Last week I went to the Friday demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil’in for the first time.
Some of the people who know me found it hard to believe. “Only now? Next week they will be marking eight years of demos, and only now you come, Ami?”
Yeah. I guess I’m what you call a “couch-leftist.” My battle is done in my home, my sword is my keyboard. I’m proud of that sword, I must say. But for the past year I’ve been feeling it isn’t enough.
I live a privileged life in a suburb of Tel Aviv. Although certainly no comparison to the occupation of Palestine, I live under a “corporate-capitalist occupation” of sorts. Work and family and all the usual stress of living in Israel take its toll, and those four hours every Friday, with my two girls in kindergarten and me and the missus alone, seem like a small window where we can come up and gasp for air.
Go to Bil’in instead of brunch in Tel Aviv? Nuh-uh.
I used to be a much more vibrant demonstrator in my “youth.” I guess I’m losing a bit of that with age, and with the responsibilities that come. My latest “burst” was during the social protests of 2011. As opposed to the occupation, the fight against corporate capitalism brought me to the streets. Sure, they were just a mile away. Not twenty, God forbid.
But for the past few months, I’ve been thinking about Bil’in a lot. I knew I was about to go, but just couldn’t get my act together. And then Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s Five Broken Cameras came out, and of course Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers, both up for oscars in just a few days.
And it felt like something was coming together. Like it was now or never. So last Thursday I dropped a line to Haggai Matar and told him I want to go to Bil’in, and sure enough he sorted me out. “And bring a scarf,” he reminded me in our email correspondence.
The next morning I sat in the back of a car next to a French activist who was visiting her grandmother in Israel, and an Israeli who just returned from a few years...Read More