Otherwise Occupied

On Palestine and homemade-soda machines

Friends, if you have seen a recent screening of the film Five Broken Cameras (recently at the Rialto and currently on Netflix) you are excused from reading further. You already share the outrage of the Palestinian people—a people who are prisoners in their own home, a people without a nation and without citizenship, who have no power over their own lives.

Since 1967, the Palestinians have been living under military occupation. Israeli forces regularly confiscate private land, imprison individuals (including children) without process, demolish their homes, bulldoze orchards and crops, destroy shops and businesses, and shoot maim and kill civilians. Over four thousand Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel; 27,000 homes have been demolished since 1967; 6,638 Palestinians have been killed since Sept. 29, 2000. Included in this figure are 1,516 Palestinian children—killed simply going to school, playing, shopping or just being in their homes.

Israel currently has 170 settlements and 99 “outposts” in the occupied territories, home to half a million Israeli citizens and off-limits to Palestinians. This separation due to ethnicity is akin to the apartheid regime of South Africa.

In the face of all this, you may feel that this is not our problem. Why should we in Sonoma County care about this ancient rivalry going back thousands of years? We need to care because this international outrage is being carried out with our tax dollars. Thanks to intense special interest lobbying, we give Israel $3 billion each year—or over $8 million per day.

What can we do? We may not be able to affect the Israeli lobby directly, but we can withhold our consent to these policies by the power of our pocketbooks. One example: perhaps you saw the SodaStream commercial during the Super Bowl. The SodaStream factory is an Israeli company operating on illegal land in the West Bank to make home-carbonation appliances. Refuse to buy products from Israeli settlements. Talk to merchants who help support the occupation by selling SodaStream, such as Macy’s, JCPenney, Costco, Target, Staples, Crate & Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond—and, yes, even Sebastopol Hardware.

Pieter S. Myers is an artist and printmaker living in Occidental.

Open Mic is a weekly op/ed feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected].

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