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Nablus: Something Good and Something Bad Today


1) Nablus: Something Good and Something Bad Today

2) Palestinian Presidential Candidate Arrested while Campaigning in East Jerusalem on Monday

3) Jayyous: Palestinians, Internationals and Israelis to Replant Bulldozed Olive Trees on Friday

1) Nablus: Something Good and Something Bad Today

i had a celebratory Xmas break with friends in Bethlehem and al Quds this wknd and got back to Nablus/Balata yesterday. today was a weird day-- something good happened and something bad happened. i guess that about sums up the world, eh?

today strtd with more painting workshops with a total of about 50 kindergarten age kids at 2 different schools. the style of this batch was noticeably different than the ones last week, probably because they were younger. last week, they tended to first paint suns, trees, houses and flowers, and on the second round, a lot of Palestinian flags turned up. this group's work was more abstract, some of it reminded me of Miro with lots of little shapes and figures floating all over the page. of the shapes you could recognize, i saw flowers, people, guns and tanks. i really hv to wonder when i watch these kids, at what point they get frustrated and bitter and lose hope.

Right now, they're so bright and happy. when will they become angry youths? if they survive the period of angry youth, as many do not, what future will they envision for themselves as adults?

as we were leaving the last school, we got the news that about a half hour before, one of the local Al Aqsa brigade leaders had been assassinated in Nablus by the IOF, and another one injured. as the mosque loudspeakers announced the news, and the funeral, and asked that shops be closed for the afternoon, the event filled the consciousness of the whole camp, including us. so only a few hours later, the body was carried through the camp, first to the mosque for prayers and then to the cemetery with an entourage of fighters and banners and a deafening salute of many guns fired in the air. but the army also showed up during the proceedings and a couple of jeeps probed a little way into the camp, and for a few minutes there were fighters running through the alleys with their guns all around us, and this was definitely not just a symbolic fire- in-the-air kind of movement. but luckily the army jeeps left and the burial proceeded without further mishap.

then the good part happened, and that was that a good friend of our ISM coordinator in Balata arrived home, just released from 2 1/2 years in prison after about a week of "tomorrow we'll let you go, ok we lied, this time it's really tomorrow..." there was a whole carousel of friends and relatives and wellwishers coming by the home to greet him. with so many conversations going on it was hard to get too many details, but part of what i heard about his time in prison was that a group of them used the time to educate themselves, with the aid of the 3 university professors included among the political prisoners, and to hold sustained conversations together about democracy and democratizing society. "at least that's what you were talking about in the red tent," one of the listeners commented. "in the green tent i bet they were discussing other things." [Hamas has won big so far in all the local municipal elections that have happened]

i think that the 2 sectors of the Palestinian economy that are thriving are the cell phone business, and the poster business. there are always shahid [martyr] memorial posters to crank out, unfortunately, and blooming suddenly yesterday are posters everywhere of the presidential candidates for the elections 2 weeks away. most of them are of Mahmoud Abbas and Mustafa Barghouti-- both of whom, btw were also at the Church of the Nativity on Xmas eve to meet and greet, which contributed to the general craziness that night. i've heard various takes on the political situation from people around me, which i'll maybe say something about next time.

signing off for now,

---------------------------- 2) Palestinian Presidential Candidate Arrested while Campaigning in East Jerusalem on Monday

Despite Israeli government promises to allow Palestinian presidential candidates to campaign freely, candidates continue to be prevented from doing so. Presidential candidate Mustapha Barghouthi was followed and then arrested by Israeli military and security forces as he attempted to speak with voters in the old city of Jerusalem on Monday. Barghouthi was then eventually taken to an Israeli prison in Jerusalem and later released. An Israeli police spokesperson claimed that although Barghouthi had a permit to pass through Jerusalem, he did not have permission to stay in the city. So much for campaigning freely.

At 7:00 PM a crowd of approximately 100 Palestinians, internationals and reporters gathered at Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah to await Barghouthi's return after his release. Though the gathering was entirely peaceful, Israeli soldiers threw a sound bomb into the crowd. Soldiers then surrounded the crowd and converged on it before eventually pulling back. Candidate Barghouthi then arrived, spoke to the waiting group and left. The harassment of a peaceful crowd waiting for the presidential candidate was of course completely unnecessary.

Last week, Presidential candidate Bassem Al Salhi was arrested while campaigning in East Jerusalem, and Mustapha Barghouthi and his advisers were beaten by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint outside of Jenin.

The actions of the Israeli military continue to demonstrate that it is impossible to conduct free and fair elections under military occupation. The Israeli government continues to violate its commitment to allow free Palestinian elections, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem.

----------------------

3) Jayyous: Palestinians, Internationals and Israelis to Replant Bulldozed Olive Trees on Friday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 28, 2004

On Friday December 31 at 11:00 AM, farmers from Jayyous, along with Israeli and international human rights activists will replant olive trees bulldozed over the last two weeks to expand the illegal Israeli settlement of Zufim.

Israeli contractors have bulldozed 600 olive trees on Jayyous' farmland which is isolated between the Apartheid Wall and the Green Line. Though Palestinian farmers from Jayyous say they retain ownership of this land, the land is being prepared for the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement of Zufim. The expansion of Zufim is part of a larger pattern of settlement expansion occurring throughout the West Bank.

The symbolic replanting of olive trees will begin on the western side of the Apartheid Wall at 11:00 AM on the site of the bulldozing. After Palestinians, Israelis and internationals complete the replanting the olive trees they will march to the gate in the Wall north of the Jayyous municipality.

Simultaneously, from the village of Jayyous, Palestinians who do not hold permits to access their land, internationals and Israelis will march to the gate in the Wall north of the Jayyous municipality. The two marches will then meet at the gate.

Another protest event is planned in Jayyous on January 4. Palestinian presidential candidates and dignitaries visiting for the Palestinian Presidential election will be invited to attend.

Press Contacts:

Sharif: 054-7369771 (English and Arabic) Sameh: 059-871913 (Arabic) ISM Media: 059-676782

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