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PRISONERS’ DILEMMA

September 2, 2016

20160902_140944 20160902_143522 20160902_143536Palestinian hunger-strikers awaiting justice in the swamp of military “justice” in the territories. Starving themselves because eating is the only thing they control. We marched to support them today (see attached) with Combatants for Peace, in the tenth year of their campaign to garner the power of former combatants who now work together making huge papier mache dolls for peaceful demonstrations, and speaking together in schools.

Many young Palestinian women and their children were there today, many of them families of recent or present prisoners. The demo is outside Bethlehem, the Palestinians don’t need permits. I love watching them feeling safe, among us. Thin, weathered men donned brown cloaks, the color of the prison garb that many of them wore for decades. Not many smiles, as the speakers, former prisoners themselves, called out the names of the current jailed strikers.

I know one of the men inside the symbolic cage they’ve constructed at the demo. For years he has carried unremovable shrapnel in his back. In jail, he thought things through and turned himself around, emerging from jail identifying with Fatah, is now actively seeking peace.

The hard, hard life of most Palestinians, especially those who struggle. Of more than 7,500 Palestinians currently in Israeli jails, around 700 are being held under administrative detention, rights groups say. As we march together, we exchange greetings. I don’t ask them why they were sent to jail, I honor their lonely prison years, the dis-spirited routine of long-imprisoned men, and women. Watching them and their families, I am ashamed and confront my role in enabling the oppression that chokes these people and drives them to resist us. No violence is justified, but it is inevitable in the face of the ongoing catastrophic occupation.

The demonstration ends with heartening speeches and the symbolic breaking apart of the prison cages we have carried a mile. Little glimmers of hope, last handshakes, schlepping back to our cars, and our lives.

Yoav Peck

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