U.S. military veterans resist U.S. support of Israeli policies 25Nov13 November 25, 2013
A delegation of U.S. military veterans will protest U.S. funding of the Israeli military at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv atÂ 9 am, Friday, November 22. Members of Veterans For Peace (VFP) is touring Occupied Palestine, observing conditions on the ground and meeting with leaders of the nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation.
âWhat we saw was appalling,â said Tarak Kauff, former U.S. paratrooper and a member of the VFP board of directors. âThe level of cruelty on a daily basis, the oppression, the violenceâwe donât want our tax money going to support the Israeli military in any way.âÂ
The group visited the villages of Bilâin, Nabi Salih, and Al-Masra, three areas where there have been nonviolent protests against the encroachment of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. In Al-Masra and Bilâin the Apartheid Wall has been a focal point of regularÂ FridayÂ protests, which the group took part in. In Al-Masra, the veterans stood face to face with Israeli Occuption Forces (IOF) soldiers and spoke to them of their own experiences in realizing that war was immoral. âWe were also soldiers, we understand following orders, but itâs also important to be human, to think about those orders,â Kauff told the IOF troops. âIâm a Jew, and what you are doing here is damaging Jews around the world.âÂ
In Bilâin on Nov. 17, the veterans experienced tear gas made in their own country.
âThe demonstration was slowly and nonviolently approaching the [IOF] soldiers when, with no provocation, they released multiple tear-gas canisters,â reported Ellen Barfield, a sergeant in the U.S. Army from 1977 to 1981. âFor at least the next hour, there were running interactions between Palestinian youths and the IOF, and the tear gas attacks moved closer to the home where we staying. Several times, we observed them shooting tear gas straight at the Palestinian ambulances.â
Photojournalist Mike Hastie, an army medic in 1969-1971, was reminded of his combat experiences during the Vietnam War. âThe IOF were firing all kinds of tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets at us, and things were flying overhead. If someone near me had gotten injured, I would have dropped my camera and gone to their aid, because thatâs what I was trained to do.â
âThe oppression of the Palestinians could not be continued without the political and economic support of the U.S. government,â said U.S. Marine Corps Major Ken Mayers. âAs individuals, and as representatives of Veterans For Peace, we vigorously oppose that support. We encourage anyone opposed to the Israeli occupation to join us in expressing our outrage at U.S. government support for occupation and apartheid.â