Sunday, February 27, 2011

To desecrate the American flag

Since I got back from Palestine two months ago, every Friday has brought me back to the village of Bil'in. I won't even remember the importance of Friday, as anything other than the start to my weekend, until I stumble across a video in my Facebook mini-feed and watch Haitham's footage of the weekly demonstration in Bil'in.

During my three-week trip, I made it to two "demos" and spent five days in Bil'in, hanging out in the office of the Popular Committee and getting to know the people who send out articles, photos, and videos to the press and the general public via blogs, YouTube, Facebook, etc. I'm always proud, albeit a little anxious to see their footage, and faces at the demos on Friday.

When I saw yesterday's video start off with the burning of an American flag, I went on a short emotional roller coaster ride. The first emotion was shock--"I know these people, why are they doing this?" The next was worry--"What will the people who don't know them think?" Then I remembered the U.S. veto. Last week, the United States was the only country to veto the UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion, knowing full well that its tacit approval would enable Israel to continue to steal land in Bil'in and all over Palestine. I couldn't help but think of the Consent lecture we were in given in college; they told us that most rape happens when a lack of "no" is interpreted as a "yes." But maybe it isn't rape when the subjects aren't seen as human, and maybe freedom and justice don't apply to them either. Like I said, it was a short roller coaster ride, but suddenly the image of Palestinians wrapped in kaffiyehs burning an American flag (and stomping on it) was no longer a violent or threatening image. I realized that that young man from Bil'in couldn't possibly desecrate my flag any more than my president did last week.