by: David Harris-Gershon on August 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
The scenes in Ferguson, with unarmed protesters being confronted by militarized police forces, is one Palestinians intimately recognize. Indeed, they even recognize the American-made brand of tear gas being used in Missouri. It’s the same issue Israeli soldiers fire regularly upon unarmed demonstrators in the West Bank, made by CTS in Jamestown, Pennsylvania.
On the right, an unarmed protester in the West Bank town of Hebron throws a tear gas canister back to soldiers. Photo via Activestills.
These scenes in Ferguson have moved Palestinians to take to social media, offering advice on how to deal with the painful effects of tear gas and how to navigate the various types of tactical oppression used by militarized police forces.
They have also moved Palestinians to express empathy for what black residents outside of St. Louis are experiencing.
Such empathy comes from the fact that, just this year alone, 16 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, many of whom were unarmed. Such empathy also comes from the fact that Palestinians in the West Bank are not given the freedom to demonstrate, even in their own villages. A famous example of this the small village of Nabi Saleh, which regularly demonstrates against the appropriation of the village’s freshwater spring by a nearby settlement, and regularly has its peaceful demonstrations — often involving entire families — suppressed by tear gas, rubber bullets and skunk trucks.
Unsurprisingly, the police chief in charge of the St. Louis County Police studied “counter-terrorism” techniques in Israel. Many of those techniques are now finding themselves on Ferguson’s streets.
Just one more reason why the scenes look strikingly similar, and why Palestinians are seeing themselves in the faces of those in Ferguson.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.
Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.