Wednesday morning, Ariel Gold was broadcasting a live feed through her Facebook, in the midst of an assault on her by settlers in Al-Khalil (Hebron).
Gold is a well-known Jewish American peace activist, campaign director of Code Pink, the peace and social justice NGO. She has been spending time in Palestine and Israel this time especially for the purpose of monitoring the military trial of Palestinian peace activist Issa Amro on trumped up charges mostly dating back from 2013. Gold has been instrumental in drawing international attention to the case, which Amnesty International called “baseless” and “politically motivated.” Following coverage on Gold in the Sheldon Adelson-funded Israel Hayom daily a few weeks ago, officials from the Ministry of Public Security vowed that Gold would not be allowed to enter Israel in the future due to her support for BDS.
In the video, Gold is attacked by a Jewish settler named Anat Cohen. Gold was just hit in the head by Cohen and had her phone-camera knocked down, with Cohen shouting “go to Auschwitz” and other obscenities. Simultaneously a settler child joins in, perhaps aged 12, also repeatedly participating in the assault, ripping the phone out of Gold’s hands and attempting to rip her backpack off her. All this occurs with the presence of armed Israeli soldiers, which Gold begs to provide her with protection so that she may board the bus to Jerusalem, a short walk from there. But Cohen, which Gold mentions had injured her by kicking her in the leg also the day before, as well as the kid, are blocking Gold from getting there.
Much of the Hebrew dialogue in this footage is worth noting:
After Gold begs to be escorted, the soldiers are finally discussing whether they might escort her (1:17): “Can you escort her”, one soldier, a sergeant, asks the other, apparently under his command. One is almost persuaded that we may be seeing some genuine human dignity amongst the ‘most moral army in the world’. But two seconds later, this is dispelled when the soldier repeats his suggestion by saying “can you please kick her out of here?”. There is no response. Then the same ‘dignified’ soldier asks Gold, in English, whether she can go to the station – to which Gold replies that she can’t because she’s being assaulted. At this point Cohen engages in a Hebrew conversation with the soldiers. Cohen’s words show that she is generally quite well informed about Amro and BDS, as will become clear.
Here Cohen tells the soldiers, as if commanding them, in Hebrew:
“No, no, no! She won’t pass. She’s a Nazi, she’s an Anti-Semite, she sleeps with Issa Amro, let her have sex with him. She’s not passing here”.
The soldiers are bewildered. They actually ask Cohen if Gold has a permit to pass. Cohen, the ‘commander in chief’, says “no she hasn’t, she won’t pass. On my body, she won’t pass”.
Whilst Gold is explaining to her Facebook viewers the situation, Cohen explains to the soldiers who Gold is. She tells them that Gold is a BDS activist (she repeatedly calls it ‘BCD’), and notes that she is supposed to be expelled from the country. She points out that the Ministry of Internal Security has declared that anyone working with BDS would be barred from entering Israel.
Meanwhile Gold is trying to get the names of the soldiers in order to file a complaint concerning their conduct (where they do nothing, allowing the assault to continue without lifting a finger or saying one critical word about it).
Gold voluntarily shows the soldiers her American passport (Cohen asks if it is a ‘BCD’ passport), and tells them that she is on the way to attend a gathering of Rabbis for Human Rights (Cohen, with a mocking accent: “Rabbis, which rabbis?”)…
Cohen keeps telling Gold to “go up” – that is, to the military watchtower overlooking the scene – where soldiers are indeed seen looking at all this from above as if it was some curious reality show. Cohen also repeatedly suggests that Gold go to Al-Aqsa – as if that was a really bad thing. But she doesn’t let her pass, so how will Gold get there? Cohen’s incessant obscenities, accompanied by the kid who occasionally rips the phone and backpack from Gold, appear to also serve the purpose of disrupting her live broadcast, in which Gold attempts to provide a narrative that would give context to the viewers.
At about minute 4:30, Cohen implores Gold to speak Hebrew. Gold notes that Cohen speaks English. Cohen, in Hebrew:
“No, no, no, don’t know English, don’t know English…Israeli Defense Forces speak Hebrew, they don’t speak English!…Issa Amro speaks English, go speak English with Issa Amro!”
So Cohen is now speaking on behalf of the Israeli military, as it were. And it seems that she commands considerable respect from these soldiers – incomparable to the lack of respect Gold receives.
After nearly five minutes of this, a soldier is heard saying that soon an officer will arrive “and sort it out”.
At this stage Gold points out that she’ll miss the bus which is due in 4 minutes.
Cohen, in Hebrew: “Not too bad. You’ll miss the bus. There are other busses”.
The next waiting stage goes on for some minutes, with Cohen making suggestions of where Gold should go: “To America, where everything is good”, “to Syria”, etc.
At about minute 6:45 the officer arrives with a few other soldiers. Gold attempts to explain to him her situation and asking for help, whilst Cohen is speaking to him in Hebrew and talking over her.
Cohen: “She doesn’t give a shit about you!” Now Cohen’s tone becomes very dignified and solemn: “First of all have her close her telephone as we asked her” [no such request is recorded], “let her respect you”.
The officer seems to want more clarification from Cohen about the ‘problem’. Cohen says:
“Me, I don’t have a problem. I want her to first close her telephone, so I can tell you…”
After less than half a minute the officer asks Gold to put the phone away so he can speak with her (about 7:55). Gold abides and puts the phone in her bag, but the audio recording continues for over 10 minutes from here on.
Gold again explains her situation and intentions. Gold explains to the officer that she was attacked by Cohen, and the officer seems quite surprised. At this point the audio is quite dim, and at a distance there seems to be some discussion going on between Cohen and the soldiers, for some minutes. Cohen seems to be trying to ‘educate’ the officer to understand the ideological issue at hand. Gold seems to be missing the bus, which she cannot see from there. She is wary of waiting for possibly another hour in such a place.
At about minute 11:40, Gold again engages in dialogue with the soldiers. They seem to wonder why she needs to walk on the street to get to the bus. She says she likes to walk on the street, that everyone should be allowed to walk on the street.
“But you don’t need to do a provocation”
says the soldier (possibly the officer, we cannot see at this point).
“But I’m not doing a provocation”, says Gold. “Walking down the street to the bus is not a provocation, at all”.
Gold repeats the issue of her probably missing the bus at this point, to the soldiers who don’t seem to be getting it. She also wants them to retrieve her phone case which was tossed under a car by Cohen.
There is no apparent response.
After some minutes, (around minute 14:30), the soldiers question the veracity off Gold’s claim. They say they don’t know anything about her.
At minute 15:00, a soldier chides her for the assumed ‘provocation’:
“Look how you came here. You did not come here, like, nicely”.
At this point Gold seems to give up hope on ever passing on the street (or retrieving her phone case), so she says that she clearly has to go some other way. At this point Cohen is heard imploring the soldiers to get Gold’s details, and not “let her run away like that”, because “she knows she’s not supposed to be in the country”.
A few seconds later, a soldier, apparently the officer, asks Gold which organization she is from. Gold answers that she’s with a number of organizations. “What are you doing here?” he asks. Gold notes that her visit has several purposes. She notes that her son is also there, with a Jewish youth group.
“Where are you from?” he asks. “From New York” Gold answers, and tells further details about her Jewish congregation. At this point, the soldier seems to be really surprised (Minute 16:20).
“Oh, you’re Jewish?!”,
Now there’s real interest in Gold from several soldiers. One of them tries to teach her about what Palestinians are really like, as opposed to the Jews and their ‘most moral army in the world’:
“If they have the chance to hurt me, they do this, ok? If I have the chance, and I had the chance, to hurt them, ok, and I didn’t do this, ok? I treat them as nice. If something’s not good, ok, always trying to be a good person, ok? You always trying to paint us like a bad man, or we did bad things, ok? But you talking bullshit, ok? Bullshit. You are a Jew, you need to stand with the Jews…”
The recording continues for a couple of minutes, but you get the essence. A minute before its end, Gold wonders whether she is being prevented from leaving, or whether she’s being detained. End of broadcast.
Another little episode in the chronicles of the Israeli occupation. Another glimpse into the reality wherein the settlers essentially run the game, and the soldiers are only there to protect them, and no one else – certainly not anyone who is not “standing with the Jews”, as it were, even if they are Jewish.
To be sure, Palestinians may often be met with much more crushing violence from settlers as well as military, and Gold is after all, still, in a relatively secure status, being an American citizen. It could have been much worse had she been Palestinian.
Yet as we see from this as well as from the developments in Israel’s onslaught against political dissent, that privilege is also being eroded. Israel is no longer a ‘safe haven’ for Jews, and if you don’t “stand with the Jews” (the Zionist ones, that is, the “right kind” of Jews), if you express too much critique of Israel – then Israel will also keep you out.
In the end, we’ll be left only with “real Jews” – the likes of Anat Cohen.