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Tuesday, August 13, 2002
By Paul Ford
My pal Bryan Atinsky gets his ribs bruised by a shithead policeman.
This is a picture from AP News of a protest in Israel. Apparently the picture's been in a number of newspapers around the world. My friend Bryan Atinsky is in the bottom right of the photo, in the purple shirt, holding a sign. He is flying through the air because he has been kicked by an Israeli soldier. He wrote:
That peace activist is me...with the sign `Freedom For Both Peoples' in my hand. My chest was where his feet are in the picture, so you can see how much power he put into the kick. I flew several feet more before I hit the guy behind me and then we both hit the ground (the person behind me got pretty cut up from the rocks when I smashed him into the ground).
And in an article on Indymedia, Bryan describes the protest:
One Italian woman was hit by the water cannon in the back and was thrown so severely that she cracked her head against the road and ended up with deep cuts in her head and right arm. Numerous people had their legs trampled by two mounted police who ran their horses directly into the crowd of peaceful demonstrators. Several demonstrators were kicked in the legs and chest, one who sustained bruised ribs due to having been attacked by one officer with a running jump-kick with both feet into his chest. A sixty year old woman was thrown into a rocky ravine on her back, by the water cannon; she needed to be evacuated by ambulance soon after.[Indymedia]
Over a year ago I was driving with Bryan back from Jerusalem. I was swimming in ME politics, not sure what to believe. I said, “What do you actually want for Israel?” and he said, “Really?”
His voice choked in a way that was familiar. All the Israelis I met seemed to choke a little they spoke about their country. There is so much love and desire and hope for Israel. When some Israelis talk about Israel, it feels as intimate as if they were talking about sex, or family secrets. Bryan said, “I want a democratic, secular society.” Freedom for both peoples.
Good things to want, no reason to be kicked.
God knows everyone else has big opinions about Israel. I do, sometimes, when I'm fighting with someone about the ignorance-and-evil of current policy. But me, by myself, away from my copy of Chomsky's The Fateful Triangle, I really miss Bryan, mostly his sense of humor. It makes me tense and angry to see him kicked, although that violent act has made international news and shown thousands of people the kind of savagery of which reps of the Israeli govt are capable - even against its own citizens. Maybe that publicity is a kind of salve for a progressive's bruised ribs.
I miss other people there - my friends who just had a daughter, the young artist peacenik programmer, the brilliant and beautiful woman who kept her eye on me after September 11, a dozen others. I don't write any of them enough. They had strong, voluble personalities, often clashing, and real kindness for a big American.
You could look out from Yafo and see the Tel Aviv beach, a strip of white and perfect blue where sand hit sea. I've been almost nowhere outside of America. It was gorgeous, indelible once I saw it. Also indelible were the soldiers in the old city, everywhere, and the Palestinian women being harrassed, veiled women and robed men pouring through the old city after Saturday services while we looked down from a German mission, the vendors in the market selling hand-sized digital alarm mosques that called you to prayer.
The topic of Israel and Palestine is too big, tragic, I can't even begin to scale it; I feel like a fool for even trying to write anything. It needs a Goethe, or a Shakespeare, or a Thomas Mann. Paul Ford just remembers walking around Tel Aviv looking for good falafel and feels bad for Bryan's ribs, and sad, and pissed, always confused.
See also: Stopping by Sharon's, then ascending to Zion (for a picture of Bryan where he's not being kicked, part of Photos from a Day in Jerusalem), and Fictional Eavesdropping, which features the Damascus Woodchuck, and off the site, U.S. Peace Activists Prevented from Entering West Bank, Indymedia.org.il, Peaceful, joint Arab/Jewish demonstration organized by Ta'ayush violently turned away at Bethlehem, by Bryan Atinsky; From Jerusalem to Bethlehem, by Gila Svirsky, Photos of the water cannons in use, More photos, 10,000,000,000 other links.