Friday, July 27, 2007
Tear Gas Tourists
The smell of the tear gas wants to make you vomit. Literally. It’s like every fiber of your being wants to heave the poison from your body.

You cough, cry, tear up - thus the appropriate name, tear gas. It’s commonly used weapon by the Israeli Defense Forces against protesters, rioters - general troublemakers, as they’re perceived.

They come from all over - as close as this Bi’lin, deep in the West Bank where this particular protest is taking place. But they also come from Israel (protesting against their own troops), and of course from the Palestinian territories; places like Nablus and Jenin.

They’re also coming from America.

They are here because of a fence. This “security fence” that divides Palestinian farm land. Israel calls it necessary for to keep suicide bombers off its streets.

But it’s these foreign tourists that make this event – planned every Friday so interesting. Because here – this protest, is no joke. A rubble bullet can end your life, and tear gas can make you pass out - not to mention to the stun grenadines that can blow out an eardrum.

The day for these, “modern hippies” begins like any military briefing would begin. Except this one, is given by an Israeli – Johnathen Pollack, who has obvious experience protesting the wall.

"Do not wash your face, he says. “Tear gas sticks to wet surfaces and it will stick more if you water your face. What can you use is baby wipes or alcohol pads to wipe away the tear gas. Don't drink directly after you are hit with tear gas because it will bring in more tear gas in your system."

Of course CNN brings its own experience to the table. The levelheaded, always on top over everything, Mr. Ben Wedeman. This correspondent can walk into any Arab village and speak the language to which the first question will be “are you from here”

It drives the rest of us crazy.

Someone of his experience is far cooler in the face of incoming Israeli rounds than the foreign tourists. Once saying while the Israeli’s were unleashing tear gas,” no disappointment here - this is what you wanted,”

It was, I wanted to film something other that US troops firing at insurgents.

So, the tear gas was exchanged with the rubber bullets. And all the while American kids on their summer break travelled to become a part of this madness. I wonder if they had ever seen the end result of a rubber bullet?

Some moments you can’t see your hand in front your face. The tear gas is so potent. It makes you cry and gag and unable to do your job. You can’t film - you can’t take still photos - you can’t do anything.

Two American students remark almost aimlessly about the serious event for one local – and how it played out for them, thinking first Israeli troops had shot a Palestinian kid, later finding out it was not true ...

“I was here when this guy got hit - his buddy hit him in the head with a rock and everyone was like ... it's a rubber bullet”

Some Americans are here strictly for political reasons.

"Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid- and I disagree with what has been done with our money. I feel that this is the least I could do to come and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people", says student Ryan Graves from Arizona.

Maybe it’s their summer of living dangerously. Maybe it’s misplaced aggression. But every week, the youth of the West are joining the weekly exchange between Palestinian youths – and Israeli soldiers.

-- From Cal Perry, CNN International Correspondent, in Bi’lin.
The colonization of Palestinian land by immigrant jewish settlers is a taboo subject here in America...So, the wall separation has little to none public awareness. The confiscated Palestinian land for the path of the Wall, or it's devastating effect on Palestinian refugee camps goes without much notice. The annexation of nearly 300 Palestinian villages to make way for the Apartheid Wall is not a "news" coverage. On rare occasions, the Wall is mentioned by local news/politicians..."to keep terrorists out of attacking innocent civilians"... is what being drilled into the American consciousness.

Also, If these kids (regardless of where they come from), are protesting the Wall separation, courageously stand up for what they believe is wrong, why are they perceived by the Israeli Defense Forces as troublemakers? and punished by tear gas and rubber bullets?...Sounds like they are redefining the meaning of Democracy!..
Katy's comments are not only racist but also false. It pains me and Isaraelis alike to see Palestinian suffereing because of the the fence (not wall), but Israel must act on the basis of it's own secuirity needs. Ever since the fence was constructed suicide bombings and attacks have gone down greatly in number. As the old saying goes "good fences make good neighbors". The bottom line is: The fence works.
Katy, I would like to point out, first of all, that there never was a country called 'Palestine'. It was simply a name for a territory. The people referred to as Palestinians weren't kicked out when Israel was established, either. Secondly, your quote: "..to keep terrorists out..." Did you notice the constant suicide bombings that were mentioned weekly, if not daily? Do you know what Hammas is? America views that group as a terrorist organization. Perhaps there is a reason for this wall.

Cal, I must say, I resent how you refer to the weekly exchange as being between "Israeli soldiers" and "Palestinian youths". The statement is biased and attempts to seperate the situation into a black/white schematic. Yes, there are youth involved. From both sides. The Israeli soldiers are not old, sadistic animals. The 'Palestinian youths' are not innocent. Rock-throwing is not a childhood activity. They are all human. Also, the 'youth of the West' mentioned do not fairly represent the whole of American youth.

Perhaps you should all consider more carefully CNN's pledge to present both sides of the story, instead of spreading propoganda.
Katy, I would like to point out, first of all, that there never was a country called 'Palestine'. It was simply a name for a territory. The people referred to as Palestinians weren't kicked out when Israel was established, either. Secondly, your quote: "..to keep terrorists out..." Did you notice the constant suicide bombings that were mentioned weekly, if not daily? Do you know what Hammas is? America views that group as a terrorist organization. Perhaps there is a reason for this wall.

Cal, I must say, I resent how you refer to the weekly exchange as being between "Israeli soldiers" and "Palestinian youths". The statement is biased and attempts to seperate the situation into a black/white schematic. Yes, there are youth involved. From both sides. The Israeli soldiers are not old, sadistic animals. The 'Palestinian youths' are not innocent. Rock-throwing is not a childhood activity. They are all human. Also, the 'youth of the West' mentioned do not fairly represent the whole of American youth.

Perhaps you should all consider more carefully CNN's pledge to present both sides of the story, instead of spreading propoganda.
Interesting comments.

The fact remains, It is a Wall that separates. An eight meter high concrete Wall, that is isolating many Palestinians towns and neighborhoods, separating families, chocking their economy, to where hardships and dismal miserable existence seems to be the norm . The wall indeed works. Works for the pugnacious, and the bellicose.
"only racist"...."also false"..."because of the the fence (not wall)". Phrases taken from one of the comments above...

A bit of wisdom in your choice of words would have been far more graceful, considering this is a public platform.

You know, farming communities/people/neighbors use fences to fence out chickens, goats, horses, dogs, grassy yards, bushy yards, barns,...you name it, no one in his right mind fence out human beings....as the Palestinian People been.. by the Israelis!
it is disturbing to read that some still hold on to the myth that Palestine did not exist. Palestinians were driven from their ancestral land/homes to make room for a new country, Israel 60 years ago. Palestinians owned their land and lived on their land for centuries. Can we give them a credit for their resistance and stop labeling them as terrorists. We are smart enough to distinguish the difference by now. If you want to be respected as a sovereignty State, are you willing to acknowledge and face up your own demons? Your own atrocities towards the Palestinian people for the past 60 years, instead of pointing the finger and say, "look what the suicide terrorist did to us", frankly this is getting old. Grow up, is the only word I could think off right now. We did it in America, we acknowledge slaughtering Natives was wrong, slavery is wrong, and a host of other issues, and seemed to survive! can you do the same?
Have any of you, including Cal Perry ever been to Sderot during a Kassam attack? To Haifa when the Katushas fell? To a mall when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of women and children?

No?

You have no right to judge us. You just don't know!

The "Palestinians" lived there for centuries and were driven out by the Jews? Where did you get this nonsense from. The Germans lived in Danzig and Breslau. Do you take up their just case? No, of course not. And the case for the Indians, Mexicans etc. who WERE driven out of their homes? No, why should you.

All of you are hypocrits. Never did you speak up for your good friends, the Palestinians when Jordan and Egypt brutally occupied them. Where were you during Black September, when the Palestinians preferred to flee Jordan, because they knew the Jews, unlike the Jordanians, would not massaccre them. Asleep? Did not know?

Get off your high horse and try to se the truth for once.

But since you are not intellectually honest, you never wil.

Proud to be a Jew
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