ISM Updates and Reports and a Project from Hebron
ISM Updates and Reports and a Project from Hebron
1. Poem from our Friends at Alrowwad, Aida Camp: "Ramadan Karim, Despite the Anger" 2. "Some Gas With Your Salad, Ladies?" Resistance in Budrus 3. Report by Indymedia Quebec on the Montreal launch of the recently released ISM book, Peace Under Fire - Palestine / Israel and the International Solidarity Movement. 4. Flags Project: Palestinians Seek International Support
1. Poem from our Friend of Alrowwad Cultural Center, Aida Camp: "Ramadan Karim, Despite the Anger"
In 2002, during the invasion of Bethlehem and the siege of the Nativity, ISM activists stayed with families in Aida Camp and with the children and Director of Alrowwad Center. This is a poem sent to us from our friend Abed, Director of the Center.
Ramadan Karim, Despite the Anger
May Ramadan be the time where all arms fast all violence cease all hatred halt and love flows like a dancing river on the music of warm hearts May the Eid come with peace happiness, joys and kindness of human hearts No weapon is more needed than a smile No arms are needed more than love No wishes are needed more than peace no desires are needed more than freedom Ramadan Karim to all despite the ugliness and barbarism of the Israeli occupation despite the inhumanity in the silent media and the blind international policies despite the weakness of a presumed authority with no authority at all despite all the tears of pain and tears of anger despite all these cries that cut the silence in thousands of fragments... maybe on day, one of these fragments touch the heart and the conscience of the sleeping, or pretending asleep world .... Abdelfattah Abu-Srour, PhD Director Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre training Center http://alrowwad.virtualactivism.net Mobile: +972 522 401 325 or +972 545 385 284 Tel. + 972 2 275 0030
2. Some Gas With Your Salad, Ladies? Resistance in Budrus
I never imagined I'd be tear gassed while eating lunch inside someone's home, but it happened yesterday. Usually, such bizarre events have a ring of the amusingly absurd about them but this really wasn't funny. There were two toddlers in the house and an old woman of about seventy. It was one of a series of about thirty tear gas canisters fired (from a gun) into the houses and streets of the village of Budrus as the people of the village attempted to protest the theft of their land by the state of Israel. This is a model village in terms of resistance - everyone from the schoolgirls to the grandparents repeatedly take part in organized demonstrations against the chain-sawing of their olive trees and bulldozing of their land. They do this with or without support from international or Israeli human rights activists.
Due to their unrelenting defiance in the face of the bulldozers and guns, the army actually re-routed the Wall, so that instead of stealing 1000s of dunums they're now only trying to steal much less. But still the village is not prepared to quietly surrender even this relatively small amount - after all, they are someone's trees, someone's history and livelihood, and the Wall is completely illegal. So yesterday was the first day that the army bulldozers starting working again since a few weeks ago and the villagers assembled on the land at 8am to meet them. There were about ten Israeli activists with them. Myself and another international didn't arrived until after 9am. By this time the people were scattered up the hill, being chased back to the village by showers of plastic bullets and tear gas. Maybe I've just been away too long (and of course I have a bad memory), but I'm the level of aggression being used against these villagers was pretty shocking to me. I was standing with a small crowd of girls when a soldier fired a tear gas cannister from about 50 metres, which just missed the head of one girl by inches. It was frighteningly reckless. However, I am convinced that having a few Israeli activists mingled in the crowd discourages the army from using live ammunition, as it has done before. (There was an uproar in Israel a while back when an Israeli activist was shot in the knee.) Perhaps this is why the army arrested four of them yesterday - to get them out of the way so they can really show this village who's boss. This is what was causing the sick feeling in my gut yesterday. I was looking at the strength of resistance and the spirit of the village and thinking 'what if next week you have five dead?' - what then? A similar village, Biddu, lost five of its sons a few months ago, and the resistance crumbled. Your strength can only take so much battering before you give up. I wish I could write something positive and encouraging but in my first few days here I have seen little to inspire any optimism. A friend who's working in Bethlehem says that the Palestinians there are joking that after the Israelis finish building the Wall, they will start to build a roof over them. I'm sure a few years ago they were joking that the Israelis would build a wall around them. Nothing is out of the question here. xxchar I realized an explanation might be required as to why I was casually eating lunch while the village was being terrorized: Palestinian hospitality - around one o clock, after hours of stand off, three of us asked a family if we could go up to their roof to get a better view of what was happening (I was hanging back deliberately, determined not to get arrested) and after 20/30 mins of watching the local girls stage a protest near the bulldozers, the family called us downstairs to a typically delicious Palestinian lunch. I'm so used to this type of hospitality here that it didn't seem at all surprising.
Join us in Palestine! http://www.palsolidarity.org ________________________________________________________________
3. Report by Indymedia Quebec on the Montreal launch of the recently released ISM book, Peace Under Fire - Palestine / Israel and the International Solidarity Movement.
The event featured an editor of Peace Under Fire, Radhika Sainath from ISM New York, the music of Montreal musician Sam Shalabi, the projection of a film on the Apartheid Wall by ISM activist Danielle Sara Frank and reports from ISM Montreal members Eileen Young and Helga Mankovitz who participated in the Freedom Summer Campaign in Palestine in 2004.
If you are interested in supporting or getting involved with ISM Montreal contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
'PEACE UNDER FIRE': Montreal Activists Bear Witness to Palestinians' Plight
Written for Indymedia Quebec (http://www.cmaq.net) By Simms, Saturday, October 10th, 2004
Montreal, September 16th - The limited but welcoming space of Caf?? Esperanza's "Waiting Room" was filled to the brim Friday night for the Montreal launch of "Peace Under Fire", a compilation of stories about the experiences of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists in Israeli-occupied Palestine, and about the struggle of the Palestinian people in general.
Leila Khaled Mouammar -- a young militant with locally-based Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) -- introduced the speakers by underlining the crucial role international observers play in bringing attention to the abuses of the occupation. "The ISM hasn't been able to get into the Gaza Strip recently," she said, contrasting the comparatively small amount of mainstream media concern about the recent and ongoing Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip with more prominent coverage of the brutal invasion of Jenin refugee camp in 2002, which international observers managed to witness first-hand.
Attendees were then treated to the sounds of musician Sam Shalabi as the short video 'Sunset Over Qalqilya' was projected onto a screen. The camera, unmoving, was pointed at a portion of Israel's Apartheid Wall (the so-called 'Separation Barrier'). As the music played and the minutes passed, one could see the lights of the sunset fading behind the massive concrete structure filling up two-thirds of the screen. There was a stir in the audience as the distant sounds of sirens and gunfire suddenly broke the silence of the film. Far beyond the wall, one could make out lights on distant hills (Israeli settlements?). A few minutes of looking at this image made one realize that behind the wall, one lives in what is really an open- air prison -- there seems to be no way out left.
Leila explained that the West Bank town of Qalqilya is now completely surrounded by Israel's wall. There is but one entry and one exit left, and the 40,000 townspeoples' lives are literally dominated by the structure. Although Israeli state PR explains the wall away as a 'security barrier', "whether the wall makes Israelis safer is disputable, but it certainly does not make the Palestinians safer," she said. Almost every night, the occupation forces enter the town to ransack houses, make arrests and terrorize the population.
Radhika Sainath, the next speaker, is a New Yorker who lived in the West Bank from October 2002 to December 2003 under the ISM banner. Her contributions to the book help document the first two years of this historic nonviolent movement. Reading from "Peace Under Fire", she related an entry from her own journal, dated May 11, 2003: while attempting to protect children being used as human shields by the IDF in downtown Tulkarem, she and other 'internationals' were threatened repeatedly by the occupation soldiers. She was then kidnapped and brought to the local District Commander's office, resulting in her eventual deportation; a Palestinian activist accompanying her was not quite so 'lucky'. He was beaten into unconsciousness, and had to be hospitalized.
One of Sainath's more shocking experiences "haunts her to this day": in April 2003, she was made aware of a major round-up of Palestinians in Tulkarem refugee camp. She and other activists uncovered a massive displacement operation, involving the removal of all males aged 15 to 45 from the camp for several days, during which peoples' houses were "turned upside down", their belongings befouled or destroyed by IDF soldiers. Using the usual paper-thin security pretense, the Israeli state termed the operation a "big success". "Things like this go on all the time," said Radhika. One can only imagine what happens when 'internationals' aren't around.
According to Sainath, incidents like this one are part of the reason international activists are constantly in danger from the occupation forces. Most of the mainstream journalists never leave Israel proper, so war crimes like those described above can go on without scrutiny.
Sainath's appearance was followed by a heartfelt talk by Eileen Young, a soft-spoken 61-year-old Montrealer who decided to get involved with the ISM after her husband passed on several years ago. Young went to Palestine with a group of 14 other women aged 50 to 79, trained with ISM coordinators in Ramallah, and participated in a series of marches and demonstrations against the Wall, from Jerusalem to Biddu.
"The Wall is enormous," said Young. "There's no way to see anything over it". Soldiers man "watchtowers at various points," threatening anyone who approaches, peaceful or not. A nonviolent march of about 3000 people that she participated in was attacked with teargas, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades. Young also attested to the fact that Palestinian activists are treated much worse than 'internationals' or Israelis: when arrests were made in her presence by the IDF, the Israelis would tend to get a warning and be quickly set free, while the Palestinians were beaten and held until the internationals' pleas secured their release.
In Biddu, Young spoke with Palestinian farmers who had lost their livelihoods to Sharon's Wall. One resident was awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of bulldozers destroying his olive grove. Villagers' attempts at replanting the precious trees were repeatedly crushed under the tracks of American-supplied bulldozers. The "constant harrassment, roadblocks and checkpoints" make peoples' lives extremely difficult -- "these are all things we need to speak about as much as we can", said Young.
Helga Mankovitz, a fellow silver-haired activist, was the last speaker tonight. She participated in the 2003 Freedom Summer campaign, having decided to join the ISM's Montreal chapter after the Jenin atrocities of 2002. She camped with activists near Tulkarem, spending most of her time on actions against the so- called "security barrier", actually breaking through one of its fences. Mankovitz said she experienced a real "eye-opener about the fence," learning "how much land had been confiscated, how much land was lost" -- for instance, some farmers in the village of Jayyous lost as much as 95% of their income when the Wall separated them from their fields.
Mankovitz also witnessed the poor treatment afforded to Palestinians living within Israel itself (i.e., inside the internationally- recognized 1948 border) while on a mission with the Holy Land Trust - - a Palestinian-led NGO -- this past summer. She told the story of an 'unrecognized' Palestinian village near Haifa whose residents had rebuilt it over a period of thirty years since the 1967 war despite the total lack of state-furnished amenities such as electricity, water, or garbage collection. "We were told that Israel is a democracy," said Mankovitz, "so I was shocked to find out how Palestinians are treated inside Israel."
Despite some of the traumatic things Mankovitz witnessed during her visits, she concluded her appearance on a positive note. Referring to the International Solidarity Movement and the other internationals working for peace in Palestine, she said "the people there gave me hope, and I think our presence there gave people hope."
Peace Under Fire (ISBN: 1844675017) is published by Verso & available now.
International Solidarity Movement (ISM) http://www.palsolidarity.org
4. Flags Project: Palestinians Seek International Support
"This project is to collect different flags from different nations, from all over the world. We want people who believe in human rights, and who work against the Wall to join us. Volunteers from many countries are participating in this project."
My name is Hisham . I am a Palestinian from Hebron, West Bank. I am in charge of a campaign against the Wall that Israel has been/ and is currently building in the West Bank. I have communicated with various western organizations to help us with our campaign that I will be detailing it further in this letter, and we received positive feedback from them. We would gladly accept your cooperation in our campaign as well.
I have been active in the Palestinian territories on many levels: I work with a local Palestinian Radio station, and host a show that deals with the issues of the youth sector of Palestine and the effects of the occupation on youth. I have been volunteering with the International Palestinian Youth League for the past five years or so (A Partner of the European YAP "Youth Action for Peace"). For further information about this organization, please see http://www.ipyl.org. .
I am sending you this mail to inform you about my project which I call the (FLAGS project).
The idea of this project is to collect different flags from different nations, from all over the world. We want people who believe in human right, and who work against the Wall. Many volunteers from many countries are participating in this project.
I am sending you this e-mail to ask for your help and support in this project through announcing this project on your website, to provide the opportunity for as many people to know about this project.
The flag should be one Meter in width and 85 C.M in length. If the flag color is white, then write on it in black to make it clear. If it is black, then write in white…etc.
The following statement should be written on the flag (STOP THE WALL) in English and under it something like (End the Occupation) in French language if the people who is doing this flag are from France… etc.
Then write the name of your organization and your country's name. NO WALL END THE OCCUPATION Arreter l'occupation PEOPLE of FRANCE One from the people who support this project is an Italian lady named Julia. She is a student at a university in Rome. She will fix the flags together with her colleagues at the university. After the flag had been fixed together into a quilt, they will send the flag to us to be put on a Wall.
It is estimated that the flag will be at lest one kilometer in length. You can send the flags to : Giulia giorgi, via brighenti 19,00185 Rome Italy
The deadline in 2 janu 2005
I look forward to hearing from you,
HISHAM IPYL- International Work camps coordinator . the coordinator of the flags project Hebron – Palestine Voice: + 972 59 357 379 Fax + 9722 2229131
Mi nombre es Hisham AlSarsour Soy un Palestino de Hebron, en el `West Bank'. Estoy al cargo de una campana en contra del muro que Israel esta construyendo en Cisjordania. He contactado con diferentes organizaciones Europeas y Americanas para obtener soporte para la campana que mas adelante explico en este mensaje y hemos recibido su solidaridad. Estariamos muy agradecidos si ustedes pudieran tambien cooperar con nuestra campana.
He estado activo en los territorios Palestinos a diferentes niveles: Trabajo en una estacion local de radio, donde tengo un programa que trata de todos aquellos asuntos relacionados con el sector de la juventud, y los efectos de la ocupación en dicho sector. He estado trabajando como voluntario en la ONG `International Palestinian Youth League' durante 5 anos. Para mas información dirijanse a http://www.ipyl.org.
Le envio este e-mail para informarle del proyecto al que yo llamo El proyecto de las banderas.
La idea de este proyecto es juntar banderas de todos los paises del mundo. Nos gustaria que todas aquellas personas que creen en los derechos humanos y trabajan en contra del muro colaboraran con nosotros. Muchos voluntarios de varios paises ya estan colaborando con nosotros.
Les envio este e-mail para pedirles su ayuda y soporte en este proyecto, incluyendo en su sitio web las bases del proyecto para dar a conocer a cuanta mas gente posible nuestro proyecto.
Detalles del proyecto:
La bandera debe medir un metro de largo y 85cm de ancho. Si la bandera es de un color claro escribir con letras oscuras y viceversa. La frase `STOP THE WALL' debe escribirse en la bandera junto con cualquier frase referente a la ocupación escrita en su idioma. Deberia incluir el nombre de la organización asi como el pais de procedencia.
NO WALL END THE OCCUPATION Arreter l'occupation PEOPLE IN FRANCE
Una de las personas que trabaja con nosotros es Julia de Italia, es una estudiante de la universidad de Roma, ella va a ser la encargada de juntar todas las banderas junto con amigos de dicha universidad. Una vez la bandera este completada intentaremos colocarla en el muro. La bandera sera aproximadamente de un kilometro. You can send the flags to : Giulia giorgi, via brighenti 19,00185 Rome Italy
Esperamos recibir noticias pronto.
Hisham The Flags Project coordinator
IPYL- International Work camps coordinator Hebron – Palestine Voice: + 972 59 357 379 Fax + 9722 2229131
FRENCH FRANÇAIS :
Chère Madame, Monsieur,
Mon nom est Hisham al Sarsour. Je suis un Palestinien de Hébron, Cisjordanie. Je suis responsable d'une campagne contre le Mur construit et en cours de construction par Israël en Cisjordanie. Plusieurs organisations occidentales se sont déjà engagées à nous aider dans cette campagne, que je détaillerai plus loin dans cette lettre, et pour laquelle nous serions très heureux de pouvoir également bénéficier de votre coopération . Mon activité dans les territoires palestiniens se situe à divers niveaux : je travaille avec une radio locale palestinienne et diffuse une émission qui traite des jeunes en Palestine et des conséquences de l'occupation sur cette jeunesse. Depuis environ cinq ans, je travaille comme bénévole avec la Ligue Internationale de la Jeunesse Palestinienne (une ONG partenaire de l'organisation européenne « Jeunesse en action pour la paix »). Pour plus de détails, vous pouvez vous référer à son site http://www.ipyl.org. Chère Madame, Monsieur, Je vous envoie cet email pour vous informer de mon projet que j'ai appelé « Projet drapeaux ». L'idée sous-jacente à celui-ci est de réunir les drapeaux de différentes nations. Nous aimerions que des personnes qui croient aux droits humains et travaillant contre le Mur se joignent à nous. Beaucoup d'entre elles, venant de nombreux pays, participent déjà à ce projet.
Je vous envoie donc cet email pour demander votre aide et votre soutien dans ce projet en publiant une annonce sur votre site Internet, afin de le faire connaître par le plus grand nombre de personnes possible.
Détails du projet :
Les dimensions du drapeau devront être les suivantes : un mètre de largeur et 85 centimètres de hauteur. Si la couleur du drapeau est le blanc, alors il serait préférable d'écrire en noir afin de gagner en visibilité et inversement. L'inscription suivante, sera en anglais: STOP THE WALL, et au- dessous quelque chose comme « Fin à l'occupation », en français si les personnes qui réalisent le drapeau sont de France, etc… Ensuite écrivez le nom de votre association et celui du pays dans lequel vous vous trouvez.
NON AU MUR FIN À L'OCCUPATION
PEUPLE DE FRANCE
Une des personnes qui soutient ce projet est une jeune Italienne, prénommée Julia. Elle est étudiante à l'université de Rome. Avec l'aide de ses collègues, elle fixera les drapeaux ensemble. Une fois qu'ils seront fixés, elle nous enverra la banderole afin que nous puissions la mettre sur le Mur. Nous estimons sa longueur à un kilomètre au moins.
Dans l'attente de vos nouvelles, je vous prie de recevoir, Madame/Monsieur, l'expression de mes salutations les plus distinguées. You can send the flags to : Giulia giorgi, via brighenti 19,00185 Rome Italy
La date limite est le 2 juin 2005
HISHAM IPYL – Coordinateur des ateliers internationaux Hébron – Palestine Tél. : + 972 59 357 379 Fax : + 972 2 222 91 31
The deadline in 2 janu 2005 Best regards HISHAM AL SARSOUR THE FLAGS PROJECT coordinator ------------------------------------------------------------- The International Palestinian Youth League (IPYL) is an independent, not for profit, non-partisan and non-governmental youth organisation based in Hebron, Palestine. IPYL was established in 1997 and aims at empowering Palestinian youth aged between 15-35 against social, economical, cultural and political challenges facing the Palestinian society through variety of local activities and international relations. Tel.: +972 2 2229131 Fax:+972 2 2215586 -- E-mail: email@example.com - - Website: http://www.ipyl.org