Recently I had the chance to watch a lecture on video by Eran Efrati, a former Israeli soldier. He talked about his time in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and how he realized he was on the wrong side of history. After watching his lecture it helped me understand more of what’s going on in Israel and Palestine.
Most of the knowledge I had came from major news outlets in the US. Their message is that the Israeli military goes into Palestine to fight insurgents hostile towards Israel. The lecture helped me understand that the IDF occupies Palestinian land and regulates Palestinian people on a daily basis.
For example, Eran shared a story about a young boy who was killed by the IDF. When his family was trying to conduct a funeral service for him, Eran’s military unit stopped them from leaving their house because there was a curfew. The boy’s father protested and he was detained. The next day on one of the Israeli news outlets it was reported that Eran’s unit had killed a terrorist (the young boy) and detained another one (the boy’s father). Watching this helped me understand the current reality for a lot of Palestinian people. It is not a war, it is an occupation.
It reminds me of the United States’ history with tribal nations. What’s taking place in Palestine is very similar to the U.S.’s early policies of removal, relocation and termination of all the indigenous people here. For example, looking at my own tribal history of the Navajo people there are a lot of similarities that coincide with the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian people. During 1865, we were escorted by the U.S. military all the way across the state of New Mexico to Fort Sumner. We were relocated to a land where it was nearly impossible to sustain any kind of living through agriculture or big game hunting. Not only that, but we were placed with other rival tribes that we didn’t get along with so that only made things more unstable and difficult. As the years passed, we were left with the ultimatum to either move to Oklahoma territories or move back to our ancestral lands in and around the four corners area. Unlike the Palestinian people, we were able to move back to our ancient lands. The lecture helped me see these parallels between Palestinians and Navajos.
It also helped me understand the trend of police militarization. In his lecture, Eran shared a story about a Maryland state police officer giving him a ride. He didn’t know that this ride would change his life. The officer told Eran that his department was recently sent to Israel to train with the IDF. Not only was this shocking but the officer knew Eran’s dad, who was the Head of Investigation for the Jerusalem Police. Eran saw the strong connection with the IDF and how they teach our police forces the same tactics used on the Palestinian people.
It’s disheartening and upsetting to know these same officers who have sworn an oath to protect and serve their community aren’t really doing that. We see examples of this in Ferguson, MO with a police officer who shot an unarmed young black man. In the midst of demonstrations held by community members, we see police armed to the teeth using military grade equipment like armored vehicles, tear gas canisters, tactical gear and rubber bullets. This trend of police militarization is something that’s not just happening now but has been going on for quite sometime. From watching Eran’s lecture about what’s going on in Palestine and with what’s been happening in Ferguson, MO and even with what’s been happening in Albuquerque with the APD, I see how it is all interconnected.