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Context is everything / Olive Harvest 2003

Context is everything / Olive Harvest 2003


After the August 19 bus bombing in Jerusalem, the ISM received a number of emails asking if the ISM was going to make a statement and we received some of the usual, "why isn't the ISM riding Israeli busses?" comments. One email suggested that if we don't speak out against this bombing, we are "party to it". Again our response is that we are working to stop all violence in the region, not by issuing statements, but by working to end the root cause of the violence against Israelis and Palestinians - the ongoing, brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and lives. Sadly, no Palestinian nor ISMer is surprised that the "road map" isn't doing so well, and that unabated Israeli violence was met with Palestinian violence. We were warning about this daily and called on the international media to pay attention to what was happening on the ground while the leaders talked about a "peac

In the few short weeks after the hudna was announced on June 29, 2003, up until August 9, 10 days before the bus bombing in Jerusalem, the Israeli military killed 10 Palestinians, 5 of them children, wounded 348 Palestinians, 65 of them children, arrested 435 Palestinians, damaged or completely demolished/destroyed 211 Palestinian homes, and uprooted or destroyed over 10,050 Palestinian fruit and olive trees. This is not to mention the vehicles and businesses damaged and/or destroyed, the thousands of dunams of Palestinian land confiscated or isolated from its owners, the number of new settlement structures that were built, the bypass roads created, the Israeli military outposts erected, the continued work on the apartheid wall, the continued denial of access to Palestinians to their land, and the ongoing daily abuse at checkpoints....

We are not going to issue statements. We stand against the killing of all civilians and are saddened for the families of the victims of that bus bombing. At the same time we're frustrated with the politics of governments and the complacency that is allowing this to continue. Without a check on the Israeli government and military, this will continue. There can be no hudna or "road map" without restraints put on the Israeli military and government.

We are going to keep telling you what's happening on the ground in Palestine and urge you to take action. We are going to continue to organize to resist the Israeli occupation nonviolently, and urge you not to ignore us.


1) Context is everything _ Steve Q. 2) Olive Harvest 2003

1) Context is everything Sunday, August 24, 2003 Tel Aviv

I came to Tel Aviv from Jayyous on Thursday evening intending to stay for one night, but I awoke on Friday morning with one of my all-too-familiar sinus infections. I saw a doctor, got some antibiotics, and extended my stay at the Tel Aviv hotel until my departure in the wee hours of Monday morning. It's Sunday afternoon now and I'm fever-free, although still a little nervous about flying with congestion.

My hotel is right on the beach, and it's lovely here. Lots of people out and about, bar-restaurant-cafes right out on the sand, streets bustling until late into the night. Jayyous is 10km from here, and my friends there haven't seen the sea for 4 years. You'd never know here that there's so much suffering so close, being inflicted by the Israeli army.

On Wednesday night two Palestinian-American friends were staying at the same hotel. They were not permitted to bring their Palestinian Israeli friends to the room--the armed security guard was quite insistent. I, in contrast, have had free run of the place, welcome to come and go as I please, even when I was their late-night guest before I registered at the hotel myself.

I've been pretty starved for news all summer. I've been living without radio or TV, in communities where all the newspapers are in Arabic. Poor email access kept me away from Internet news sites. Now that I'm in Tel Aviv, lolling about in front of the TV and with English-language newspapers, I see how the present grisly turn of events is being framed.

Israeli media are forefronting the suffering inflicted by the bombing in Jerusalem. This is perfectly reasonable. It was a horrific attack, and its ultra-Orthodox victims conjure up images of terrible Jewish suffering in Europe in the 20th century and before. The sequence of events presented in the U.S. and Israeli press seems to be (1) bombing in Jerusalem, (2)assassination in Gaza (3) end of Hudna [cease fire]. Journalists (or their editors) don't seem interested in what happened prior to the Jerusalem bombing, in what the Hudna was really like.

A look at the website of B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories ( shows that between July 1 and August 13 of this year, 9 Palestinians (1 of them a minor) were killed by Israeli security forces in the Occupied Territories. In addition, the construction of the Apartheid Wall and destruction of Palestinian property continued apace, as did the daily violence and humiliation that is part and parcel of 36 years of military control of a civilian population of millions.

During the same period, 4 Israeli civilians (none of them minors) and one member of the Israeli security forces were killed by Palestinians.

Then came the Israeli attack on Askar Refugee Camp in Nablus, in which 4 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces. The Rosh Ha'Ayin and Ariel bombings followed, with one Israeli death in each case, followed by the Israeli assassination of an Islamic Jihad student activist. Then the bombing in Jerusalem.

The attack on the bus of worshippers was not justified. It was sickening. Its planners and its perpetrator distort Islam beyond all recognition. But it was, without a doubt, provoked, and the Sharon government knew it. They knew it when they attacked Askar, and they knew it when they went into Hebron. Now the situation has spun out of control again, Israelis will again see their buses, cafes, and restaurants blowing up, and Palestinians will die (as always, in much larger numbers) as the occupation army storms through Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarm, and Gaza. The Israeli media today are proudly showing photos of dozens of tanks assembled at Erez Checkpoint ready to reinvade Gaza; I can only think of the 1.3 million desperately poor Palestinians packed into ramshackle housing in the tiny Gaza Strip, and what these killing machines are going to do them.

So now Bush and Powell and Rice have stopped bugging Sharon about the Apartheid Wall, and Mayor Bloomberg is flying to Jerusalem tomorrow to stand with Israeli victims of terror, even as the Israeli army creates untold numbers of Palestinian victims of state terror in the Gaza invasion. So it seems like the Sharon government got exactly what it wanted.

I'll he home tomorrow afternoon. I'm looking forward to doing lots of public speaking about the occupation, as well as reconnecting with family and friends.

Peace, Steve

2) Olive Harvest 2003

Please make plans to join us in Palestine for this year's olive harvest. The ISM Olive Harvest Campaign will begin on October 5 and extend until November 20, 2003. Training will begin on October 3 and 4 and be held every Friday and Saturday throughout the duration of the campaign. More information and registration will be available on our website shortly. For preparation and contact information, please see our website - or write to

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