I remember something a kindergarten teacher once said: A person can smile but his smile does not mean a smile, a person can laugh but his laughter does not laugh. It came back to my mind when I saw the line of soldiers who were forming a blockade in front of us. The soldiers were grinning, seemingly amused by our attempts to proceed the march and pass them. Some of us tried to tell them off , some of us shouted at them with frustration, and this ugly display of self contempt by the soldiers that came as response showed me how pleased they were to be the ones in control, the ones in power, no matter power over whom it was -in this case, they managed to suppress an unarmed march of civilians – a bunch of kids who were holding flags and signs.
The soldiers were not restraint this time, we were told they "changed"(in a bad way) after the UN successful bid 194 that recognized Palestine as a state last week The other protesters described their behavior as "vulgar".
We were not given any excuse why the soldiers were dispersing the protest- we were not presented a closed military zone warrant- I deduce it was just filling an order that forbids the occupied people to engage at any kind of protest, no matter of what nature it is.
The army fails when it succeeds in filling its own orders- to control civil population. An army that faces civilians always fails. I don't believe that there is any soldier who drafts in the army that wishes to encounter a group of rural protesters , accompanied by elderly peace activists to lecture him about humanity.
One of the protesters asked the soldiers, "what's the matter, why are you going crazy today"?as the soldiers violently shoved us backwards, cursing us (although I don't consider – go live in a Palestinian village" or "faggot" a real curse. If my presence in a Palestinian village wasn't colonialist by nature, I would go live there). One of the soldiers even went as far as wishing Sara Beninga to be raped. Another officer went unhinged, rabidly shouting "Dir Balak" ( watch it) at a small child who held a flag in front of his face. The soldiers chased Hassan Bourjia and knocked him to the ground. As I intervened, a soldier pushed my to the ground, leaving a bruise of my back. "why shakel?" the soldiers barked at Hassan. "Why are you being a trouble maker?"
A rural protest leader said: "I am not the person who goes into your village, you are the person who goes into my village"." You are not willing to die for this land, but I am".
Another speaker told the soldiers: "We will leave you with your psychological problems, you sick people, you should all commit yourself to a mental hospital." In one year, he told the the soldiers, "you will all be just like your commander,transformed beyond cure. You are all living under his reign, if he tells you to jump, you all will".
The protesters chanted: "long live the popular resistance", "long live state of Palestine", and sang "watani watani" .(my homeland, my homeland")
Oum Hassan, mother of prisoner Ali Bourjia, came forward, holding the flag proudly, calling the soldiers fascists, like Mussolini, like Hitler.
The soldiers brought long range , acoustic device in attempt to disperse us, but we fled the scene. " Do not think for one second that we are afraid of you", a protester told the soldiers.
We first arrived the village as the prayer in the mosque ended. Many men were out in the streets as our car crossed it, and we knew that many of them are not in favor of the weekly demonstrations. Some of them do not participate in the demonstrations because of our presence there- they do not want to protest side by side with Israelis.
I have just finished reading Ousmane Sembene's novel Les bouts de bois de Dieu This piece of post colonial literature reminded me of how even the best- intentioned colonialist supporter could be still found guilty in patronizing, objectifying, willifying ,but am I a colonialist? I was born here and so did my parents, my grandparents came here at a very young age, I speak not any European language and hold no other passport. However. my grandparents didn't come to live across the 1948 boarders. Although the questions about my identity remains, there is little room for doubt why I came to Maasara and what I was doing there. I am here because of the occupation and the colonialism. I am a product of this process in many ways.
I am also ashamed to admit that there is a component of pleasure in going to Al Masara demonstration: it includes going out of the city to a beautiful village, taking a walk in the small fresh air, a notion of being part of some kind of resistance. "Going to a Palestinian village" is not a punishment for me as the soldiers mean, but it is a guilty pleasure indeed. Sometimes I feel that denying myself of the privilege of crossing the green line into 67' borders is the right thing to do. In other times I feel that I need to see the occupation with my own eyes, because within the 48' boarders what I experience is mostly the ethnic cleansing- the absence of the original people of Palestine.
On the way back, I took my chances, went inside one of the local shops and bought a bag of Arabian coffee, assuming that no matter who the manufacturer was , it will probably be better than "Elite" "zionist" coffee we have at the shops here, and my orientalist senses proved me right: this was a pack of rich Al-khalili (hebirnite) coffee, with wonderful aroma and taste I'm having now.