Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hello Seattle.

I'm home for Christmas in Woodinville, WA now. Yesterday I went into downtown Seattle to meet up with my mom for lunch. While she was working I hung out at the Seattle Public Library, which is an amazing building. I sent some e-mails and caught up on the news, and was really, really sad to read this:

Testimony:Soldier fired directly at Bil'in demonstrator killed in 2009

"A soldier who served in the same brigade as Abu Rahme’s shooter told the NGO’s researchers that officers informed the troops that the shot was illegal, that soldiers would watch Reeb’s video of the incident and laugh about it, and that the shooter marked a victorious X on his rifle, signifying a successful kill."

And they're talking about my friend's cousin Bassem.

It wasn't surprising, but it still made my blood boil right there in the library. You know when you're surrounded by people and you just want to yell "ARE YOU F&*KING KIDDING ME?!"

I'm still desensitized, in both my thoughts and words. That my friends back in Palestine are treated as subhuman has become so. ridiculously. normal.


Later on in the evening I watched the first segment of John Adams with my dad. It was about Adams' controversial representation of the British commander who was accused of ordering his soldiers to fire at the Boston Massacre. Adams accepted the request because he believes in the law and that "counsel is the last thing an accused person should lack in a free country."

It was interesting listening to Adams and the British soldiers defend themselves against the people of Boston. In Adams' defense, the public's grievances against the army weren't supposed to sway the verdict. Abigail told him to include them in his closing remarks. Recognize taxation without representation, address the causes that are inflaming the people, while recognizing the humanity of the soldiers. That will bring them to reason.

The soldiers and their commander were found not guilty. It's a great introduction to Adams. You're supposed to root for him and his impartiality, while the Bostonian mob is falsifying information. You're supposed to pity the young soldiers, even if you're surprised to pity them, because in middle school history class, you were taught that the Red Coats were all around bad guys.

It reminded me of the strange exercise of crossing the border from the West Bank into Israel and interacting with soldiers as civilians. I lived in the "hornets nest," as many would say, but I was never perceived as threatening. Sitting in a tavern with classic rock blasting, over a beer, I guess it's hard to be threatening. And I experienced the humanity of active and retired soldiers to a degree that many Palestinians don't get the opportunity to.

I went to a lot of demonstrations in Bil'in, and stood with the people in front of soldiers with guns. I knew the soldiers perceived the people of Bil'in to be a threat to them, even though their army stole over half the village's land. In this case the accused have not even been accused. Bassem was unarmed, and his killer shot him from a distance, directly in the chest, with a high-velocity tear gas canister. The soldier should be charged with murder and sent to prison. But he's allowed to walk free.