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Video: A putrid price for nonviolent resistance - the 'Skunk'

How do I convey the smell of the ‘Skunk’?  Imagine rolling around the floor of a dairy farm for a few hours and the subsequent smell of your skin. A smell so overbearing that people can’t bear to be in the same room with you. Now, imagine that you can’t get that smell two weeks. This is the smell of the ‘Skunk.’

In the past year, the ‘Skunk’ has become a mainstay of West Bank demonstrations against the Separation Wall and Occupation. A non-lethal alternative to high velocity tear gas canisters and rubber coated steel bullets which still extracts a heavy price on Palestinians who resist Occupation through creative nonviolence.

Last Friday, the tiny village of Nabi Saleh held a demonstration against the Occupation. Brave Palestinians embracing the tradition of nonviolence which typified the struggle for civil rights in the American south have been demonstrating  for almost two years along with Israeli and international supporters. After midday prayers on Friday, demonstrators began to march to the village’s agricultural spring, which has been taken over by settlers with the blessing of the Israeli army. They were greeted by soldiers.

The soldiers attacked the demonstrators with tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets and stun grenades. Despite the violence, the villagers continued to march to the spring when the ‘Skunk’ was brought to the scene. On this day, former European Union Parliament Vice President Luisa Morgantani joined the demonstration.

At first, the ‘Skunk’ was sprayed from a large armoured car on the village’s main road. It did not stop the demonstrators. Three Israeli supporters were then thrown to the ground, handcuffed and then dragged through the chemical ‘Skunk’ muck covering the streets. After the arrest, the army blanketed the area in tear gas and most of the demonstrators fled to the village centre for fresh air.  With no demonstrators left to deal with, the army decided to use the ‘Skunk’ on civilian homes. Clearly, the army rarely misses an opportunity to collectively punish Nabi Saleh for its nonviolent resistance.

The ‘Skunk’ is a petrochemical designed to cling to any surface that it touches.  Once I was hit with the ‘Skunk’ during a demonstration in Bil’in. I had to throw out everything that the chemical touched as it was impossible to wash out the smell. My backpack, pants, shirt, even my shoes and the notebook I was carrying to take notes had to be thrown out. The smell stayed on my skin and in my hair for weeks after, which created an interesting conversation piece as everyone I would encounter gave me strange looks.

The families of the homes hit by the ‘Skunk’ on Friday will not be able to return for weeks.  Their houses smell worse than dairy farms as the chemical has penetrated every surface.  For them, it is another reminder of Israeli control over their lives.  For the village, it is another price to pay for nonviolent resistance to domination.

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    1. Danny

      This week, Israel will celebrate its holocaust day festival, using the usual herd control techniques of instilling fear and loathing in its already-fearful populace while at the same time keeping 4 million people in makeshift ghettos. Isn’t it fun to be an Israeli? You get to have your cake and eat it too. You get to play the victim while in reality you are the four-decade-long source of misery for another people. Wonderful! And when the world dares to bring up this irony, you can tell them “shut up world, or we’ll send AIPAC after you!”

      Reply to Comment
    2. RichardNYC

      It doesn’t take holocaust remembrance to instill fear in the Israeli Jewish public. It only takes the behavior of Arabs.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Michael W.

      Danny, please reconsider your use of words – “celebrate its holocaust day festival”. It’s not a day of celebration. It’s a day of remembrance. The official name of the “holiday” is -Yom Hazikaron L’shoah U’l’gevurah.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Leonid Levin

      Deeply disturbing footage, utterly unjust and painfully shameful treatment of peaceful protesters and villagers. Why is it that this doesn’t make major headlines?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Leonid,
      It makes headlines on +972 and that is why this project is a new frontier in journalism. All the best, Joseph

      Reply to Comment
    6. The Israelis claim that “Skunk” is harmless…. It would be interesting to hear the deafening wail from Israelis and Americans if something like Skunk were used on Israelis.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Danny

      Michael, it may be called a “day of remembrance”, but it is far, far more than that. In Israel, the subject of the holocaust has taken almost cosmic proportions, with young children being taught from a very early age that no matter what we’ll do or won’t do, there will always be a Hitler waiting in the wings for his chance to put us into the ovens again. The implication, of course, is that the Arabs are the new Hitlers and must be dealt with accordingly. That is partly why people like Joseph’a friend, Avichai, don’t mind shooting Palestinian children, and why collective punishment against Palestinians is acceptable. By the way, I just read that The Bib has yet again mentioned Iran in his speech about the holocaust. See a pattern here?

      Reply to Comment
    8. RichardNYC

      Looks like this isn’t a very serious obstacle to non-violent resistance, which should be easy to continue in the face of putrid, rather than deadly repression. A reason for optimism really.
      @Hugh Sansom
      I don’t hear too much wailing from Sderot, and being shelled is worse than being made smelly, don’t you think? Thank you for the daily dose of straw man argument.
      @Leonid Levin
      Have you seen the recent footage of Syrian kids’ brains on the street? Maybe reserve the word “disturbing” for that which actually is
      @ Michael W.
      That “Danny” is spewing libelous nonsense and conjuring up Jewish conspiracies (“we’ll send AIPAC after you!”) might be a clue that he is actually an antisemite and not worth reasoning with

      Reply to Comment
    9. Michael W.

      Danny, I’m assuming you’ve experienced this Israeli education first hand, right?

      Maybe you don’t understand the magnitude of the Shoah. This is why we remember it, so people don’t dismiss it and forget it. Unfortunately, you have forgotten what it did to the Jewish people. You can criticize Israeli policies, but don’t insult us with how we teach our kids about the Holocaust.

      PS, Iranians aren’t Arabs.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Leonid Levin

      @Richard Nyc:
      After reading your remarks on various threads here, I came that to the conclusion that it doesn’t make sense to engage in a discussion with you. Your arguments lack any depth or nuance or basic humanity. They are full of hate, insults, disrespect, as you make not even a slight attempt to understand your opponents’ point of view. You jump from subject to subject in an incoherent manner. To me it sounds like a lot of propaganda and very little substance. So, good luck with your comments! I will not respond to them, and I hope nobody else will.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Danny

      Michael, yes I experienced it first-hand, like every Israeli schoolchild does. And no, I do not make light of the holocaust. It is a tragic historic event. My beef is with Israel, which has somehow hijacked this tragedy for its own political gain and has been using it with the double aim of scaring its own population into submission and deflecting international criticism from its illegal actions in the occupied territories. By the way, I read an article today about holocaust survivors living in Israel; turns out many of them are sorry they ever came and wish they had stayed in Germany, where – irony of ironies – holocaust survivors are treated far better. Fancy that.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Michael W.

      Danny, I’m sorry Israel doesn’t have the luxury of having the world’s fourth largest GDP to take better care of holocaust survivors.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Danny

      Israel’s GDP is large enough to take care of the survivors ten times over. But even if it wasn’t, Israel has, over the years, received billions of Deutchmarks for this very purpose. What did it do with the money? It bought submarines for its navy and Audi cars for government ministers. Not a single Deutchmark made it to the survivors.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Michael W.

      Really? Not a single one? Now you are just making things up.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Leonid Levin

      @Danny: if the suffering of our dear forefathers in the Holocaust is being used for political agenda, to cover up for and justify injustices afflicted on other people, to indoctrinate own people and to silence criticism, this is indeed a grave insult to the memory of the millions of Jews and non-Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

      Our family lost 13 members (aging 10 months to 68 years old) in a small ghetto in Belarus. Some others were killed in action, fighting in the Soviet Army, some vanished in the Stalinist GULAG camps. I’ve researched their fates and maintain an archive with dates, stories, photographs, memories and other documents. I do this to pay tribute to their lives and to pass on their memory to the future generations of our family. These stories came down to me from the surviving relatives and other witnesses. They were not keen on talking about it. It was a private matter, very painful. In their stories, I never heard hate towards the German people. They were soft and kind and deeply human, as if humbled by this horrifying experience, ready to help a fellow human being, Jew or gentile.

      I often think about the time that I will tell their stories to my daughter when she’s old enough and ready to listen. I don’t want anybody else to teach her about the Holocaust. I’ll show her the archives, take her to our ancestral places, to their mass graves. The rest she will be able to read about and research for herself, the way I did without anybody teaching me anything. I’ll let her herself make up her mind if she should fear or hate anybody because of what happened. But I do hope that she will always be on the side of the oppressed and will develop compassion rather than hate, ability to think independently rather than ignorance, giving rather than greed.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Dannecker

      I am frankly tired of hearing about hthe holocaust. I think is is healthy that Danny is using the word holocaust in small rather than capital letters because it is unremarkable. Get over it and move on

      Reply to Comment
    17. David

      The author loves to use the term ” non violent ” . Fact is after watching many far left videos it is often the PAL side which starts the violent confrontation. Be it stones, throwing a substance or otherwise engaging the IDF in an unsavory manner.
      I really do see stone throwing and more all over the place. Is this a case of the author just repeating non-violent until it hopefully sticks somewhere ?

      Reply to Comment
    18. Piotr Berman

      “many far left videos”

      Where in this video there was violence initiated by the demonstrators? Soldiers engaged in plenty of gratuitous violence, including the horrid skunk water application on the houses with no other purpose other than having fun. One of the last frames shows a broad smile on a soldier face.

      Reply to Comment
    19. David

      Video”s”, indicating plural. So go look at some other vids on this site of make belief. It is astonishing how often the actions of the demonstrators are ignored in the subsequent articles. Violent protesters can also be seen on YouTube in villages and places where all is non-violent. What is also clearly visible is the usage of children in and around so called non- violent protests in many other videos.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Sylvia

      Children at play.

      Take it from someone who has had to dodge rocket missiles for the past ten years.

      And all that we had from your side in lieu of sympathy was scorn.

      Could you, Joseph Dana, point me to an article you have written deploring the brutal, daily rocket attacks on a population of unarmed, poverty-stricken and oppressed (by your ilk) refugees from Arab countries?

      Waiting for the link.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Sylvia,
      I have also had to dodge rockets (I spend a lot of time on Kibbutz Dorot). Does that absolve your states responsibility in that situation? Why not engage with the material instead asking for a link regarding other Arab countries? If I provided you with a link would you then debate the issue at work here?

      Reply to Comment
    22. David

      I am sure you are aware of this but for the author it is not about human rights. The far left has proven many times, that this is about something other than the Palestinians. Best not talk about the inhumane Arab politic over 60 years which made this situation what it is . Most of these bloggers are so far of the deep end they are failing in engaging and making the human connection between voices like yours and those on the WB. Perceptual narrowing.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Sylvia

      Joseph Dana
      Now you are dodging the question.
      I’ve asked you to point me to the link of an article where you have expressed unreserved empathy for the suffering of the people of Sderot at any time in the past 10 years. With no buts and no howevers.

      You should understand that double standards and unjust reporting are a put-off that can push otherwise decent and compassionate people into corners where they might not want to be.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Joseph Dana


      I write about Palestinians and the West Bank. I do not write about Israelis living in Sederot the same way that I do not write about Egyptians living in Cairo.

      So please explain this idea of double standard and how that applies to a report about Palestinians in the West Bank. You are justifying the actions which your state is taking on very shaky ground. The patriotic thing to do, if you subscribe to this line of thought, would be to provide solid rationale for the collective punishment of the Palestinians.

      If you think what you see in this video and report is legitimate from an Israeli perspective then stand behind it and defend it as a Jew and as an Israeli. If you think that the Occupation is legitimate and the maintenance that it requires (i.e. collective punishment of the Palestinians) is okay, then let’s hear it.

      Perhaps you are unable to stand behind these crimes and this occupation and that is why you ask me to write about Sedrot. That is why ask me to turn my attention away from this. It is not pretty to look at the mechanism of Occupation and especially not nice to have the international community doing it.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Sylvia

      What is not pretty and totally immoral is for grown-ups to use children as human shield. What are these children doing there?

      If you say they are not in any danger, then your point is moot.

      If you say that there is a danger, then I find it immoral that you bring them hoping they will get hurt or even killed just so you have something to demonize the IDF with.
      I am not pro-settlement nor am I pro-“occupation” despite the fact that it is what you impute to me.
      But you are kidding yourself and it takes a patronizing white supremacist to believe that the Palestinians are waiting to be “given” anything rather than “take it” themselves at their own time and place.
      Mark my word.

      What is not clear to me is what exactly you’re hoping these histrionics will accomplish?

      Reply to Comment
    26. Sylvia

      You’re giving them too much credit. I don’t think their thought process can go that far.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Sylvia

      “I do write about Israeli living in Sederot the same way that I do not write about Egyptians living in Cairo. ”
      I assume you meant to write that you “do not write”.
      If so, why not? If you’re in Dorot, heard the Red alert, heard the explosion, why not give a thought to the suffering children just a few kilometers away?
      Sorry, but I can’t understand it. I understand and mention the suffering of the Copts in Egypt every chance I get precisely because I went through as a Jew in a Muslim land what they are now going through as Christians. I feel and empathize with their fear and their feeling of helplessness. I feel a physical pain everytime I read about them in the news. And yet, God knows that they didn’t exactly love Jews.
      This is what being human is about.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Sylvia, I am not going to tolerate attacks about intelligence on my channel. Please try to subscribe to some basic standards of civilized discourse. Respect among the commenters of all political colors is important for a debate to grow. Best, Joseph

      Reply to Comment
    29. directrob

      I thing this article is feeding the Israeli cognitive dissonance. The more Israeli see this groundhog day demonstration and the IDF reaction the more negatively they think about Palestinians. (For David and Sarah the alternative explanation that the IDF is doing wrong seems unthinkable)

      Reply to Comment
    30. Leonid Levin

      You feel and empathize with the fear of Copts in Egypt, with their feeling of helplessness. You feel and empathize with the children of Sderot. I applaud you. You’re just one step away from starting to empathize with the pain and suffering of the people of Palestine and of all the oppressed and humiliated people in the world. I invite you to take that step as you did with the Copts, who “didn’t exactly love Jews”. That would be truly human of you, and your name will be inscribed among the righteous in the Book of Life.

      Reply to Comment
    31. David

      where has Sylvia not upheld basic standards of civilized discourse Mr. Dana?
      I think Sylia’s points are valid, but a holistic approach to the issues would not go down well on the far left. How you can disengage what flies from Aza and what goes on in the WB is beyond me?
      How can the author constantly write stories about what are mostly non stories, copied and pasted from ISM at times and than ignore 500.000 people living under near daily missile threat maybe 45 minutes away by car?
      The authors eagle eye focus on the supposed non violent resistance and the well designed media outlet for what are mostly the combined
      outpourings of various NGO’s and their Palestinian friends. The author has repackaged the ISM brand after it has become toxic.
      The authors constant hyperbole in his headlining and the trumped up facts about injured and what not are easily witnessed by cross checking a few facts.
      This is not a new sort of journalism which the author likes to proclaim. It is a pseudo logical construct which does not mirror reality . Hence the lack of true discourse on these threads. It is not a discussion but more a wall where all can sign up to the authors views.
      When someone like Sylvia voices the concerns of a mother and does well in pointing out the human cost of Hamas’s actions she is side lined. Parts of 972 floats in that murky idealogical zone of the far left and terror sympathizing NGO’s .
      True to the authors word, I’d like to see some Independent reporting from Israel & the Palestinian territories. Not only a ticker for the weekly actions of a few fanatics.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Sylvia

      I look more favorably on “skunk” sprayed on asphalt and houses than say, rockets sprayed on people.
      How does it smell?

      Reply to Comment
    33. sean

      So judging by some of these people’s opinions, the Jews who fought back against Nazi occupation during World War 2 were terrorists and deserved what they got? I mean they weren’t resisting peacefully, right? What’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander? The myopic view of people defending Israel’s actions is beyond me.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Piotr Berman

      Sean, your slavish adherence to Aristotelian logic prevents you from making necessary leaps in the reasoning. Because some Jews fought back, OTHER Jews deserved what they got. And didn’t Jews support Entente and Versaile humiliation of Germany? Sorry, “the Jews”.

      Because Hamas in Gaza lobbed Qassams at Sderot, Nabi Selah deserved skunk water. You are really “off deep end” if you think otherwise. David cuts cause-effect little closer: because in some unlinked video children were “violent”, Nabi Selah deserves skunk water. Well, once you are applying “jumping logic”, there is a lot of flexibility.

      Sylvia: “If you’re in Dorot, heard the Red alert, heard the explosion, why not give a thought to the suffering children just a few kilometers away?”

      Do you give a thought about Palestinian children on the other side of the fence? Several days ago mother with two children were wounded by IDF because they shot at their house, for no apparent reason. What is you thinking on that? (a) terrible (b) good! (c) who cares?

      Reply to Comment
    35. Leonid Levin

      Joseph Dana,

      I’m deeply sorry you have to put up with some comments in these threads that ridicule you and the human rights movement, insult you, accuse you of bad journalism, lying, hypocricy, etc. In my opinion it’s not worth arguing with these people, because they are extremely offensive and not interested in genuine discussion. Noam Chomsky once said: “Rational discussion is useful only when there is a significant base of shared assumptions.”

      I applaud and admire you for your compassionate reporting, for your courage to go out there and be with the non-violent protesters in the line of fire, and above all for your humanity.

      Stay human!

      Reply to Comment
    36. Thanks for the words. I do not like the attacking comments but that is the price that one pays in revealing this type of thing.

      Thanks again for all of your support!

      Reply to Comment
    37. David

      Noam Chomsky once said: “Rational discussion is useful only when there is a significant base of shared assumptions.”
      Never assume, know.

      Reply to Comment
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