Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where is Nasser?

A man came to our house, asking, “Where is Nasser? Is Nasser here?”

I didn't quite know how to respond, because Nasser is in jail. He's not in jail because he did anything wrong. He's in jail because he's Palestinian, and because he's living in the South Hebron hills in Area C, an area under full Israeli control. He's in jail because the mission of the Israeli military and police is to protect settlers, whatever the behavior of those settlers may be. Nasser was arrested because he tried to build a house, a house the settlers didn't want him to build, and thus, the military and police didn't want him to build.

I turned to the man and quietly responded, “Sorry, but Nasser is in jail.” I didn't know what else to say.

“Where?” he asked.

“I think he is in jail in Jerusalem, he has been in jail for nearly a month.”

The man raised his eyebrows and walked away disappointed, but not apparently surprised or perturbed.

This speaks to the situations of Palestinians being arrested by Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT). Friends and family being arrested isn't a rarity for Palestinians in the OPT. But of course, it's hard and challenging for families to be without a father, husband, and provider. But this is part of life under Israeli occupation. People are arrested and no one knows when they will get out. Court dates are postponed while the 'defendant' sits in jail, often large sums of money are demanded in order for the Palestinian to be released (the most recent sum demanded for Nasser is 25,000 NIS – nearly $7,000). This is the racist system that is in place. A system that privileges Israelis, and imprisons Palestinians committed to resisting the occupation; resisting in order to regain their land stolen by settlers, and to assert their right to be treated as human beings.

See my previous blog post for the full story, with video and pictures.