There is no word for legitimate paranoia. The true feeling that someone is after you. The realization that the conspiracy is real. I think I’m experiencing that feeling this week.
Last Tuesday a CPTer was denied entry at the airport. He was held in a jail cell over night, then sent back to his country the next day. This is something that happens occasionally to CPTers, but not often. What was especially peculiar was that this CPTer hadn’t been active recently and had no record in Israel (a lot of CPTers get denied entry after their names are put in the system for being in a demonstration, or getting arrested). Maybe he said the wrong thing at the border, or maybe he just got interviewed by a guard having a bad day. I didn’t think much of it, except that we would be one person short for a bit, but at least we had another CPTer coming in a couple days…
Then he got denied entry as well.
That’s when the paranoia hit me. Not only were soldiers at the checkpoints around Hebron trying to keep us out of specific areas, but we are being kept out at the airports as well. At the same time soldiers are being more aggressive toward us (Yelling at us more often, cornering CPTers and taking pictures, more dirty looks), was this connected as well? We wrote a report about the abuse of children by soldiers in Hebron, was that a reason for this targeting? I don’t know how many of these are connected and how many are coincidences, but all this stuff is starting to weigh on me.
It’s a hard feeling to try to explain. To return to my Tolkien metaphor, it feels like the eye of Sauron is on us. I find myself distracted by the fact that someone, somewhere has made a decision to try to stop CPT from being able to function. I worry about what the next step of this strategy will be. I worry about how effective the strategy has been so far: As of now we are not wearing our vests near the Mosque, and in two weeks we will no longer have enough people to cover all our commitments. The legitimate paranoia closes in.
This was a bad week for the people living in Masafer Yatta (Firing Zone 918). On Thursday, the same day the second CPTer was denied entry (not that I think these things were related) soldiers raided the village of Jinba. They did this on the pretext that someone from the village stole a ram from the settlers living on the top of the hill overlooking Jinba. In other words a Palestinian had allegedly broken through the settlement’s state of the art security, showed no fear for the arsenal of weapons the settlers are known to have, and risked all this to procure a single individual sheep to add to his or her flock of hundreds, and did this so adeptly that there was no evidence of their alleged deed left behind. Regardless of the ridiculous accusation the soldiers used it to collectively terrorize the entire village. A 15 year old told me about getting hit in the chest with a sound grenade as soldiers entered his house. Another boy told of his brother getting hit with the butt of a soldiers M-16. I saw a TV with a broken screen from being thrown to the ground by soldiers. I saw a picture of a refrigerate thrown down with its contents strewn across the floor. There was one house with every shelf dumped onto the floor. Everyone in the village had a story from that night.
The day after I heard the stories, helicopters started flying over another village, I saw them fly low and touch down right in front of some shepherds, scattering the shepherds’ flock in every direction.
I often think about how the people of Massafer Yatta deal with what is going on. That day I specifically thought about their legitimate paranoia. I mean, if I have trouble functioning because a few of my colleagues were denied entry, how much more debilitating must their legitimate paranoia be? They know, without a doubt that there is a conspiracy to get them off their land. One of the most powerful armies in the world is trying to get them to give up their land. I had never thought about the weight of legitimate paranoia on the people here until now, but it must affect them. No wonder they want internationals like me in their villages even when things are quiet and we have nothing to do, even if we can’t guarantee them any real protection. I love their reaction, to reach out for help from around the world and to stand steadfast in the face of their fears.
CPT Palestine is following their example. We want to show our resolve, and we are seeking help from people all over the world to do it. We are asking for any CPT reservists who are available to come to Palestine, to show the Israeli authorities that we will not be intimidated, and to help us keep our commitments to places like Massafer Yatta. We are also asking for funds from anyone in our networks to help us fund these reservists. Please donate to CPT to help sponsor a reservist HERE (Memo that it is inspired by the Palestine Team). I ask for this somewhat selfishly because I want to go back to Massafer Yatta. My friends there inspire me. If we don’t get more people on team we won’t be able to continue to be present there, as we committed to do. Please, if every you were thinking about donating, now is the time.
Pray for the people of Jinba hurt by the raid, and all those threatened in Massafer Yatta
Pray that CPT can fulfill our commitments we have made
Pray that this trial will strengthen CPT
Pray for Peace