Joseph Dana shot this video on July 4 outside Tuba, a village near a settlement called Maon in the occupied West Bank. It is a grisly scene: Palestinian shepherds are forced off their lands when Israeli soldiers show up and declare it a "military zone" for no reason at all.
The video is also inspiring. First, because you see an American volunteer from Christian Peacemakers Teams trying to protect the right of the villagers to graze their sheep on the land. And then–when the Israeli soldiers arrive to declare the lands a military zone– for the appearance of a wiry middle-aged Israeli activist. This Israeli gets in the Israeli commander's face. He badgers him in Hebrew to state the reason why he is pushing the Palestinians off their land.
The activist is filled with passion and upset, and his heart is in his mouth. "You have to give a reason," he says. "I think more than anything you owe it to yourself."
At last the impenetrable commander says, "I have no intention of explaining this to you."
I know my klezmer performances put off some visitors to this site, but boy does my Jewish heart leap up when I hear an Israeli taking on authority with such passion. Israeli Jews also have universalist dreams; the world can be saved, and the Jews are not lost. Let this man find a legion of followers! I asked Dana who my hero is, and he indicated it is Amiel Vardi, a professor of Classics at Hebrew University.
Jewish, Israeli born and speaking Hebrew. He is an amazing guy indeed. One of the driving people in Ta'ayush from the beginning.
While there is no major 'violence' in the film it is quite reflective
of some of what we are doing in the West Bank. Asking soldiers to think
about what they are doing and why they are doing it. Forcing commanders
to take some responsibility in front of their soldiers. I feel that we
do make a difference with some of the soldiers. At least to give them
pause for a moment. The clip captures an example of a conversation that
we have with soldiers almost every time we are in the West Bank.