No 465 Posted by fw, April 26, 2012
“I’m struggling for our society, mine and the police officers’ and perhaps I have to pay a price for it. My son and wife almost never see me. I work long hours at my day job and then I work in Sheikh Jarrah. But I can’t just let myself do nothing.” —Gil Gutglick
Special thanks to Brazilian filmmaker Julia Bacha of JustVision who asks why we only pay attention to violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict — and not to the Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent leaders who may one day bring peace.
Here is Julia’s 7:19-minute clip of Gil Gutglick telling his story of how Israeli injustice drove him make significant personal sacrifices to join the fight for Palestinian rights. My transcript follows the video.
Note that all the narration and dialog is in Hebrew except for the sobbing English appeals of a young Palestinian woman who has just been evicted from her home.
<On-screen text> — Since 2008, Israeli settlers have evicted dozens of Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. With Israeli courts backing the settlers’ claims, hundreds of other residents now face the same threat. In response, Palestinians in East Jerusalem are on the front lines struggling to reclaim their homes and stop the settlers. They are joined by a growing number of Israelis who are taking to the streets.
Israeli police – Get out of here.
Gil Gutglick – Why are you hitting me?
Police – I told you to get out of here.
Gil – This is a legal protest. This is a legal protest, and I insist on my right to protest. You can’t stop popular resistance. <Police drag off Gil>
Gil – I grew up in Jerusalem in a national-religious family. I went to national-religious schools. I served in the military in the “Nahal” brigade. After that I was in the reserves for 20 more years. Throughout all these years I wasn’t politically active. I lived in the Galilee in a small place that was intended to be a bubble. In some ways, I am a completely different person than I was then.
The last time I served in the reserves was in 2002.
<On-screen text> Netanya, Israel 2002
Gil – There was a bombing on Passover. I felt physically gripped by a painful sensation. And really with this feeling, I was happy to go to war. Immediately after, the Israeli military launched an operation in the West Bank. I was at the headquarters in Jenin. We went out several times into the field, and I saw the destroyed refugee camp there. It was horrible, there wasn’t a single undamaged house. I had very mixed feelings. But I never reached the point of refusing orders.
A shift occurred when we left the Galilee and returned to Jerusalem. When you live in Jerusalem things become clearer. You cannot deny the reality. Then, during the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah a childhood friend of mine, Amos, sent me an email: “Today I was in Sheikh Jarrah with the families that were evicted and they’re asking for people to come be with them.” So I called him and asked if they need anything…clothes, equipment? He said, “No, all they asked is for people to be with them.” So I finished work and headed to Sheikh Jarrah.
<On-screen text> — August 2, 2009. Two Palestinian families are evicted by Israeli settlers and police.
Evicted Palestinian woman sobbing and speaking English – They come in the morning. They broke all the doors. They can’t let me take my stuff. They fight all my cousins and my brother.
Gil – I felt great shame. They were in the street, and the settlers were already in their house. The beds were probably still warm. There is a saying that bad things happen when good people are silent. I am responsible as a human being, as a citizen to act against injustice.
Then in November when the marches started I was in the first march. I stood on the side. I didn’t know anyone.
Protesters – Enough with the occupation! Enough with the occupation!
Gil – It was a very powerful experience to say “I’m no longer silent.” After two weeks of marches the arrests began. And I was arrested. Suddenly I realized the Israeli police are not on my side actually. If you say, “I disagree with what other Israelis are doing, I protest the injustice against the Palestinians,” you cross the line.
I’m struggling for our society, mine and the police officers’ and perhaps I have to pay a price for it. My son and wife almost never see me. I work long hours at my day job and then I work in Sheikh Jarrah. But I can’t just let myself do nothing.
Protesters chanting – We won’t be silenced or run away! Leave Sheikh Jarrah now.
Gil – People keep coming to demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah because they feel that something is happening there. You can sense something there, a kind of energy,
Protester – From Sheikh Jarrah to Bil’in free Palestine. [Others join in repeating the chant]
Gil – Jerusalem should be a living symbol of how things could be between human beings. It could happen – in the streets.