ISM Updates and Reports
ISM Updates and Reports
"We are not against the Jews: we are against Zionism...Why not speak about living together, all of us in this homeland? I think that in the future, all the Jews will understand that we are fighting for them too." Yasser Arafat, 1977
The International Soldarity Movement expresses its profound sadness at the passing of President Yasser Arafat, the PLO Chairman and the President of the Palestinian National Authority. ISM activists in Palestine and around the world extend our condolences to his family, the Palestinian people, and the Arab world for the loss of an historic leader, peacemaker, and longtime fighter for Palestinian rights. President Arafat has been and continues to be the symbol of Palestinian struggle and national unity and aspirations.
The International Solidarity Movement also has history with President Arafat. ISM activists stood by President Arafat and the Palestinian people during the brutal invasion by the Israeli army in March and April of 2002.
Trapped by Sharon in the rubble of his Ramallah headquarters, Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian people endured brutal Israeli military attacks that resulted in the death of over 500 people and destroyed most of the Palestine Authority infrastructure. International Solidarity Movement activists risked their lives to stand by President Arafat in the besieged compound in what seemed to be final moments.
The International Solidarity Movement confirms it's commitment to supporting the Palestinian people in their struggle to end the Israeli occupation through non-violent means.
1. Hannah's Journal dictated from an Israeli jail. 11 November, 2004
2. Israeli Maps, or the Hertz rental car forecast of future Israeli borders?
3. Mordechai Vanunu Rearrested; Questioned
1. Hannah's Journal dictated from an Israeli jail. 11 November, 2004
Hannah remains in Hadera detention center. She is awaiting deportation andhas been denied bail "on security grounds."
In arrival at Hadera the unfamiliar surroundings and the absence of friends makes me feel alone. Doing this work in Palestine makes you form strong emotional ties to people in a short time. I want to hear Arabic. The language I have grown to love. And I am quietly panicking that I won't hear this dialect around me for a long time. Why does Israel have the power to separate me from people that I love. And I stop myself there and remember the millions of refugees in camps in Jordan Syria and Lebanon, in prisons outside their homeland. They miss their mother's bread and their mother's coffee. And the world ignores their longing. The policeman on the bus was very nice to me. I told him about my work. He shook my hand and wished me luck. It would be so much easier if they were all "the bad guys". But they are not. This time more than before, I feel that I have started to understand more the philosophy of non-violent resistance. This is entirely due to the inspirational people that I have worked with. It is an understanding that we have to appeal the humanity of each person we meet. Even one who is pointing a gun at a child. For ignore his humanity is to help him ignore it rather than reminding him of it.
The feeling of being alone did not last for very long. The women I am sharing space with in this prison are warm hearted and generous and we joke with each other about our situations. Some of them are younger than me and some my mother's age. They listen to me, to my stories about Palestine and Palestinian people. I am reminded how lucky I am to have spent time in Palestine. My life has been enriched by its hospitality and dignity. I wish everyone could experience a little of it. I think to myself that there is something to learn from every experience. My luxurious captivity is in stark contrast to the situation of the 8,000 Palestinian political prisoners separated from their families and their lives simply because they struggle to be free. Almost every adult male Palestine has been imprisoned at least once. Archbishop Desmond T has been quoted as saying that what is happening now to the Palestine make Apart SA look like a tea party. But his words don't seem to be heard beneath the blanket of ignorance and racism that allows this crisis to continue. The only time I've cried since I came here was today when Ghassan with some kind and beautiful words. And it makes me angry that even if I was released on bail to Jerusalem he would not be able to visit. Because like all Palestine who weren't born in Jerusalem he is banned from entering their holy city. The judge has refused to grant me release on bail so I will remain here with these lovely women from Morocco, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines until they put me on a plane to London, from where I will continue to fight motivated by anger and love alongside the ever growing number of activists in this global movement for justice and freedom.
2. Israeli Maps, or the Hertz rental car forecast of future Israeli borders? On many occasions over the past couple of years, while giving a talk about the Occupation of the West Bank, I have been confronted by someone from the audience asking why, if Palestinians want peace, their textbooks do not show Israel on the national map? They would often times press their point by saying that, by not giving geographic representation to Israel, the Palestinians, in fact, denied its existence and would continue with their "terrorist" attacks. While I expect that such maps do exist, I have never seen one personally. The tourist maps that one finds in the West Bank always demarcate the infamous green line - the internationally recognized border bbetween Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Over the past few days, I have been traveling through Israel by car and my experience of maps, representation, and driving have given me a useful counterpoint to the above allegations. I have come to realize that everyday road maps - such as those that are produced by gasoline companies, rental car companies, and travel bureaus - guilty of the same thing that critics of Palestinian maps point to. Not only is the green line not represented, but the entire Israeli road system is represented as it extends from the Mediterranean sea to the Jordan river, swallowing up the entire West Bank without the slightest indication that it is an occupied territory or - as Israel refers to it - an "administered" territory. The Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa are connected to the same road systems as Nablus and Hebron in a continuous territorial expansion. The Israeli highway system travels throughout the territories and one would get the impression that it is all Israel and that the Palestinian towns and cities are merely parts of that whole. Some wall maps indicate all the Israeli settlements in the West Bank but conveniently leaves out major urban Palestinian centers (those which do not have significance as religious or historical sites to Israelís). Many of the cities, like Nablus, are renamed as the ancient Israel name, in this case, Shekkhem. Cities such as Qalqilya are missing from these maps. The city of some 40,000 people is missing while small Israeli settlements that stand next to it and have only tiny populations are included. Of course, if one drove down the highway past Qalqilya, one would likely not even realize it existed anyway since the separating wall surrounds the city on all four sides by 25 foot concrete walls and fences.
While these maps are clearly misrepresentative and ideological, they have also been instructive to me as to how Israelis perceive the West Bank in both an every day, as well as territorial- representative sense. They represent, in many ways, the ways in which material representations of reality become reality and vice- versa. Simply put, they seem to view the West Bank as part of Israel. Incorporated into the state, the language then becomes one of "danger" "violence" or, reminiscent of the ways people in the US talk about cities (and the racial topographies within them), a ghettoization of certain areas as places "to be avoided". In Israel, these are clearly areas of high Palestinian presence, both in the West Bank as well as in Israel proper. Withinthese ghettoized areas, the Israeli military is seen not as "occupiers" but as keepers of the peace in places in which lawlessness reins. Indeed, when I have asked many Israelis for directions, they have told me that the drive from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem is on route 90 - a road that travels north of the sea along the border with Jordan then continuing west on Route 1 to Jerusalem. There was no question that driving these routes would be bringing me through the occupied Territories or a land whose legal status was up in the air. Instead, what was used was the language of common criminality and robber barons: driving these routes can be dangerous, best to travel during daylight hours, and so on and so forth. Has Palestine become nothing more than unruly neighborhoods (ghettos) that require special policing?
Looking at these maps, one would never assume that an autonomous Palestinian occupied territory exists. Instead, one would perceive all of Israel and the occupied territories as a continuous whole dotted, like all modern nation - states, with pockets of poverty, ethnic minorities, and economic and political marginalization. Indeed, the Hertz rental car map, which is titled "touring map of Israel", makes no mention of "autonomous areas" (areas officially controlled by the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo agreements). Nor does it mention that, while traveling these territories, one is less likely to encounter indiscriminate violence and more likely to run across any number of military check points and road closures, surely annoying to any tourist.
The revelation that Israelis don't view the West Bank as a separate entity that another people lay claim to has been incredibly distressing for me. I feel that, for the first time, that for most Israeli's, their understanding of the borders of the country do not include the West bank. They have come to understand the borders of their country as something very different from what even the international community recognizes. For them, it appears that giving up the West Bank would be like giving up part of Israel - not just in a religious sense but in the modern cartographic sense of how boundaries around states and territories are drawn. Could it be that Israel, founded as a frontier society without fixed borders, will never be able to recognize other modern borders? Israel is unlike most other nations in the world in that they do not seek strict borders and, at the same time, do not recognize their current war as one with external enemies defined by their own territorial markers but, rather, an internal presence. How have Israeli's come to internalize such spatial understandings of their country? Is it that after 36 years of occupation, they have simply accepted it as reality?
3. Mordechai Vanunu Re-arrested; Questioned Letter from the Bishop in Jerusalem on the arrest of Mordechai Vanunu
- Article from Ma'ariv, English language website, Nov. 11, 2004 Mordechai Vanunu was arrested this morning in his room at St. George's Cathedral in East Jerusalem, by a huge police force (about 30 armed officers). The pretext for his arrest: Vanunu violated the Draconian restrictions that were imposed on him when he was released from prison in April, by giving interviews to foreign media.
The attempt to silence Mordechai Vanunu on this of all days, is an attempt to bury Israel's secret nuclear arsenal together with Yasser Arafat. While the world media and attention are focused on the burial of the Palestinian leader, the Israeli government is attempting to disappear the nuclear whistleblower, whose only crime is revealing the terrible truth that Israel is trying to hide: weapons of mass destruction that are concealed from Israeli citizens and from the world.
Mordechai Vanunu is expected to be brought to court on Friday morning, November 12. His supporters will demonstrate outside the courthouse.
Letter from the Bishop
in Jerusalem on the arrest of Mordechai Vanunu from St
George's Cathedral Close this morning The Episcopal Church
in Jerusalem & The Middle East The Diocese of Jerusalem The
Rt Revd Riah H Abu El-Assal 11 November 2004 To:
a.. The Most Revd Rowan Williams Archbishop of Canterbury
b.. The Most Revd Frank Tracy Griswold Presiding Bishop of ECUSA
c.. The Most Revd Andrew Hutchinson Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
d.. The Most Revd Peter Carnley Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia
e.. The Australian Board of Mission
f.. The Revd Canon John L. Peterson Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council
g.. The Revd Samuel Kobia General Secretary of the World Council of Churches
h.. Mr Jeries Saleh Middle East Council of Churches
i.. The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem
It is with tremendous grief and sadness that I inform you that the Israeli special police force entered St George's Cathedral Close today without permission and took Mordechai Vanunu into custody. Approximately thirty officers, many with guns, entered the cathedral gardens and interrupted breakfast in the Pilgrim Guest House. It was a traumatic event that terrorized many of our tourists, pilgrims, and staff. In the 100 years of the cathedral's history, such an event has never taken place. Immediately I related how they have come into a sacred place, and that their guns were not welcome. The officers with guns withdrew to outside of the Cathedral Close; however, it came to my attention later, that at least one of the officers still carried a concealed weapon. This was after I had been reassured that all weapons had been removed from the church grounds. It is inconceivable why such force is mandated for procedures like today's.
Mordechai was calm during the search, questioning the need for the interrogation, and they searched his room in his and my presence. They took his papers, laptop, and other possessions into custody. I called his lawyer, and he will meet Mordechai in Petah Tiqva.
This type of entry into a sacred space must not be tolerated by the churches throughout the world, and it must not be accepted by those who respect the rights and dignity of every person. We ask the government of Israel to stop such actions as these, and we call for the respect of sacred places in the Land of the Holy One. It is with extreme sadness and disappointment that I must write this letter, and please continue to pray for us in these difficult times.
Peace of God to all of you,
The Rt Revd Riah Abu El-Assal Bishop in Jerusalem cc: His Excellency, President Moshe Katsav Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ------------- Ma'ariv, English language website, Nov. 11, 2004 Vanunu detained on suspicion of revealing confidential information Nuclear spy also suspected of violating restrictions imposed on him during his April release from prison. Tal Yamin-Wolfowitz Mordechai Vanunu was detained this (Thursday) morning by police on suspicion of revealing confidential information and of failing to abide by the restrictions that were imposed on him upon his release from prison. The nuclear spy was arrested after a search was carried out in his room, which is located in an East Jerusalem hostel not far from the Saint George Church. During the search, documents and a laptop were uncovered and taken to the offices of the International Crimes Unit in Petah Tikva for examination.
Vanunu was under surveillance for months as defense officials estimated it was only a matter of time until he would be detained. Since his April release, the nuclear whistleblower has stretched the boundaries of his restrictions when he spoke with foreign media organizations. When Vanunu was released, a long list of restrictions was imposed on him. Among other things, he was not allowed to leave the country, contact foreign nationals without consent or hold chats on the internet. He was also instructed to notify officials when he did not sleep at his known residence. Three months ago, Attorney General Meni Mazuz instructed police to launch a criminal investigation against Vanunu following the interviews he had given to foreign media.