Violent Protest 

Memphis peace activist beaten and arrested in Israel.

Sitting on a couch at the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, a stocky, 22-year-old Kyle Kordsmeier appears healthy enough, but bruises on his tanned legs and the purple spider veins creeping up his ankles are grim reminders of injuries he suffered last week in Palestine.

Kordsmeier, a Memphis Peace Team member, spent most of July and early August participating in nonviolent demonstrations in the West Bank to protest the wall separating Palestine from Israel. During a demonstration August 1st outside the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem, he was beaten and arrested by Israeli police.

Shortly after the protest began, Israeli police showed up and attempted to arrest a Palestinian.

"He was a pretty large Palestinian man, about 25 years old," says Kordsmeier. "They started beating him and shoving him down a hill. So [the activists] tried to jump on top of the Palestinian to protect him from the Israeli assault."

Kordsmeier was among them. He says undercover police grabbed him immediately and slapped handcuffs on his wrists. Then, he says one of the officers kicked him in the testicles.

"The war [against Lebanon] broke out three days after I got there, and soldiers in the West Bank became a lot more uptight toward internationals," he says.

After his arrest, Kordsmeier was thrown in the back of a van along with other international activists and the Palestinian man. Once inside, he says police continued to harass them.

"I was kicked in the leg several times, and I was hit with a baton," says Kordsmeier.

The activists were strip-searched and interrogated by Israeli police, and after about four hours, they were released.

The day after the attack, Kordsmeier says he urinated blood, the result of being kicked in the kidneys. Kordsmeier left for America the day after that, and he says he was strip-searched again by the Israeli Defense Forces as he tried to leave the country.

Back home, he says he has faced opposition from Americans who disagree with his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Americans are usually so pro-Israel that it's hard for me to explain my experiences there without people assuming I'm a terrorist or that I'm anti-Semitic," says Kordsmeier. "I just want the Israeli people to live in peace with their neighbors, and as long as they're occupying them, they'll never have peace."

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