Note: The following is a personal, emotional note from one of our Team members who was in prison in November 2012 in her own words. For more information please see: http://mptinpalestine.blogspot.com/2012/10/press-release-mpt-team-member-assaulted.html."This is just my job."
I heard this sentence dozens of times while I was being arrested and especially when they violated my rights, being unnecessarily brutal and/or humiliating.
The above statement means: this is only work, so I do not take any responsibility for my actions. It might sound innocent, but one of the most cruel things to say is: I only follow orders.
The first night after being released from jail I went straight from hell to heaven. I have been there before, but I did not know the exact name.
It is called “Choices”. No matter how cheap/difficult/hopeless they seem to be. Every single moment when you can actually decide about what to do, it is a paradise. No, seriously, each little moment when you can pick what you are going to eat and drink, what time do you will go to sleep and when you want to wake up, who you want to be and why... all of these normal, small things are an incredible privilege.
Surprising how easily soldiers, policemen and jailors give up their choices without even noticing that they relinquish their freedom.
In the name of some abstract 'bigger idea' - security, Jewish land, power - they would let themselves become slaves of the system without seeing that they are the victims of this system as well.
I took all your freedom, he said, putting hand cuffs on my wrists and looking deep into my eyes. He was a police officer and he really believed that he owned me in that moment.
Oh boy, maybe you caught me, but I am still more free than you will ever be.
That reminds me one of the modern global Occupy movement slogan: YOU CANNOT ARREST AN IDEA.
Jail is an occupation in a miniature. It is a symbolic labyrinth, but there is a struggle even there like a hidden exit. And from there you can really clearly see the courage, beautiful spirit and strength of Palestinians.
And so under the prison shower there is a message written in graffiti: ZIONISM IS TERRORISM.
In my bed and on the ceiling there was written:
PALESTINE WAS, PALESTINE IS, PALESTINE WILL BE
I LOVE PALESTINE, BECAUSE I LOVE FREEDOM
The ceiling is 3,5 meters high, you are not allowed to have a marker and there are three video cameras in the room.
I heard they were from the days of the Intifada.
It is just a symbol, like street demonstrations, but it is also a weapon.
A weapon of words and truths.
Making people believe in something is way more dangerous than owning someone's wrists.
Another part of this nonviolent gun is faith. And so if occupation is a labyrinth, Palestine is a sky over the walls. You cannot occupy the sky.
I won't be able to go back to Israel for a very long time, because of being arrested (btw I have visited 37 countries and Israel is the only one I am a criminal in). But who knows, maybe I will be in Palestine before that. I am going to be a very first person to apply for a Palestinian visa when the occupation is over.
And I know how I will be welcomed there. While in Israel they question you on the airport, investigate, make a lot of troubles, and deport for insane reasons; in West Bank everyone knows at least one word in English: WELCOME. It was enough just to walk around in Nablus to hear from everyone, just from random pedestrians: Salam Alaykom, welcome. Thank you for coming to our land.
I have been invited by perfect strangers to their houses for Turkish coffee, shai (sweet, delicious herbal tea), birthday party... We would share wonderful simple food, amazing everyday life stories but most of all just time together. They would smile, not only with their lips, but eyes too and you do not even notice how and when they do they become your sisters and brothers.
That was my unforgettable experience of Palestine and that is how I see the future:
while we would sit in the shadow of an olive tree, smoking apple nargila (hookah), chatting friendly and laughing contentedly, some Israeli passes by and he does not have a gun, but raises his hand to wave and say:
Salam Alaykom, welcome.
Pictures from the memorable demo, memory card spent one week in my shoe, saved from police even if they have searched me dozen times and were very angry about “illegal hiding the evidence”. Enjoy!