Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Israeli Military & Israeli Settlers -- Two peas in a pod

At-Tuwani Release: Israeli settlers invade At-Tuwani village, enter Palestinian homes, and throw stones at Palestinians; Israeli military attacks Palestinian and throw tear gas

AT-TUWANI – On Tuesday, 26 January 2010 approximately fifteen Israeli settlers from the Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on attacked Palestinians in the village of At-Tuwani. The settlers were accompanied by Israeli soldiers in three army jeeps and the settlement security agent of Ma’on. Villagers from At-Tuwani arrived, protesting the settlers coming into their village. An Israeli soldier punched a Palestinian villager, who was hospitalized for his injuries. Immediately thereafter, Israeli settlers began throwing stones at the Palestinian villagers while soldiers fired three canisters of tear gas at Palestinians.

Afterwards, the settlers drove to the entrance of At-Tuwani, and began throwing stones at passers-by on the road.

The day’s incident began at 9:20 am when three army jeeps and a pickup truck with an Israeli settler from Havat Ma’on and the settlement security guard from Ma’on drove into At-Tuwani. The settler walked throughout the village, entering Palestinian homes, accompanied by the soldiers and settlement security guard, and then remained in the village and made phone calls until other settlers arrived.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Picture of the Week: Vol 1


From Ni'lin, a village which has had its land annexed by the separation wall, and whose people protest the route of the wall each Friday. See the Maan article about the photo.

Planting Trees: An Illegal Practice


Read the press release about destroyed Palestinian olive trees below. Then after that read about Palestinians trying to replant the olive trees and being attacked and arrested.

AT-TUWANI, South Hebron Hills-In the afternoon of 14 January 2010, Palestinians discovered that a family-owned olive grove in Khoruba valley had been recently destroyed. Twenty mature olive trees were broken at their trunks. The family believes that Israeli settlers from the Ma’on settlement and Havat Ma’on outpost are responsible for the vandalism.

A Palestinian farmer informed CPTers who documented the destruction that this was the fifth time since 1997 that settlers have destroyed the olive trees in this grove. He also said that the trees would not be able to bear olives for at least three years.

This most recent attack on Palestinian agriculture follows a month of Israeli settler violence and harassment aimed at preventing Palestinian farmers from plowing their fields and thus earning their livelihoods.

For photos of the olive grove see http://cpt.org/gallery/view_album.php?page=1&set_albumName=January-2010,-destroyed-olive-grove

Several days later, Palestinians try to replant the trees and this is the outcome:

At-Tuwani Release: Palestinians plant olive trees to protest settler vandalism, despite Israeli military interventions and arrest of a journalist.

On 23 January, Israeli soldiers declared Palestinian land south of the Israeli settlement outpost Havot Ma’on (Hill 833) a closed military zone, then arrested a Palestinian journalist from Pal Media. The journalist was reporting on a demonstration organized by Palestinians from the village of At-Tuwani after the recent destruction of an olive grove. Despite the Israeli military interventions, the Palestinians successfully planted 20 olive trees during their demonstration.

While Palestinian farmers, accompanied by internationals, were planting olive trees, fifteen settlers approached the area, some carrying slingshots. Israeli soldiers and police also entered the area. The soldiers informed the Palestinians that the area was a closed military zone, showing them a map that encompassed a large area south of Havat Ma’on outpost. Police arrested the journalist, saying he had violated the closed military zone order.

So you plant olive trees on your own land. Several times in the last handful of years, Israeli settlers come out and destroy your olive trees in the middle of the night. You have the resolve and perserverance to replant those trees each time they are destroyed. You replant them, alongside your children and internationals activists and journalists who have come to help. Settlers come out in droves, calling the army who enforces a closed military zone which forces the you to leave your own land. Settlers are allowed to stay in the area, which is your land, while you are unable to even replant the trees which the settlers destroyed.

Not really sure what to say...that's how the cookie crumbles...if you are a Palestinian.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quote of the Week: Vol 15

Israel's prime minister, Bibi Netantayu, attended a tree planting ceremony in a West Bank settlement.
"Our message is clear: We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here, this place will be an inseparable part of the State of Israel for eternity," Netanyahu said in the Gush Etzion enclave.
Netanyahu went on to say that Israel would never give up its two biggest settlements, Maale Adumim and Ariel. Later in the day, Netanyahu talked about Israel's willingness to engage in peace talks with the Palestinians.

A tree planting ceremony on stolen land. Wow, neat, Dude.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dear Nicholas Kristof -- There is Palestinian NV Resistance


Nichols Kristof, a highly respected columnist (and also a columnist that I personally respect) from the NY Times posted a comment about Palestinian nonviolent resistance on his facebook page. Rather than coloring your response to it, I will post his comment, followed by a sampling of responses to his post. There was a furor of responses to his post, which caused him to post another 'rebuttal' post. Here is his original post:



Kristof's Post

On Martin Luther King Day, I wish more Palestinians would absorb the lessons of King and Gandhi and use non-violent but confrontational approaches in challenging settlements, etc. Non-violence is not only morally superior to terrorism, it's also more effective in challenging a democracy.

The People's Responses (if you are too lazy/bored/important/preoccupied with important things to read all of these; read the ones in italics)

-How about the US absorbing the lessons of King and Gandhi?!

-So you don't "wish" the Israelis would practice non-violence too?

-Maybe you could wish it to the Israelis as well, when they attack Lebanon and Gaza fireing on unarmed civilians.

-I wish the same for Israelis in all fairness.

-What on earth are they meant to do??? They are being wiped out be Israel. Hardly think Israel will listen to a referendum, do you??

-I think we should wish for Israeli's to show some humanity and practice non-violence. As you know, Palestinians are prisoners in their own land.

-Easy, easy to say from your privileged position--unthreatened by Israeli tanks and missiles and brutal daily violence in your streets and home, untouched by hunger and despair. People who haven't been there--and by that I mean really enduring in those hellish shoes--should not presume to preach. It makes you look morally illiterate, and I am *sure* you are NOT! Call on the Israelis, too. Hold us ALL responsible for what's happening there. Not just Palestinians.

-There are many Palestinians practicing nonviolent resistance. Villagers from Bil'in and Ni'ilin are being arrested on nearly a daily basis for their nonviolent resistance organizing. Jamal Juma', Mohammed Khatib, Abdullah Abu Rahmah, etc have recently been jailed without cause. Israel does it's best to stamp out nonviolent resistance. When you suppress nonviolent resistance with violence, what do you expect to get. See recent articles by Neve Gordon and Jonathon Pollack on this suppression of NV protest.

-Having traveled and worked extensively with Palestinians and in the occupied territories, it is one of the few times where you have actually offended me. Currently, Israel is taking great pains to detain, arbitrarily, those involved in the non-violence community. No charge. No crime. There are MANY, MANY involved in non-violent means in the occupied territories, however, OUR media doesn't seem to want to paint the picture as such. I've been there, had Israeli soldiers point guns at my face while I was REPORTING on the demonstrations -- REPORTING. The thing you fail to point out is Israel has set the situation up as such that even having a Palestinian flag is a crime. Their military court system is that of G Bay - but worst - because they detain CHILDREN. Twenty years can be sentenced for throwing STONES and at any given time, up to 50 soldiers will come into your home and take you away. Israel just cut off access via checkpoints for Palestinians to even see their legal council. And you are going to say you hope that Palestinians absorb the lessons of King and Ghandi? ANd what about the children being STONED by settlers walking to school? Or the groves of olive trees being destroyed by settlers? Or the torture done by the military to INNOCENT CIVILIANS? As a journalist, I am dumbfounded that you could say such a thing.

-When your home has been taken away and you live in a virtual prison, it is hard to smile and make nice. You have the freedom to travel the world and say what ever you please. No wonder you have a different perspective.

-Dear Israel, I wish you could remember the Holocaust and not use it as means to illegally evict people from their homes, destroy their farms, and treat the Palestinians as the inferior race. Mr. Kristof, I know you have to write some dribble to keep yourself employed, but really???

-Palestinians ARE using non-violence as a method. I know for a fact that there are non-violent organizations such as Christian Peace Team that walk children to school in the Hebron hills b/c Israel settler terrorists shoot at children and attack them without bystanders to watch and report. I know for a fact that there is another organization in Bethlehem that was approached by HAMAS to train Hamas in non-violent methods and completed the training. The problem is not that Palestinians do not use non-violent means, there are weekly if not more often non-violent demonstrations all over Palestine, Ni'lin, Birzeit, Khan Younis, Nablus. The very fact of Palestinian existence is resistance. to breath and live and go to school and marry and work is non-violent resistance. i challenge you to spend a few weeks traveling through Palestine with NGO's before you spew such lies. Please talk about Israel refusing nuclear weapons inspections and refusing to sign any nukes agreement. talk about violent methods.

-As several commentators have already noted, there are many examples of nonviolent resistance among the Palestinians which never get reported. Nick, you could do much good by focusing on these actions in your reporting. The media was a major ally (intentionally or otherwise) of the nonviolent actors in the Civil Rights movement. The peaceful strategists among the Palestinians need the same help.

-Interesting and surprising statement Nick. Let's say someone shows up at your door, kicks you and your family out, and relegates you to the back yard with a tent. Anytime you try to go somewhere, you are stopped, searched, and humiliated. Meanwhile, you see them enjoying the comfort and warmth of your home, while you and your family suffers. All this under the guise of a book and system you don't believe in. At this point, peace needs to come from both sides. But to make such a broad and for lack of a better word, ignorant statement for someone in your position is really surprising.

-Oh Nick. This is the first thing I've seen you post that I disagree with. Palestinians have been living under foreign occupation for four decades, and you think you should tell them how to react!? Would you condemn the Jews that rose up in Warsaw? How about the Algerians? The South Africans? The American Revolutionaries? I find it difficult to condemn those morally, or to argue with the effectiveness of their techniques.

-Many Palestians do use non-violence! Only a small minority are violent. I think it is very important for you to acknowledge this, Mr. Kristof.

-I have to agree with the readers who think you're off base on this one. Palestinian violence is met with outsize Israeli retaliation. Palestinian acquiescence leads to more settlements on occupied lands. The problem is NOT the Palestinians, the problem lies with the failure of Israel to develop a national conscience where the Palestinians are concerned over the last seven decades. And I am sad to say that the US is complicit (to say the least) in the whole terrible mess.

-Your post is misleading, Palestinians are not the problem AND most of them are protesting non-violently. Actually, your comment is worse than misleading, it is FATUOUS. I am hoping it's just because someone hijacked your FaceBook account. I had thought you were an intelligent and well reasoned person. Perhaps you should look into the history of. Isreal, and perhaps you should learn to count. Count the dead bodies of Israelis vs Palestinians, count the money being poured into Israel vs. what Palestinians manage to raise. Count the number of Palestinians vs. Israelis living in poverty. Count the number of Palestinians who have deeds to homes that are being lived in by Israelis. Count the number of buildings blown up in the West Bank vs Israeli territory in the past year. Then come back and talk to us about the problem of Palestinian violence. Israeli violence is far more lethal, far more effective and far more prevalent. Also - Israel, a democracy? A country that determines it's citizenry based on racial or religions background? Does not sound like "equal rights for all, special privileges for none" to me.

-If King and Ghandi had been Palestinians they would either be dead or in jail by now. That's how Isreal deals with things. Check out the past 50 years or so. Isreal has not adhered to any of its peacefully signed agreements. Get real.

-Give me a break. Many, many Palestinians use nonviolent means (see Mustafa Bargouthi as the most famous example). However, most end up in jail or dead (see: Americans Tristan Anderson, Rachel Corrie, and the countless children killed by Israelis). Et tu, Kristof?

-Agreed, Mr. Kristof. But I also wish that more Israelis would adopt non-violent approaches to solving problems as well. Occupying a foreign land (the West Bank), building settlements there, and kicking out the native inhabitants is a form of violence itself. Indeed, under international law, including the Hague Conventions, it is a form of genocide. Both Israelis and Palestinians would benefit enormously from working together in the true spirit of creative nonviolence and assertive peace work.

-Hey Kristof if you want to do your job as a reporter and interview the Palestinian version of Dr. King or Gandhi you should pay a visit to an Israeli prison where they are held without charge. Then perhaps you could write more about Israel's 'democracy'.

-I wish the situation were such that the Palestinians didn't need to challenge settlements, etc.

-You wish more Palestinians used nonviolence? The majority of them do! Not a week goes by without a nonviolent protest. Why don't you wish more Israelis would use nonviolence?


There were hundreds more responses. The great majority were criticial of Kristof's comments. There are problems for me on the multiple levels with what Kristof said, but the meat of the issue of this. There IS A LOT of Palestinian nonviolent resistance to the seizure of their lives and lands. Period. See Neve Gordon's and Jonathon Pollack's recent articles on Israel's suppression and imprisonment of those Palestinian leaders who are committed to nonviolent resistance. It's an ongoing phenomenom that Israel is invading villages on a nightly basis and arresting those Palestinians who are the faces of daily and weekly nonviolent resistance to the apartheid wall, settlements, violent settlers, etc. That is why his post is unacceptable. Nonviolent protests, demonstrations, and resistance are prevelant. Now it's time for the world (especially the mainstream media -- the NY Times and Kristof included) to listen and see and support the NV resistance that is already taking place in Palestine.


But also, it needs to be said. You can't come from a position of privilege and tell the oppressed how they are to resist. And you especially can't tell the oppressed how to resist when you have said nothing to the oppressor/colonizer. If you think you are in a place to speak with the oppressed about their resistance, you first need to call on Israel to respect the human rights and the dignity of the Palestinian people. That's priority #1.

But seriously, Nick (Kristof), there is a lot of Palestinian NV resistance. If you need a contact for a column about this, I am happy to provide it for you.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bulding a Different Middle East

A good article in The Nation about the popular resistance struggles of Palestinian communities being adversely affected by the separation wall. Here's an excerpt:
Palestinians, Israelis and foreigners jointly confronting the Israeli army; locally organized and led protests, substantially nonviolent and uniting adherents of all the Palestinian factions; peacefully demonstrating Palestinians, Israelis and foreigners tear gassed, severely wounded and killed by the Israeli army; women wearing headscarves playing an active and independent political role: these are not the common images of Israeli occupation and Palestinian resistance in North American journalistic, diplomatic and scholarly discourse. But they are central components of an ongoing movement deeply rooted in the social fabric of the West Bank.

Stateside

I am in the United States. My postings 'on-the-ground' from Palestine will resume in mid-Feb when I return.

Until then I will be watching football, riding bikes, playing basketball, drinking coffee and beer, etc.

I will try to post some articles or other blogs that I find enlightening or educational in the meantime. Maybe I will have some energy to write posts I've been wanting to write for weeks/months. Time will tell.


Thanks for reading.

Go Chargers.



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

AT-TUWANI RELEASE: Israeli Settler Blocks Schoolchildren’s Path after Israeli Soldiers Fail to Escort Children to School

[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]

11 January 2009

On Sunday morning, 10 January 2010, the Israeli military failed to escort Palestinian schoolchildren from Tuba to school in At-Tuwani in time for end of term exams. The army’s failure to undertake the escort at the correct time forced the children to wait for over an hour in an area where they have frequently been attacked by Israeli settlers. When the children attempted to walk an alternative route without the army, a masked settler blocked their path.

As normal, the schoolchildren left their homes in Tuba when they saw the army escort jeep at around 7:30 am, but by the time they arrived at the meeting point the army had left. The children, accompanied by two volunteers from Operation Dove (Doves), waited within sight of Havat Ma'on outpost, while Doves, CPTers and Israeli Human Rights workers made numerous calls to the Israeli military.

After an hour the children, anxious to get to school because they had important end of term exams, decided to walk to At-Tuwani through the hills. A settler from the outpost drove to a point where the children's route crosses a small road, and waited to intercept them there. CPTers observing from a nearby hilltop were able to alert the Doves and children that the settler was on the road. When the children saw the masked settler walking towards them, the younger ones began to cry and all of the children ran back to Tuba.

Meanwhile, CPTers called the Israeli police and asked them to accompany the children. At 9am the Israeli police, Ma'on settlement security guard and two Israeli army soldiers arrived at the chicken barns. The police vehicle quickly left the area and the Israeli soldiers walked with the children towards At-Tuwani, followed by the Israeli settlement security guard. The soldiers walked with the children only part-way along the road to At-Tuwani then got into the settlement security guard's vehicle and left the area. The children ran the remainder of the way, arriving an hour and a half late for school.

The children require a military escort to and from school, because of repeated attacks by Israeli settlers from Ma’on settlement and Havat Ma’on outpost. When the Israeli military does not arrive on time to accompany the children to Tuwani, they must wait in an area controlled by the Israeli settlers, a location where settlers have attacked the young Palestinian children on a number of occasions in the past. The most recent attack was less than two weeks ago, on 30 December 2009 (see release, *AT-TUWANI: Israeli army negligence permits Israeli settler attack on children, at* http://sn.im/u1qm0)

For a complete report on the school escort in 2007-2008, including maps, photographs and interviews with the children, please see “A Dangerous Journey” at <http://www.cpt.org/files/Dangerous-Journey-Summary-2008.pdf>

A report for the school year 2008-2009 is forthcoming.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Update: Arrest of Musab Musa Raba'i

We received a call at 10pm, on 7 January 2010. This was the same day that the army attacked Palestinian shepherds from At-Tuwani, hospitalizing six people and arresting one of the shepherds. We were told that Musab had been released from jail and the men who were going to pick him up wanted internationals to come with them. As we got in the car we heard that Musab had just been thrown out of a police jeep, blindfolded, in the middle of the night. When the police threw him out of the jeep they told him that if they saw him again they would kill him. He was thus very concerned for his safety, as he waited in the dark by a settler bypass road. He told his brother that if the police or soldiers saw him, he was afraid he would get beaten. He decided to hide in a bush, looking for our flashlights which we were shining out the window, and wait for us to come.

When we found Musab he began to tell us the awful story of his "detention." The same eight soldiers who arrested him, and beat him and his brothers in the process, took him to a nearby military base. Rather than processing him at the police station, or even officially detaining him (which would require them to wait for the police to come), they took him to a military base in order to interrogate him.

Musab was interrogated, while blindfolded, for 4 hours. He was tortured. For 4 hours he was struck in the back, in the face, pushed up against walls, denied food and water, and his request to pray was denied. The soldiers wanted information on his brothers, who they had tried to arrest, but were unable to capture. Musab refused to give any information and refused to speak Hebrew with the soldiers, thus infuriating them. The soldiers told him that they would come to his house tomorrow or the next day and beat him and his brothers, maybe even kill them. They tried to get Musab to say that they were the best soldiers in the IDF. Musab told me his hands and feet were tied, he was blindfolded, and was sitting in a chair. In order to protect himself, Musab put his head in his lap, in an attempt to protect his head and his genitals. Musab refused to lift his head. He said that at one point a soldier cocked his rifle and told him to lift his head or he would shoot him. Musab refused.

After 4 hours of this interrogaton and torture, they took Musab to Kiryat Arba police station (the place where one is usually taken immiedately upon arrest -- although Musab was never actually arrested, or officially detained).

The Israeli police told him that people are usually offered food and water, but he was not offered any as a punishment. After 30 minutes, the police tied up his hands and feet, blindfolded him, and drove him to a location unknown to him. He immediately called us to come pick him up.

This is outrageous and obscene. We have pictures of these soldiers and they need to be brought before the short-arm of the Israeli law. Israeli soldiers must be held accountable for torturing people. Israeli soldiers especially must be held accountable when they falsely detain a Palestinian shepherd who has committed no crime, and then torture him. I can't wait to get a video out to you all about this incident. If you don't believe Musab's account of what happened, you will be able to see with your own eyes the brutality of the Israeli army on 7 December 2010 in At-Tuwani.

Video: Testimony of kids who were stoned while walking to school

On Jan 1, I wrote about schoolchildren being chased by a masked man who threw stones at them with a slingshot. Pretty sick, right? The Israeli army is complicit for arriving late to escort the children and also refusing to prosecute, arrest, or evacuate the settlers/criminals who carry out these violent acts against children.

I conducted interviews with the kids and translated the video. I hope it helps to humanize the situation, to put a face to the names on the press release. The kids are awesome, so brave, and so so vulnerable.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

*Israeli soldiers attack and injure Palestinian shepherds; arrest Musab Raba’i *

Pretty much the worst day ever. I don't have energy to get photos or edit video, I am exhausted. There was an army invasion in the village last night, and today there was this. It was the ugliest thing I have ever seen, yet that's a superlative, but so be it. It was evil I tell you, evil. Pushing old women, throwing tear gas at kids, concussion grenades at pregnant women, throwing men to the ground, hitting them in the back with rifles, breaking cameras. It was like a mob of angry "professional"-soldier-thugs. The soldiers were holding each other back from doing worse things. Why did they do this? Because Palestinians were trying to feed their goddamn sheep. Unbelievable.

This occupation has to end, it has to. People can't endure this forever.

7 January 2010

On the morning of Thursday 7 January, 2010, Israeli soldiers attacked and injured Palestinian shepherds from the Musa Raba’i family, as they grazed their sheep in Humra valley, near the village of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. The soldiers also attacked the internationals accompanying the shepherds and broke a video camera. Before leaving the area the soldiers arrested one of the shepherds, Musab Musa Raba’i.

At around 10:30am Palestinian shepherds were grazing their sheep on privately owned Palestinian land when they saw Israeli settlers observing them from the outpost of Havat Ma’on. A short time later an Israeli army jeep came to the area. After stopping to speak with one of the settlers, three Israeli soldiers approached the shepherds and ordered them to leave the area. The shepherds explained that it was their land, but agreed to move further down into the valley. The soldiers followed them and grabbed at one of the shepherds, so they all tried to quickly leave the area with their sheep. A second army jeep came to the area and a further three soldiers joined in the attack escalating the violence. Soldiers hit the shepherds with their rifle butts, pushed them and while some soldiers forcibly held them to the ground others kicked them.

Other members of the family came to the area, and the women tried to intervene, hoping to deescalate the situation. However, the women were also forcefully pushed to the ground. Internationals trying to video tape the violent attack were roughly pushed and a soldier grabbed at and broke one of the video cameras.

Other villagers came to the area and tried to calm the situation by talking with the soldiers, but the soldiers ignored all pleas for calm and instead fired percussion grenades and tear gas into the small group of women and children gathered nearby on the hillside.

Israeli police reported to the scene after receiving numerous calls from internationals, but arrived as the soldiers were leaving the area. The police told CPTers that there would be a military investigation into the actions of the soldiers.

During the incident a spokeperson from an Israeli Human Right Organization called the local Israeli Army Brigade Operations Room and the Israeli Army Coordination Office to find out what was happening. She told CPT “I called several time and they had no information and no idea that something was going on in At Tuwani.”

Additional information: At the time of writing Moussab Mussa Raba’i is still detained at Kiryat Arba police station. One elderly woman, Umm Juma’ Raba’i, and a young woman, Umm Ribhi Raba’i, who is 2 months pregnant, had to be taken to hospital, suffering from the effects of tear gas inhalation. Three of the shepherds, Kamaal Raba’i, Majde Raba’i and Juma’ Raba’i were hospitalized for their injuries, and a young boy, Ramze Jamaal Raba’i, had his tooth broken.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Stealing Gaza

A worthwhile read from Brian Eno, an excellent musician, about the siege on Gaza. Here's an excerpt:
Gaza is now an experiment in provocation. Stuff one and a half million people into a tiny space, stifle their access to water, electricity, food and medical treatment, destroy their livelihoods, and humiliate them regularly...and, surprise, surprise - they turn hostile. Now why would you want to make that experiment?

Apparently, Bono has never heard of Jamal Juma'

by David Hosey, US Campaign to End the Occupation

To be honest, I’m not sure why Bono gets an op-ed column in the New York Times.

Regardless, the Times on January 2 carried an op-ed in which the U-2 lead singer and founder of the ONE campaign wrote about 10 things he would like to see happen, globally, over the next 1o years. His New Year’s wish list includes medical developments, increased access to rotavirus drugs to combat HIV/AIDS, sexier American cars…and nonviolent revolution.

After quoting President Obama’s Nobel Prize speech, mentioning celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and commending "the brave Iranians who continue to take to the streets despite the certainty of brutal repression," Bono ends with this:

I’ll place my hopes on the possibility — however remote at the moment — that the regimes in North Korea, Myanmar and elsewhere are taking note of the trouble an aroused citizenry can give to tyrants, and that people in places filled with rage and despair, places like the Palestinian territories, will in the days ahead find among them their Gandhi, their King, their Aung San Suu Kyi.

Apparently Bono has never heard of Jamal Juma’.

In fact, Palestinians have already found among them many who are willing to take up the banner of nonviolent resistance against Israeli occupation and apartheid. They have found many international and Israeli partners willing to stand alongside them in this effort. The Israeli military has found these individuals, too–and is throwing them in jail, often without charge. But you wouldn’t know it from media coverage of Israel/Palestine, nor from President Obama’s speeches in Cairo and Oslo.

Why hasn’t Bono heard the names of Jamal Juma’, Mohammad Othman, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, and other Palestinians who have been jailed for their resistance to modern apartheid, their efforts to stop the Wall being built on their land, their promotion of nonviolent tactics of boycott and divestment? Is he simply unaware of the campaigns of nonviolent resistance being waged in Palestinian villages such as Bil’in and Jayyous? Does he not know about the weekly protest being held against the evictions of Palestinians and the confiscation of their houses for Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem–protests that include the participation of Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals, including jailed U.S. citizen Ryan Olander? Certainly, he has not read Majida Abu Rahmah, writing of her imprisoned husband and the struggle of her village, Bil’in, against the Wall and settlements that have cut them off from most of their land:

Twelve hours after Abdallah was taken to a military jail from our home, I listened as President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize and spoke of "the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice." I thought of Bassem, Adeeb and my husband, and wondered if President Obama will take action to support our struggle for freedom.

I wonder what Bono would think if he watched this segment from The Real News Network, which portrays not only the repression of Israeli and Palestinian grassroots activists but reveals the apartheid distinctions with which Israeli prisoners and Palestinian prisoners are treated:
Let’s ask him. Find out more about Israel’s anti-apartheid prisoners here. Read the New York Times’ letter to the editor guidelines here. And get tips on writing letters to the editor here.

Bono is hoping for a decade of nonviolent resistance to oppression. We’re not just hoping. We know it’s happening–and we are going to continue to look for ways to support it, whether the New York Times considers it worthy of coverage, or not.

(Update: A representative of Adalah-NY, one of our 325 member groups, has brought to our attention that Bono has, in the past, canceled gigs in Israel after pressure from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). This is from an April 2009 PACBI open letter:

The injustice and the violent suppression of the Palestinian struggle for freedom has lasted too long. To bring an end to this oppression, Palestinian civil society has called on people of conscience throughout the world to take a stand and support our struggle for freedom by adopting boycott, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fully complies with international law and recognizes our inalienable rights. This BDS call has received resounding international support, and has been endorsed by a number of prominent international cultural figures and Israeli artists, including Aharon Shabtai, John Berger, Ken Loach, Arundhati Roy, Roger Waters, John Williams and others. Other high profile artists have also heeded our call by canceling gigs in Israel; these included Bono, Bjork, Snoop Dogg and Jean Luc Goddard.

A recent article in YNet, however, reports that U2 is planning a show in Israel this summer, along with other profile artists such as Santana, Beyoncé, , and Elton John.

So how aware is Bono of nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation, including BDS? And if he is more aware than I thought…why is he ignoring it in the NYT and planning a show in Israel?)

David Hosey is the National Media Coordinator of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. This post is cross posted to the US Campaign’s blog.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Without shelter, but not homeless

A slight departure from my normal posts about the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Here is a piece that ran in the San Diego Union-Tribune on Christmas Day, written by John Wright, a pastor, professor, and dear friend.
By John Wright
Friday, December 25, 2009

Our culture tends to reduce human beings to an economic calculation. We find our meaning solely within history. Even acts of generosity conducted in the “holiday season” find their moral rationale within a frame of immanence. Sentimentality can easily overtake the virtue of generosity. Nothing tugs at our hearts more than the idea of a child waking up without a present on Dec. 25th.

The frame of immanence limits our ability to describe the world and each other truthfully. We can see how our language presses against its imposed limits when we talk about “the problem of the homeless” – a phrase accepted by advocates and detractors alike. The limitations of such language appear when we recognize that those to whom the phrase supposedly refers are neither “homeless” nor “a problem.”

When one spends time with those who live without property rights, one discovers that they are not “homeless” at all. Those who live without shelter construct homes, places of human belonging and life. Sidewalk space is transformed by a candle or flower or a picture of a loved one; an exterior wall of a warehouse provides marginal but real protection from theft.

If permitted by city officials, tents sprout up to allow privacy and protection from temperature variations. Trusted neighbors become invaluable; neighborhoods develop distinct atmospheres. These neighborhoods become places of mutual care and lively social interchange. Life without property rights does not mean a life without a home.

Nor is it apparent that those who live without shelter are “a problem.” Problems certainly exist when one lives without the property rights that wealth affords. Irregular food supplies can occur and boredom can become oppressive. One must find facilities for bodily needs. Protection from theft and violence from criminal and legal sources alike can be pressing.

It is not apparent, however, that those who live on the streets are a problem. When one actually looks, one sees human beings much like other human beings. It is not property rights that make us human. Those who live on the sidewalks only become problems when human life is reduced to an economic calculation – when humans serve an abstraction that we name “the economy” rather than understanding economic transactions exist to serve human beings. Our present frame differs radically from our culture’s Jewish, Greek and Christian roots. To live without property rights has been historically seen as a virtuous practice that benefitted the person and the whole society. The very fact of the presence of those without shelter called into question the pretensions about human flourishing that come with property rights. Such persons provided a sign that we cannot reduce the significance of human life by collapsing it back into mere historical and economic processes. In lives that embraced poverty, all saw that human life signs some mystery beyond itself. Those who lived without shelter were therefore received as gifts, not construed as problems.

Perhaps it is possible to retrieve this heritage of receiving the poor as a gift, not as a problem or a duty. Perhaps to do so would allow us to see ourselves and our contrived systems of economics and governance more truthfully. Christians have no choice in the matter. To fail to receive those without property rights as a gift is to deny the story that we tell about the birth and life of the Son of God. We repeat the Gospel story of Jesus’ birth as a transient in a makeshift home as the turning point in the history of the world. Christians see in those who live without property rights as a sign of the love of God revealed to humanity in the form of the poor Christ child at Christmas.

For those who do not tell the story of the birth of the Christ child as their story, those who live on the streets may still function as a sign. As Southern California society deals with the lessons of the real estate meltdown, we may see in those who live on the streets a sign that material possessions are fleeting and transient. Shelter and jobs and accumulated wealth can quickly dissipate – but life still goes on. Life points beyond itself for its final End.

There is no “problem of the homeless.” When such phrases are used, we have already lost what is most important – the ability to name the world truthfully. When we receive those who live without shelter as a gift, we see the gift of all human lives, lives vulnerable, fragile and sinful and dignified, strong, and good. Perhaps in those who live without property rights, we can see a sign that refuses the collapse of all that is into material processes. Perhaps in those who live without shelter that wealth brings, we can see a sign that a Mystery of Love, not a frame of immanence, is the ultimate Word.

Wright is a professor of Theology and Christian Scripture at Point Loma Nazarene University and senior pastor of the English-speaking Congregation, The Church of the Nazarene, in Mid-City San Diego.

Friday, January 01, 2010

AT-TUWANI RELEASE: Israeli army negligence permits Israeli settler attack on children

Absolutely horrific. Adult settlers chasing and throwing stones at children? How is this tolerated? And don't begin to tell me it isn't tolerated, because it is, and we write about it every time it happens which seems to be every couple months. It's so evil, what is done to these kids. Going to school and having to sit through class after a grown man just chased you and tried to bash in your head with a stone. Odious, horrendous, and evil. We pray for peace, we labor for peace. God in your mercy, hear our prayer.

*Note - I am working on translating some video testimonies we took from the parents and the kids after this happened. It's putting me at the limits of my Arabic knowledge, but inshallah, I will finish it and post it soon.


31 December 2009

[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]

At-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills On Wednesday morning, 30 December 2009, an Israeli settler from the outpost of Havat Ma'on (Hill 833) chased and threw stones at Palestinian schoolchildren from the villages of Tuba and Maghayir Al-Abeed. The Israeli army exposed the children to this attack by arriving more than ninety minutes late to escort the children to their school in the village of At-Tuwani.

The schoolchildren had been waiting for the army escort to arrive for nearly thirty minutes when an Israeli settler came out from a house within Havat Ma'on. The fourteen Palestinian children, ages six to fifteen, immediately began to move away from the settler, towards their village. Witnesses reported that when the settler saw the children moving away, he charged towards them, hurling stones at the children with a slingshot. He chased them several hundred meters, all the way back to their village. Tareq Ibrahim Abu Jundiyye, a fifteen-year-old boy from Tuba, said, regarding the experience, “The younger kids started crying as we were running away because they were afraid the settler would catch them. I mean, we had to run away. If I had stayed I would have been struck on the head by a rock.”

While the children were waiting, CPTers made calls to the local army office, urging them to send soldiers to escort the schoolchildren. The army dispatcher claimed that the soldiers thought there was no school because of the rain. The army only arrived after the mayor of At-Tuwani called the Palestinian District Coordinating Office (DCO), a Palestinian body responsible for liaising with the Israeli military regarding civilian affairs in Area C, and the DCO, in turn, spoke with the Israeli army. The army's late arrival caused the children to miss their first two classes of the day.

The children require a military escort to and from school because of repeated attacks by Israeli settlers from Ma’on and Havat Ma’on. The children must wait for the Israeli military in an area controlled by the Israeli settlers, a location where settlers have attacked the children several times in the past.

For a complete report on the school escort in 2007-2008, including maps, photographs and interviews with the children, please see “A Dangerous Journey” at <http://www.cpt.org/files/Dangerous-Journey-Summary-2008.pdf>_

A report for the school year 2008-2009 is forthcoming.

A March to Break the Siege (+video that I shot)

We boarded a van from Hebron to Bethlehem, a bus from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, and a bus from Jerusalem to Gaza (Erez crossing). It took quite a few hours and it took some fossil fuels, but it was well worth the trip. It was a necessary trip because the siege on Gaza needs to be lifted.

Israel, with Egypt and the United States' complicity and assistance, has turned Gaza into an open air prison. Israel's assault on Gaza (winter 2008/2009) left much of the territory destroyed: from houses, to schools, to universities, to UN compounds, to hospitals. Following the war, the siege has not been lifted to allow food stuffs or (re)building supplies.

The Palestinians of Gaza are being held without the ability to eat, rebuild, move, or study. Israel needs to be held to accountability, but so does the world, because as Ali Abunimah pointed out:

“the siege is not Egypt's policy alone -- far from it -- it is imposed first and foremost by Israel, but with the full complicity of North American, European and other governments. In our meeting at the US Embassy, it was confirmed that the US Army Corps of Engineers is assisting Egypt to build the underground barrier designed to prevent Palestinians breaking the illegal blockade by digging tunnels. So there is a lot of work to do expose and oppose this criminal complicity.”

The work that we undertook to oppose this criminal siege was to march to Erez Crossing (on the Israel/Gaza border) to call for an end to the siege. On December 31, internationals attempted to enter Gaza from Egypt, to march with Gazans to the border. The Egyptian government denied these activists, often brutally, the freedom to enter Gaza. Nonetheless the Gazans marched to the crossing, to call for their own freedom.

Many internationals, Palestinians, and Israelis gathered to meet the Gazans at Erez. From the Israeli side, we could not see the Gazans on the other side, because of the massive terminal and wall between us. Despite the wall between us, there was a sense that we had met at the border, in an effort to show world leaders and politicians that as citizens of the world, we will not stand for this injustice.

As I was walking back to the bus after our demonstration I could hear a faint cry in the distance. I first thought it was those of us gathered on the Israeli side, but then I realized it was coming from the other side of the wall. The cries for justice were louder than the wall, as Gazans chanted, “Sha'ib il Arabi la yamuut (The Palestinian people will not die).” The power of the wall and the siege were not enough today. Our cries for justice were louder than the siege.