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The real opposition - on the ground

The real opposition - on the ground

A-RAM (East-Jerusalem) - violent dispersal of peaceful protest: During today's joint protest against the Jerusalem Wall cutting through A- Ram: dozens of Palestinian and Israeli protesters wounded & random arrests

Report of the A-Ram demo against the Wall by Adam Keller & links to Y-net and Haaretz [] An opposition which doesn't take part in the real battle by Uri Avnery [] Standing against the claws of the wall by Tanya Reinhart [] Court Orders Construction of the Wall in Az Zawiya Stopped

P.S. See our calendar links & announcements - photos and video footage of recent actions - new maps, brochures, eye-witness reports - films, expositions, refusnik links - Gush Shalom details re website, donations, subscription to email ~~~

[] Report of the A-Ram demo against the Wall by Adam Keller & links to Y-net and Haaretz

Hebrew at request / òáøéú òì ôé á÷ùä

It had been planned meticulously. The initiative came from the A-Ram municipality - a huge demonstration including as many Israelis as could be convinced to come on the weekend before the Supreme Court's decision over the fate of A-Ram. But, from how it went it seems that somebody up there decided that it was not in their interest to have today an orderly demonstration of Palestinians together with Israelis. That, so short before the Supreme Court was to give its decision, it was much better to transform it into something in which "anything could happen."

"Are you you going to A-Ram" asked the border policeman at the roadblock. "Yes, that's where we are going." All of us were ready to jump out and go on foot should the bus again be prohibited, but the policeman just smiled and said: "Have a good day."

So, the five buses, full of Israeli activists - from Gush Shalom and Ta'ayush - went further to the point where the main Jerusalem-Ramallah road had been demolished in prepararion for erection of the "Separation Wall". Huge slabs of prefabricated wall were lying ready in a long row, to be erected as soon as the Supreme Court would give its final approval on Monday.

Five young people pulled out hammers and tried to hit the concrete slabs, but the grey monsters were not even scratched. The rest of us took up signs:

The Wall Must Fall / The Wall Blocks Passage To Schools And Hospitals / Wall Equals War / Israelia And Palestinians Together Against The Wall / It Is Impossible To Live With This Wall.

A little bit further and the inhabitants of A-Ram came over to meet us. Row after row of Palestinians, in their thousands: young and old, men and women, some in traditional clothing, others in jeans.

At the head of the joint march, Mayor Sirhan Sulayme - whose contact with Israeli peace groups goes back to the Oslo years. Beside him KM Ahmed Tibi and former KMs Tamar Gozanski and Uri Avnery, together with members of the Paelestinian Parliament and Muslim and Christian Clergy. After them the marching band of the Palestinian Boy Scouts, some with drums and trumpets other with the bagpipes, a relic of British rule.

We walked in neat and orderly ranks - but not for long. Suddenly young people started running backwards, with teargas cannisters exploding all over. On the crest of the hill the border guards were standing in a row, shooting again and again. The young pipers tried valiantly to march on, for two or three minutes - but it was just impossible under such a barrage.

"This was a prepared ambush! I saw exactly how it started: they opened up without any provocation from our side. They waited just until the wind was blowing from them to us - to get maximum effect from the gas" said a young Ta'ayush activist, fresh from military service. There were some fifteen of us crouched around a corner, holding to our noses slices of onion, distributed by Palestinians as anti-dote against the gas. The refuge turned out to be temporary: a border police car came charging around the corner shooting further tear gas cannisters. Quick, quick in here - a Palestinian called in Hebrew from side street, guiding us through a maze of back passages. Behind us youths were dragging market stalls to form a barricade across the main street.

An orderly and peaceful protest march of thousands was broken into many small clusters, keeping loose communications via mobile phones. Some found refuge and welxome in Palestinian homes and offices; others were pursued deeper into the streets of A-Ram. Uri Avnery had managed to get into a shop near the junction where the police violence started. From there, the experienced journalist-activist opened a direct line to the media: "This looks like a real battlefield; every ten minutes or so, the youngsters are emerging from one of the alleys. They throw stones, also that they are toof ar from the Border Police to hit, and the police open up again very heavily. I have myself enough onion for the whiffs which I get here... Just now they shot a cannister directly at an ambulance crew which was picking up one of the wounded."

>From tear gas, the Border guards went on to "rubber" bullets, intensive use of their clubs and not to forget the water canon (which was partly a blessing, clearing the air of gas). Altogether some fifty people got wounded, among them KM Tibi, Sheikh Taysir Tamimi who heads the Muslim courts in Palestine, and a press photographer of Yediot Aharonot...

A bit further behind, some of the organizers recreated a kind of headquarters in the middle of the street: Mayor Salayme was there; as was Neve Gordon of Ta'ayush and the Palestinian Scout Master. "Although the people are scattered from what I hear over the phone there are Israelis together with Palestinians in every small groups" said Gordon. "We are trying to reason with the border police commander here; I told him on the phone that if he pulls his men back several hundred meters the violence will stop immediately; so far he is very intransigent." Only after some three hours, and after launching a particularly heavy attack in the course of which there were shot live bullets did the police finally withdraw. We could file back into our buses, but there was still the matter of ten detainees: five Israelis and five Palestinians. So, we all went over to the police station at Neve Yakov (Jewish neighborhood adjacent to A-Ram). The latest news: the Israeli detainees were told that they could go, but they refused to leave the station without the Palestinians. Some hundred activists are still vigiling outside at this late hour.

On Monday morning the Supreme Court will take the decision so fateful for tens of thousands of A-Ram inhabitants. Quite some of today's demonstrators will be there in the courtroom at 9.00am; Bat Shalom women will already start a vigil outside the court at 8.45. See also: 'Yedioth' camerman beaten by Border Police at fence protest By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent Last Update: 26/06/2004 20:24 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/443608.html Hebrew / òáøéú http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/443603.html

and: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-2937935,00.html

[] An opposition which doesn't take part in the real battle by Uri Avnery

[Hebrew soon at the site www.gush-shalom.org òáøéú á÷øåá áàúø]

"The Starling Went to the Raven" 26.6.04 An old, worn-out whore who waits in vain for a man to seek her favors is a pitiful sight indeed. The Israeli Labor Party is in this pathetic position, but it is difficult to feel any pity for it. For months now, the party has been waiting at the door of the Sharon government, hoping to be invited in at any moment. >From time to time Sharon opens the door, shoots her a contemptuous look and slams the door shut in her face. This week it happened again, for the nth time. Usually Shimon Peres is blamed for this situation. Quite rightly, of course. Peres is longing for the position of Foreign Minister the way a man dying of thirst in the desert longs for water. As a member of the government he could meet with kings and presidents, take part in international conferences, make solemn declarations and do all the things that give meaning to his life. For him, life in opposition is no life at all. But the question is: Why was this man elected to his position as executive chairman of the party? Those who elected him knew where he wants to go. After all, he has already served as Sharon's foreign minister, spreading the good tidings that Sharon is no longer Sharon, that the leopard has changed every one of his spots and is now just like one of the sheep on his farm. As the chief of the largest parliamentary faction outside the governing coalition, Peres is entitled by law to be addressed as the "Leader of the Opposition". No title could suit him less. While Menachem Begin, for example, flourished in opposition and spent 29 happy years there, Peres wilts like a flower without water. He has no idea what to do. If he were offered a plan for opposition activities on a plate, he wouldn't know what to do with it. From the very beginning of his career, as an instructor in the Working Youth movement, Peres was a man of the government. As an assistant of David Ben-Gurion, as the Director General of the Defense Ministry, as a minister and as Prime Minister - he always identified with the government, worked for the government and represented the government. When Ben-Gurion compelled him to leave Labor in 1965 and participate in the founding of the opposition Raffi party, he was miserable and used the first pretext to rejoin the government. When he lost an election and was stuck in opposition, he looked for the first opportunity to join a "national unity" government. From this point of view, Peres is a perfect symbol of his party. From 1933, when it assumed power in the Zionist organization's governing institutions, until the 1977 "upheaval" which brought the Likud to power, Labor enjoyed 44 uninterrupted years in power. Indeed, the Likud victory dumfounded everybody. Until that moment, nobody could even imagine a government without Labor. At the time, a Member of Parliament could not but pity the Labor members, who drifted along the Knesset corridors like ghosts. When they mounted the rostrum to speak about some subject, they automatically assumed the pose of government spokesmen and had to remind themselves in mid-speech that it was, after all, their job to criticize. Throughout the last year one could hardly find a single sign that the Labor Party was in opposition. True, it regularly submits no-confidence motions, but that is an empty weekly ritual that is not taken seriously by anybody either in the Knesset or outside. On no subject whatsoever does Labor really fight the government. It identifies itself with the Thatcherist economic policy of Treasury Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which hits the poor (who vote for the Likud anyhow) and serves the economic elite (which belongs to the Labor Party). It cannot fight against the settlements, since Peres himself founded the first settlement in the center of the West Bank, Kedumim. The Separation Wall which imprisons the Palestinians in ghettos was initiated by the Labor Party, and when Sharon became Prime Minister he only changed its path. The mantra "We Have No Partner for Peace" was coined by the Labor leaders, Ehud Barak and Shlomo Ben-Ami. The idea of annexing the "settlement blocs" was conceived by Yossi Beilin, then a leading Labor member. The close relations between Shimon Peres and Ariel Sharon are not accidental. As the prophet Amos said (3,3): "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Both came from the same place: the court of David Ben-Gurion. Both represent variations of the same ideology. Indeed, as the ancient Hebrew proverb goes: "Not for nothing did the starling go to the raven, but because they are two of the same kind." The very name "Labor Party" is a misnomer - it is neither a party nor has it anything to do with labor. It has no roots at all in four of the five major components of Israeli society: the religious, the Oriental Jews, the new immigrants from Russia and the Arab citizens. It is limited to the fifth component - the Ashkenazi (European) Jews, especially the older generation. This is a well-established, privileged, indeed pampered elite that is comfortable in the existing situation, with nothing "burning in its bones" and no inclination whatsoever to get involved in party politics (with the odd exception). The party is in a shambles. It has, in fact, no real local branches, only small groups of interested functionaries. Worse: there are no signs of a new leadership, or even new ideas, after the collapse of the old concepts. One sees only a group of tired politicians, each of whom looks out only for himself, fighting to get a few minutes on television, where he can repeat obsolete phrases from the past. The public listens and yawns. It is these politicians who elected Peres, because they could not agree on any other candidate for party chairman. This is not a symphony orchestra, but only a bunch of street musicians, each with his own tune in his head. All this would not be important, if it did not have such grave implications. The absence of a real opposition creates a void in the political landscape and leaves the entire arena to Sharon and his henchmen. The small Meretz party, now called "Yahad" ("Together") is no effective opposition either - not only because of its size, but because it suffers from many of Labor's afflictions. It does not take part in the daily battles on the ground. It does not fight against the monstrous wall. The Prime Minister's bribery affair, which would have provided a field day for any real opposition, did not evoke a reaction from Yahad. Labor, of course, kept mum. The small parties that represent the Arab citizens are much more active, but most of the Jewish public ignores them, much as it ignores the Arab public in general. This is a disastrous situation. It sows despair among those who are longing for change but see no viable substitute that can assume power. It explains the odd result of all public opinion polls: the majority is ready to make sacrifices for peace, the majority votes for Sharon. A change of government is impossible without a change of opposition. And a new opposition has a chance of arousing enthusiasm only if its agenda is really opposed to the government's agenda. For that, courage, faith and a fighting spirit are needed. Until such an opposition comes to life, inside or outside the Labor Party ~~~

[] Standing against the claws of the wall by Tanya Reinhart

Yediot Aharonot and Ynet, Wednsday June 23, 2004. Translated from Hebrew by Mark Marshall and Edeet Ravel.

Hebrew http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-2936546,00.html

Along the route of the separation barrier in the West Bank, a new culture is springing up: on one side, soldiers and bulldozers; on the other, Israelis and Palestinians embracing the land and the trees, trying to save them both. Last week, Sharon decided he was secure enough in the role of man of peace to start pushing the wall towards the settlements of Ariel and Kedumim, deep in the West Bank, about 20 kilometres from Israel. And since then the Israelis and Palestinians have also been there.

The breathtaking scenery of the Ariel district has been sliced up by the new roads that the rulers have built for their own exclusive use. Beneath them lie the old roads of the vanquished. There, on the lower level, is where the other Israel-Palestine treads. Israeli youths arrive in settlement buses and then make their way on foot and in Palestinian taxis among the checkpoints. They trek between the villages in groups or alone. Some sleep in the villages. Others will travel the same route the next day to reach the demonstration. Everywhere they go they are greeted with blessings and beaming faces. "Tfaddalu," the children in the doorways say, as if they had never heard of stone-throwing. Like the inhabitants of other Palestinian villages along the route of the fence, those in the Ariel area have opened their hearts and their homes to the Israelis who come to support their non-violent resistance to the barrier that is robbing them of their land.

The Israelis who go into the villages are not afraid of Hamas. If they fear anyone, it is the Israeli army, which can decide at any time, on a commander’s whim, to douse the demonstrators with inordinate quantities of tear-gas or to declare the area a closed military zone (i.e., closed to Israelis) and arrest any Israeli who tries to remain in the area.

What brings young Israelis to stand with the Palestinians in front of the army is the conviction that there is a basic line of justice that must not be crossed. It was not security considerations that determined the present route of the fence. If the goal were to prevent terrorist infiltration, the fence could have been built differently. The route planned by Col. (res.) Shaul Arieli, head of the Barak government’s "Peace Administration", also deviated from the 1967 border and enclosed the large settlement blocs, placing them on the Israeli side. But the 300 square kilometres of West Bank territory which that route would have devoured is less than a third of what the present route will grab. Arieli’s plan would have cut off 56,000 Palestinians from contiguous connection with the West Bank; the current route will strand 400,000 (Eldar, Ha'aretz, 16.2.04).

Sharon and the army have designed the barrier with a view to taking over as much West Bank land along the border with Israel as possible, and to gradually empty it of its inhabitants. Qalqiliyah, which has been isolated from its lands and the rest of the West Bank, is already a dead city. Many of its inhabitants have fled to seek subsistence at the edges of other West Bank towns; those who remain have succumbed to the despair and decline that characterizes prisoners. This is what lies in store for Biddu, Beit Sureik and the other villages between the settlement Giv’at Zeev and the Israeli town Mevasseret Zion. Now it is the turn of Zawiya and Deir Balout, which lie between the settlement Ariel and the Israeli Rosh Ha'ayin. In the army’s language, Ariel and Kedumim are the “claws” of the fence, claws that are now sunk into the West Bank, grabbing a giant chunk of Palestinian land that will be transferred to Israel. As part of the process, it will be necessary to “cleanse” the land of its inhabitants by slow strangulation, as in Qalqiliyah.

The Israelis who face the army went to the West Bank because they know there is a law that is higher than the army’s laws of closed military zones: there is international law, which forbids ethnic cleansing, and there is the law of conscience. But what brings them back, day after day, is the new covenant that has been struck between the peoples of this land, a pact of fraternity and friendship between Israelis and Palestinians who love life, the land, the evening breeze. They know that it is possible to live differently on this land.

http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart ~~~

[]Court Orders Construction of the Wall in Az Zawiya Stopped

------- Forwarded message follows ------- From: IWPS - via Dorothy Naor Date sent: Fri, 25 Jun 2004 23:46:46 +0200

Some good news for a change! Let's hope the work stops, period. Dorothy

AZ ZAWIYA, WEST BANK. Earlier this afternoon the Israeli Supreme Court issued a ruling ordering the construction work on the Apartheid Wall in Az Zawiya to be stopped.

This is being viewed as a victory by the village of Az Zawiya as well as the Israeli and international activists which have been protesting non-violently against the construction of the Apartheid Wall, also known as the Separation Barrier or simply the Wall, almost daily since 7 June.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) response to the non-violent demonstrations against the construction of the Apartheid Wall in Az Zawiya has involved a disproportionate use of force. There have been hundreds of injuries, mostly caused by rubber bullets and tear gas among the Palestinian, Israeli and International protesters during the non-violent demonstrations. The severity of the tear gas injuries which include convulsions, severe breathing problems as well as miscarriages has created an international cry of concern regarding the use non-lethal chemical weapons during peaceful demonstrations.

The planned route of the Apartheid Wall will completely enclose the villages of Az Zawiya, Deir Ballut and Rafat. The villages will be completely cut off not only from Israel but also their own agricultural land and the rest of the West Bank. Unlike other Palestinian cities which have been entirely enclosed by the Wall, these are agricultural villages are completely dependent on their land for economic survival. A look at the map will show that there is no security basis for taking this land and isolating these villages in an enclave. A detailed map of the area which includes the route of the Wall can be found at

www.reliefweb.int/hic-opt/maps/Closure/mar/Salfit_closure0304_600.pdf

“I hope this decision will stop our pain. This decision is a direct result of the efforts of the people of Az Zawiya as well as the Israeli and International activists who have stood with us” said Anan Ashqar, from the Az Zawiya Popular Committee to Stop the Wall. “The Israeli government is always trying to take our land…we are always facing new orders of the Israel trying to take our land, our struggle is not over. There is continuous aggressive land confiscation in this area,” adds Ashqar.

For further information, including a more detailed Press Pack containing background information on the village of Az Zawiya please contact the IWPS Office: 09-2516-644 Mobile: 055 854 988/067 870 198 or IWPS@palnet.com.

P.S. See our calendar links & announcements - photos and video footage of recent actions - new maps, brochures, eye-witness reports - films, expositions, refusnik links - Gush Shalom details re website, donations, subscription to email - photos and video footage of recent actions \/ # Photos + report of June 16 A-Ram protest against the Wall

The press conference + start of demo http://www.gush-shalom.org http://www.gush-shalom.org/english/index.html

Photos of the following women's protest march http://share.shutterfly.com/os.jsp?i=EeANWjlw2csWzqg&open=1

# Video footage of mass uprooting of olive trees and resistance (in the framework of construction of the monster Wall) in Az Zawiya & Salfit:

http://www.womenspeacepalestine.org/news8junazzawiya.htm http://www.iwps-pal.org/ftpiwps/videos/salfit_june_17.rmvb (International Womens' Peace Service - IWPS)

# U.S citizens who want to alert their representatives about increased settlement expansion on the West Bank which is happening RIGHT NOW can do so easily at: http://www.cflweb.org/congress_merge_.htm

- new maps, brochures, eye-witness reports \/ # Truth against Truth - opposite views on the history of the conflict in 101 steps

Hebrew / òáøéú http://www.gush-shalom.org/Docs/Truth_Heb.pdf

English http://www.gush-shalom.org/Docs/Truth_Eng.pdf

# Palestinians draw the map for understanding the Disengagement Plan http://www.nad-plo.org/images/maps/pdf/gaza.pdf

# Boycott List of Settlement Products (newly updated) Hebrew / òáøéú http://gush-shalom.org/Boycott/boycheb.htm

English http://gush-shalom.org/Boycott/boyceng.htm

# Eye-witness reports from the Occupied Territories: http://www.machsomwatch.org (Israeli women monitoring the checkpoints) http://www.palsolidarity.org/pressreleases/pressreleases.php (internationals throughout OT)

- films, expositions, refusnik links \/

# The "Breaking the Silence" soldiers' exhibition photo gallery at: http://www.shovrimshtika.org/hebrew/modules.php?name=coppermine

stories (Hebrew only) http://www.shovrimshtika.org/hebrew/modules.php?name=News

article in English: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/440348.html

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