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‘Go to Auschwitz!: Extremist settler confronts injured ISM volunteer in Hebron

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Hebron, Palestine, December 24th. As we made our way to ‘checkpoint watch’ we were discussing what it would be like that morning, would there be tear gas? Stun grenades? Child arrests? Every day children are forced to walk through military checkpoints, manned with armed border police officers, in order to reach their schools.

I have seen the Israeli military firing tear gas canisters, throwing stun grenades, and detaining and arresting schoolchildren and their teachers. Sometimes the children throw stones towards the checkpoint, sometimes not. Either way the military violence the children of Hebron face is as unbelievable as it is disgraceful.

To reach the Salaymeh checkpoint, the neighborhood that International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists monitor each school day morning and afternoon, my ISM colleague and I walked down Shuhada Street. Shuhada Street has been completely closed to Palestinians since the year 2000. It used to be the heart of Hebron, with bustling shops and lively homes, now it is often christened, ‘Apartheid Road,’ or ‘Ghost Town.’

I did not see the broken bit of road that I tripped on, so as I fell my first cry was mostly shock. The pain swiftly kicked in, I felt my ankle twist, and I knew I was in trouble. My friend tried to steady me and help me sit down. However we were standing just outside the illegal Beit Hadessah settlement, and I really wanted to move.

Reporting on the Ground

Three settlers were standing close by, they started to call to me, “sit down, sit down!”

I tried to reply, “No, I’m, I’m okay, I don’t want to. I’m fine.”

By this point, tears were running down my face and I suppose it was clear that I was not fine. They yelled at me again.

“Sit down, sit down!” And then one of the men added, “sit down, you sharmuta!” Sharmuta is the Arabic word for whore.

Eventually the pain, and my inability to walk, overcame my desire to leave the area. I staggered to the pavement and sat, still crying, trying to work out how I was going to move.

Just as I thought the situation could not get any worse- I was in pain, in tears, outside a settlement, and late for checkpoint watch- a car pulled up next to me.

Anat Cohen stepped out.

Anat is a settler living in Beit Hadessah. She is known to be extremely violent and volatile. I have had several problems with her in the past, where she has kicked, pushed and spat violent words at me. Whenever I see her I think about my Jewish grandparents, who like so many Zionists defend the settlers and their colonial thievery. I wonder what they would say if they knew that a settler woman verbally abused their youngest Jewish granddaughter?

I wish I could remember exactly what Anat said to me, and I wish even more I had been able to record her words; instead I can only offer the ‘highlights’ of our exchange.

“Leave here! Go! Go to Mohammed!”

“I can’t, I’ve hurt my foot, I can’t move.”

“Leave, Nazi! Go to Auschwitz, go to Gaza, go to Syria!”

This continued for some time, her face filled with hate as she leered over me while I clutched my ankle.

Eventually, Anat called the Israeli police. They arrived and walked towards us. I tried to stop crying, and fleetingly wondered if I could be arrested for spraining my ankle. After listening to Anat rage at them in Hebrew they stared down at me and told me I had to move.

It was roughly ten meters from where I was sat, to the part of Shuhada Street where Palestinians are ‘allowed’ to walk.

It looked like a mile.

I bargained with them, in hindsight perhaps I could have asked why I was not allowed to sit on the pavement nursing my foot? At the time I was too bewildered, and in too much pain, to think clearly. I asked for five minutes to gather myself before I tried to move. They agreed, and while I strategically planned how to stand, Anat continued to yell in Hebrew and throw insults towards me.

With the help of my friend, I managed to stand and hobble away. Anat left, clearly satisfied with her achievement. The only other noteworthy moment of the experience was the Israeli police officer that quietly apologized to me after Anat was out of earshot.

“I’m sorry, they’re crazy [the settlers] there’s nothing we can do, and she’s the craziest.”

I didn’t reply.

I’ve tried to think about what would happen to a Palestinian in this situation, but of course that’s pointless as Palestinians are banned from Shuhada Street.

I suppose what has struck me the most about this incident, is that a crazed, racist, extremist settler, can order the Israeli police to do her bidding.

And they will.

In Hebron, I am exceptionally privileged; I have white skin and a European passport. I’m also Jewish, but due to a previous experience where border police officers banned me from entering the Palestinian market due to my religion, I try to keep that quiet. All that privilege and I am still not allowed to sit down and quietly cry about a sprained ankle, if a settler woman says no.

Ally Cohen
About Ally Cohen

Ally Cohen is a human rights activist volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement.

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29 Responses

  1. just
    December 26, 2014, 10:26 am

    Ally Cohen, this is a tremendously important & awful story to end this awful year with.

    You write eloquently and viscerally. I very much appreciate you sharing this harrowing account with us. It’s one that I will share far and wide.

    You wrote: “I’m sorry, they’re crazy [the settlers] there’s nothing we can do, and she’s the craziest.”

    What spell have the “settlers” cast over everybody? Why are they immune from any law?

    Thank you for your work with ISM, and I hope that your ankle is better……
    May the New Year bring peace and justice for the Palestinian people.

    • MHughes976
      December 26, 2014, 10:45 am

      Can only suppose that the settlers say what liberal Zionists won’t say but still think. Yes, it’s been a bad year, hasn’t it?

    • Laurent Weppe
      Laurent Weppe
      December 27, 2014, 3:36 am

      What spell have the “settlers” cast over everybody? Why are they immune from any law?

      They did what every group of bullies have done since we invented agrarian civilization: hijacking human nature to their own ends:
      First they take advantage of the conflict aversion hardwired in the brains of non-sociopathic humans by looking so murderously ferocious that the rest of society ends up choosing accommodation over challenging their bellicosity. Then, once people realize that said accommodation meant consenting to violence they normally would never accept, the sunken cost fallacy and the fear of disgracing themselves publicly should they openly admit they became psychopaths’ lackeys push people to keep supporting the bullies, sometimes to the bitter end.

      • Mooser
        December 29, 2014, 11:47 am

        “What spell have the “settlers” cast over everybody? Why are they immune from any law?”

        As the vanguard of Israeli foreign policy, they have diplomatic immunity, of course.

    • ziusudra
      December 27, 2014, 4:05 am

      I’ve hear of the great work that the ISM is doing by other members of Israeli Society such as the progressive women that work’d the checkpoints & the retired Israeli soldiers that stand with the Falesteeni farmers ‘gainst the settlers & soldiers in the WB area. It may just be a minority, but so was Stauffenberg & his anti nazi supporters ‘gainst Adolf & Goebbels. This is one one of the moments where seafoid feels proud of the spiritually of Judaism. As a non Jew, so am i.
      PS It ain’t Judaism’s spirit, it’s the spirit of the conquest of Zionism.

  2. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    December 26, 2014, 11:26 am

    “I’m sorry, they’re crazy [the settlers] there’s nothing we can do, and she’s the craziest.”

    Translation: she’s got more powerful friends than I, and nobody’s got my back if I stick my neck out.

  3. Mooser
    December 26, 2014, 12:56 pm

    In the Jewish Democracy, some Jews are more equal than others.

    • Marnie
      December 26, 2014, 2:24 pm

      What a shitty experience for you Miss Cohen. I hope that some good will come out of it and your grandparents’s eyes will be opened and see the zionist enterprise and the cruelty it has engendered. May they then look at you with pride and support you. Mend soon.

    • ziusudra
      December 27, 2014, 4:08 am

      Greetings Mooser,
      All Jews are equal, zionists are more equal…..

      • alen
        December 28, 2014, 4:29 am

        I once met a Zionist woman when I was in China of all places. She was coming to visit her two sons and I was teaching there. Her son, of who I sometimes talked and was a work colleague, told me she was a tea party member and would frequently get into arguments with her.

        Anyway, she came in, saw me and made a beeline to me and spat out “Are you a Mexican?” I flatly told her no, I was Canadian. I didn’t mention I was Jewish (and thankfully neither did her son). I frequently get treated like crap by them, and they always seem to almost accusingly ask what I think of Israel if they find out I am Jewish. Needless to say, I get into a lot of arguments defending Palestinians. I hate Zionists with a passion, and Liberal Zionists make me ill with their quiet “Liberal” racism.

        Thank God for Mondweiss, I can still be proud to be Jewish.

      • just
        December 28, 2014, 7:51 am


  4. Citizen
    December 26, 2014, 3:27 pm

    The zionist settler witch does what she can get away with–isn’t that the same modus operandi of the worst Nazi thugs? What was that about the average German, Hitler’s willing executioners? So it’s in the culture? I don’t know the Hebrew word for culture. (“Kulture”)

  5. Citizen
    December 26, 2014, 3:31 pm

    Original Hebron-style Sharmuta video:

    • alen
      December 28, 2014, 4:30 am

      Ha! I was thinking of the very video when “Sharmuta” was mentioned.

      • annie
        December 28, 2014, 5:43 am

        i thought of it too of course.

      • alen
        December 28, 2014, 5:06 pm

        What do Zionists do or think when they see or hear these things? I always wondered how they can justify any of this. It bewilders me.

  6. Katie Miranda
    Katie Miranda
    December 26, 2014, 5:34 pm

    She did the same thing to me on a number of occasions. She even kicked me in front of a police officer and then “ordered” him to take me to the police station for questioning. Typical Hebron settler justice. I took comfort knowing that someone so full of anger and bile has got to be a pretty miserable person.

    • just
      December 26, 2014, 5:40 pm


      And she’s allowed to physically & verbally assault people with impunity?

      I wonder if she has kids. If so, it’s beyond frightening.

      PS~ Hi Katie (waving madly!)

      It’s so strange that she invokes Auschwitz~ as though those that perished deserved it somehow.

      • Katie Miranda
        Katie Miranda
        December 26, 2014, 5:54 pm

        Hi Just ! Yes she is because that’s just how things are in Hebron. It took me months to wrap my head around that.

        She never stopped screaming about Auschwitz while I was there. She has about ten children and not surprisingly, they’re just like her:

      • just
        December 26, 2014, 5:59 pm

        Well, I just read in a New Yorker (Goldberg article from 2004) that she has ‘about’ 10 kids…

      • just
        December 26, 2014, 6:01 pm

        Ha! That’s the article I just found and read, Katie. There’s lots out there on her…

        Poor Hebron.

      • just
        December 27, 2014, 12:02 am

        Interesting that this “settler’s” father is a former member of the Jewish Underground and stayed a buddy of Sharon from their “service” in Unit 101…….

        Raised to dispense the milk of human kindness/NOT.

      • alen
        December 28, 2014, 5:07 pm

        I read the article. It is full of inaccuracies about the situation, almost making Palestinians responsible for everything and just a few fringe lunatics on the Zionist side. That reporter should have done more research.

    • Marnie
      December 27, 2014, 7:53 am

      When you know there’ll be no consequences for your behavior, this is what you see. And of course you are “the other”, an outsider and must be dealt with in the harshest possible manner. That makes me sick. What a thug.

  7. Pixel
    December 27, 2014, 12:15 am

    I wish I had no idea what pain your ankle caused you but I do. Decades ago, I fell off a large step in the bus station in Chihuahua, Mexico. That sucker still hurt occasionally three years later. I was told broken bones heel faster than ligaments. (Yikes, maybe you did break your ankle – I hope not!)

    When I fell, I had several friends with me and no one else paid any attention. Certainly, no one was verbally abusing me. THAT is unimaginable to me, personally. However, perhaps because I’m of the older generation, the closest I can come to seeing in my mind that kind of visceral hate is in old newsreels watching Nazi’s.

    Even the terror blacks felt from the verbal abuse spewed by whites in old newsreels from the Jim Crow south wasn’t the same. I’m not sure why.

    Maybe because everyone involved was still American. On some fundamental level, I think white hatred at that time in history was the fruit of feeling threatened as their way of life and worldview were being challenged.

    With the Nazi’s I have felt that it was hated on a soul level.

    You’re very courageous, very brave. I wish I thought I could be that brave. , too, these days but I know I’d avoid that area like the plague and coming anywhere near that woman. Maybe I paid too high a price for what bravery I was able muster when I was younger. I said it would never would never happen to me but, in the end, it beat me down.

    Bless you for your courage and action. As every generation comes and goes, folks like me eventually die off – thank god. And thank god for young people like you who are the hope for the future of, well, everything.

  8. bevkrell
    December 27, 2014, 8:22 am

    Ally Cohen I was sickened by your account. As you state, you are a white Jew and not a Palestinian. While the settlers continue to occupy illegally taken territory, the suffering of the Palestinians will continue.

    • alen
      December 28, 2014, 4:36 am

      Exactly my thought. I feel sorry that Palestinians have to put up with this woman and people like her. The article was very good at painting a picture (a bit too good, I was feeling horrible from it).

      I want to visit the area, but frankly the Israelis scare me. Even though I am Jewish, I look Spanish (a Chilean visitor was beaten up by thugs who mistook him for a Palestinian) and roll my Rs like an Arab (I love the Arab accent for Hebrew by the way). I will just wait until Palestine is free and full of normal, decent, educated people, and not Zionists whackos.

  9. CigarGod
    December 27, 2014, 9:10 am

    As the crowd was yelling at you to “sit down”…i was waiting for their stones to fly, in the next sentence.
    Thanks for taking us there.

  10. Bornajoo
    December 27, 2014, 6:23 pm

    Dear Ally Cohen
    What a terrible experience! From your and Katie’s account she really is the Wicked Witch with plenty of subservient disciples to do her bidding. What a nasty horrible person with her own army of 10 budding evil sprog clones of her own. Ugh!

    Thank you for the fantastic work that you do. Stay safe and I hope the ankle heals quickly

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