It’s only been a few days since I arrived in Palestine so not much has happened. Well, relatively speaking not much. I was traveling to Nabi Saleh to see my friend Bassem Tamimi. Since I didn’t have a car I had to travel by bus through Qalandia checkpoint to Ramallah then by service cab to the village and back – and on the way back, the girl soldier put down her phone long enough to examine my ID, realize I was Israeli and detain me. Then the next day, I went to the epic “Combat BDS” conference also known as, or rather should be known as “Crazy & Loony Bros. How Do We Kill BDS Circus” in Jerusalem. It was an unforgettable experience. And now, as I sit and write this, a soldier is being tried for murder because he shot a Palestinian who was already dead. So its not the soldier that shot and murdered the young Palestinian that’s on trial, it’s the soldier that shot him for fun after he lay dead, or nearly dead on the ground, ignored by several Israeli ambulances that were driving around him – that’s the soldier that’s being tried. But, as I said, it’s only been a few days.
I grew up here and when I come here I live in the home and in the room where I grew up. Very little has changed in Motza Elite, a quiet and disorganized little place where for the most part houses are surrounded by trees and vegetation. Sure, the trees are taller, their trunks thicker, but it is still a quiet, beautiful little place with no soldiers, police or border guards and of course, no Arabs. It is the perfect white, Jewish, privileged community and it is the perfect place to get away from it all, or as most people who live here do, ignore any of it exists. “It” is the rest of Palestine.
I will start with what seems to me the most bizarre thing going on at this moment. Two young Palestinians, who attacked fully armed soldiers using knives, were killed. Ambulances are on the scene taking care of the soldiers who were slightly wounded and they drive around the bodies of the young Palestinians. Suddenly a shot is heard. A soldier who was not on the scene originally decides to shoot one of the Palestinians lying on the ground, motionless, in the head. He claims he saw some movement and was concerned the victim on the ground might detonate a bomb. Now for some reason this soldier is charged with murder.
It’s a good idea from time to time to travel around the country as Palestinians do. Use buses, service cabs and go through checkpoints. It’s inconvenient, takes a lot of time and is totally unpredictable. So that’s what we did. Fadwa, my better half and I took a bus to East Jerusalem then another bus to Ramallah where we met Bassem Tamimi. We had coffee at “Stars and Bucks Café” and then the three of us took a service cab to Nabi Saleh. Bassem was supposed to be in the US now on a speaking tour. This would have been his third tour since receiving his visa to the US. But suddenly, with no real explanation and no apparent reason he got notice that his visa has been revoked. So American audiences were denied the chance to hear him and he remains here in Palestine trying to help the nearly twenty youth from Nabi Saleh, who are in prison, including his son Wa’ed.
We arrived in Nabi Saleh, spent the afternoon there and then returned to Jerusalem. We took a service cab to Ramallah, a cab to the checkpoint, tried to find our way through the maze that makes up the checkpoint, and thankfully the Palestinian vendors outside pointed us in the right direction. The soldier behind the window rarely takes the trouble to lift their eyes when the ID is presented. So, I press my ID against the window expecting to be waved through when something caught her eye long enough for her to see that mine was an Israeli ID. With nothing better to do she decided to look into this strange phenomenon, an Israeli coming through a Palestinian checkpoint. Thinking I was probably some kind of “human rights” agitator or something she called me from inside, “Are you with human rights?”
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“Are you with B’Tselem”
“Don’t you know Jews are not allowed to cross here?
“What were you doing in Ramallah?”
“We bought strawberries, and had coffee.”
Fadwa is not the problem because she is not Jewish. I am the problem. Still they ask her the same questions and we are “invited” in to a waiting room and sit down.
We sit and wait. The room is maybe three feet by three feet and its freezing cold. We start looking at the graffiti in Arabic that is engraved into the walls. Ten minutes go by and nothing happens.
“What are we waiting for?”
“The police are on their way?’
“To question you?”
“There is an order from the colonel or general that prohibits Jews from crossing here.”
She should read my book, The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, there is a chapter called, The Commanding General’s Order.
“OK, we wont do it again.”
“The police will be here any minute.”
We wait ten more minutes and the same conversation takes place, then again and again about every ten minutes. Finally, she hands me my ID and says, “You can go now.” No explanation, no nothing.
It was a cold, rainy day as thousands entered the convention center in Jerusalem. Fresh coffee, sandwiches and pastries were free, security was tight and I tried to make myself as un-noticeable as possible. “Just blend in,” I thought to myself when I heard someone say, “look that’s Miko Peled.” Crap! Not the place I want to be recognized. Every kind of Israeli crazy was there. I look over, and it’s Anthony Lowenstein, the Auzzie journalist and Dan Cohen, an American journalist. Both are crazy Jews like me who came to see this circus. We sat down and then it started. The world’s most self-absorbed, self-righteous and criminally insane society was putting on a show, with its best actors playing lead roles. This was the “How To Combat BDS” conference, put on by Israel’s largest newspaper, Yediot Aharonot.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was up first. Israel could hardly have selected a better-suited man for the job of representing the state and the people of Israel. Rivlin is a white, European colonizer, constantly patting Israel and himself on the back for being a liberal democratic melting pot. “BDS foundation is de-legitimization of Israel without connection to what Israel does” President Rivlin said and he added that “the world is in awe of Israeli exceptionalism.” He ended his remarks by saying that he sleeps better than ever knowing the Israeli army is the most moral army on earth. Talk about “opium to the masses.”
Anthony Lowenstein wrote a piece about the conference everyone should read, but here is quick review of some of my favorite highlights: Gilad Erdan minister of public security, strategic affairs and Hasbarah (all that is one ministerial office) who has been designated as lead role in the fight against BDS said that it’s all about legitimacy. Indeed this is about legitimacy. Everything Israel does is about claiming it has legitimacy when clearly, being a settler-colonialist project that established a racist system in Palestine, it hasn’t got any legitimacy at all. Erdan went on to say that BDS activists would soon begin to pay for de-legitimization of Israel. He didn’t specify how they would pay, but one can be sure that all dedicated BDS activists expect that the struggle to free Palestine will be a tough one and will readily confront obstacles to achieve this goal.
Then Jewish Billionaire Ron Lauder came up to speak. He said that since anti-Semitic campus groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association are so well funded, poor Jewish students can’t complete and have no tools to defend themselves. You had to wonder if he is lying or just totally clueless. His remedy is that he will provide the funds for Pro Israeli groups on campus so that the Zionist voice is heard. As president of the World Jewish Congress he works closely with Jewish leaders around the world to push for anti-BDS legislation. Interestingly enough, he was the first one to mention Omar Barghouti, who heads the BDS movement, “why does he want to destroy Israel?” Lauder asked. If they had any sense they would have invited him to explain.
The EU ambassador to Israel was on a panel with some of the worst racist figures in Israel, including Danny Dayan. Dayan who was rejected by the government of Brazil to be Israel’s ambassador was now nominated to be Israel’s Consul General in NY. The EU ambassador said that West Bank settlement products are welcome in the EU, and that the labeling of settlement products is done merely for information purposes. More opium! Dore Good, general director of the Israeli foreign ministry said that we must expose the fact that the Islamic jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood established BDS. He repeated this several times even though it is completely untrue, practicing what was once said about a lie, that if it is repeated enough times, it becomes truth. Well, I doubt that in this case it will work. The day ended shortly after that and the three exhausted Jewish infiltrators drove away to bask in the warmth of Arab East Jerusalem. Who knows what the next few days may bring.