Under the Occupation 

Internationalizing the Intifada - update, report and alert / Huwaida Arraf, International Solidarity Movement

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Friends, the three US citizens who were taken yesterday by the Israeli military for trying to prevent the Israeli Army from destroying roads used by Palestinians, were released late last night.

As the International Solidarity Movement continues to call for resistance, solidarity, civil disobedience and nonviolent direct action against the Israeli occupation and forces supporting this oppression, we ask that everyone take part in some way. There is an action alert at the end of this message, that though geared towards US citizens, can be altered for use by others. Please take a moment to act.

Below is an account written by an activist who was recently with us in Occupied Palestine.

In solidarity & struggle,

July 29, 2002

Dear fellow conspirators, troublemakers, and lovers of justice, I want to offer a glimpse of the reality on the ground of the West Bank that is so rarely conveyed by the U.S. media. I stayed for a week in Beit Omar, a small farming community outside of Hebron. What I saw confirms the UN reports that this is a low-intensity war against a largely defenseless, unarmed population. There are “martyr” posters in abundance in Beit Omar, but they are not of young men who strapped bombs to their chests and blew themselves up in Israeli marketplaces; in fact, they are men and boys who were shot at point blank range by Israeli soldiers for walking home from work on settler bypass roads or for violating curfews. In the space of a week, we experienced two Israeli military operations, in which the military came through town just before dark in jeeps and armored personnel carriers, shooting into the air. These operations have no point except in intimidating (I won’t use the word “terrorizing” though it comes to mind) the local residents. The response from the children is to fling rocks at the jeeps. Then the soldiers respond by shooting teargas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition. We never witnessed Palestinian militias firing back at the soldiers. There is no Palestinian armed presence capable of engaging the Israeli military here or in most other West Bank towns. We watched a Palestinian shopkeeper get beaten mercilessly by soldiers. When they were through for the night, people showed us where their windows had been shot out, when water tanks had been punctured and electrical lines shot down.

This is a regular occurrence for the people in Beit Omar, and identical scenarios have been observed by other internationals throughout the West Bank.

To add to this absurdity, there is no sign of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. While our president is so arrogantly insisting that the PA institute “democratic reforms” and depose its leader, the PA headquarters in every major West Bank town have been leveled by American-made F-16 fighter jets. Fatah in Gaza, we’re told by internationals there, carries around rusty rifles with no bullets.

The Palestinian suicide bombers do inflict horrific casualties on Israeli civilians, who should not be the target of military attacks, and unfortunately there are many, many more Palestinians who are willing to sacrifice their lives in these attacks. We talked to a young woman, Ansam, in Nablus, who told us, “Once I wanted to be a doctor, but now I cannot leave my home to go study. I have nothing to live for. I do not want to live this life anymore.” Her consideration of martyrdom was implicit.

We saw that there was good reason for this hopelessness, not only in places like Nablus which are under nearly constant curfew and have been heavily bombed, but in places where like Beit Omar, where young men we befriended were shot at by Israeli soldiers trying to cross the bridge into Hebron to take final exams, and where young men told us of being abducted by the military, tortured, and pressured to take payments to inform against other Palestinians.

We’ll continue to hear about suicide bombing operations, but we don’t hear about the weekly non-violent marches against the occupation in Nablus and Ramallah, and we aren’t told that 95 percent of the Palestinian population is unarmed, and engaged in non-violent resistance to the occupation. Why don’t we heed their voices, and pressure Israel to end the 35-year old occupation. Never through the Oslo process did Israel consider just pulling out of the territories and giving Palestinians the right to their land and sovereignty. It’s simple: justice clears a path for peace.

We saw Israel’s territorial expansion in effect. We accompanied Palestinian farmers from Beit Omar whose land near the Jewish settlement of Karmetzur has been declared a military security zone. They are faced with their property being fenced in, their plum trees and grape fields being burned, and their land being handed over to the Jewish settlers. Their recourse is to apply for a permit from the Israeli Civil Administration at Kiryat Arba (home of Baruch Goldstein, the settler from Brooklyn who massacred 29 Muslims at the Ibrahimi Mosque). This is insulting, and a good way to get killed. The Beit Omar farmers don’t have the option of armed defense of their land. Instead, they are discussing how to use civil disobedience, international presence, and media coverage to challenge the confiscation. This is painstaking, slow, community organizing work.

You draw your own conclusions; mine is that this is a gradual, slow process of ethnic cleansing -- an attempt to finish the job started in 1948. The Sharon government cannot wink at the United States and say it sees a future for a Palestinian state, and continue to expand its settlements.

From what we’ve heard, the process is very similar across the occupied territories. For instance, in Gaza, internationals are accompanying Palestinians in trying to repair a well that is constantly destroyed by the Israeli occupying army. They need consistent efforts and presence to maintain access to their water, and ultimately they need to change the balance of power that allows the Israeli military to ruthlessly and willfully destroy their community infrastructure.

From my description, the situation may appear hopeless – and its true that there is a glaring lack of clear, uncompromising leadership in Palestine that is tied to a popular base. It’s not though. Palestinians have a stronger civil society than in most places I’ve been. They have more professionalism in running their hospitals, schools, community centers, and local municipalities than you can imagine. They are actively building their society. And they are determined in their insistence that they cannot live under military occupation any longer.

We need to stay with this struggle in the United States. There is a desperate need for more Americans to join the International Solidarity Movement to help organize the civil disobedience campaign for defense of the land and water, and to keep a grassroots media focus on the intransigence of the Israeli military. I can’t emphasize how important this is to the Palestinian people. It is also important for us to keep educating Americans about the occupation to shift public opinion away from blind support for Israel; and to keep pressuring our universities and city councils to divest from Israel, which is in a position to feel the economic pain. All of these actions, taken together, can build a platform for national liberation.

For an international intifada,

Jordan Green

I've seen all I want to of the theater of the absurd The beasts, the judges, the emperor’s hat, The masks of the Age, the color of the ancient sky, The palace dancer, the unruly armies I want to forget them all! I just want to remember the dead piled high behind the curtain

“Ruba’iyat” by Mahmoud Darwish, national poet of Palestine

For more accounts written by activists in Palestine, please visit – www.palsolidarity.org

For Immediate Release

July 29, 2002

CFL ACTION ALERT: Demand an end to Israeli abuse of American citizens!

While members of the House trample over themselves to express solidarity with Israel, they have given the Israeli government the green light to discriminate and use brute force against any American who wishes to express solidarity with the Palestinian people. CFL, Citizens for Fair Legislation, calls on its members and all people of conscience to demand that the Bush administration offer protection to all US citizens in Israel and the Occupied Territories!

Take Action:

Send a letter via http://congress.cfl-online.org to the President, Vice President, Sec. of State and your Representatives in the House and Senate expressing your concern for the treatment of Americans in Israel. You may use the prewritten letter at the site or create one of your own. (END ISRAELI ABUSE OF AMERICANS letter under the subject arrow)

Talking Points:

  • Not only are Palestinian-Americans routinely prevented from entering Israel to visit their families who are beleaguered by a military occupation, but Americans of all backgrounds traveling to Israel with Palestinian solidarity groups are turned away as soon as they set foot in Ben-Gurion airport. Those that do make it through are often harassed, imprisoned, and face trial in Israel's questionable judiciary system before being deported.
  • While Israel discriminates against and harasses any Americans whom they believe to be sympathetic towards the Palestinians, Israel does very little to prevent extremist Jews from America from entering Israel. However, groups like the International Solidarity Movement which advocates peaceful and nonviolent solutions are denied entry almost as a matter of policy.

*It is the duty of elected officials to promote and protect the interests of Americans here and abroad and those interests supersede the shameful relationship that many members of Congress have with Israeli politicians and lobby groups. Demand that Israel stop its discriminatory treatment of Americans in Israel. Whether they are Palestinian-Americans visiting their families, or other Americans wishing to express solidarity with the Palestinians and bring hope to an oppressed people.

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  • Since September 11 the Bush administration has vowed to protect its citizens

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everywhere. The treatment of Americans in Israel, a country we the taxpayers fund, should not be excluded from that vow. Israel must be held accountable for its actions against our citizens.

Visit www.congress.cfl-online.org to send a letter today.

Citizens for Fair Legislation is a grassroots organization committed to encouraging a fair domestic and foreign policy with an emphasis on the Arab and Muslim world.

CFL- Citizens for Fair Legislation

contact: info@CFL-online.org

web: http://CFL-online.org">http://CFL-online.org

to join: subscribe@joinforjustice.org