I always like to think that home is where I am safe. Well, I'm not, and as I am writing this I am still somewhat shaking, knowing that as a woman and as an activist, I am not safe where I am . and I can't just come back from protest, lock the door and relax. The hatred, the racism, the violence are all around me. During the recent women in black protest vigil, a glass was hurled towards us through a driving car. Later this day, I returned home, and around midnight, I went to "menta" the convenience store near my home to buy cigarettes. A gang of 10 thugs was sitting outside the store, cracking and eating nuts, making a lot of noise and leaving a pile of garbage all around them. Apparently, because of this behavior , they were asked to leave by the salesman of the store, Hamadeh. They responded by making loud threats to beat him up. When I heard them making those threats, I started shouting at them not to talk like that to a person. I told them I work at a store too, and I wouldn't want anyone speaking to me like that . I also tried to speak to their "Jewish" heart and ask them not to speak like that near Yom Kippur (day of redemption from sins). Some of the gang members began throwing nut shells at me. The gang leader confronted me face to face, using a very intimidating body language. This triggered my instinct to fight or flight, I was trembling with fear. Literally shaking and they noticed that:
" So, you are an Arab lover? a leftist? I am going to send you to the hospital now. I will smack you so hard they won't find you in months. God is with us. not with the Arabs, my brother is a rabbi, you whore. Trust me, I was in Gaza and I killed many Arabs. "
I told him that if wanted to beat me up , he should bring it up and he retreated a bit, knowing that he is taped on camera. Hamadeh went out, asked him once again to leave, as this is private property and once again they exchanged heated threats, including shoving each other. Hamadeh stated to them that the place their were sitting at is owned by Menta and is a private property and asked them to leave, the gang leader said "My uncle owns the supermarket nearby, the whole place is mine because I am a Jew, and you are scum Arab".
The police came, smiling that "they were early at the scene", they took both Hamadeh and my ID's, asked us if we want to file a complaint. They had a friendly chat with the thugs who moved a few miles away, to lurk and ambush in the dark. Hamadeh thanked me and said he couldn't confront them all by himself so he preferred to wait for the police to come, but that he is calling his friends to stay over with to make sure the thugs kept out. "We will fight them back if that what it takes" he said. On my way back I encountered the gang again, they regrouped very close to the store. Their leader, a solid built young men told me again about "thr many arabs he killed in Gaza" and I couldn't help but feeling terrified by the pure fact that I am speaking to a murderer. He had that look in the eyes I learnt to recognize. He told me he attacked Arabs in Jerusalem many times and that he will continue to do so, knowing that the police is on their side. . They used the term "nationalistic crimes" explicitly. "We will drive them away from here". He also warned me a few times against intervening, telling me that they might "break my neck and leave me crippled for life". I ended that "conversation" by making a plight to them not to be violent and assault people (I know this is worthless but I really didn't think spending more time there would do any good).
Right now I am shaken, I am still afraid but not only for myself (though I can't help it, my fight or flight alarm was triggered) but for the place I live in, Al Quds where fascism, violence, hate are on the rise and it seems that a reign of fear has taken of the streets. I am not a brave or a courageous person. I am just hunted by the memory of the holocaust, when so many people of my family were burnt alive in the synagogue while their neighbors did nothing. I don't think "I did the right thing" because he right thing would be to stand there quietly but steadfast and document the happenings with my blackberry. We should be prepared I am afraid that there is worse to come, and I am afraid of the helpless feeling that I'll have reading about the next act of Jewish terrorism, encouraged by the fascist Zionist regime.