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.