Sometimes my email brings me news of actions I can join, and sometimes it brings me news of good people under duress whom I can support. The report below came via Women in Black and Veterans for Peace members who shared it with a Codepink Maine member who shared it with me.
I am thankful for my networks that bring me real news.
The account below was written by Hadass Gertmann who gave her permission to repost it with the note, "It happened in Gan Shmuel junction, which is near Hadera (between Tel Aviv and Haifa)... it was on December 4th, . Since then we had one more vigil that was surprisingly quiet."
Let’s begin with an event. An event that took place today, early afternoon, at Gan Shmuel Junction. At a routine vigil of “Women in Black”, between 1 and 2 p.m., myself among them.Three very young men drive by us, hurling strings of curses at us, to which we are quite accustomed. Some minutes later they come back from the opposite direction, turn left into the shopping compound behind us, yelling at us again and wishing us dead. A moment later they show up on pavement where we stand, one with an Israeli flag, the other filming. The one with the flag gets down into the road and dances in front of us, risking his life in the traffic, hopping and jumping, waving his flag and roaring "The people of Israel live!” trying to approach us up close. When I retreat, he advances even more, nearly touching me. Around us cars stand at the stoplight. At best, drivers ignore the scene. More commonly they honk, clap, cheer and yell that we deserve it, making obscene gestures. One lady, out of the ordinary, rolls down her window and says to the young man “But no violence!”
His buddy films the scene and they both scream at us that we are to blame for all the stabbings and run-overs and murders and why don’t we demonstrate against THAT and wish us dead…
I simply lose it. Out of my wits. Shocked.One man approaches with a camera, tells them he wants to film, too. They give him a big show and then he tells them he’s a journalist and that he filmed them in order to show the police and go public that they’re violent and dangerous. He also summons the police. They evaporate immediately. The police arrive, and finally the policeman scolds us. (Got a permit? Who’s responsible? If you don’t lodge a complaint what do you want? Why are you cynical?)I was born in 1966. One year before the Six-Day War. I grew up into the Occupation. Until I completed my military service I had no political identity. The day after my discharge the First Intifada broke out. I began to ask, understand, think, have opinions and discovered I was a leftie.A leap in timeDuring Operation Defensive Shield I joined “Women in Black” at Gan Shmuel Junction. As mentioned above, every Friday between 1 and 2 p.m. It’s a veteran shift that has been standing vigil over 25 years now. We are not many and not that young. I have already disclosed my own age, and I’m one of the younger ones.It’s not easy to stand there very week. Doesn’t much help either. So it seems. Really?Over the years I have experienced all sorts of unpleasant moments. Eggs were thrown at me, a stone hit me in the head, we have been endlessly cursed… This is routine and familiar and we more or less brace ourselves for it.
We answer our assailants in various ways, but at least I tell myself that our weekly, Sisyphean presence is mostly for our own sake. So we don’t forget the Occupation. So that the word Occupation would not be erased from the vocabulary of public space.
People used to ask us – What Occupation? 1948? 1967?
By now this word has been erased. Children grow up not knowing there is an ongoing Occupation. And how would they know if they’re not taught? It happened when I was a baby, and as I’ve already said, I’m no spring chicken myself. And in fact I wasn’t taught either…At every escalation, in time, the situation is reflected at the junction. The curses get louder, anger at us seethes - as if we, by our very standing there, are the cause of terrorist attacks, violence. As if we are not citizens of this state. As if our own children are not in the same school system that sends them into the army. People wish us harmed, our families injured. Then we’ll know…! (Sadly, some of the women standing with me have experienced terrorist attacks, even been victims, and still insist on saying – enough!)Today’s event shocked me. I was terribly scared. I was afraid they were about to lose it. Another moment and they’d have touched me. Hurt me. And I didn’t want this. Not for me, not for them. Not for whoever’s waiting for them at home, nor for those waiting for me at home.I feel at the edge of the abyss. I am very frightened, for myself but also for all of us. How could such violence, towards an opinion and of course towards women, be accepted with such sympathy? (Would they have jumped at us like this if a man were standing with us? I doubt it. After all, when the journalist showed up and faced them, they simply evaporated).Although I am afraid to go back there, I think I should. That this voice of ours should be present. Even if it is unpopular right now. People have to know there is still Occupation ongoing. That we are still oppressing nearly 2 million people. And that this oppression exacts terrible prices, besides being outright immoral.It corrupts us, makes us unwillingly violent. It endangers our children and all of us on the everyday level of personal safety, as well as in the deeper sense of what kind of society we are. What happened today (and surely happens all the time to others) has revealed the face of a violent society that treats women, opinions, minorities, and weaker persons with fundamental disrespect, lack of appreciation, brutally, cruelly and roughly.I run out of words.
You can stand with Women in Black in Portland, Maine (pictured above) on Fridays from 5-5:30pm in Congress Square. Or join me at a weekly vigil for peace in Skowhegan on the Margaret Chase Smith Bridge every Sunday from noon-1pm.
Or, find your own way to stand up for peace and good will toward all humankind. It's always the right season for that.