Stavit Sinai, an Israeli graduate student in European history and peace activist, participated in the Anatot protest several days ago. She was savagely beaten and stripped naked by the settler-police counter-demonstrators. She’s just published her eyewitness testimony, which I’ve translated below:
A balding stocky man with light-colored hair and wearing glasses, knocks my head backwards toward a white transit van. Michal Sapir is next to me and we’re surrounded by settler-police who’ve been shoving me back and forth in opposite directions. I fought back against them. I knocked off the glasses of the man who thrust my head backwards and crushed them in my right hand. He bit my hand hard, trying to release the glasses from it.
At this time, a brown-skinned man on my left began to twist my left arm in ways I had seen Border Police do in previous protests I’d attended. He didn’t stop even when I screamed in pain. Only a heavy blow from my knee, when my face was pushed down, that shattered one of his front teeth, released my left hand from his painful grip.
Then I was knocked to the ground and a vehicle behind me moved, threatening to run me over. Michal tried to help by raising me up. The white van left and I got back on my feet and stood facing a tall brown-skinned man who never stopped yelling his insults. He told me: “Go fuck Arabs…”
At this point, the group of settlers began to shake and shove me in different directions as they tore the clothing from my upper body. They ripped off my bra, vest and shirt. The upper half of my body was stark naked. Other activists tried to cover and calm me. I remember especially that in all the efforts to get me out of there, the tall, balding brown-skinned man came close and said: “A Jewish prick isn’t good enough for you? You want an Arab prick, hah?”
I remember another man wearing a black civilian shirt and a cap on which was the word “Police” tried to move me. I asked him for his police ID and instead he pushed me out of the way. An activist, Maya Rotem, brought me to her car and promised to drive me home when the protest was over. I got into the car and locked the doors. From that moment I tried to tweet everything that happened as long as my cell battery held out. I wrote what happened on the ground, the blows, the disrobing and the dire situation the protesters faced that night. I took a picture from the car and uploaded it to Twitter. I tried to hide, not to arouse interest. I saw how the protesters were driven backward by the settlers.
Only a few minutes passed from when I entered the vehicle when a settler recognized me. He drew the attention of his other settler friends and they began rocking the car. I tightened my seat belt and waited quietly for help. In my hand, I grasped a narrow synthetic strap from my purse. It was the only thing I could find nearby to use to defend myself and I was ready to use it to strangle the first person who approached me. Before that, I’d tweeted that I needed other means of protection should they break in. I covered my breasts with the little fabric that remained from my torn clothes.
The crowd around me grew, but I tried to maintain my composure. At that moment, a soldier came by and I begged him to help me. He gave me a look of utter boredom. But after more begging he asked the group to move back a bit so I could leave the car. He suggested that I get into the army jeep, but I wouldn’t agree despite the pressure that the soldiers exerted on me. I was frightened that the settlers standing around me would resume their violence. Because no one offered protection I began to scream at the soldiers to block me [from the settlers]. They did this indifferently. They did check that I hadn’t left anything behind as I’d asked. Despite this, I lost my purse which contained all my IDs including the one categorizing me as “Jewish,” despite the fact that I am not.
The door of the military vehicle in which I was sitting was opened by an older soldier, clearly a member of an ethnic minority [I’m guessing she means Druze or Bedouin]. He screamed at me and threatened to arrest me. Apparently because I gave the settlers the finger while sitting in his vehicle. I told him to arrest me already, because I was shamed by being in the midst of soldiers of apartheid. He turned away, slamming the door of the vehicle. Eventually, the soldiers returned me to my fellow activists.
I still have the tattered remnants of my clothes from that night.
An Israeli journalist who I respect, but whose politics are clearly different than mine, warned me not to put too much credibility into accusations of sexual abuse at rallies like this. He said it was par for the course for such claims to be made. To which I replied–one woman screaming rape or abuse may lack credibility, but five or ten? No, this testimony is credible as are the others I’ve translated which Idan Landau collected from other Israeli eyewitness sources.
I have not heard a peep from the Anatot settlers claiming otherwise. If they wish to do so let them.
As I’ve written, these are not the hardcore Jewish terrorists of Yitzhar. These are the “reasonable,” “moderate” settlers who settled in Anatot because they were looking for a good place to raise their kids in a reasonably priced home, drawn by economic incentives in buying over the Green Line. Yet, even these can be monsters. It’s not just the individual who determines whether someone becomes a cruel villain, it’s the situation. And the situation is Occupation, which turns us all into monsters sooner or later.
The victims of this pogrom are demanding an independent investigation. It’ll be a cold day in hell before that happens. Though you’re welcome to call your local Israeli embassy or consulate to tell them about the black eye that such violence gives the nation. There is also talk of civil suits against Anatot and its pogromists, which I hope to see.
This article appeared at Tikun Olam