About this Blog

"Ordinary People" is something of an intentional misnomer. I live and work with Palestinians practicing nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. They are doing things that are hardly "ordinary": committing themselves to active nonviolence and to loving their enemies -- following the commands of One who was anything but ordinary. And yet, the Palestinians with whom I work are also very ordinary -- they are not some kind of spiritual superheroes/superheroines who do things most folks can't do. They are simply ordinary people daily committing themselves to living a higher calling -- a calling of love and active nonviolence.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"He was attacked, so they arrested him."

In a rational world, this statement is mind-boggling at best. During this past month, I feel as though I have heard this story far too often: "He was attacked, so they arrested him." After living in Palestine for a while, this sentence is far too conceivable. For example:

A few teammates and I recently went to visit a Palestinian deeply committed to nonviolence, on whose lands we regularly have nonviolent actions -- harvesting olives, tilling the fields, etc. He has the misfortune of living between two Israeli settlements, and this is vulnerable to settler harassment and attack. So every week (weather permitting), Palestinians, internationals, and (sometimes) Israeli activists gather to work the fields. Sometimes Israeli military and police come. Sometimes Israeli settlers stop to watch or verbally harass the workers.

Only during our recent visit, did we hear part of this man's story. He told us about his upcoming trial. In July, he was shepherding his land when Israeli settlers attacked him and members of his family, and the settlers fired some shots. When he attempted to defend himself, Israeli military arrested him and two of his sons. However, the Israeli authorities did not inform him of his arrest. They told him, “Come to [the police station] to make a complaint.” When he went to the station to file a complaint, they arrested him, and he and one of his sons spent 14 days in jail. They had to pay a fine of 2,000 shekels. His other son spent one month in jail and had to pay at 3,050 shekel fine. His trial is in military court. Settlers accuse him of throwing stones at settler guards. An Israeli activist present at the time of the attack can witness to the fact that settlers attacked this man. Regardless, the settlers are asking for a three year sentence, and the court has not yet ruled on his case.

And then we heard another story, on the same night:

In January, Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian family living in the valley below the Kiryat Arba settlement, and the family recorded the attack on video. The Israeli military did little to prevent settlers from throwing stones (the one instance in which they intervened, a soldier got between a settler boy and the Palestinian home and said simply, “Go back”) but physically restrained Palestinians from throwing stones. The settlers surrounded the house on three sides. Twelve family members were injured and four taken to the hospital. Two family members were hurt seriously and required stitches (one person needed four and the other five stitches.) Two of the four seriously injured were arrested first and the military denied them medical treatment. The Israeli police held one of the Palestinian men for four hours and then released him. Only then did he receive necessary medical treatment.

"He was attacked, so they arrested him." Is this justice?

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