Wednesday, March 22, 2006



Mary my 75 year old comrade [see earlier posts] in Hebron wrote this poem 2 years ago about her thoughts on the human face of the soldiers carrying out Israel's bidding.


Faces without expressions, poker faced,
So tense that I can feel the strain.
So young, they are almost children.
Innocence lost.
Responding to questions like parrots.
The youth of Israel conscripted
And following orders.

Hawari checkpoint into Nablus.
The young Israeli girl.
Speaking no English.
More confused than I at my first checkpoint.
A twenty odd year old makes a phone call.
And I am through.
Thanks to a special letter.
From Avi a senior officer.

Kalandia checkpoint,
So much destruction.
]The wall looming above.
Long queues of Palestinians.
I join the queue.
Palestinian bags and papers are checked.
Slowly, carefully, slowly, slowly,
Oh so slowly.
Through the swimming pool like turnstile.
I struggle with a suitcase,
Thankfully not full size,
I'm 73 years old.
I hold up my passport.
And suddenly the girl's poker face
Turns to brilliant smile.
"Is everything alright", she calls.
"Yes" I reply.
And I am through unchecked,
So fast.

Small village in the west
Bulldozers with jackhammers,
So close to the village,
Cutting off and cutting down
Olive trees.
Two hundred trees that are loved
And have given life to the people
For so many years
To be destroyed, to build a wall.
A wall that if it exists at all
Should be further from the village.
Irreplaceable trees.

Demonstrations at Budrus.
Soldiers behind us as we turn away
Are suddenly in front of us.
Soldiers given orders to detain us,
For no clear reason.
Cannot tell us why.
One looks away.
A whispered order to attack a Palestinian,
With batons.
We cover him for protection.
I cannot take the weight,
So I'm on top.
I feel the baton coming.
It stops just before my head
My hands are undone gently.
I'm pushed aside,
International men are bashed,
The Palestinian bashed and arrested
Together with a German girl and
Twenty Israeli human rights protestors.

Beit Awwa.
A women's demonstration.
Men babysit or follow behind.
The peaceful aim
To save the olive trees
And the cemetery
From destruction.
In order to build a wall,
So close to the village.
We're close to soldiers,
Close enough to touch.
But that is not allowed.
It may be construed as assault.
Soldiers with rifles pointing to the ground.
Relating to them.
Safe next to them.
The commander yelling
Other soldiers yelling.
Running amok.
Yelling for us to go
But shooting tear gas, sound bombs,
Rubber bullets, live bullets
At those who leave.
People, Palestinians, Danish Israeli,
Shot in the back.
Safer where we are
Pushed over by commander.
Leave and overcome by gas.
It's rough terrain.
Can't scramble at 73.
Safe thank God.
The one God, in whom, we all believe.
Others in hospital in Hebron.

I thought I could hate Israeli soldiers.
But I was a University Lecturer
For thirty years,
A teacher of young men and women.
I cannot hate those whom I love.
The youth of Israel held captive.
How can a nation treat its children so?

Mary Kingsmill Baxter 2004

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