I was arrested for a crime I didn’t commit. The Palestinians I work with suffer far worse
A few weeks ago the police abruptly came to my house in Jerusalem on two different occasions. The first visit they paid was at 3:30 in the morning; six officers came and banged on the doors and windows until my four roommates and I woke up.
My roommates and I were suspected of having drawn graffiti earlier that night in central Jerusalem. The graffiti in question was a part of a wider campaign to raise awareness about Masafer Yatta, an area in the South Hebron Hills that Israel declared a military training area (Firing Zone 918) in the early 1980s. In March, the Israeli Supreme Court will decide whether the Israeli army can expel the 12 Palestinian villages and hundreds of residents that live there.
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Over the past year, I have seen and been a part of an inspiring growth in Jewish-Palestinian solidarity in support of Masafer Yatta. Where previously international volunteers supported the villages in the South Hebron Hills, the travel closures from the pandemic have inadvertently nurtured local relationships, as Israelis have taken the place of volunteers documenting settler violence and escorting children to school. While the Israeli state works to keep Jews and Palestinians separate, we commit ourselves together to building a better and shared future.
There has predictably been a crackdown on the Jewish activists who have dared to stand with Palestinians and build these connections. In Jerusalem, Jewish-Israeli activists were detained in the night after putting up posters about what is happening in Masafer Yatta. The same day I was arrested, three additional Jewish-Israeli activists were also arrested and two more detained after an altercation between a settler and a Palestinian near a-Tuwani, a village in the South Hebron Hills. The home where the activists had been staying in a-Tuwani was raided by Israeli police and military, who confiscated laptops, cameras, and cellphones belonging to the home’s resident, in addition to a Jeep that belonged to the activists.
The intensity of these efforts to shut down our solidarity demonstrates just how potent it is. Now, when Israeli authorities are ramping up their efforts to suppress cooperation between us, is the time to deepen our connections, renew our efforts and take stronger stands against the system of occupation Palestinians live under every day.
We are attacked because we are feared, because we have a fighting chance of stopping the onslaught of violence, suppression and expulsion being carried out by Israel every day. Now is not the time to let up.