have been gassed. They have been shot and beaten and
arrested. They live under constant psychological and
physical intimidation. Even when they sleep, their
dreams are interrupted by soldiers who come in the
middle of the night and make arrests.
Budrus village in the area of West Ramallah continues
in its non-violent RESISTANCE against the destruction
of village land, including olive tree groves that
have occupied this area long before an Occupation
ever existed. The government of Israel continues to
consistently represent itself to these villagers in
strategies and policies purposefully meant to bully
and confiscate more land. The future looms over Budrus
and causes its villagers to have even more apprehension
but no less determination to hold onto what is properly
belonging to them. This is a town fighting for its
sustainability and as such, its very existence. This
is a town further threatened by limits of time, people
and cement walls.
International Court of Justice hearing on the Apartheid
Wall in the Hague is scheduled to convene some time
late in February. Between now and then, the bulldozers
will attempt to take 90% of the village land of Nihilin
for the cementing of more Apartheid Wall. How ironical
that the focus of the International Court of Justice
in the Hague is the hope of Budrus and other villages
like Budrus. But with the time period between now
and its event, there is also greater motivation for
Israel to become more aggressive in its house demolitions
and the taking of other peoples land.
The International Womens Peace Service is a team of
16 women based in Hares, a village in the Salfit Governorate
of Palestine's West Bank. IWPS has, for the last three
years, been equally as determined as the villagers
to help them protect their land and environment. They
also have carefully documented human rights abuses
inflicted upon civilians living in this area. Besides
witnessing and recording daily offenses against village
inhabitants and general poplice, IWPS non-violently
intervenes at roadblocks, accompanies ambulances and
watches over people farming their own fields. When
following the IWPS updates and reports, one frequently
gets a sense of very busy and determined folk, hard
at work for social justice. While some readers would
like to believe there is room in these reports for
exaggeration, further testament from other activists
prove IWPS is more expedient than profuse. One also
senses the great energy of empathy among these women
who are the watchers, the angels and the guardians.
They are committed to the cause of non-violence and
they are inspiring other activists to come forward
and join them.
December 31, team member Kate Raphael was arrested
along with three other internationals, at a nonviolent
protest against the preliminary destruction of the
olive tree groves in the Ramallah District. Kate was
arrested and jailed for 9 days . She resisted her
deportation orders. Kate is presently attempting to
remain in Israel in order to establish residency under
Israel's "Law of Return," which guarantees
all Jews the right to live in Israel. IWPS reports
that the Ministry of Interior and the judge are trying
to deny Kate's right to live in Israel/Palestine because
she does not support the apartheid policies of the
state of Israel:
is part of the campaign to isolate Palestinian activists
from the outside world and crush their resistance.
However, we maintain that Jews who stand against injustice
must have equal rights with Jews who support it."
this time, ten men from the village, who helped organize
the non-violent resistance were arrested and may have
disappeared into the Israeli military prison system.
The military made arrests in the middle of the night.
One man was awakened and arrested for "allowing
internationals into his home". As absurd as that
sounds, there is very serious concern that these men
will remain lost in administrative detentions.
detentions are used illegally. Administrative
detentions keep Palestinian civilian populations,
including children ages 12 and up in a kind of fascist
limbo away from due processing of laws and normal
sends a rather disturbing insinuation about the practice
of non-violent protest in the Occupied Territories:That
Israel can not only be accused of inflicting harm
upon a civilian population and be found guilty of
such actions, but it also appears that there has been
and is, a concerted effort to attempt to punish and
squash all forms of non-violent resistance and dissidence.
Palestinians defending their village land, homes,
trees and their right to farm their own lands have
never been of much interest to the United States media.
But Budrus is a revelation! Not only about how our
tax dollars help inflict a crushing oppression and
what this might represent to the rest of the world,
but also it is a revelation and an important message
for all Jews, in America and elsewhere around the
world about what happens when non-violent Jews are
in dissidence of the "Jewish State".
With or without return and Israeli citizenship, Jews
in overt criticism of the present government of Israel
are all lumped together as undesirables and/or self
haters and as such are often targeted and singled
out for concentrated forms of harassment. How does
this reflect upon the Jewish State?
is about a chronically oppressed people who flatly
refuse to surrender to their oppressors. Budrus is
about the way in which the people have responded to
the violence enacted against them. And Budrus is also
the story of international peace keepers, especially
and including Jews from Israel and elsewhere, who
will not allow other people to suffer via the ways
and means of a bellicose Jewish nationalism.
the past three months people of all ages have been
defending the first line of olive trees slated for
bull dozing. On December 30th 2003, IWPS described
in one of their reports that all of the villagers
including school children and elderly came running
from all directions in defense of their olive trees!
Even after they were shot at and gassed, young school
girls continued to march towards the bull dozers.
Many rounds of shots were fired and many people were
taken to the ambulances. But no one stopped the children
from pressing forward, Brave Spirits of Palestine!
Shining Stars of Non-Violent Resistence!
are these special children of Budrus? TV cameras were
reportedly in the area. Reportedly, for three hours
they faced off with the soldiers while chanting, "Free
Free Palestine". The army came back with 200
soldiers in order to force the people back to their
village. It was declared a military zone. They fired
live ammunition. They entered homes and beat women
the children came forward.
most moral army in the world" :
one reads about the military activities in Budrus,
one may begin to understand the seriousness of the
reasons why there are resisters and refusers and why
men who were once proud to serve their country now
find it impossible to do so under the present policies
enforced by the government and military in the Occupied
Territories. These shameful actions have been recognized
by some former soldiers as "disservice
to the State of Israel and Jewish nationalism. The
high school movement of conscientious objectors called
shimmitism is presently growing. Organizations like
New Profile (www.NewProfile.org)
have come forward to support the conscientious objectors
and to work towards changing the dynamic of military
service to Israel.
the world pays little attention to the heroics of
school girls who do not blow themselves up, will it
also pay as little attention to the fighter pilots
or to the young men and women of good conscience who
refuse to serve? Theirs' is a most powerful message
that is sent to any government. And it has come not
only from self determined pacifists but from within
a military core force and leadership. Other nations
and other world leaders comparatively as proud of
their military should stop and take notice of what
motivates the action of the refusing and why.
UN General Assembly made its decision last month to
ask the ICJ to rule on behalf of the "legal implications
of the construction of a wall on conquered Palestinian
might wonder how US responsibility for its tax dollars
in foreign aid to Israel passes so quickly before
the eyes of our representatives but seems to linger,
even hide behind our Veto Power at the United Nations.
This summer Democrats and Republicans alike were given
a highly selective tour of Israel. Did any ask about
the Occupied Territories? Did any ask about the
peace keepers who are US citizens? Did any of the
representatives visit and speak to our citizens about
conditions in the Occupied Territories? Did any ask
after Rachel Corrie? Rachel's mother and father were
there in Israel as well, asking the questions that
our representatives did not.
over the Occupied Territories bull dozers made in
the USA and paid for in some part by USA foreign
aid to Israel will run non stop for the next few weeks.
Will they also hurry to pull down illegal settlements?
Or are Palestinian homes so much easier to push down?
If Israel is not afraid of the illegal settlers,
why are the illegal settlements still standing?
has always been the existing question of the hour
and as the clock ticks away to the Hague. The moment
is now! it has always been excused and explained away
any which way:
the treaty is signed..."
the militants leave..."
And the question still remains. When WILL all the
illegal settlements be removed?
the international community looks at collective punishment
as wrongful and illegal, Aahron Barak, President of
Israel's Supreme Court has used the term "democracy"
in the same breath as house demolitions, and as a
policy and a weapon in the war against terrorists
and suicide bombers. He most recently ruled against
giving any warning to family members of "accused"
terrorists that their houses will be demolished without
has a democracy! And as a democracy, a vote was taken
that makes demolishing the homes of family members
of mentally ill suicide bombers perfectly legal, as
it is lawful. Except: this same justice was never
applied to Baruch
Goldstein's home in Hebron or any other homes
of any other settler who acts out violently. He was
a fundamentalist who entered a holy mosque in the
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and killed 29 Muslims
bent in prayer. His immediate family and relatives
seem not to have suffered from Israeli policy concerning
house demolitions as a punishment and detriment to
terrorism. Apparently, Goldstein was in agreement
with his government at the time and therefore he is
less punishable for his criminal insanity and terrorism.
Other settlers more recently violent do not generally
risk jail for either protest or crimes committed against
the existing population of Bedouins or Palestinians.
Is Israel afraid of the settlers? and therefore hesitates
to enforce laws against them?
world begins to understand Israel's meaning of "democracy"
as it applies to this one terrorist and not another;
as it does not allow for non-violent protest; as it
tries to punish and deter peace activists; as it hunts
out critics, even critics who are Jews; especially
critics who are Jews.
been shamed as an American by Amnesty International's
most recent letter to Jeb Bush concerning police brutality
usd against non-violent demonstrators in Miami (http://web.amnesty.org/library/print/ENGAMR511602003)
and especially with regards to the use of rubber bullets,
I am equally shamed and horrified by the significance
of reliable foreign press reporting that that US military
was relying upon Israeli Special Forces to teach it
the ways and means of an occupation. (The Guardian
isn't there greater effort and detail spent in learning
Arabic? or learning how to communicate "respectfully"
through the various cultural differences not likely
to be known by some American soldiers? Instead,
US Army Lt General William Boykin, an evangelical
Christian, is quoted saying Muslims worship an idol
and not a real god (Washington Post
With God On Our Side October 19 ,2003)
Other Americans, including American Muslims, who practice
different or no religions, must be made to have to
suffer embarrassment because our present administration
did not see fit to quickly relieve this US military
commander of his duties. Those duties include
upholding American freedoms.
is NOT a good showcase for Democracy, anywhere in
the world. And it is not a good reflection upon American
ideals. Those ideals are proper and worth upholding.
There was the opportunity to uphold American
ideals against prejudice and racism but there
was simply not the leadership to do so. I am sad that
little school girls can face off against oppressors,
but not adult elected officials.
am hopeful however and will always have hope as long
as places like Budrus exist with men, women and children,
especially children like those brave little girls
whose names are not in our news. And as long as there
are Americans like Kate Raphael and Israelis who know
better the difference between honor and disservice
to their country; democracy and a lasting peace still
has hope as well.
am hoping that the new leadership required to bring
Israel AND Palestine into a lasting peace will grow
out of these hopes and efforts. I am hopeful that
a new leadership in the United States will do the
same with regards to our present occupation of Iraq.
This present government needs to address questions
concerning self determination, rather than the economic
profits from its war and occupation of another country.
I am hoping that the new leadership required to bring
Israel and Palestine into a lasting peace will grow
out of the continuous non-violent struggle for human
rights. I hope it will not be too late for all the
children who suffer from oppression and the threat
of terrorism. I am hoping that new leadership in the
United States will evolve in the same way, through
non-violent inspiration and struggle.
when Hollywood enlarges the lives of real people
with stories of courage and valor, a false sense
of reality is created in a glamorization process.
Sometimes writers and journalists do the same. I
have been following IWPS for almost a year now.
They are usually way too busy to glam much. But
I can tell you that emotions run deeply through
the reports of their efforts and the heart of the
people who protect the trees.
never take for granted how far American ideals have
come and the benefits of being an American. But
to live on this side of the world often leaves me
at a loss when reading and posting the real-life
dramas of others on the other side of oceans. While
I was out marching on the relative calm streets
of New York City in honor of Martin Luther King
and for the right to protest non-violently in US
and around the world, the non-violent protestors
of Budrus were ........running for their tress and
the media neglects or ignores those moments that
honor the lives and actions of everyday people via
accurate depiction. We have a simple responsibility
to find out about what they tell us and what they
do not tell us:
read the story of Kate and Budrus by visiting www.womenspeacepalestine.org
from friend and Israeli peace activist, Dorothy
Naor ,who sent this report to me about the news
media and Israeli radio :
Israeli radio news reported the events at Budrus
this morning, but claimed that the military's violence
was a reaction to rocks being thrown at them. The
contrary is true. The protest was NON-VIOLENT and
the rock throwing began as a reaction to the tear
gas, firing of rubber bullets and LIVE ammunition,
beatings, and stun grenades.
Yesterday at the Budrus attempts to protect its
trees, 7 Palestinian youth were injured by the military,
today the number estimated is over 40, most not
seriously, but since activities are continuing,
it is impossible to know yet for certain.
Three Israelis, 4 Palestinians, and 5 internationals
(including the Swedish member of Parliament) have
been detained. At this writing, they are still at
Budrus, being held apart from the others, but from
where they can see the battling continuing--villagers,
internationals, and Israelis ALL UNARMED--trying
to protect themselves and Burass trees and
lands from Israeli military violence."
Administrative Detentions : B'tselem www.btselem.org/English/Administrative_Detention/
Amnesty International http://web.amnesty.org/library/print/ENGAMR511602003
La Rosa is a librarian and US citizen living 20 miles
from New York City
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