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"I Never Feared for My Life"The Story of My Kidnapping in Nablus

by MICHAEL PHILLIPS Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2006 at 12:13 PM

Palestinians have tried every peaceful avenue to win their freedom. The United Nations passed dozens of resolutions affirming their rights; Israel simply ignores them.

"I Never Feared for My Life"

The Story of My Kidnapping in Nablus

By MICHAEL PHILLIPS

When I finished teaching my English class in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus last Tuesday, the most pressing thing on my mind was getting to an Internet cafe to check my e-mail. It's impossible to walk the streets of this crowded city without running into someone you know. Had I realized what was in store for me that night, I might have lingered with the friends who insisted I join them for a cup of coffee.

Instead, I hurried on my way. But before I could get to the cafe, I was grabbed by two men, forced into a car and driven off.

In the car, a blanket was thrown over me and my hands were bound. After about half an hour, I was blindfolded, taken out of the car and into a room, and tied to a bed.

I didn't know where I was or why I had been seized. I lay in the dark, picturing my parents pacing our home in Louisiana, their hearts in their throats. My kidnapping was the kind of experience they feared when they begged me not to go to the West Bank. I knew they would be panic-stricken when they heard.

But in the morning, my captors removed my blindfold, gave me food and water and told me that soon I'd be going back to my family. They spoke broken English, and I speak little Arabic, but we managed rudimentary conversations.

They asked if I wanted more water. I asked if I could sit up.

Perhaps surprisingly, I never feared for my life. I'd been teaching English in Nablus since June, and many people knew me. I was certain they would help. And they did.

After a day and a half, my captors untied me and drove me to Balata refugee camp, near Nablus. A Palestinian Legislative Council member and scores of Palestinian friends greeted me. No one knew the group claiming credit for my capture, but the police assured me they would search for them.

Why did I come to Nablus, despite my family's pleas to stay away?

I had no connection to the region. I was born and raised near New Orleans. During a family vacation to Morocco, I became fascinated with the Middle East. I traveled to the region as often as I could and majored in international affairs at college.

My studies and travels exposed me to the Palestinians' lack of freedom and equal rights. But I knew that to really understand it, I had to live it. And because my government supplies the massive financial and diplomatic support that makes Israel's occupation of the West Bank possible, I wanted to see the effects of those policies firsthand.

Of course, I don't experience the occupation like a Palestinian. They are penned into ghettoes, surrounded by Israel's separation wall, and routinely prevented from traveling. I can move freely and can leave at any time.

But I've seen what the military occupation means.

It means that every aspect of your life is controlled by a foreign army. It means waiting hours in checkpoint lines, trying to get to school.

It means living under curfew, only leaving your house a few hours each week. It means watching your land taken to build homes you cannot live in and roads you cannot drive on because you are not Jewish.

It means rationing drinking water, while nearby Israeli settlements fill their swimming pools and irrigate their lawns.

Palestinians have tried every peaceful avenue to win their freedom. The United Nations passed dozens of resolutions affirming their rights; Israel simply ignores them.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that Israel's separation wall and settlements were illegal. Construction of both continues.

After nearly four decades under occupation, some Palestinians, apparently including my captors, are driven to desperate and despicable acts. But most still believe that if Americans knew the truth about the discrimination, segregation and brutal occupation they suffer, we would try to end it, just as we worked to end apartheid in South Africa.

Most Palestinians eagerly embrace Americans like me. They are anxious to tell their story, hoping I will tell others. My kidnapping, perhaps ironically, has not diminished my resolve to do just that.

My tax dollars buy the weapons that kill Palestinian children, destroy Palestinian homes and uproot their farms.

My country is the one nation in the world with the power to right this wrong.

Our policies should promote freedom and equal rights for Palestinians, to free both peoples in this land of the desperation and hopelessness that led to my capture.

Michael Phillips is an American volunteer from Louisiana who teaches English in the occupied West Bank.

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 220 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
More on kidnapped journalists Matt Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2006 at 12:26 PM
"Does anyone think that kidnapping is okay?" TW Friday, Oct. 27, 2006 at 2:54 PM
The constant gardener Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 2:45 AM
not the dirt I'm after hex Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 3:19 AM
...by the company they keep hex Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 5:01 AM
snap-snap Sheepdog Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 5:12 AM
Dear Mr. gehrig Sheepdog Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 5:29 AM
in that last post sheepster hex Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 7:01 AM
Klem sez Klem Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 7:10 AM
I thought I shot JFK! now I'm all confused. Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 7:26 AM
ahh Secondaries....pop pop thud pop THUD pop... Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 7:32 AM
Tell me about hedgehogs, daddy no, i don't Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 7:37 AM
evidence gehrig Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 8:01 AM
What was this thread about? I can't remember TW Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 9:58 AM
The Specter of Tom Fox Becky Johnson Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 7:46 PM
Becky doing the maudlin Drama Queen thing: "the spector of Tom Fox" TW Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 9:17 PM
1948 hex Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 5:41 AM
stumpy PrionParty Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 7:50 AM
almost makes you forget the olive trees hex Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 3:02 PM
where did you get that? sick of Zionazi lies Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 3:36 PM
off topic and duplicate just a reader Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 3:57 PM
not too swift, eh? Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 5:19 PM
Lets check out the wording of the Israeli Declaration of Independence Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 5:23 PM
In fact, it's utopia..la-la-la-la Budding democracy Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 5:34 PM
Huh? what kind of question is that? Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 6:03 PM
Oops. just 21 billion a year in South Korea exploitation of women worldwide Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 6:20 PM
my what comparisons we make hex Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 6:37 PM
"Israelis virtually begged the resident Arab population to stay" TW Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 6:43 PM
or the hundreds of UN resolutions hex Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 at 7:20 PM
why BECKY is so disgusting Sheepdog Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 8:48 AM
notice she didn't refute the actual statistics hex Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 9:57 AM
What have you proven? Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 12:03 PM
the statistics still discounted hex Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 12:45 PM
Just wondering Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 2:29 PM
who owns the bulldozers ? hex Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 3:31 PM
Not as pretty another picture of Gaza Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 4:29 PM
Homless and hopeless Free Palestine Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 5:34 PM
More on direct experiences in Palestine More on direct experiences Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 5:41 PM
try reading more carefully hex Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 5:44 PM
Hmmm, I guess Becky is a "compassionate conservative" like Dubya But those are all extreme right wing sites Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 5:48 PM
Still no statistics Why? Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 6:12 PM
Yup, they go with her extreme-right douchebag friend the roving eyeball Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 6:13 PM
Watch out, don't open this link! blink Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 6:24 PM
Why is this even relevant? Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 6:26 PM
The difference being that Weir doesn't work with Duke, of course Ah, yes--the lying by insinuation Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 6:29 PM
Just make it up as you go Becky Johnson Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 6:40 PM
the copy & paste "queen" want's burden of proof hex Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 7:16 PM
ThankYOU! Incredible Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 7:34 PM
I'll wait Never heard from Becky on this Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 7:45 PM
"posted a retraction" hex Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 7:46 PM
tens of times Becky has posted the anti-ISM propaganda Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 7:52 PM
So Lee Kaplan hasn't had any articles published? Dafka Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 8:04 PM
And speaking of drama queens Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 8:24 PM
look at the dates and the website :) hex Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 8:35 PM
Another goose/gander issue? or is it pot/kettle/black? Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 9:00 PM
Help!! can't breath Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 9:14 PM
"Does Front Page count?" laughing -Canis Lupus Familiaris Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 10:25 PM
more than we'll ever have in you hex Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 10:46 PM
Another of Becky's lies gets crushed TW Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 1:41 AM
One other thing TW Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 2:29 AM
Forgot the picture TW Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 2:35 AM
could we have some verification? Sheepdog Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 5:35 AM
"I'm sure" doesn't cut it hex Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 7:42 AM
I'll remember this, bigotted slug next time you cite hal Turner Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 12:34 PM
Interesting observation Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 12:39 PM
Hex/TW/Sheepdog "faux" progressives an entire thread of ad hominims Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 2:07 PM
We'll go line by line...oh! there's only one line! See there's the problem with your lies Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 5:12 PM
Refusal to Remove Libelous Document duly Noted Becky Johnson Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 6:36 PM
doesn't listen too well does she hex Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 6:56 PM
If Lee had no cause.... Logic Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 7:36 PM
legal cause twerp hex Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 at 7:54 PM
Cybersquatting hex Wednesday, Nov. 01, 2006 at 9:55 AM
This article was retracted by the authore just spam Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 1:20 AM
we will tear you to shreds :) hex Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 2:07 AM
Different rules for anti-zionists Tia Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 9:13 AM
And you never adhered to your moral high ground, racist There is no will wallace, Tia hunnee Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 9:45 AM
Lies and forgeries what we've come to expect Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 9:53 AM
No different than any other supremist Ahh, but it is, you are a bigoted troll Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 10:03 AM
Maybe a review of the truth is needed But see, you lie again as many racists do Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 10:19 AM
more keepers - turns out to be faux too :) hex Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 10:25 AM
And that is most telling You fail to addres your bigotry Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 11:40 AM
and your website sucks too :) hex Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 11:44 AM
What are you referring to? Tia Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 11:49 AM
Their bigotry and racism Very telling, the zio nists won't address Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 12:02 PM
The Zionist issues orders hex Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 12:51 PM
Rusty old nail that'll work for me. Monday, Nov. 06, 2006 at 1:32 PM
Only for Zionists God's Mittens Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 1:25 AM
You don't need to be Zionist to live in Israel Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 7:14 AM
Zionism ? Jew Anti-Conflator Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 8:12 AM
Minsitry of Religion and Racial Purity God's Mittens Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 8:38 AM
A few quick responses Tia Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 10:20 AM
oh, I know , Mr. Kotter! Just a guess? Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 10:34 AM
'they can apply for citizenship.' Tell me about it. Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 12:32 PM
For each refresh he gets a pellet I think hex Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 1:09 PM
oh that's it 'prove residency ' wow again Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 1:45 PM
again Anti-Conflator Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 4:20 PM
always the same shit zionist shit Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 2:32 PM
Why does criticism of zionism make someone 'anti-semtic'? Just wondering Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 3:05 PM
The poster said 'genocide' being done in the name of zionism Not so clear Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 3:24 PM
Not genocide by any definition Tia Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 3:38 PM
really sick of zionist shit zionist shit Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 3:44 PM
war is a conflict between armies Sheepdog Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 4:49 PM
sure I do Sheepdog Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 5:10 PM
damn clipboard Sheepdog Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 5:16 PM
Oh, so sheepdog's right TW Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 6:03 PM
Thanks for the Clarification Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 8:09 PM
Victim, victim, Who's got the victim? Tia Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 8:22 PM
Tia, can you defend this? Yowling and slobbering Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 8:58 PM
Listen Toady 18 times! Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 9:07 PM
I guess Zionism does equal racism 18 times and you still can't respond... Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 9:20 PM
It cannot be answered me Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 9:53 PM
Just b/c you can find someone to back you up in a book, honey And you still skirt the issue Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 11:04 PM
20 but who's counting? Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 11:38 PM
I could say that she is a "self-hating" Muslim Once again, you fail to address your bigotry Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 11:44 PM
easy answer Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 11:53 PM
Bigotry? What happens everyday? Thursday, Nov. 09, 2006 at 12:03 AM
You skirt the issue of generalization and racism/bigotry Now you're just playing stupid Thursday, Nov. 09, 2006 at 7:36 AM
How many times have those pics been spammed? (the ones on the other thread from BJ) How many times have those pics been spammed? Thursday, Nov. 09, 2006 at 7:58 AM
21 times! but who's counting? Thursday, Nov. 09, 2006 at 9:32 AM
And thanks for proving my point Wouldn't want to be in your racist league Thursday, Nov. 09, 2006 at 9:38 AM
22 times! lets just ignore him Thursday, Nov. 09, 2006 at 10:09 AM
You are such a phoney "Deflecting from election results" Thursday, Nov. 09, 2006 at 10:56 AM
I think that is a projection sweets Ah yes, narcississm Thursday, Nov. 09, 2006 at 1:17 PM
So telling Denial is not a river in Egypt Thursday, Nov. 09, 2006 at 6:31 PM
Interesting Not a right wing propagandist Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008 at 1:18 AM
Interesting Not a right wing propagandist Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008 at 1:18 AM
Interesting Not a right wing propagandist Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008 at 9:14 AM
What "race" is Muslim"? What "race" is Muslim"? Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008 at 9:43 AM
what? What? Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008 at 9:55 AM

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