Friday, July 25, 2008

A letter to Barack

On 23 July 2008, American Senator and Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, made a lightening visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The same day, the women of the Palestinian village of Ni'lin, who are fighting to protect their lands from destruction and confiscation by the Israeli state held a non-violent demonstration to protest the building of the apartheid wall and the Israeli occupation.


23 July, 2008

Dear Barack,

I am not American, so I won't be voting for you come the American presidential elections. However, given that the US Administration has continued to ignore Israel's human rights abuses against the Palestinian people and there is a good chance you might be the next President of the USA, I thought i would write you a few words, especially in light of your current visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Today, the Israeli newspapers said that throughout the day you had separate meetings with a variety of Israeli ministers, including the Israeli Prime Minister, President, Defense Minister, Public Security Minister and Foreign Minister. You also made a visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial where you laid a wreath, as well as the Western Wall and visited Sderot in the south of Israel [1].

Throughout the course of your stay, you only managed to allocate one single hour to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories and that hour was spent in the relatively reified atmosphere of the Muqata in Ramallah, with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. At no stage, did you take the time visit besieged Gaza or visit the apartheid wall or the Palestinian villages it impacted on. Neither did you take the time to go to any of the military check points to see the daily human rights abuses Palestinians must endure or visit any Palestinians who have lost family members to acts of state terror carried out by Israel.

Today, you spoke of the endurance and bravery of the Israeli people, but what of the endurance of the Palestinian people who have for more than 100 years have battled against racism, colonialism, dispossession, apartheid and the destruction of their society? What of the bravery of those Palestinians, clothed only in their belief in justice and love of their homeland, who stand unarmed in civil disobedience, against the fourth most powerful military in the world? What of them?

While you were having tea and coffee with the various Israeli ministers, these ordinary Palestinians that I speak off, once again took on the might of Israel with only their voices and their convictions.

Palestinian girl from Ni'lin painting banner for demonstration on the day

Israeli refuseniks: high school seniors who have refused to be conscripted into the Israeli military join the women of Ni'lin to oppose the building of the apartheid wall

Palestinian and Israeli women in solidarity

For almost three months now the 5000 residents of a small but beautiful Palestinian village have been holding 3 - 4 non-violent demonstrations a week against the stealing of their land by the Israeli to build the apartheid wall. The village of Ni'lin is just one of many villages who are in this situation and who have chosen to defend their culture, heritage and homeland. In 1948, with the creation of the state of Israel, the villagers of Ni'lin lost more than 40,000 (4000 hectares) of their land. With Israel's construction of the wall, which was deemed illegal by the International High Court of Justice four years ago, Ni'lin will now lose another 2500 dunams (250 hectares) of its agriculture.

Women from Tulkarem arrive in Ni'lin to join the demonstration

Non-violent women's demonstration in Ni'lin
Photograph by Anne Paq, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

Today, as you went from meeting to meeting with high powered politicians, never taking a moment to see what life under a brutal occupation really means, dozens of Palestinian women from across the Occupied West Bank, as well as female international human rights activists and female Israeli anti-occupation activists stood in solidarity with the women of Ni'lin. They marched with the women to their fields to protest the destruction of their livelihoods and the ongoing illegal and brutal Israeli occupation under which they have had to live for more than 40 years.

Oh if you had only seen it! It was a powerful demonstration! Full of determination and courage! Joined by women from other Palestinian villages, Israel and from around the world, the women of Nil'in showed more bravery then I doubt you could ever imagine.

Marching to the fields of Ni'lin

Marching to the fields of Ni'lin

As we approached the fields of Ni'lin, armed only with our voices, our peaceful demonstration was met with force by the Israeli military. Dozens of Israeli soldiers, many of them no more than 18, 19 and 20 years of age, began to throw sound grenades and teargas at our peaceful demonstration. This, however, did not stop the women of Ni'lin, who continued to march towards their fields. Soon the frontline of women was stopped by the Israeli soldiers who claimed that the area was a closed military zone (CMZ). When the international women and human rights workers with the women of Ni'lin demanded to see the paper which the military must have for such an order to be formally enforced, the soldiers failed to provide one. It was clear that the area was not a CMZ and that the Israeli military was simply trying to intimidate us and to act in an illegal manner.

As the women from Ni'lin demanded to go to their land, the Israeli military commander approached the lead group of women and attempted to prevent them from proceeding further. Not deterred by this, they and the women who accompanied them from Israel and from around the world, stood their ground and demanded to be allowed access to their land.

Israeli occupation forces throw teargas and sound grenades as non-violent women's demonstration approaches fields
Photograph by Anne Paq, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

Women's demonstration
Photograph by Anne Paq, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

Israeli army commander attempts to stop women of Ni'lin from accessing their fields

Clearly worried by the bad publicity the Israeli military had received in the last few days by the release of the video taken in Ni'lin which revealed the shocking shooting of a bound and blindfolded Palestinian man by an Israeli soldier at point blank range, the commander did his best to convince the women to leave. He no doubt realised, it would not look too good, if it were caught on film, his soldiers assaulting a bunch of unarmed women and young girls.

However, unfortunately, the soldiers under his command were not so restrained. Instead, despite the commander telling several soldiers not to fire their weapons at the peaceful crowd, the soldiers ignored him and continued to do so. What this confirmed to us was that the shooting of the bound Palestinian man by an Israeli solider the week before was not an isolated incident.

Women of Ni'lin demand to be allowed access to their land
Photograph by Anne Paq, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

Women of Ni'lin demand to be allowed to go to their land
Photograph by Anne Paq, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

Instead, the complete disregard by the soldiers for their commander's orders revealed that the soldiers are very use to acting with impunity and doing whatever they want, including assaulting unarmed and peaceful demonstrators who are no threat to them. Their behaviour today revealed that nothing much has changed since 2005, when Human Rights Watch Report issued their report, Promoting Impunity: the Israeli military's failure to investigate wrong doing [2].

At the time, HRW noted "the Israeli military has fostered a climate of impunity in its ranks by failing to thoroughly investigate whether soldiers have killed or injured Palestinian civilians unlawfully or failed to protect them from harm" [3]. According to HRW's Middle East director, Sarah Leah Whitson, the failure of the Israeli military to investigate wrongdoing by its soldiers had "created an atmosphere that encourages soldiers to think they can literally get away with murder".

For more then two hours, the women of Ni'lin and their supporters tried to get to their land. As the women' of Ni'lin argued their right to go to their land, the international women and Israeli women who accompanied them demanded that the Israeli military refrain from attacking unarmed women. Throughout the two hours, it was a constant battle to prevent the soldiers from pulling the pins on the teargas bombs they wore on their belts and carried dangling from their fingers. Every time it became clear the soldiers were about to throw their bombs, groups of international and Israeli women would place themselves directly in their path, trying to reason with them and to ask them why they felt threatened by unarmed women and little girls.

Israeli soldier preparing to pull pin on teargas grenade at peaceful demonstration.

Israeli soldiers attack unarmed Palestinian women demonstrators
Photograph by Anne Paq, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

The soldiers, however, were still determined to use force against us. At least half a dozen times during the course of the demonstration, the chemical weaponry was hurled amongst our unarmed group of women. The teargas was potent and stronger then anything I had experienced before.

The purpose of teargas and other such chemical weaponry is to cause psychological distress and panic. Normally one can expect their breathing to be impaired and their eyes and nose to stream with mucus. However, today, the teargas thrown by the Israeli military burned the skin all over. One Jewish Israeli woman was hit in head with a tear gas bomb and the powder from it spilled all over her neck, face and arms (luckily her long sleeves protected her somewhat). Where the chemical power reacted with her skin, she experienced a terrible burning sensation. As we tried to clean the powder from her skin with alcohol rubs (we could not use water as it causes the reaction to increase), another young Palestinian woman collapsed nearby, retching and desperately gasping for air to breath. So overcome by the chemicals she was unable to breath properly and started to go into shock. As we called for a medic, one of the young men from the village, who had been standing on the hills behind us observing the demonstration with the other men, came running down and picked her up and carried her to waiting ambulance.

Israeli soldiers attack unarmed women demonstrators
Photograph by Anne Paq, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

Teargas victim
Photograph by Anne Paq, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

The tear gas was nothing like I had experience before, even though I have been assaulted with teargas many other times by the Israeli military. Even after the initial impact of the teargas, my skin continued to burn for hours. Normally, showering will remove any residue of the teargas powder from your skin, but even after two showers (3 hours apart), the burning sensation had not subsided. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for the Israeli occupation forces to use the Palestinian population as guinea pigs to test out prototype and newly developed weaponry, including chemical weapons [4]. Today after being assaulted with the burning teargas, many of us wondered if this was the case.

When the soldiers became more aggressive and began to push and shove the peaceful women, who refused to leave their land, throwing some of them and us to the ground, a number of Palestinian and international men who had been observing the demonstration from a distance attempted to intervene. Jamal, the father of the 14 year old girl who had shot the film which had made international headlines the week before of Israeli soldier firing point blank at the bound and blindfolded man was quickly arrested when he tried to protect some of the young girls from being assaulted by men twice their size. Victor, a 23 year old Canadian national, who had been shot twice previously by plastic coated -steel bullets by the Israeli military, while attempting to take supplies of food, milk and medicine into Ni'lin when it was placed under military siege, attempted to photograph the assault against us. He also was quickly seized and beaten by the Israeli occupation forces.

Today, you told the Israeli media if you became President of the USA, you would not force Israel "to accept any kinds of concession that would put their [Israel's] security at stake" [5]. Well, today in the name of its "security" the Israel state assault 150 unarmed women and girls and arrested two men who witnessed this assault. Today, the Israeli state in the name of "security", assaulted its own citizens - Israeli Jewish women and girls – who stood in solidarity with their Palestinian sisters, both Muslim and Christian, because they believed what their government is doing is wrong and has nothing to do with security. Today, the Israeli state in the name of its "security" beat and assaulted women from many countries from around the world, including Sweden, Germany, Britain, Canada, Eastern Europe, Australia, Spain and your own country, the United States.

But despite all of this and the failure of so many world leaders, including yourself, to denounce the brutality of the Israeli state and its armed forces, the women of Ni'lin and their brothers and sisters throughout out the occupied territories, in both the West Bank and Gaza, will not cower. They have taken to heart the words of another famous American leader, Martin Luther King Jnr, who said many years ago that "freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed".

As you continue your campaign for the American presidency, the people of Palestine will continue to campaign for something much more important – freedom from oppression, injustice and racism. They will not cease in their struggle against colonisation, dispossession and racism and they will display a bravery and conviction that no longer exists in your world, the world of so-called "real politics".

So while you may waive and deviate from the beliefs you once professed so many years ago in relation to the Palestinian struggle for justice and freedom, the Palestinian people will not waiver in their convictions. They will continue, as they have done for the past 60 years, to remain sumoud (steadfast) and to demand freedom from their oppressor, the Israeli Zionist state. And one day, they will be a free people once again.

In solidarity with the struggle for a Free Palestine and an end to the Israeli occupation and apartheid,

Kim Bullimore

Ni'lin women's demonstration against the Apartheid Wall, 23 July 08 (video by Keren Shayo, Active Stills)

Teargas warning: Ni'lin women's demonstration against the Apartheid Wall, 23 July 08

[1] Associated Press, (23 July, 2008) Obama arrives in Israel, vows to 'plunge' into Mideast peacemaking.

[2] Human Rights Watch (June 2005) Promoting Impunity: the Israeli military's failure to investigate wrongdoing.

[3] Human Rights Watch (22 June, 2005), Israel: Failure to probe civilian casualties fuels impunity

[4] Rapoport, M., (11 October 2006) Italian probe: Israel used new weapon prototype in Gaza Strip

[5]Ravid, D.,(23 July, 2008) Obama in Sderot: Nuclear Iran would be game-changing, Haaretz,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Urgent Appeal: Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall

Dear friends,
The Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall have issued an urgent appeal for funds (see below) to help them defray the legal costs that their membership and their Palestinian partners are incurring due to their courageous stand against the Aparthied Wall and the illegal Israeli occupation.

The members of AATW regularly put their bodies on the line to stand in solidarity with Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, who are facing the every day brutality of the Israel occupation forces. Many of their members have been seriously injured, including a number of their members deliberately shot by the Israeli occupation forces (see video below).

This, however, has not deterred AATW (including Lymor Goldstine and others, who continue to take an active part in the struggle against their government's apartheid and occupation policies).

For more information on AATW visit their website at (or click on the link in the links section of this blog).

Also read an earlier blog from Live from Occupied Palestine: Brothers and Sisters in Struggle - the joint struggle against Israeli apartheid and occupation

And about the joint Israeli-Palestinian non-violent struggle against the occupation and the wall: A victory for the joint, popular struggle by Basel Mansour, The Electronic Intifada, 19 September 2007

In solidarity, Kim


The shooting of Lymor Goldstine, 11 August, 2006


Dear friend,

The mounting legal costs of the joint Palestinian-Israeli struggle against the occupation, and the heightening legal persecution of Palestinian activists, are forcing us to send this urgent appeal for funds. We are asking for your support to continue the work of the Israeli group Anarchists Against the Wall (AATW), and perhaps even more importantly, to allow us to expand our legal fund in an attempt to also covers the legal costs of Palestinians arrested at demonstrations.

Since 2003, the group has supported the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation and specifically against Israel's segregation wall. Week after week, AATW joins the Palestinian popular resistance against the wall, in diverse areas of the West Bank, including the villages of al-Ma'asara, south of Bethlehem, Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, Bil'in and recently, almost on a daily basis, Ni'ilin ( west of Ramallah. There, the army is taking extreme steps to suppress the demonstrations, such as occasionally firing live ammunition and imposing siege and curfew.

Hundreds if not thousands of activists have been arrested and dozens indicted for their participation in the struggle. Fortunately, the group is represented by a dedicated lawyer, Adv. Gaby Lasky. Adv. Lasky has tirelessly worked to defend activists arrested at demonstrations or direct actions in the West Bank and in Israel. Though the legal defense she provides AATW is almost a full-time job, she has agreed to be paid only a token fee. However, even despite a successful fundraising campaign last year, AATW still owes Adv. Lasky approximately $15,.

Recently, we have seen an increase in the legal persecution of our Palestinian partners. In solidarity we are now fundraising to expand AATW's existing legal fund to also cover defense costs for Palestinian arrestees. This is in addition to covering the existing aforementioned debt, and operational expenses such as communications and transportation.

We urge you to read this article in The Nation ( about the recent struggle in Ni'ilin, and to please make a donation that will enable us to continue this struggle.

In appreciation and solidarity.
Anarchists Against the Wall

For more information about AATW, our actions and how to make a donation, visit our website: or contact us at

Saturday, July 19, 2008

South Africa: We fought apartheid; we see no reason to celebrate it in Israel now!

The following statement was issued by representatives of South African civil society on 17 May 2008, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Al Nakba (the 1948 destruction of Palestinian society) and the 60th anniversary celebration of the creation of the Zionist state.

We fought apartheid; we see no reason to celebrate it in Israel now!

17 May, 2008

We, South Africans who faced the might of unjust and brutal apartheid machinery in South Africa and fought against it with all our strength, with the objective to live in a just, democratic society, refuse today to celebrate the existence of an Apartheid state in the Middle East. While Israel and its apologists around the world will, with pomp and ceremony, loudly proclaim the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel this month, we who have lived with and struggled against oppression and colonialism will, instead, remember 6 decades of catastrophe for the Palestinian people. 60 years ago, 750,000 Palestinians were brutally expelled from their homeland, suffering persecution, massacres, and torture. They and their descendants remain refugees. This is no reason to celebrate.

When we think of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, we also remember the Deir Yassin massacre of 1948.

When we think of South Africa’s Bantustan policy, we remember the bantustanisation of Palestine by the Israelis.

When we think of our heroes who languished on Robben Island and elsewhere, we remember the 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.

When we think of the massive land theft perpetrated against the people of South Africa, we remember that the theft of Palestinian land continues with the building of illegal Israeli settlements and the Apartheid Wall.

When we think of the Group Areas Act and other such apartheid legislation, we remember that 93% of the land in Israel is reserved for Jewish use only.

When we think of Black people being systematically dispossessed in South Africa, we remember that Israel uses ethnic and racial dispossession to strike at the heart of Palestinian life.

When we think of how the SADF troops persecuted our people in the townships, we remember that attacks from tanks, fighter jets and helicopter gunships are the daily experience of Palestinians in the Occupied Territory.

When we think of the SADF attacks against our neighbouring states, we remember that Israel deliberately destabilises the Middle East region and threatens international peace and security, including with its 100s of nuclear warheads.

We who have fought against Apartheid and vowed not to allow it to happen again can not allow Israel to continue perpetrating apartheid, colonialism and occupation against the indigenous people of Palestine.

We dare not allow Israel to continue violating international law with impunity.

We will not stand by while Israel continues to starve and bomb the people of Gaza.

We who fought all our lives for South Africa to be a state for all its people demand that millions of Palestinian refugees must be accorded the right to return to the homes from where they were expelled.

Apartheid was a gross violation of human rights. It was so in South Africa and it is so with regard to Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians!

Ronnie Kasrils, Minister of Intelligence / End Occupation Campaign
Blade Nzimande, General Secretary, South African Communist Party
Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary, Congress of South African Trade Unions
Ahmed Kathrada, Nelson Mandela Foundation
Eddie Makue, General Secretary, South African Council of Churches
Makoma Lekalakala, Social Movements Indaba
Dale McKinley, Anti-Privatisation Forum
Lybon Mabasa, President, Socialist Party of Azania
Costa Gazi, Pan Africanist Congress of Azania
Jeremy Cronin, South African Communist Party
Sydney Mufamadi, Minister of Provincial and Local Government
Mosioua Terror Lekota, Minister of Safety and Security
Mosibudi Mangena, President, Azanian Peoples Organisation / Minister of Science and Technology
Alec Erwin, Minister of Public Enterprises
Essop Pahad, Minister in the Presidency
Enver Surty, Deputy Minister of Education
Roy Padayache, Deputy Minister of Communications
Derek Hanekom, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology
Rob Davies, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry
Lorretta Jacobus, Deputy Minister of Correctional Services
Sam Ramsamy, International Olympic Committee
Yasmin Sooka, Executive Director, Foundation for Human Rights
Pregs Govender, Feminist Activist and Author: Love and Courage, A Story of Insubordination
Adam Habib, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Johannesburg
Frene Ginwala, African National Congress
Salim Vally, Palestine Solidarity Committee
Na’eem Jeenah, Palestine Solidarity Committee
Brian Ashley, Amandla Publications
Mercia Andrews, Palestine Solidarity Group
Andile Mngxitama, land rights activist
Farid Esack, Professor of Contemporary Islam, Harvard University
Elinor Sisulu, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
Andre Zaaiman
Virginia Setshedi, Coalition Against Water Privatisation
Max Ozinsky, Not in my Name
Revd Basil Manning, Minister, United Congregational Church of Southern Africa
Firoz Osman, Media Review Network
Zapiro, cartoonist
Mphutlane wa Bofelo, General Secretary, Muslim Youth Movement
Steven Friedman, academic
Ighsaan Hendricks, President, Muslim Judicial Council
Iqbal Jassat, Media Review Network
Stiaan van der Merwe, Palestine Solidarity Committee
Naaziem Adam, Palestine Solidarity Alliance
Asha Moodley, Board member of Agenda feminist journal
Suraya Bibi Khan, Palestine Solidarity Alliance
Nazir Osman, Palestine Solidarity Alliance
Allan Horwitz, Jewish Voices
Jackie Dugard, legal and human rights activist
Professor Alan and Beata Lipman
Caroline O’Reilly, researcher
Jane Lipman
Shereen Mills, Human rights lawyer, Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Noor Nieftagodien, University of the Witwatersrand
Bobby Peek, Groundworks
Arnold Tsunga, Chair, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
Mcebisi Skwatsha, Provincial Secretary, ANC Western Cape - Owen Manda, Centre for Sociological Research, University of Johannesburg - Claire Cerruti, Keep Left

NB: Organisational affiliations above are for identification purposes only and do not necessarily reflect organisational endorsement

Organisational endorsements:

African National Congress
Al Quds Foundation
Anti-Privatisation Forum and its 28 affiliates
Azanian Peoples Organisation
Congress of South African Trade Unions
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
End Occupation Campaign
Media Review Network
Muslim Judicial Council
Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa
Not In My Name
Palestine Solidarity Alliance
Palestine Solidarity Committee
Palestine Solidarity Group
Social Movements Indaba
Socialist Party of Azania
South African Communist Party
South African Council of Churches

Monday, July 14, 2008

Two, Three, Many Ni'lins

More than 40 years ago, the Argentinean-born Cuban Revolutionary, Ernesto Che Guevara wrote in his message to the Tricontinental that the "forgotten peoples" of the world - the poor, oppressed and exploited – must "create two, three, many Vietnams" [1]. Written at the time when the Vietnamese people were waging their courageous struggle against US imperialism, Che noted that rebellion must flourish across the tricontinent (Asia, Latin America and Africa) and around the world and that it was the duty of the dispossessed and oppressed to "liberate ourselves at any price".

Today, the rebellion advocated by Che Guevara can be found in the many courageous struggles of the oppressed around the world for liberation, freedom and justice. In Palestine, this rebellion is evident in the brave struggles of the Palestinian villages, towns and cities throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza, who oppose the brutal Israeli occupation and the erection of the illegal apartheid wall.

Since 2002, when Israel began the construction of its illegal wall, Palestinian villages, towns and cities have been engaged in non-violent struggle against all odds to defend their culture, land and livelihood. In 2003, villages such as Budrus, Al Midya, Deir Qadddis and Kharbata in the Ramallah district of the Occupied West Bank led the struggle in non-violent resistance against the wall, holding daily and/or weekly demonstrations. Budrus became one of the first villages to successful win an Israeli court order for the apartheid wall to be pushed back to the Green Line. In 2004, the village of Bil'in took up the baton of struggle and in the last three years has become the model for joint Palestinian-Israeli and International non-violent struggle throughout the occupied West Bank, inspiring other Palestinian villages and supporters of social justice and freedom all over the world.

As the village of Bil'in continue their struggle, they have been joined by the residents of another small Palestinian village, whose non-violent struggle is also inspiring Palestinians throughout the Occupied West Bank and making headlines throughout the world.

Nilin Village's Non-violent Struggle Against the Wall

In May, Ni'lin village, located just 10 kilometres from Bil'in village and on the 1948 Green (armistice) line became the latest Palestinian village to begin organising demonstrations against the building of the illegal apartheid wall and the stealing of their farm land by the Israeli state. In 1948, with the creation of the Israeli state, Ni'lin village lost more than 40,000 dunams (4000 hectares) of its land. Today, with the construction of the wall, the village will stand to lose a further 2500 dunams (250 hectares) of its agricultural land [2]

For the last two months, the villagers of Ni'lin, have been courageously holding 3 to 4 demonstrations a week against the destruction of their land and livelihoods. At each demonstration, they have also been joined in their struggle by Israeli and International peace activists, echoing Che's words that solidarity is "not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing his fate; one must accompany him to his death or to victory".

July 10: Villagers of Ni'lin, along with Israeli and international anti-occupaiton activists march to village fields to oppose confisication of land by the Israeli state for the apartheid wall.

The joint Palestinian-Israeli-International demonstrations have been so successful that the village has been able to disrupt and halt temporarily, three times, the construction work being carried out illegally on their land. This is the first time in several years that a Palestinian village has been able to successful halt the Israeli bulldozers and push back construction crews destroying their lands.

Because the village has refused to quietly accept the confiscation of their land, the Israel military retaliated by attempting to intimidate and to collectively punish (which is illegal under international law) the 5000 residents of the township. On July 4, Israel's occupation forces imposed a 4 day siege on the village, preventing the residents of Ni'lin from leaving and entering the village, as well as food and medical supplies from entering the village.

Al Jazeera report on the Israeli military siege of Ni'lin - 6 July, 2008

According to the Ni'lin Popular Committee Against the Apartheid Wall during the four day siege, Israeli occupation forces injured more than 50 villages with rubber coated-steel bullets, while three people were seriously injured by live ammunition [3]. In addition, hundreds of people suffered from respiratory problems to teargas inhalation when the Israeli military shot teargas at and into residential homes. More than 20 homes were invaded by the Israeli military during the siege, breaking personal property and beating the residents of the houses, including women, children and the elderly. During the siege, the Israeli military also dug up newly paved roads, wrecking parts of the municipal sewage system and also entered the local girl's schools breaking down doors and smashing windows.

One female Ni'lin resident was force to give birth at home without medical assistance, as the Israeli military refused to allow her to leave the village to go to hospital in Ramallah. During the first three days of the Israeli siege, ambulances and medical crews were unable to enter the village and as a result the injured remained untreated. Palestinians, Israeli and international peace activists who attempted to deliver food, milk and medicine to the besieged village were also prevented from entering, with the Israeli military using force – including beatings, teargas and rubber bullets - to prevent them carrying out their humanitarian mission. In addition, during the four day siege, the Israeli military also prevented the family of a deceased villager from entering the village, with the body of their deceased family member. As a result, the family was unable to bury their family member within the time prescribed within their religion.

Israeli soldier attacks non-violent Palestinian demonstrator
Photograph by Oren Ziv, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

Joint Palestinian-Israeli-International opposition to the apartheid wall
Photograph by Oren Ziv, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

Palestinian new agency, Maan News also reported on the fourth day of the curfew, that the Israeli military violently attacked village residents as they attempted to demonstrate against the illegal curfew imposed on their village [4]. According to Maan, Jamil Srur, an electrician from the village, who did not participate in the demonstration was hit by a live bullet in the stomach when he was watching the demonstration from his door way. According to Maan News, "the bullet lodged itself into Srur's back" and "doctors were unable to remove the bullet, for fear that the damage to his spine will cause paralysis". Maan also reported that Mutia' Amira, a 32 year old construction worker whose family will lose approximately 9 dunums of land to apartheid wall was also hit in the knee with live ammunition fired by the Israeli military as he took part in the demonstration.

Palestinian, Israeli and international anti-occupations activist march from the village of Budrus (next to Ni'lin) in an attempt to deliver urgently needed supplies and to break the siege. 7 July, 2008

According to the Popular Committee, since demonstrations began in late May, to date more than 160 people, including children, have now been injured by rubber coated steel bullets fired by the Israeli military, while hundreds of non-violent protesters have been brutally beaten by the Israeli military during the protests and more than 26 people have been arrested.

The Palestinian Medical Relief Society who provides medical assistance to villagers during the demonstrations have also reported the Israeli military have fired indiscriminately on their health workers and vehicles, with one ambulance being hit at least 15 times by bullets fired by the Israeli military [5]. According to the 29 year old PMRS health worker driving the ambulance and who was trying to reach an injured youth, "This is not a one-off incident, but it's part of a wider series of attacks against medical staff. I have been attacked three times before under similar circumstances in Bil'in village". The driver noted that the attack by the Israeli military was "deliberate" and a "targeted act of violence".

Despite four days of siege, the villagers of Ni'lin emerged defiant. In a statement released on July 8th, the day following the lifting of the Israeli siege, the Ni'lin Popular Committee Against the Apartheid Wall said "the people of Ni'lin will not give up their right to defend their basic human, economic and social rights and therefore will not relinquish their right to protest against the confiscation of their land. The people of Ni'lin are also not willing to give up their right to stand up against the construction of a Wall that has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice" [6]

On July 9 and 10, the village organised two more demonstrations. On July 9, the villages, joined by Israeli and international anti-occupation activists were again able to reach the wall construction area and temporarily stop construction work pushing back a bulldozer and preventing it from continuing its work.

The following day, hundreds of villagers were joined by other Palestinians from nearby villagers, as well as around a hundred Israeli and international activists. The peaceful rally was brutally attacked by the Israeli military. While the Israeli occupation forces were able to successfully split the demonstration, preventing half of the demonstrators from getting from the side of the wadi (valley) closest to the village to the other side where the construction work was talking place, at least a hundred demonstrators were able to make it that side of the wadi. Demonstrators on the village side of the wadi were prevented by teargas and rubber bullets from entering the wadi.

Palestinian-Israeli-International non-violent demonstrators attempt to get to construction site to stop the destruction of Ni'lin's land.

Injured Israeli anti-occupation activist

From our vantage point at the top of the wadi, we were able to witness the Israeli military severely beating Palestinian, Israel and International non-violent demonstrators on the other side of the wadi. At least 8 Palestinian villagers, 6 Israeli anti-occupation activists and at least two international activists were seriously injured. Several villagers and Israeli anti-occupation activists received rifle butts to the head, causing severe bruising and cuts to their eyes, while others were badly beaten around the legs, arms and hands resulting in many of them not being able to walk without considerable pain for at least a week. One Israeli activist was injured when he was hit in the head with a teargas canister fired directly into the unarmed demonstrators, while an elderly female international activist was injured when hit with a rubber coated steel bullet.

Injured Israeli anti-occupation activists
Photograph by Oren Ziv, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

Injured Israeli anti-occupation activists
Photograph by Oren Ziv, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

As the demonstration drew to a close and the injured were attended to in the small village medical clinic, Palestinian Prime Minister, Salaam Fayyad surrounded by an entourage of cars and security barreled into the village. But despite all the trappings of leadership, today, in Palestine, the true leadership of the people lies not within the sterile and quisling parameters of the Palestinian Authority lead by the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas and his unelected and appointed Prime Minister, Fayaad. Instead, it is in the Palestinian villages, townships and cities, where rebellion and struggle has not been forsaken. As Che noted in, "the active mobilisation of the people creates its new leaders" because it is in the framework and hardship of real struggle, that "the people create their warriors and leaders…" who will be the ones to win their people's liberation as they create two, three, many Ni'lins.

As the village of Ni'lin takes up the leadership of the non-violent resistance to oppression and occupation, the courage of its villagers and the courage of their brothers and sisters in Bil'in, Al Masra, Umm Sulummuna, Azzoun Atma, Al Khader and other villages throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza deserve no lesser words then those reserved by Che for the Vietnamese people in 1966: "what greatness has been shown by this people! What a stoic and courageous people! And what a lesson for the world their struggle holds".

Non-violent demonstration in Ni'lin on July 13.

[1] Guevara, E., Message to the Tricontinental – Create two, three many Vietnams.

[2] McCarthy, R., (8 July, 2008) We have no alternative than peaceful protest. The Guardian

[3] and [6] Statement from the Ni'lin Popular Committee against the Wall (9 July, 2008) International Solidarity Movement

[4] Maan News (12 July, 2008) Many injured or detained at Ni'lin march

[5]Palestinian Medical Relief Society (26 June, 2008) Israeli Soldiers Deliberately Attack PMRS Health Worker

South Bethlehem villages protest building of apartheid wall on their land

For more than a year the villages of Al-Ma'sara and Umm Sulummuna near occupied Bethlehem in the southern West Bank have carried out demonstrations against the building of the apartheid wall on their land. They have been joined by Israelis anti-occupation activists, including members of the Israeli Anarchists against the Wall, as well as international activists from the International Solidarity Movement, the Palestine Solidarity Project and the International Women's Peace Team.

In the past month, the Israeli military have attacked and beaten unarmed Palestinian, Israeli and international demonstrators, who have attempted peacefully to access the land belonging to the villagers of Al Ma'sara and Umm Sulummuna. On June 28, an Israeli anti-occupation activist was beaten badly by Israeli occupation forces after Palestinians, Israelis and internationals attempted to reach the villages land.

The Jewish anti-occupation activist, who had been standing peacefully, was suddenly grabbed around the neck and thrown violently to the ground by soldiers and hit with a rifle butt. Other Israeli and international activists attempted to prevent the military beating him further by lying on top of him in order to deflect the blows from the soldiers. The Israel occupation forces, however, were able to drag him away from those attempting to protect him, throwing him violently into an army jeep. The Israeli anti-occupation activist was detained for more than an hour and threatened with arrest.

However, he was eventually released when other activists informed the commander of the Israeli military forces at the demonstration that they had clear footage, from three different angles, that the detained activist had been non-violent, had not attacked anyone and that the attack on him by soldiers was unprovoked. Upon his release, the Israeli activist was taken to hospital by other activists, where it was was confirmed that he had a badly bruised rib.

On July 4, at the weekly demonstration by the villagers against the wall, the Israeli military once again attacked the unarmed demonstrators, this time arresting two members of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, as well as international and Israeli activists. According to members of the Palestine Solidarity Project ( who were present at the demonstration, the military attacked the demonstration when villagers attempted to scale piles of tiles in order to get to their land. PSP reported that the Israeli military attacked the peaceful demonstration with sound grenades and badly beat a number of demonstrators before arresting the two Palestinian villagers and other Israeli and international activist. However, while the international and Israeli activists were later released, the two Palestinian activists have not.

Demonstration against Apartheid Wall - Al Ma'sara/Umm Sulummuna 27 June 2008

Demonstration against Apartheid Wall - Al Ma'sara/Umm Sulummuna 11 July 2008

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Only Arabs are terrorists...

On 2 July, Husam Taysir Dwayat, aged 30, took the bulldozer he was driving and rampaged through West Jerusalem’s Jaffa St, killing 3 people and injuring at least 66 others. Dwayat, a Palestinian Arab, who had worked for a number of years as a part of a construction team, held a Jerusalemite ID, which gave him Israeli residential rights but not Israeli citizenship. Dwayat's murderous rampage eventually came to an end when he was shot and killed by an off duty Israeli soldier, who is now being hailed a hero.

Dwayat's actions were heinous and murderous, but was he a terrorist? Israel’s media quickly labeled him one and continues to do so, as have the majority of Israel’s political establishment including the Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, the Defense Minister, Ehud Barak and the Vice Premier Haim Ramon.

In 2007, the US State Department annual Country Reports on Terrorism defined terrorism as being the “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents”[1]. For the past 6 years, this is the definition that has been consistently used by the US State Department, with the key point being that “terrorism” is politically motivate, thus distinguishing it from murder or other aggressive acts.

According to the Israeli police, however, Dwayat had no record of being involved in political activity and that the announcements by a number of previously unknown political groups claiming that Dwayat was a member were false [2]. According to the Israeli police, his family, neighbours and his Jewish ex-girlfriend, however, Dwayat did have a criminal record, including charges and arrests for drug felonies, theft and physical assault.

Dwayat’s Jewish girlfriend of six and half years, with whom he had a child, informed the Israeli media that far from hating Jews, he had never shown any ill will to Jews and had no political affiliations. In an interview with Haaretz TV online, Dwayat’s ex-girlfriend said that he “didn’t have any problems with Jews”, going on to say “I don’t think the attack had any nationalist motivations” [3]

So if Dwayat’s murderous act was not politically motivated, if he was not acting as part of a “sub national groups or clandestine agents”, why is he being labeled by the Israeli media, politicians and other state officials “a terrorist”? Why if he acted alone, in what Israeli security forces and police believe to be an unpremeditated act, is Dwayat being marked as a terrorist?

The answer is, of course, simple. Dwayat was a Palestinian Arab, so quid pro quo, he must be a terrorist. This fact and this fact alone is the reason for him being labeled a terrorist.

The anti-Arab racism in this labeling of Dwayat is clearly evident when you ask two simple questions:

(a) If the person who had carried out the bulldozer attack had been identified as Jewish would he have been automatically deemed a terrorist? The answer is almost certainly no.

(b) If the person had been a non-Jewish but also non-Arab, would he have been labeled automatically a terrorist. Again, the likely answer again would have been no.

But Dwayat was a Palestinian Arab, and a Muslim to boot. So of course, he must be a terrorist.

In the days after the murderous act, all three Israeli political leaders, raised the flags of demagoguery and popularism, attempting to out do each other calling for the collective punishment of not only Dwayat’s family but also all the Palestinian people.

On Friday, July 4, Barak ordered the Israeli security forces to issue injunctions calling for the demolition of not only Dwayat’s family home but also the family home of Alaa Abu Dhaim who carried out the attack which killed 8 students studying at Mercaz Haray Yeshiva which conducted a joint religious and military training program.

The day before, on July 3, Olmert had reiterated his call to demolish Dwayat’s family home in East Jerusalem saying “This attack which came from within Israel, into Israel. It creates a string of scenarios we never thought we would have to deal with in the past. We have invested thousands in the construction of the security fence. While it has been effective, it turns out that a fence cannot give us the answer to the problem of terror which comes from our side” [4].

Olmert went on to say that Dwayat’s family should also be stripped of any social security benefits, saying “I think we need to be tougher in some of the means we use against perpetrators of terror... If we have to destroy houses, then we must do so, if we have to stop their social benefits then we must do so. There cannot be a case where they massacre us and at the same time they get all the privileges that our society provides”

However, far from destroying the family homes of all apparent terrorists with Israeli citizenship or residency and stripping their families of Israeli social security benefits, such punitive actions are only being directed at one ethnic group – Palestinian Arabs - revealing once again both the strident anti-Arab racism of the Israeli Zionist state and its apartheid nature.

This is starkly revealed when considering the Israeli state reaction to the terrorist attack carried out three years earlier, by Eden Natan-Zada, a 19 year old Jewish soldier.

On August 4, 2005, Natan-Zada, carried out a pre-mediated terrorist attack in Shfaram in Northern Israel. The attack resulted in the murder of 4 Israeli citizens and the wounding of at least 10 others before the terrorist was killed.

Natan-Zada, who was politically opposed to then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan from Gaza, was an army deserter who had sought sanctuary in the illegal Israeli settlement of Tappauch in the Occupied West Bank. Natan-Zada was a member of the illegal Israeli settler group, Kach, who are followers of the anti-Arab racist, Rabbi Meir Kahane [5]. Kach, along with Kahane Chai founded by Kahane's son, are the only two Jewish groups listed as terrorist organisations by both the US and Israeli governments. In Israel, Kach and Kahane Chai were outlawed in 1994 after another of Kach’s members, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinian men, women and children at prayer in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Occupied Hebron.

While at the time Ariel Sharon acknowledge Natan-Zada’s act as one of terrorism, there was never any call by Sharon or Olmert or Barak (who were elected politicians at the time) or any other Israeli politician for the demolition of Natan-Zada’s family home or for his family to be stripped of any of their social security benefits, despite the young soldier’s pre-mediated and politically motivated massacre of four Israeli citizens.

One of the reasons for this can be found in the simple fact that the Israelis killed by Natan-Zada were not Jews but Palestinian Arabs who held Israeli citizenship. A little over three weeks after Sharon publicly stated that Natan-Zada was a terrorist, an Israeli inter-ministerial committee in the Department of defense declared that Natan-Zada's murderous attack was not "terrorist" because he was a serving soldier (this was despite the fact that he was an army deserter)[6]. As a result, those killed by Natan-Zada were denied not only recognition of being victims of terrorism but also their families were denied the right to ongoing state compensation, which the families of Israeli Jews killed in terror attacks receive.

Nazia Hayek, the brother of one of the four people killed by Natan-Zada said at the time that financial compensation was not their main interest as it would not bring back his brother. Instead, according to Hayek, the ruling which stated that Natan-Zada's act was "neither terror or an act of hostility" sent a message to all extremists that "it was permissible to kill Arabs and [it] does not count as terror"[7]

Like Baruch Goldstein, Natan-Zada far from being reviled as the terrorist he clearly was, instead like Goldstein before him, he was cannonised by the Israeli right wing. While Israeli police moved quickly to remove the mourning tent erect for Dwayat by his family in the wake of the Jerusalem bulldozer attack, in the wake of Natan Zada's murderous attack it was reported that the illegal settlement of Tappauch built a library in his honour. Similarly, Goldstein was also honoured with celebrations in his names and shrines was built in his honour (which took the Israeli police more than 6 years to remove).

In addition, unlike the solider who shot and killed Dwayat, the Palestinian Arab Israelis who neutralised Natan-Zada, killing him in order to prevent him from killing more innocent people, were not hailed heroes by the Israeli state. Instead, they have been persecuted and hounded.

In June 2008, the Israeli Haifa District Prosecution subpoenaed 12 Shfraram residents to attend a pre-trailing hearing about the 2005 killing of Natan-Zada [8]. Previously in 2006, six Palestinians with Israeli citizenship had also been arrested for the murder of Natan-Zada and held under house arrest. It was only with threats of mass rioting by the residents of Shfraram and surrounding villages and towns that they were they eventually released.

Over the past decade, numerous studies conducted by Israeli organisations have revealed increasing levels of discrimination and racism against so-called Israeli Arabs by both the Israeli state and by Jewish Israeli citizens.

In 2007, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) released a report which revealed that the incidents of anti-Arab racist attacks had increased by 26% and that the expression of anti-Arab views had doubled in the last couple of years. The poll conducted by ACRI revealed that 50% of Jewish Israelis did not believe Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel should have equal rights and that the Israeli government should encourage "emigration" of Palestinian Arabs from Israel. According to the poll, almost 75% of Jewish Israeli youth also believed that Palestinians and Arabs were less intelligent and less clean than Jews [9]. ACRI noted that media played a significant role in "intensifying the Arab image as negative and terrorising". At the time of the report, Arab Knesset member, Mohammed Barakeh, from Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) said the poll was "the natural outcome" of the anti-Arab policies held by successive Israeli governments

A similar poll conducted by Geocartography March of 2007, revealed that 75% of the 500 Jewish men and women who participated in the poll would not live in the same building as an Arab, while 60% would not allow an Arab into their home and 50% believed marrying an Arab was "national treason" [10].

The automatic declaration of Dwayat as a terrorist by Olmert, Barak and the Israeli media, simply because he was a Palestinian Arab rather then because he carried out a politically motivated act reveals that the "us" that Olmert spoke about on July 3 does not include the Palestinian Arab citizens or residents of Israel. This along with Olmert and Barak's immediate call to conduct punitive collective punishment (which is illegal under international law) against Dwayat's family reveals starkly the apartheid nature of the Israeli state.

If Palestinian Arabs were part of Olmert's Israeli "us" and Israel was not engaging in widespread apartheid policies, then Dwayat would not have been automatically labeled a terrorist and the punitive policy against his family would also not been enacted, just as such punitive punishment was never enacted against the Jewish family of Eden Natan-Zada.

It seems in Israel, however, only Palestinian Arabs can be terrorists in the eyes of the Israeli Zionist state and many of its Jewish citizens.

[1] 2007 Country Reports on Terrorism, US State Department

[2] Haaretz service (2 July, 2008) Barak: Israel must respond immediately to Jerusalem attack, Haaretz

[3] and [4] Haaretz, Barak orders demolition of Jerusalem, yeshiva terrorist’s homes, 4 July, 2008, Haaretz

[5] Cook,J., (14 June, 2006) For Arabs only: Israeli law and order

[6] and [7] Khoury, J., Eldar A., and Sinai, R., (30 August, 2005) MK submits bill to include Jewish attacks under terror law, Haaretz,

[8] Raved, A., (15 July, 2008) Haifa prosecution considering new indictments in the death of Eden Natan Zada, YNet,7340,L-3555829,00.html

[9] Israeli anti-Arab racism 'rises' (10 December, 2007, BBC News
Zino,A., (8 December, 2007) Racism in Israel on the rise, YNET,7340,L-3480345,00.html

[10]Nahmais, R., (27 March 2007) Marriage to an Arab is national treason.,7340,L-3381978,00.html