When DAM set out for this delegation to Israel and Palestine, our objectives were: to connect the US-led Global War on Terrorism (The Occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan) to the US-funded Israeli Occupation of Palestine; build relationships and show direct solidarity to IDF Refusniks, Shministim, as well as activists and organizers resisting the occupation and militarism of society; as well as create a film documentary of the struggles we’ve seen, the stories we’ve heard, and the lessons we’ve learned to share with others organizing for a better world. Besides the film being not able to view yet, I feel as anti-war veterans, war risistors and anti-militarist activists/organizers we’ve been building and making those relationships, connections and much more. For me personally, being Chicano has also brought me to connect and identify Raza struggle with Palestinian struggle on many levels.
At the surface level, many times upon first meeting me people in the West Bank told me they had perceived me to be Arab. We’d smile, I say thank you, and then when asked my family’s origin I would reply, “Mexican.” After that, I would even start to get introduced as “Doesn’t he look Arab?” or “This is Eddie from the other village over…” jokingly in Arabic.
On the flip-side, is what treatment comes from being a person of color by the colonizers. Like when soldiers gave me the eye, asked me questions, not in English, off to the side, and came around to watch my back side after private security called them and locked us in the parking lot of a check-point with Machsom Watch while interviewing Palestinians crossing the border on their way from work in Israel back to their homes in occupied Palestine. Or like when in the Hebron marketplace an Arab woman and myself had sand thrown on the both of us by a settler. Coincidence? Or how about being stopped by the police “randomly” on the streets of Tel Aviv in broad day-light and asked where I was from in different languages. Who else in this so-called civil society would you ask that question?
On a deeper level, after discussing and seeing the walls in Palestine and at the US-Mexico border, racism, exploitation of resources, land and labor, prisons, targeting of youth, home raids, the effects of militarism on society, etc. I think when Shadi the guide at Dheisheh Refugee Camp told me “We have similar roots” pretty much sums it up. As I’m sure that all people of color, share similar roots.
Yes, we do have roots in being colonized and having our land stolen. Roots in fighting against high walls and concertina-wired fences that prevent freedom of movement to work the land and to see our family. Rooted in struggle as being used as a cheap source of labor for the will of white bosses, corporate greed, or state interests. Sharing roots of being profiled, policed and imprisoned due to poverty , racism, and the violence of citizenship laws as second-class citizens. United in keeping our precious roots alive through culture, customs, and heritage in an ever-growing mono-cultural world. Our roots, through struggle have grown into beautiful and thriving communities and we aren’t going with out a fight!
After the damage I have done to Arab communities in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, I am fortunate and glad to have been here taking a stand with the people of Palestine as a natural ally, instead of a foreign enemy.
La Lucha Continua y Viva la Puebla Palestina.