):

Clashes erupted late Tuesday when the Israeli army entered the town in order to arrest a resident on charges of throwing stones. The arrest caused heightened tensions in the town and dozens of young residents gathered to confront the soldiers.

The clashes between the soldiers and the residents concentrated in Hai Abeid, which is downtown Issawiya, and continued until the early hours of the morning. According to witnesses, over a dozen Palestinians were injured. One of the wounded residents was hit with a rubber-coated bullet in his head and is currently in critical situation.

The Israeli border guard reported two injuries of Israeli soldiers who were taken to Hadassah hospital.

The army has deployed more soldiers to the area and the current situation is still tense.

Confrontations between the Israeli army and residents of Issawiya are very common, especially when the army enters the town. In the past two years dozens of residents have been injured and arrested and one [14 month old] child was killed from inhaling tear gas.

There are several reasons to get fixated, starting with the fact that this is the sort of news that people outside Palestine (and by that I also mean Israelis living a mile away) never, ever hear. I cannot tell you how I wish the world were more aware of the daily violence inherent to the occupation.

Then there’s the fact that “the Israeli army entered the town” to arrest someone for stone throwing.

I suspect the reference is to the Border Patrol, nominally a police unit but uniformed and armed as soldiers — neither Israelis nor Palestinians differentiate in any meaningful way between the two. So this means that virtual-soldiers swarmed Issawiya in order to arrest a resident of Jerusalem — a nominally undivided city — for throwing stones.

Is stone throwing nice? Nope. Can it lead to death? Yep. Is it the last weapon of the dispossessed in a frantic struggle to maintain some level of liberty and human dignity in the face of nearly monstrous power? You betcha. Does it warrant an influx of soldiers armed to the teeth using live rounds? No.

And there’s the little-known fact that Issawiya is literally on the other side of a wall from world-reknown Hebrew University, to which American Jews regularly send money and students. These clashes happen literal yards from classrooms, and no one has any idea. Lord knows I didn’t until I went to Issawiya myself.

But I also have a personal reason to fixate on this particular clash: A little more than a year ago, my family and I stood on that very ground, in solidarity and in a call for peace.

Click here to see a picture of Issawiya: IDF, Palestinians clash in East Jerusalem; one critically wounded — you see that fence in the foreground?

You should watch all of the following clip, but if you go to the 1:24 mark and look at that same fence in the top-right corner, you’ll see us walking alongside it: a little girl in green, a man in sunglasses, a woman in a black shirt, and a boy in a brown shirt. If you watch the next clip (and please do watch all of it, too), just after a sign that reads “Stop the Imprisonment of Isawiya” is moved (the top of the screen, 1:30 mark), you’ll see my daughter and husband again.

*

So the other day, I called my son over and showed him the picture, and then with the cursor reminded him of where we had walked, where we’d turned up the street, where our Palestinian brothers and sisters had stretched an enormous Palestinian flag over us as we passed under and they welcomed us to their village — and told him that our army had shot more than 12 of the people living there, one of them critically.

Never have I felt more powerfully the fact that I have betrayed the forces of good by choosing to live in the US. And never have I been gladder that I am not raising my children to be sacrificed on the altar of the settlement policies that justify such rank injustice.

For a fact sheet on Israel’s tightening control over Palestinian Jerusalem, click here

1 Comment

  1. modernmalice

     /  February 4, 2012

    Emily, there is a fantastic book called City of Collision: Jerusalem and the Principals of Conflict Urbanism that you would be very interested in, if you haven’t already stumbled across it.