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Weekly Update:

November 14, 2009

Bilin nonviolent demonstration against the wall

Bilin nonviolent demonstration against the wall

Bilin Friday Demonstration against the wall

Bilin Friday Demonstration against the wall

Al Thuletheen cloud of teargas

Al Thuletheen cloud of teargas

 

Yasser Arafat’s Birthday

 

Well, the main news this week was Yasser Arafat’s birthday—they had lots of celebrations at Al Muqata—the main base in Ramallah (used to be Israeli) where Yasser Arafat was blockaded by the Israelis during the Second Intifada.  His tomb is there now as well. There were posters of Arafat all over the city…

Abbas’ Resignation and Palestinian Elections

Abbas is still sticking to his resignation so far…and everyone is wondering what will happen when/if the elections don’t actually take place on January 24th like Abbas announced (which he has announced before too, and they didn’t happen). There will be a power vacuum for sure, and things could go in any direction. The PA might be dissolved (most people think its just the Israeli puppet government used to control the Palestinians, not protect them), a third Intifada might start, Hamas might try to make a come back in the West Bank, or maybe Salaam Fayyad will become president. Its all up in the air right now…but I don’t see things going smoothly in the next few months.

New War in Gaza? 

Israel has also been talking about another war in Gaza because the rockets haven’t stopped (because the Israeli blockade and occupation of Gaza hasn’t stopped). So, ignoring their part in the cause of the rocket attacks–which is the fact that they never really disengaged from Gaza—they just took out the settlements-and put them in the West Bank by the way, then kept control of all the land, sea borders and the air space. Not to mention the strict and inhumane blockade/siege they have imposed on the territory for a year and a half.  No wonder the rockets continue?

 The Israeli military just killed two young Palestinian guys who were “too close to the border” in Gaza—they must have wandered into the “buffer zone”…which goes for kilometers inside the tiny Gaza territory and usually is comprised of people’s farming land—which they absolutely need because of the food shortage and destroyed economy…Anyways, they kill young Palestinians in this area regularly—shepherds, farmers, not to mention the fisherman who get shot at if they go out past 3 miles into the sea.

The Cause of the Rocket Attacks 

Its still a really horrible situation in Gaza—that’s what Israel is so good at hiding from the world. They just say “rockets” and the world says “Oh yes, Gazans are terrorists”…they don’t know WHY the rockets are being shot. They can’t imagine the life there—no clean water, sewage lakes that flood because there are no functioning waste treatment plants after the blockade and the war (no spare parts allowed in by the Israelis and the IDF bombed the waste treatment plant—along with chicken farms, water sanitation facilities, electricity plants, and any factory they could see.)

 The majority of children suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome, schools have been bombed, their growth is stunted from lack of nutritious food….the list of reasons for Gazans to rebel against Israel are endless. And the attacks on Israel won’t stop until Israel starts respecting the Gazan’s basic human rights—safety, justice, sufficient food, water, fuel, and electricity….just to start.

U.S. “Pressure” About Settlement Freeze

 Now the U.S. has come out saying they still demand a settlement freeze from Israel after the backlash against them when Hilary Clinton said it was enough that Netanyahu just “slowed down” the settlement construction. But whether Obama will actually enforce this “request” or not is obviously unknown. So far, he hasn’t followed through with any demands for Israel, only the demands on the Palestinians.

The Stalled “Peace Process” or just the “Stall Process”?

 The main prerequisite for Israel to negotiate an independent Palestinian state is that there is a functioning government that has a good security apparatus—aka a security force that will keep Palestinians from attacking Israel. The PA has created this…U.S. generals have been training the new PA security forces according to US/Israeli interests. The Palestinian security forces are so protective of Israel’s security that most of the Palestinians in the West Bank see it as Israel’s puppet government, or collaborators. For example, when the Israeli military invades Ramallah in the middle of the night for raids to arrest Palestinians, the PA forces have to stay out of the area that Israel wants to go. They cannot get involved. In fact, the Palestinian security forces are not even allowed to shoot a bullet without first getting the Israeli D.C.O.’s permission. 

 So what is Israel waiting for now? There will always be another “prerequisite” before an independent state can be created—that’s Israel’s plan. Keep the peace process going slowly so they can keep stealing Palestinian land and resources while they pretend to “negotiate”. I just heard this metaphor about the peace process that was really good “We are negotiating the sharing of a pizza. And in the meanwhile, Israel is eating that pizza”.

Palestinian Catch-22

 Anyways, it’s a huge Catch-22 here…If the PA continues to negotiate and wait peacefully for Israel to give them a state, it will either never happen or by the time it does Israel will have taken most of the West Bank which will leave several isolated Bantustans and Gaza—all separated—as the new “Palestinian state”.

 However, if the Palestinians start a new Intifada (even if it is planned to be nonviolent, Israel will—based on lots of past incidents—kill a nonviolent protestor or two, then no one will be able to control the Intifada and it will become violent) there will be a lot of violence and bloodshed and the West Bank will most likely be flattened like Gaza and the peace process will start over from zero again afterwards—with the Palestinians reputation back to “terrorists” for daring to fight against the occupation.

 Damned if you do, damned if you don’t at this point…the peace process is really seeming increasingly hopeless since Israel can’t even abide by the first precondition—stopping settlement construction. And what happens when people, who are already desperate and in the corner, loose hope? Violent revolution. So let’s hope that Israel decides to start taking the peace process seriously—because they are putting themselves in a corner as well.

 If Israel makes the 2 state solution impossible, then the only option for peace that is left is the one-state solution. And the Israelis know that the Palestinians would have the majority in a one-state solution—and would therefore be able to take over the government within a small amount of time—and destroying the basis of Israel’s existence as a “Jewish-only” state. So is that what Israel wants?  If not, they should stop colonizing the West Bank and making it increasingly impossible to be a viable state.

Israel’s Violent Reaction at Nonviolent Demonstrations

 Well…the Friday demonstrations are getting back to their old ways. During the summer, there were lots of internationals and press because many of them were travelling through Palestine, not living here. So now there are less internationals and press at the demonstrations, and consequently the Israelis are being more violent against protestors.

 In Ni’lin, the past two weeks, the boys have managed to take down pieces of the wall. I wondered why the Israeli soldiers didn’t shoot them—as they have no problem using live ammunition against nonviolent protestors in Ni’lin, and have already killed 6 or 7 there. Anyways, this week the soldiers used live ammunition against the nonviolent protestors and injured 2 with the bullets—one was a medic.

 Lazar and I went to Bil’in and it was a bigger protest for Yasser Arafat’s birthday anniversary. Muhammed Baraka, an Arab Israeli and member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) was coming with a couple busses of 1948 Palestinians (or Arab Israelis—the Palestinians living inside Israel).

 The Israeli soldiers gave them a lot of trouble at the checkpoint and didn’t let most of the people through—Baraka arrived about an hour after the protest was supposed to start. So we had a big group of internationals, ’48 Palestinians, the communist party was there, Israeli activists, and villagers.

 As we marched to the wall the soldiers started shooting lots of teargas. They injured someone with a sound bomb right in the beginning.  They shot rubber bullets as well.  Halfway through they fired the teargas cannon—that shoots around 40 canisters simultaneously, and the teargas this week was stronger than usual. It really stung the eyes and throat.

 At the end, when most of the demonstrators had left, and it was just the boys throwing stones, the Israelis started shooting teargas canisters like bullets—straight at these kids.  So I guess they are back to their old methods like last winter and spring…we’ll see how long it takes for them to kill someone again—there are more villages catching onto the nonviolent movement. Ni’lin, Bil’in, Bourin, Iraq Bourin, Ma’sara, ‘Azzun, and villages near Bethlehem and Hebron. Hopefully more villages will be like Ni’lin and try to take down the wall—this week a lot of the demonstrations were themed around the Berlin wall because the anniversary of its fall was last week.

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