The Israeli soldier who arrested me wore faux leather army boots

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By Ariel Gold

We were at the weekly nonviolent demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil’in trying to get away from the army jeep when two female soldiers jumped from it and grabbed us. They held us by the jeeps twisting our arms behind our backs as we watched another international and a Palestinian get arrested as well. The other international, who was from Italy, was being badly beaten and pepper sprayed in his eyes. Me and the other woman were each being held by the women soldiers. The soldiers were in full head to toe protective gear and holding each of us in front of front of them in line of rocks being thrown by young Palestinian teenagers who could not see that their rocks were hurling forward toward unarmed unprotected civilians. I tried to bend my head forward to protect my face and neck from the oncoming rocks, but the soldier pulled my head up keeping me in line of the rocks. I asked her if she was intentionally trying to get me hit with a rock. She laughed and continued ensuring that my face was exposed and unprotected. I looked over at my friend next to me and saw that she too was having the same experience of the female soldier ensuring that her face was directly in the line of the rocks.

Later at the police station inside the illegal settlement of Mod’in Illit, I sat in handcuffs with one of the female soldiers who had arrested us at the demonstration. I was trying to talk with her to make a connection to her humanity. She was young, maybe 29 or 20 years old. I asked her about what music she likes, if she has any pets, what she likes to do when she isn’t on duty, and what her favorite foods are. “I’m vegetarian,” she said. “really,” I told her that I was vegan. “I have been vegetarian for two years,” she said. “I am trying to be vegan, but it is very hard in the military.” I told her that I was surprised; I had heard that the Israeli military offers vegan food, even faux leather army boots. She looked excited and proud and pointed to her boots and told me that they were indeed vegan. She told me she was inspired by Gary Yourofsky and saw I made a face. She asked why I didn’t like him. I explained that for me veganism is not simply about the liberation of animals but part of a principled stance against all forms of oppression. I told her that I consider it contradictory to be opposed to the oppression of animals while condemning or working to end sexism, racism, islamophophia, antisemitism, occupation, and more. I told her that for me vegan principles compel me to recognize and work for the equality of all beings and all people, including Palestinians. Though she didn’t take off her faux leather Israeli army boots and recognize immorality and brutal violence of the occupation, she did acknowledge that I had a point.

*Article describing my arrest last week in Bil’in, Palestine

 

 

“Every night I dream of soldiers”

“Last night I dreamt that a soldier was arresting Mohammed. He was on the street in the middle of the village and he was crying as the soldier was trying to take him and I was saying, ‘why, why, take my son?’ but the soldier took him away. This morning when he went to school I told him to be careful because of my dream. They arrest them at school, on the way to school, on the way home fro school, at the demonstration, everywhere.” I am sitting in the home of my dear friend, Tasaheel, having breakfast. She is a mother of five children. Mohammed, her middle child, is 13, only a year younger than my son, Elijah. “A mother,” she says “is tired all the time every day from taking care of her children, and it only takes a moment for a soldier to kill them”.

The day before I arrived in the village of Bil’in, Mohammed’s 15-year-old brother, Abdul Khaliq, had been shot with a new kind of rubber bullet at the village’s weekly demonstration. It is a large bullet covered with blue foam. Abdul Khaliq says the purpose of it is hit a larger area of your body. A year and a half ago, Majd, the oldest child, was shot with live ammunition in his leg. It severed a nerve and he no longer can feel anything in his foot.

Tashaheel told me when I arrived that every night she dreams of soldiers and every morning she wakes up afraid that another of her children, will be shot like Majd and become disabled or killed. She told me that she wakes up every morning in fear for all the children in Palestine. Tears well up in her eyes. I want to tell something to soothe her, I want to tell her that it will be ok, but there is nothing I can say, except to sit with her in witness.

At night I sit outside with Majd and we talk about his hopes for his future. He tells me about his favorite moves and shows he things he has written, what music videos he likes. He wants to become a nerve surgeon because when he was shot there was no nerve surgeon available at the hospital in Ramallah where he was first taken. I ask if I can interview him about the shooting. He tells that if a nerve surgeon had been available (or if he could have easily been taken to the hospital in Jerusalem right away) he might not have permanently lost the feeling in his foot.

Acts of Terror

I am sitting in the Tamimi home in Nabi Saleh. There is a group from France visiting and we are sitting around the living room with children running in and out of the room. All the sudden we hear what sounds like fireworks going off. We go outside to the porch to see if we can tell what is happening. It turns out the army is firing tear gas in the other side of the village. We go back inside and I ask my friend if tear gas being fired into part of the village is a regular occurrence? He replies that it is.

Along with the 14 young people who have been arrested this month from Nabi Saleh, there is a list of about 10 other youth who are soon to be arrested. The villagers do not know when these arrests will take place, but they guess it will be within the next two-three weeks. The arrests usually take place between 2:00-4:00 AM in the middle of the night, waking the whole family, including the younger children. The last round of arrests, however, took place around 5:00 AM, just after the youth and their families had presumed they would not be arrested that night, and let themselves drift off into an almost comfortable slumber.

Much is being said in the media about Israeli fear. Due to the recent escalation of violence, Israelis are right now, like they were during the second intifada, weighing the risks of doing things like riding public busses and visiting Jerusalem (Scheindlin, 2015). While certainly no one should live in fear, It is vitally important that we are not only concerned with the tension Israelis are currently living under, but are also concerned with the constant tension that Palestinians live under every day of their lives under, as the victims of Israeli state terror. Randomly shooting tear tear gas into villages as a means of collective punishment, middle of the night arrests, settler attacks, restricted freedom of movement, and much more, did not begin with the recent escalation of violence. These things are constants of life under Israeli occupation. The occupation is an act of terror. That Palestinian youth are rising up right now in an attempt to shake their oppression (the literal definition of intifada is to “shake off”) is not a coincidence. It is the result of Palestinians having lived their whole lives under ever tightening Israeli control. The answer to the increased violence we are seeing right now is not more control, collective punishment, and human rights violations. It is ending the occupation, granting the right of return to Palestinian refugees and their descendants, and guaranteeing full equality for all people in Israel/Palestine.

Ariel Gold

Walls, checkpoints, and Israeli Military Court Appearances

I spent my first night back in Palestine in Jerusalem’s old city. The “tension” some Israeli relative and friends of mine have described to me seemed to be far away from the bustle of the old city, with tourism seeming to be in full bloom and shop and restaurant life seeming to go on as usual. Shopkeepers I spoke to told me that the number of Israeli soldiers seemed to be decreasing.  

Yet, on October 26th, just two days before, Palestinian women of East Jerusalem put out a call to the international community to help protect them from “serious violations of Palestinian human rights, including physical attacks and injuries, severe psychological threats, and persecution by the Israeli settler-colonial state and settler entities violence, intimidation” (link to article). The same day, Since the beginning o October, Israel has erected 38 new barriers and 17 new checkpoints in East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhoods, disrupting the daily lives of at least 138,000 Palestinians link to article. Israel seems to believe that force and further repression is the solution to unrest from continuing occupation and human rights abuses. However, we as advocates for human rights and equality for all people know that the occupation is the root cause of the violence and that further oppression will only bring more unrest in the present and the future link to article.  

Along with increasing numbers of checkpoints and barriers in East Jerusalem, since October 1, Israel has arrested over 1000 Palestinians, most of them young people (link to article). The 600 resident West Bank village of Nabi Selah, where I am staying with the Tamimi family, has seen the arrest of 14 young people since October 1 (see image below of Tamimis’ currently being held prisoner. These arrests have been in retaliation for the village’s ongoing resistance to the Israeli occupation through weekly nonviolent demonstrations. The village of Nabi Saleh has much to resist as the occupation impacts every of their daily lives. Coming into the village, we passed through a gate that the Israeli military has at the entrance to their village. The gate is often closed, preventing the villagers from entering or exiting their village. On a plate on the coffee table in the Tamimi’s living room are empty tear gas canisters and rubber bullets that they have collected from their front yard. Yesterday, on the date of my arrival in Nabi Selah, the Tamimi’s had spent the day attending military court hearings for those recently arrested, including their 18-year-old son, Waed. Waed was arrested in a raid on the village a few weeks prior to my arrival. The Tamimis, along with a couple Palestinian activists with Israeli citizenship, spent the evening pouring through court papers in hebrew, looking for a way to help their loved ones avoid spending years in notorious Israeli prisons. Israeli military courts has an almost 99.8% conviction rate. Pro bono legal support organizations are swamped with cases, so volunteers with various day jobs become, at night, the equivalent of legal aids. I asked my hosts how we, as Americans in solidarity, can help with the Tamimi’s court cases. They replied that legal defenses are enormously expensive and funds are needed.  

Despite all of the work and hardship of having a family member in jail, Nariman Tamimi served a delicious dinner that included fresh avocados, hummus, ful, home cured olives, and more. Nariman told me that arab custom dictates that for the first three days of my stay, I am a guest, and as such, may not help with the housework. After that, I may help with the dishes.

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Back in Palestine: Reporting from the ground – Ariel Gold

Photo on 10-29-15 at 11.35 AM

I have just arrived back in Palestine. I flew into Tel aviv and easily got through passport control as my name is very easily recognizable as Jewish (this ease of entry is not usually the case for people with Arabic names). I spent the night in Jerusalem at the Citadel hostel in the old city. In the morning, shops opened as usual. So far, as of October 24, this October, 56 Palestinians and eight Israelis have been killed (Mapping the Dead).

This afternoon I will travel to Nabi Selah to stay with the Tamimi family and attend their weekly nonviolent demonstration tomorrow. This afternoon, Bassem’s oldest son, Waed, will have court. He was arrested recently in a raid on Nabi Selah. We are hoping for his release in the near future.

Favorite spice, Za’atar (Vegan Mofo 2015)

Vegan mofo tomato

zaatarbreadThe prompt today is what is your favorite herb or spice?  Sticking with our theme of foods from Palestine I naturally chose za’atar as my favorite spice.  Za’atar is wild thyme, ground together with sesame seeds, and possibly salt, caraway seeds, flax seeds, and sumac.

Typically people will dip bread in oil and then into the za’atar.  It is also baked or fried on flat bread.  Or you can just sprinkle it onto your freshly baked bread.

Where can you find za’atar?  Well you can find it in any store that sells Middle Eastern or Mediterranean foods.  If you don’t live near a specialty international food store, you can order it from the Canaan Fair Trade Shop.  While you are there order some of their amazing olive oil and olives.

So what can you make with za’atar besides sprinkling on bread?  Well you can add it to just about anything you would make with thyme.

You can make pizza as seen on this post for the Fusion Challenge.

Add it to your fried potatoes with peppers and onions.  Here I had some with biscuits and almond gravy.

breakfast

Make some pita chips to enjoy with hummus.

pitachips

makingrollsMake your own Palestinian style bread-sticks, like we enjoyed during our stay in Aqqaba.  To make my mini rolls, I bought some pre-made pizza dough, sprinkled on za’atar, rolled them and baked them until they turned golden.

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The possibilities are endless.  Enjoy! #veganmofo, #vgnmf15

~Stephanie

 

Fusion Challenge (Vegan MoFo 2015)

Vegan mofo tomatoFor this day’s prompt, I chose one of my favorite meals, pizza! I combined it with my new favorite spice from Palestine, za’atar! This was a simple dish made from what I had on hand in the fridge. I used this easy recipe for a thick sicilian-style pizza crust. For toppings I used Follow Your Heart mozzarella, shiitake bacon, onions, tomatoes, and a nice sprinkling of za’atar. Perfection!
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veganmofo pizza2 - 1-Amber

Bameih (Palestinian okra and tomatoes) – fresh and local

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For today’s prompt to make a dish entirely from seasonal produce, I chose the Palestinian dish, bameih (okra with tomatoes). You need baby okra for this dish, which I was thrilled to find in my food co-op from a fresh from a local farm. The tomatoes I used were from my garden. In the winter you can use frozen baby okra and a can of fire roasted tomatoes.

 

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 lbs. baby okra, stems trimmed

4 roma (paste) tomatoes, seeded, chopped, and liquified in the blender

3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

salt

2 hot chili peppers, chopped (optional)

Heat the oil and cook the onions on low heat until they are lightly caramelized and browned. Add the garlic and cook two minutes. Add the okra, tomatoes, liquified tomatoes, and salt. Cook 30-40 minutes until the okra is tender. Serve with rice.

Being progressive except #Palestine is like being #vegan except bacon

#veganmofo #vgnmf15

 

 

 

Vegan Anti-Zionist Sweet Potato Challah

Vegan Challah

I began working on my vegan challah recipe around the time my son was five years old. While raising my vegan son and daughter within the traditional reform Jewish American community, I have always taught them that occupation is neither a Jewish nor vegan value. Along with hebrew school and Jewish summer camp, I have raised them as members of the organization Jewish Voice for Peace. I have taught them to recognize zionism as a racist ideology rooted in ethnic cleansing. A Jewish state which by nature privileges one ethnic/religious group over others is inherently unequal, undemocratic, and racist.

On April 26, 2014 I had the great pleasure of watching my son become a bar mitzvah. For his d’var torah speech, he he told our congregation, friends and family that the Torah commands us to love thy neighbor and love the stranger. Israel, he said is in serious violation of this. He went on to explain that as long as Israel is committing crimes against humanity through their occupation of Palestine and human rights abuses the Jewish people have a responsibility to speak out. His speech was published on the Jewish Voice for Peace rabbinical blog. Click on the link below to read his speech.

Love Thy Palestinian Neighbor

Recipe for vegan anti-zionist sweet potato challah: 

3/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup sweet potato puree

4 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten flour

1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. yeast

Put the ingredients in a bread machine on dough cycle. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Braid the dough, cover it with a warm wet dish towel and allow it to rise 20-30 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Back 25-35 minutes until it is golden brown.

By Ariel Gold

Being Progressive except #Palestine is like being #Vegan except bacon. 

#veganmofo #vgnmf15

#MyJewishValues#MyVeganValues #OccupationIsNotAJewishValue #OccupationIsNotAVeganValue

Vegan mofo tomato