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Shot twice today, but I'm ok – and one of the lucky ones

ism media office | 25.03.2004 01:29 | Anti-militarism | World

Wed, March 24, 2004

[Beit Sahour, BETHLEHEM] Three days after being shot by the Israeli
military between the eyes with a rubber-coated metal bullet, 20 year-
old Israeli peace activist Etai Lewinsky should leave Tel Hafhomer
hospital in the next days. He will have one more operation to
reconstruct his nose today. He is currently able to see to some
degrees. However, it is still too soon to predict the extent of his
injuries and how his eyesight will be affected on the long term so

For more information, please contact:
ISM Media Office: +972.277.46.02


1/ Shot twice today, but I'm ok – and one of the lucky one, by Neal
2/ Standing at the Gates of Jerusalem, by Starhawk
3/ Press Release: Non-violent demonstrators in New York found guilty
by a jury of their peers
4/ Demonstration against Caterpillar at CAT Headquarters in Peoria,

1/ Shot twice today, but I'm ok – and one of the lucky one
Kharbatha Bani Harith
By Neal

Today has been quite a crazy adventure, but has also cemented
emotions of how absolutely insane the soldiers here are, and how
absolutely necessary it is for people to call for an end to this
wall, and more importantly, an end to this occupation. It is
amazing how quickly one day, actually really only five hours, can
really push one forward. Today for the first time I really felt
endangered, pretty scared during various moments, and even decided I
would rather be shot in the back of the head than in the face, but I
will get there a little later.

This morning we awoke early to head to a village called Kharbatha
Bani Harith, which for those of you looking on maps and globes would
be somewhat near the "Green Line", and in order, below Tulkarem,
then below Budrus, then below, Deir Qaddis, then it should be
somewhere there. I have not been to this place before and only left
my series of villages to be surrounded as it was quiet here and
there help was requested.

We arrived after a 45 min. drive through some of the bumpiest roads
I have ever been on, it reminded me of the outer beach in Orleans,
except here the dirt roads have deep ravines made from rainwater and
years of no roadwork. I was glad I did not have a huge breakfast or
I probably would have been a little sick by the end of the day. Our
driver pulled over near the worksite, which was about 500 feet down
a tractor path through olive groves. There were many women and
children walking past us, and away from the demonstration, which is
usually a bad sign, and the sound of gas canisters being fired which
was confirmed by its pungent odor as we walked closer, and the red
rosy cheeks from people crying from too much breathing of the gas.

As we made it through the groves, a group of 100 villagers were
sitting on some newly bulldozed farmland, with a bulldozer facing
them about 50 feet away. As we did not see the other Internationals
who were supposed to be there, we decided that we would go and sit
with the community, at this point it was 8:15am. I was in charge of
the legal and media work and as usual stood to the back. The
demonstration occurred on flat land at the base of a hill which was
to our right. Up on the hill there were young boys futilely
throwing rocks nowhere near the soldiers as the soldiers were
shooting gas and rubber bullets at them. The demonstration where we
were had everyone sitting down on their land, and a larger component
of the community standing to the back away from the range of the gas.

Over the next hour or so, the soldiers decided three times to charge
the crowd as they wielded there batons. Every times, as they
approached those who were sitting, all the Palestinians and
Internationals who were in the background, came rushing up to
provide physical reinforcements. The soldiers would beat a few
people, there would be some pushing, and then just an awkward stand
off between the two sides. After about 5-10 minutes of staring at
each other, the soldiers would run back as fast as they could to
their jeeps, and then upon reaching their jeeps, would turn around
and begin firing as many rubber bullets into the crowd that was
standing. After this happened the first time, we wised up and when
we saw the soldiers run for their jeeps, we too turned around and
ran with the hopes of finding cover before they turned around a
shot. And as we ran, a group of 150 people remained on their land
sitting or lying down.

It was during the first of these 3 routines, that I found myself
getting shot at. I tried to lie on the ground and crawl away from
the scene when a rubber bullet went flying into the back of my upper
leg. Luckily I was wearing baggy pants, and I don't even think I
have a bruise. I gave the bullet to the man I was lying near as a
souvenir, and then we shared a little laugh. Then I went and hid
behind a pile of rocks while more rubber bullets whizzed past our
heads as we ducked behind the rocks – definitely not a good day for
doing any peaking over and rocks to check on soldiers!

While hiding behind the rocks, about 8 Israeli activists, all around
my age showed up with a bullhorn. We talked briefly about the
situation and then they proceeded to move forward while the rest of
the crowd lied face down on the ground hoping not to get shot. The
commander of the army would lift his baton in the air, then lower it
and all the soldiers would fire at once. Then, there would be
injuries and medics would go running. Sometimes the soldiers would
shoot gas first, and when people would try to move away from it,
they would be targeted – this whole experience was quite unnerving.

No sooner had the Israeli activists shown up, that one of them was
all of a sudden being rushed back behind me towards the ambulances
on a stretcher with a bloody bandage rapped around his head. I was
still standing with several of his friends when they realized that
one of their friend was injured and went sprinting after him. I
later found out he was shot between the eyes, and is now in critical
condition at the hospital. He was supposed to see an eye specialist
who will determine whether he will lose either of his eyes, or his
eyesight. I will spare you the rest of the details as they are
somewhat hard to handle and I think you get the picture.

Today, over 37 people were injured. 30 of them suffered injuries
above the waist inflicted by rubber bullets, including 5 who were
shot in the head, including an older Palestinian woman. However no
matter how many Palestinians have been injured, it will only be the
injury to the Israeli activist that will be the biggest news. I do
not mean that it is not important as the soldiers very seriously
injured someone they are supposedly protecting with their uniform
and their so-called "security" wall. But to me the injuries of the
Palestinians are just as important. But this is the way it is,
shooting non-violent protestors with bullets mostly and a little
tear gas, and I accept that one is bigger news than the other.

At 10:35 soldiers and border police about 50 began pointing out
internationals through binoculars and began final preparations for
their big, violent push forward into the peaceful crowd. Why? I am
not sure as no one was stopping the work from happening. And then
all of a sudden it started, first with the sound grenades, most
launched directly at the group of young women who were sitting
together and chanting. They began to run, I saw many trip on the
rocks as more grenades were fired and then tear gas. The soldiers
were moving very quickly towards me and I wanted to go and help the
women out of the rocks but I figured I would only be arrested in the
process. I turned to run in the olive groves as the rubber bullets
began to come flying, and quickly realized I had landed in the
middle of the stone throwers, who at this point began throwing
stones at the violent soldiers. Then the soldiers just started
firing at random into the olive groves. I tried to run to a safer
area by many of the women but the bullets kept coming, and I
couldn't see the soldiers shooting, only the bullets coming
basically from nowhere, and through some olive branches and then,
whiizzzz, it was flying by your head.

I finally reached what I thought to be a safe spot and then through
the branches came a bullet right at me, I saw it and instinctively
tried to move my hips out of its direction and so it hit me in the
butt and then whacked off my cell phone which was in my back
pocket. An older man started calling for a doctor, which actually
made me think I had been injured badly but I checked and there was
no blood, and so I said I was fine, which I was. I was actually
quite impressed that in the split second I saw the thing coming, I
also managed to move my body and diminish the bullets effects on my
body, and boy am I glad it wasn't shot any higher.

The army continued to chase us through the olive groves with bullets
being fired everywhere, all the plastic-coated steel variety. I
worried about my friends but all but one eventually made it out. One
was taken away by police forces but she just got released after
signing some papers, and is back at the apt. now.

I wish I could put some positive funny spin on this day but I can't.
It was just awful. I reflect most on the number of bullet injuries
above the waist, as this is where you aim if you want to seriously
injure someone, and the notion of shooting to seriously injure
nonviolent people gathered to protect their farmland from being
destroyed seems unfathomable. It is almost like the soldiers want to
raise the stakes and get the Palestinians more violent. I don't
know. I am feeling grateful that I wasn't seriously injured today,
and am happy that through my expressions of solidarity, I faced the
same risks as Palestinians. I didn't come here to face risks, but in
the sense that they could see we were all taking these risks for
them, and me as an American getting shot at by American weapons paid
for by US tax dollars must work against some of the propaganda that
exists in our two lands about each other, and each other's feelings
towards one another. I hadn't been that unsure about my safety in a
very long time, I really had to do some personal questioning today
and serious checking in with myself. I am fine now, and I recognize
the people here face much worse, and much more regularly, but it is
all relative to one's experience, and this day is like no other I
have ever had. I love you all and am definitely feeling fine and
very happy to be back in Biddu, I will talk to you soon, and
continue to hope things will change here and tomorrow will be a
safer day for all of us.

Standing at the Gates of Jerusalem
By Starhawk

I'm back in the West Bank, in Neta Golan's small apartment in
Ramallah. I'm
here to assist her with the birth of her second child, which could
come any
moment now, and to do trainings for the International Solidarity
which supports the nonviolent resistance in Palestine. As well, I
hope to
take part in the campaign against the wall currently being built by
the Israeli Government, which confiscates much of the prime
Palestinian agricultural land, destroys villages, and unilaterally
extends the de facto border of Israel.

I'm tired now, after the long flight from San Francisco, the shared
taxi ride that wound and wound around the streets of Jerusalem, the
stress of getting ready to leave home and the jet lag. But I'm glad
to be here, grateful that I had no trouble getting in through the
immigration lines or at customs or getting in through the checkpoint
at Kalendia. And that's where I fell asleep last night. Now I've
had a good night's sleep, a quiet day catching up with Neta, who is
one of the founder of the ISM. We have one of those friendships
that seem to exist beyond the boundaries of time and space. I met
her on my first trip to the occupied territories, to work with the
ISM. I'd come first to Tel Aviv, reconnected with some of my
Israeli friends, then finally worked up the nerve to head out to the
West Bank. I took a bus to Jerusalem, a bus full of soldiers who
were so polite and friendly, helping me with my bags, then a taxi to
the Damascus Gate where the Faisal, the hostel frequented by the
ISM, stands
just outside the Old City. I couldn't understand why the taxi driver
grew more and more nervous as we got closer and closer, then finally
insisted I get out of the car half a block away. Later I learned
that Jewish Israeli taxis often won't even go into East Jerusalem.
They're afraid.

I'd dragged my bags to the Faisal, up a narrow stairway tucked away
between the vegetable stall and the falafel seller on a street full
of small storefronts, across from the big, empty lot where shared
taxis to the West Bank arrive and leave. I was tired, and nervous,
and wondering if I were doing the right thing. I'd been trying to
call Neta for two days and hadn't gotten through. I rang the bell,
and the door was opened by a young man. I peeked inside, thinking
both that I was too old to stay in youth hostels and that, if I were
really going to the West Bank, I'd be staying in much worse
places and I'd better get used to it.

"Welcome! Welcome!" Hisham, the manager of the Faisal, boomed out
a greeting and beamed at me with a smile so friendly that I
immediately felt better. When I told him I was a friend of Netas',
his smile grew even wider. She had been there the night before. He
called her in Tel Aviv, and she came back. We stayed awake half the
night, talking as if we'd known each other forever. The next day,
she tried to sneak me into the Al Aqsa Mosque dressed up as a
Palestinian woman. The soldiers who guarded the mosque didn't buy
my disguise-the hiking boots under the long white skirt probably
gave it away. Instead, we went to Bethlehem, which at that time was
under siege, walking through the surreal streets of a silent,
shuttered city to Nativity Square, where tanks were still
stationed. The following day, she had me doing a training for
internationals that was interrupted when he heard that Balata camp
was being invaded by the military. By nightfall, we'd hiked through
the mountains above Nablus to get into the closed city, then down to
the camp, and were sleeping in the home of a Palestinian family who
feared soldiers coming to search in the night. I was remembering
this all as I retraced the journey from the airport to the Faisal,
where Hisham greeted me even more warmly than before. He'd had a
stroke, and now limps badly, but invited me in and gave me tea and
the phone that had been procured for me. It was a special phone –
it had belonged to Rachel Corrie, the young woman who exactly a year
before had been killed in Rafah trying to stop the demolition of a
home by a bulldozer that deliberately ran over her. I'd gone down
to Rafah to do support for the team that had been with her. Today
my friends will be at a vigil for her at
the Israeli Consulate. There will be vigils all over the world. My
own action is coming here.

The Faisal really needs a John Le Carre to do it justice. It has a
back terrace that overlooks the Damascus gate, a screened porch
where volunteers for the ISM and backpacking travelers and the more
rugged breed of journalist all congregate, smoke, drink tea,
exchange news and rumors and tips on how to get to the places the
authorities don't want you to go. The bathrooms are covered with a
thin scum of grey around the sink handles and the corners of the
showers, the rooms are very basic, bunk beds or a bare mattress and
cement walls, but the price is cheap and the information you can
gather on the terrace makes up for the grime. Ironically, every
actual Palestinian home I've stayed in has been far, far cleaner
than the Faisal,
even in the most crowded refugee camp. For that matter, they've all
far, far cleaner than my own house. But I can't stay at the Faisal –
I want to get to Ramallah before the checkpoint closes at nine
o'clock. I hoist my pack, say goodbye, and walk round the corner to
find the busses for Kalendia, the checkpoint outside
Ramallah. Out on the street, I'm struck with a sense of double
vision. East Jerusalem is truly a different world from the Jewish-
Israeli suburbs of the west side. The Old City looms before me,
enclosed by its walls of stone, and I am thinking that for thousands
of years travelers have gone down this street looking for
transport. Damascus Gate – in Hebrew, Sha'ar Shechem, the Gate of
Shechem, which is now Nablus. I am feeling just one of the many
deep ironies of being who I am, a Jew in this land who has come
here to stand in solidarity with the people whom my own people are
dispossessing – moreover, a Jew who was raised and taught and
conditioned in every fiber of my being to believe that this land is
mine by birthright, my ancient heritage. Standing at the gate of
Jerusalem, I can't help but feel that this is, indeed, the place
above all others where my ancestors walked, the place woven into our
prayers and dreams, embedded in the very language we use to describe
the sacred. We "go up", in the synagogue, to read the Torah, make
an "Aliyah", because Jerusalem itself is in the mountains, and you
must ascend to get there, and climb again to reach the old city and
the temple mount. I turned fifteen the first time I came to Israel,
with the summer Ulpan study program of the Hebrew High school I
belonged to. That was in 1966, when the Old City was still held by
Jordan, and off limits to
us. I remember how I rejoiced in 1967, when it fell into Israel's
possession. Now I stand for a moment, remembering what the
passageways inside the gate look like in the day, when they are
thronged with people and food carts and street vendors and falafel
makers and women coming to shop in their long coats and headscarves
or laying out their wares on blankets. The stone streets wind into
the labyrinth of passageways and markets, covered by domes and
arches, the very archetype of "city" intact from some ancient era
when pilgrims would have ascended these same stones carrying lambs
for the sacrificial altar or fruit and grain for the offering.
There is nowhere else on earth I can feel both so at home and so
strange, so akin and so
alien. I can understand, in my very bones, why my people want this
place. But my
own sense of kinship is poisoned by the knowledge of the incredible
injustices we are perpetuating in order to claim it. I know the
power of the story I grew up with – that we were homeless for two
thousand years, despised and oppressed by every nation, but now we
have come home, to our own true home, and by God no one is going to
take it from us ever again. It's a powerful myth. The Palestinians,
unfortunately, have no role in it.

Their very existence spoils the tale. When I think back on my
childhood, on what I learned in Hebrew School, on the history we
were taught and what we were shown on the trips we took on that
summer Ulpan, I'm struck by how rarely the Palestinians were even
mentioned. When I was in Balata, there was one family that were
held prisoner in their own house by soldiers who took it over to use
as a command post. Men, women, small children – for days they were
confined to one small room, not let out nor allowed to have contact
with the outside world, not allowed to go out for food or milk for a
sick baby. While meanwhile, soldiers took their ease in the rest of
the house, lay down their guns to relax for a moment, played cards,
ate, relaxed. How could they, I wondered, with such misery locked
away just on the other side of the doorway? But then I realized
that in effect, that's exactly what we'd been doing to the
Palestinians as a people, to the whole reality that this land was,
in fact,
occupied before we occupied it. Whenever I write about this issue, I
get a small but steady trickle of responses that say, in effect,
there's wrong on both sides and if you want peace, you won't "take
sides". What I say is, as long as we barricade that door what is
able to burst through from time to time will carry with its great
destructive force – but that is not a reason to keep the door
closed, but to open it, to look inside, to acknowledge the reality
of what we have done, to face the guilt and pain and discomfort it
brings up, and to begin to make amends. That is the only way I can
see to begin the work of peacemaking.

So I'm looking at Damascus gate and thinking about all the doors,
all the portals, all the checkpoints, all the walls and barriers and
fences and barricades that have divide this land. But as I turn and
walk to the bus that will take me to one of them, I'm feeling at
home. Men crowd around me, stopping at the storefronts still open
or waiting to pick up a falafel.

At one time I would have felt afraid to be alone in this crowd after
dark – now I've traveled alone in Palestine enough to know that I'm
as safe here as I could be anywhere. And I feel a sudden sense of
gratitude. Hard as the work can sometimes be, it allows me to walk
these streets and stand at this gate without fear. It gives me a
role I can play here with integrity, and so allows me to stand here
in the presence of my ancestors, who are also the ancestors of the
Palestinians, and be at home without
needing to possess anything.

The van to Kalendia is full of tired, grim faced men going home to
their East Jerusalem homes. It winds through streets of concrete
buildings and neon signs and the grime and dust of any shabby part
of the third world, and finally stops at Kalendia, the major
checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah and the central transfer
point for busses and taxis to anywhere in the north of the West
Bank. Ramallah is the most open of the West Bank cities. Cars and
taxis are backed up here, waiting hours in a haze of diesel fumes
and dust, but no one stops those of us who are walking into
Ramallah. I follow the men on the path that leads past the fences
and the barbed wire. A young boy insists on taking some of my bags,
and gets me a taxi. I give him five shekels, and the taxi takes me
to meet Neta who has been at the candlelight vigil for
Rachel in the town center, which I have missed. We buy falafel, and
go back to her apartment.

I greet Nizar, her husband, who is lean and quiet but very sweet,
and her baby, Nawal, whom I helped deliver just a year ago. Nawal
is truly adorable, with big, gray-green eyes and lots of dark hair,
one of those babies who seem to find everything in life funny. She
has just learned to wave, and we wave at each other and smile and
laugh and wave some more.

Neta is big with her second child, now, her belly round and low.
The baby was due yesterday, but doesn't seem in a hurry to come
out. Neta and I sit up far too late talking, and at last jet lag
catches up with me I fill my water bottle, charge my batteries,
take note when I lay down where all my things are in case I need to
grab them in a hurry. I'm back in the West Bank, where things can
change without warning.
Date: March 22, 2004

A year after demonstrating against the war in Iraq and Rachel
Corrie's killing, Americans are facing a guilty verdict.

[New York City] On March 22, 2004, the trial of sixteen New Yorkers
comes to a close, as the jury finds them guilty of misdemeanor

The sixteen defendants, who come from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim
backgrounds, and range in age from 22 to 43 years old, protested
against the occupation of Iraq by the United States and of the
Palestinian Territories by Israel, in an impromptu demonstration on
Fifth Avenue one year ago, on March 26, 2003. Eight of the people
on trial have been to Palestine, volunteering with the International
Solidarity Movement, the same movement with which Rachel Corrie was
volunteering when she was killed.

After the verdict was rendered, the judge announced that sentencing
will take place on April 19, 2004. The defendants' supporters
expressed shock and disbelief at the criminalization of non-violent
protest by the justice system.

For more information, please contact:
Contact: Jack Cohen (917) 596-2476

[Peoria – Illinois] On April 23rd, we will rally in Peoria, Illinois
and march to CAT headquarters to demand James Owens, the current
CEO, meet with a delegation of victims of violence and destruction
perpetrated using CAT equipment. The delegation, backed up by
activists and concerned people from around the country, will seek an
end to the Caterpillar corporation's business with the Israeli army.

Thousands of homes have been illegally bulldozed to the ground, many
with people still inside, and countless orchards and olive trees
have been uprooted using Caterpillar's equipment. This equipment is
sold with full advance knowledge of how it is going to be used.

A Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer was even used to brutally murder a brave
American ISM volunteer, Rachel Corrie.

Please join us to demand that Caterpillar immediately cease all
sales to the Israeli army and publicly explain why it did so.

See a video document on a former CATERPILLAR action in San Leandro
California at:

For more details contact:
"Stop CAT" Coalition or ISM-Chicago: 312-491-1789


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