Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The stench of occupation

I was there myself last Friday in Bil'in, but rather then competing with Roy Wagner I recommend you read his concise tongue in cheek report.

A complex logistics operation brought over 300 people from Israel to Bil'in's 5th anniversary demonstration. Despite several attempts, the army managed to prevent only a small number of cars from entering the village. The demonstrators joined radical clowns, a Palestinian prime minister, the Ka/Ya-Samba percussionists, representatives of various Palestinian parties,

The Palestinian Struggle Youth Union marching band, one mayor from Geneva, dozens of journalists and supporters from all over Palestine and other parts of the world to express solidarity with the local wo/men of Bil'in in their struggle against the evils of the Israeli occupation.

After a string of speeches in various languages and a jam session of the Palestinian marching band and the percussionists residing between the wall and the Mediterranean, over 1,000 people marched to the wall. The soldiers stood behind their usual post, and so the demonstrators broke forward, crossed the gate, bent the fence, crossed it, and marched over the soldiers' front post.

After a few minutes of ecstasy, while dignitaries were still making their way forward, the army's foul water cannon known as "The Skunk" made a surprise guest appearance, and managed to push the demonstrators back behind the fence. In a typical expression of oppression, after the demonstrators backed away from the smelly water, the army used its special "gas machine gun" fire simultaneous dozens of gas canisters - not into the few demonstrators at the front, but rather into the hundreds retreating or standing peacefully behind.

The wind coming down the path combined with the panic of inexperienced demonstrators led to many injuries from gas inhalation, impact and falling. After the initial dispersal some demonstrators remained to absorb, for the sake of the struggle, exceptionally large amounts of gas. As has become customary lately, when the last demonstrators were on their way to the village, a few soldiers invaded the village, but due to the massive presence of supporters, they settled for one more round of gas, returning to bask in their own stench. (So far Wagner.)

Yesterday, the Israeli government convened a special meeting in Tel Hai, to decide on a series of national heritage sites which should receive special government funds for preserving and cultivating them. According to Prime Minister Netanyahu, it is important that the citizens of Israel visit these sites to better understand our relationship with the Land of Israel.

Maybe worthwhile to include the Skunk in the heritage list, too, so all citizens can see with their eyes, and smell with their noses, authentic evidence as to the nature of the relationship of the State of Israel with the territories under its control and the people living there.

As an eye- or rather, nose-witness I can indeed confirm that the Skunk spreads a smell reminiscent of a field on which organic fertilizer was spread. Those who suffer a direct hit have to wash their clothes several times and wash them thoroughly, and even then the stench of occupation isn't gone.