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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2007 arrow June 25, 2007

June 25, 2007

Today's Blog

Three personal testimonies and one YOU TUBE Link are posted today;

The first article is by Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery, a former Knesset Member and present day peace activist with Gush Shalom;

Gush Shalom's primary goal is to influence Israeli public opinion and lead it towards peace and reconciliation with the Palestinian people, by:


Accepting the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent and sovereign State of Palestine in all the territories occupied by Israel in 1967,

Reinstating the pre-1967 "Green Line" as the border between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine with an open border for the free movement of people and goods, subject to mutual agreement,

Establishing Jerusalem as the capital of the two states, with East Jerusalem serving as the capital of Palestine and West Jerusalem serving as the capital of Israel,

Recognizing in principle the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees, allowing each refugee to choose between either compensation or repatriation to Palestine and Israel, and fixing by mutual agreement the number of refugees who will be able to return to Israel in annual quotas, without undermining the foundations of Israel.

Safeguarding the security of both Israel and Palestine by mutual agreement and guarantees and striving for overall peace between Israel and all the Arab countries and the creation of a regional union.

Avnery's reflection on The War of 1967 is followed by a reflection of an American Jew who nonviolently demonstrated against The Wall in Bil'in,

Following that is a re-run of the article written by me about my two trips to Bil'in and the day that Maried Maguire, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate nonviolently demonstrated there;

And was shot with a rubber bullet by the Israeli Army...

Uri Avnery: 1967 - A Personal Testimony   06/07

ON MAY 25, 1967, twelve days before the Six-day war, I published in Haolam Hazeh, the news magazine of which I was the editor, an article entitled "Nasser Has Fallen Into a Trap". That sounded crazy, because, at the time, all Israel was in the grip of mortal fear.

A few months earlier, I was invited to give a lecture in a kibbutz in the North. After the lecture I was invited to coffee with a few members. There, my host told me in confidence that the Chief of the Northern Command, General David ("Dado") Elazar, had been there only a week before. In the same room, Dado had confided in the same few trusted members: "Every night, before going to sleep, I pray that Nasser concentrates his troops in the Sinai desert. There we shall annihilate them."

When Nasser concentrated his troops in Sinai In the middle of May 1967, it seemed like an answer to this prayer. So, while everybody around me was numb with fright, I was not worried.

That fear was real. There was much talk about an imminent Second Holocaust. From the beginning of the crisis up to the start of the war, for three full weeks, the fear that had gripped Israel intensified from day to day. The "Voice of Thunder", the Cairo radio station that broadcast in broken Hebrew - until then considered rather ridiculous - was issuing blood-curdling threats. Gamal Abd-al-Nasser himself - who in reality was deadly afraid of an Israeli attack and did not dream of attacking - thought that by threatening to throw Israel into the sea he would frighten us into abandoning any idea of war. It had, of course, the opposite effect.

THE CHAIN of events that made the war inevitable resembled in some respects the lead-up to World War I, "the war that nobody wanted".

Syria sponsored the Palestinian guerilla war started by Yasser Arafat on its border. Israel responded with dire threats. The chief of Staff, Yitzhak Rabin, publicly threatened to occupy Damascus and overthrow the regime. The Syrians got frightened and called on Egypt for assistance.

Just before the start of the crisis, the Soviet ambassador, Chubakhin, asked me to come and visit him at his embassy in Ramat Gan. He told me that Israel was planning to attack Syria and was already massing troops on the border. He saw this as a part of a broader US scheme to install pro-American regimes all over the area, starting with the recent coup d'etat of the colonels in Greece (April 1967) and American machinations in Iran. The ambassador wanted me to use my position as Member of the Knesset and Editor-in-Chief of a popular news magazine to alert the Israeli public.

I'm afraid that my answer was rather cynical: If you are afraid of this, why don't you instruct your ambassador in Damascus to ask your Syrian friends to stop the guerilla attacks on Israel, at least for some time? Why give our government a pretext for war?

Chubakhin's reply amazed me. "Do you think that anyone in Damascus listens to our ambassador?"

The story about Israel "massing troops on the border" was, of course, ridiculous. A Soviet general may believe that before starting an offensive, troops must be massed on the frontier. But in the tiny territory of Israel, "massing" troops was both impossible and superfluous.

ANYHOW, FACED with Syria's request for help and the Soviet stories about the massing of Israeli troops, Nasser saw an opportunity to assert his leadership of the Arab world. He sent his troops into Sinai. If he had really intended to start a war, he would have done this as secretly as possible. But his troops passed Cairo in broad daylight, proof that the aim was to show off.

As it so happened, I met Ezer Weitzman, who until recently had been the commander of the Israeli air force, at a party. He told me that he was astonished. The Israeli army intelligence service had been completely taken by surprise by the appearance of Egyptian troops in Sinai. They had been convinced that the entire Egyptian army was tied down in far-away Yemen, where Nasser was intervening in a civil war. Indeed, the ability of the Egyptian air force to supply their troops there elicited grudging admiration from Weitzman.

On May 23, Nasser announced (falsely) that he had mined the sea approaches to Eilat. That was for Israel a casus belli. Eilat was Israel's gateway to the eastern world, free passage there had an emotional importance far beyond its actual value. I remember coming back from the Knesset that day, and telling my colleagues on the New Force Party's executive board: "War is now inevitable." I added: "This war will change everything."

To dramatize these steps, Nasser asked the UN Secretary General, U Thant, to withdraw UN forces - but only from a certain sector. (These forces had been stationed on the border since the 1956 Sinai war).

Misreading the situation completely, U Thant withdrew all his troops. Faced now with the possibility of an Israeli preventive attack, and believing his own propaganda that Israel was but an American puppet, Nasser sent his deputy to the US to get the Americans to stop Israel. Israelis, in the meantime, saw only the gathering menace and believed that they could be attacked at any minute.

I can attest to the mood in the highest circles. A few days before the war, Menachem Begin drew me aside in the Knesset. "Uri," he said with great agitation, "we have different opinions, but in this existential crisis we all have the same aim: to save Israel. You and your magazine have a great influence on young people. Please, use it to stiffen their morale!"

In my last speech to the Knesset before the war, I said: "Just at such an hour of wavering on the brink of war, a great Israeli statesman could take a revolutionary initiative for starting a direct dialogue, perhaps secret, perhaps public and dramatic, which could lead to a basic change in our position in the area."

ADDING TO the general despair was the personality of Levy Eshkol, David Ben-Gurion's successor as Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. He was seen - quite wrongly - as a bumbling, indecisive and incompetent leader. In a crucial radio speech, he stumbled over a word that had been inserted at the last minute by one of his advisors, and seemed to be stuttering.

In the course of these "Days of Anxiety", as they became known since, Eshkol was under intense pressure. Prominent generals (among them Matti Peled, who later became my friend and a peace activist) went to Eshkol and delivered what amounted to an ultimatum, demanding an immediate attack. With almost the whole male population mobilized and waiting on the borders, normal life had come to a virtual standstill. The whole country was holding its breath.

I RECEIVED almost daily reports on what was going on in the cabinet. My source was Yigal Allon.

Allon, former commander of the Palmach (Haganah shock troops) and the commander of the southern front in 1948, was now Minister of Labor. We had become friends after the 1948 war. When the 1967 crisis started, I decided to publish a temporary daily paper, called Daf ("page"). However, there was no printing press ready and able to print it, except the one that belonged to Allon's kibbutz movement.

Throughout the crisis, I met with Allon almost daily to negotiate the deal, and on these occasions he poured his heart out. His junior job in the government was frustrating to the hero of the soldiers of 1948. He pined for the Ministry of Defense, and the deepening crisis offered the opportunity.

Daily, almost perceptibly, the demand grew that Eshkol surrender his job as Prime Minister, or at least relinquish the Defense portfolio. At the beginning, the names of several candidates for Minister of Defense were bandied about. Allon was high on the list. Other credible candidates were the "Old Man" - David Ben-Gurion, the 1948 acting Chief of Staff - General Yigael Yadin, a former Deputy Minister of Defense - Shimon Peres and a former Chief of Staff - Moshe Dayan.

Allon was confident that he would get the job, since he was already a member of the government and had been a very successful general in war. From day to day he became more radiant. On the street the list became shorter and shorter, till in the end the public demand was centered on Dayan. A group of women (immediately nicknamed "the Merry Wives of Windsor") demonstrated on his behalf in front of the Labor Party's head office.

At the end of May, when I next saw Allon, he was shattered. He had just heard that Eshkol had given in and appointed Dayan. Allon despised the famous general. Like most of the 1948 commanders, he considered Dayan a bad soldier, incapable of orderly staff work and thoroughly irresponsible. (Indeed, I once heard Dayan boasting of his "irresponsibility").

Dayan had little influence on the planning of the war, but he had an immense impact on the morale of the troops - charismatic, glamorous and with a reputation as a daring, aggressive commander.

The reserves who had been mobilized, only to wait, and wait and wait some more, greeted his appointment with enthusiasm. They understood that the long wait was almost over.

WHEN OUR army attacked, it was like the release of a powerful spring.

On the first day of the war, after an emergency parliamentary session, I was in the Knesset bomb shelter sitting out shelling by Jordanian artillery in East Jerusalem, when a friend whispered in my ear: "We have already won the war. The Air Force has destroyed the Egyptian airplanes on the ground".

This information was withheld from the public. All reports of the incredible victories of our army were suppressed by the censor, because the government was afraid that if they became public, the UN would impose a cease-fire - which now just seemed obstructive. So the public was exposed to the ludicrous hyperbole of the Voice of Thunder, according to which Tel-Aviv was burning.

Many of the territories were conquered almost by accident. There was a military plan for the destruction of the Egyptian forces in the South, but there were no plans for a comprehensive war. Dayan was not only against the occupation of the Gaza Strip, but even against the occupation of East Jerusalem. The West Bank was occupied in an improvised operation, after King Hussein had unexpectedly opened fire in order to demonstrate his solidarity with Egypt. In the beginning, Dayan also objected to the operation against Syria, for fear of Soviet intervention. Because of this, there was no plan for the future of the large population in the occupied territories.

ON THE fifth day of the war, just after our army had conquered the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, I wrote an open letter to Levy Eshkol, proposing that he seize the historic opportunity and offer the Palestinian people the chance to establish a state of their own. I had advocated this idea since 1949, but I was convinced that this moment, with the whole region in a state of shock, was the right time to make peace with the Palestinians by making them an historic offer.

Right after the war, Eshkol invited me to a private talk. He listened patiently while I explained this idea. "Uri, what kind of a trader are you?" he said with a benign smile, "In negotiations, one starts by offering the minimum and demanding the maximum. Then, gradually, one raises the offer until a compromise is achieved somewhere in the middle. What you propose is to offer everything even before negotiations have started."
"That is true when one sells a horse," I answered, "not when one wants to achieve a historic peace."

Contrary to his image, Eshkol was really a very tough guy. This was disguised by a friendly disposition, a Yiddish sense of humor and a syntax that drove the Knesset stenographers up the wall. He had devoted all his life to the setting up of Jewish settlements, and now all he could see was a vast expanse that could be used for new settlements.

In the following months and years, I made dozens of speeches in the Knesset (in addition to my articles in "Haolam Hazeh") advocating the idea of a Palestinian state in the newly occupied territories. In one of my speeches I reported that I had spoken with all the prominent leaders in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including those who were known as "supporters of Jordan", and that all of them had told me that they preferred a Palestinian state to the restoration of Jordanian rule. Both Dayan and Eshkol denied that, but Eshkol sent his advisor for the occupied territories, Moshe Sassoon, to ask me in private about my information. On August 13, 1969, Sassoon wrote a report to the Prime Minister (with a copy to me), in which he confirmed that his own information was identical with mine.

To my pleasant surprise, I found I had quite a number of supporters in the army high command.

Generals, it has been said, always fight the last war. They also have in their minds the last peace. In 1956, President Eisenhower and the leaders of the Soviet Union had compelled Ben-Gurion to give back to Egypt all the territories occupied during the Sinai War. Now everyone expected the same to happen. Faced with this possibility, many generals preferred the idea of a demilitarized Palestinian state next to Israel to the prospect of returning the territories to Jordan, a much bigger state that could serve as a staging area for the armies of Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In public opinion polls, support for the idea of a Palestinian state next to Israel reached an astonishing 37%.

That phase passed quickly. The US, which, on the eve of the war, had secretly informed our government that it would not object to an Israeli attack, now did nothing to compel Israel to withdraw. Gradually, the Israeli leadership became aware of a total absence of international pressure to return anything. Moreover, the "three No's" adopted in September 1967 by the summit meeting of humiliated Arab leaders in Khartoum ("No peace, No recognition, No negotiations") played into the hands of Israeli annexationists.

Teams of people from the Kibbutz movement were already swarming over the West Bank looking for favorable locations. They found them in the Jordan valley - flat, suitable for tractors and watered by the river.  Immediately after the war, huge numbers of refugees from the 1948 war had been driven out of the Jericho refugee camps near the river. The settlement drive, which was to change the map completely, was on its way.

ALMOST AUTOMATICALLY, actions of ethnic cleansing were carried out. It was never ascertained who had given the orders. Clearly, they were transmitted orally. Over all of them hovered the spirit of Moshe Dayan.

Immediately after the fighting, the writer Amos Kenan came to me. He was in a state of shock, and told that me he had just witnessed the expulsion of thousands of inhabitants from three villages in the Latrun area. I asked him to sit down and write a report of what he had seen. It was a revolting document. I immediately drove to the village Imwass (perhaps the Biblical Emmaeus) and saw bulldozers leveling house after house. When I tried to take pictures, soldiers drove me away.

From there I hastened to the Knesset and distributed copies of the report to several ministers, including Begin and the Mapam ministers, as well as to the assistants of the Prime Minister. It did not help. The work was finished before anybody could intervene. Today, the "Canada Park" covers the site.

At that time, everybody still believed that Israel would be pressured to return the territories it had conquered. The Latrun villages were a kind of bulge in the Green Line, dominating the main road between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. For that reason, somebody decided to create a fait accompli that would remove the pressure to return this area..

Almost at the same time, it was reported to me that the army had started to destroy the town of Qalqilia. From the vicinity of that town, Jordanian artillery had tried to shell Tel-Aviv, some 25 km away. I hastened there and saw that one neighborhood was already almost completely demolished. Again I went to the Knesset, in order to induce the Prime Minister and the other ministers to interfere. And indeed, the demolition was stopped and the houses already demolished were rebuilt. I don't know what role exactly my intervention played in this, but since then, every time I pass the place, I have a feeling of satisfaction. (Though Qalqilia is now cut off by the monstrous wall.)

Soon after, a soldier came to my office in an obvious state of nervous breakdown. He told me that every night refugees were trying to cross the Jordan in order to return home, and the order was to kill them on the spot, women and children included. I wrote a long letter to the Chief of Staff, Yitzhak Rabin, and received an answer from his office chief, Shmuel Gat, dated October 29, 1967, saying that the army had investigated the matter and "drawn the conclusion that could be drawn". As far as I know, the systematic massacre was stopped.
(Some days ago I met this soldier again. He was playing the flute on the street.)

ON THE first day of the fighting, it was a defensive war. Dayan declared that we had no intention of conquest. Almost all Israelis thought so, too. A day after the fighting was over, it had become a war of expansion and annexation. Completely intoxicated by the Biblical landscapes, the flood of "victory albums", the new patriotic songs and the messianic slogans, the public took the lead. The Eshkol government, which had first officially decided to negotiate the return of the Territories, forgot about this when it realized that there was no need to.

In an article soon after, I told a story about how to capture monkeys. One attaches a bottle to the branch of a tree and puts a fruit into it. The monkey puts his hand into the bottle, takes hold of the fruit and tries to pull it out, but his fist enclosing the fruit is much too big. Thus he is captured. He could, of course, get free any moment by letting go of the fruit, but, craving for the fruit, is unable to do so. In the same way, holding on to the occupied territories, we were hostages of our own greed.

After the war, Professor Yeshayahu (Isaiah) Leibowitz, an orthodox Jew, foresaw that the occupation would corrupt us and turn us into a people of "secret service agents and managers of foreign labor". (I called him "prophet Isaiah the third", which made him furious. He said that a prophet voices the words of God, while he was speaking the language of logic.)

IN RETROSPECT, it looked as if the whole scenario was the work of a talented director - the anxiety, the crescendo of fear, the miraculous victory. This helps to explain what happened later on.

In the Faust legend, Mephistopheles pays for the soul of the learned doctor with every imaginable kind of pleasure. Something like that happened to us in June, 1967. The chain of events directed by a superior being, a temptation deliberately put in front of us in order to test us. What looked like a gift from God was actually a temptation from Satan, an attempt to buy our soul.

Did he succeed?

Did Israel lose its soul?

I hope not. I hope that the intoxication is now finally wearing off. Many things said and written this week seem to indicate this. Forty years after the event, the question is still open.

Bil’in, Ramallah District, Palestine

Whoever still believes the myth that Israel only uses violence to “retaliate” against Palestinian violence should have spent the afternoon with me on Friday in Bil’in. For those unfamiliar with Palestinian non-violent resistance to occupation, the residents in Bil’in, a village in the Ramallah district, have been staging non-violent demonstrations on a weekly basis for more than two years. The Israeli government and Israeli land developers are confiscating farmland belonging to the villagers to build both the apartheid wall and a new Jewish-only settlement. The villagers have chosen to express their displeasure with this unjust policy through non-violent protest. Israelis and internationals have been joining them, resulting in an important example of Palestinian-led coordination between peoples, working together towards a political goal. This week in Bil’in there were about 40 of us.

Basically, the protest starts out as a simple march, a lot like the ones we might attend in the U.S. The demonstrators walk down a winding road towards the gate in the newly built apartheid wall that cuts off Bil’in’s farmland. We chant, sing and wave flags and signs. Here’s where the comparison to protests in the U.S. ends: at the gate to the wall stand between 15 and 20 soldiers and several more policemen, armed with sound grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets, live ammunition and teargas.

When we get about 100 feet in front of the soldiers, we raise our arms in order to show them that we hold no weapons and wish only to protest peacefully. The Palestinians at the front of the march begin to chant to the soldiers in Hebrew “Yom Shishi Yom Katzar, Chayalim Habaita!” (Friday is a short day, soldiers go home!) I stand near a few other internationals near the front. So, I can clearly see that no one is throwing stones at the soldiers. Not a single Palestinian throws a stone that is, until the soldiers start firing teargas rounds at us. There I am chanting my slogan standing with my friend when all of a sudden I hear a pop. We run back through the olive groves that line the road. There is coughing all around me and I see a fifteen-year old Palestinian boy hacking his lungs up. Before I can hand him the onion in my pocket, another ISM volunteer gives him one and a UPMRC medic attends to him. The army continues to fire teargas rounds at us, even though our backs are turned. This is when the Palestinian young boys begin to throw stones. The teargas cans whiz through the air and make the same noise that fireworks do. The air is thick and it smells like burning chemicals. The bandana I bought in Ramallah to cover my nose and mouth in the event that the soldiers decided to use teargas is wet with snot, spit and tears.

I look behind me and see that a friend, another American, has injured her hand. She fell while running from the soldiers and hit her hand on a large stone. We take cover behind a small stone wall along the roadside, a bit further up with about 5 other young women. The effects of the teargas are beginning to wear off for me, but my friend is still having trouble breathing and says that she wants to go home. We try to calm her, assuring her that the teargas won’t bother her in another minute. During this time, though, the soldiers continue to fire teargas rounds. We notice, suddenly, that the soldiers are approaching and marching up the road towards the edge of the village where the young boys are throwing stones. The soldiers, armed with big fat guns, fire warning shots into the ground and continue to teargas the boys. Two Palestinian girls stand in front of one of their jeeps.

“This is a non-violent demonstration! Ya ibn sharmuta! (you bastard!) This is our village and our
land. You have no right to be here!” An officer comes over to the girls and starts screaming in their faces. He starts to grab at them forcefully and attempts to arrest them. Immediately, some internationals jump on the girls and foil the arrest.

Is this the brave Israeli army we read about in romantic Zionist novels? Standing off against a bunch of little kids and teenagers bearing slingshots and roughing up girls?

As the demonstration winds down, I am pissed off at every American Jewish liberal in my community, in my family, in my group of friends, that condescendingly demands that Palestinians adopt a strategy of non-violence to address their grievances. We are fighting on a weekly basis merely to assert the Palestinian right to peaceable assembly in the face of Israeli repression. We posed no physical threat to the Israeli army and there was absolutely no reason for that demonstration to have gotten out of hand.

Israelis and American Jews may want Palestinians to roll over and play dead while Israel takes their
homes, gives them to Jewish settlers and makes money off of the land Palestinians have farmed for
centuries, but this simply isn’t realistic or fair. I think to myself, if Palestinians aren’t allowed to
demonstrate, what other means do we expect them to turn to resist their circumstances?

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Takes a Bullet in Bil’in
by Eileen Fleming / April 30th, 2007

On April 21st, 2007, in the Village of Bil’in, Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Northern Ireland, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet by Israeli Forces an hour after delivering this message at a peace press conference:

“Thanks to the media here for telling the truth… Bring this truth to whatever country you come from. Non-violence will solve the problems here in Israel and Palestine. Often, the world sees only violence. But Palestinians are a good people, working towards non-violence. This Wall must fall! It is an insult to the human family and to the world that we are building Apartheid Walls in the 21st Century! More than forty years of Occupation and Land Appropriation.”

Since 2004, in Bil’in, every Friday afternoon after prayers at the mosque, Palestinian farmers, workers, mothers, and students, together with Israeli and International volunteers, have been braving teargas, beatings, bullets, arrest, and even death to rise up against the well equipped Israeli army with nothing more than their own bodies.

Last Friday afternoon after prayers at the mosque in Bil’in …

Blocking the path with armed soldiers about 100 meters before the Wall, soldiers began to fire tear gas into the crowd of 400 or so protesters. The crowd would disperse, covering their faces with bandannas and onion slices to dilute the suffocating gases. But the crowd would regroup and continue, Ghandi-style, their non-violent procession to the Apartheid structure.

Israeli forces kept this up for quite some time, but as demonstrators reached closer to their goal, the occupiers added more ingredients to their recipe– this time using rubber-coated steel bullets. Several patches of demonstrators in different parts of the olive grove were screaming in Arabic, Spanish, Hebrew, English, and others, ‘Don’t shoot! We’re non-violent!’

But the triggers of the occupier’s guns pulled anyways– the weapon of non-violence needed to be dismantled…It is illegal under Israeli military law to shoot rubber bullets from a distance under 40 meters. They are considered lethal otherwise…I saw Tomas from Denmark fall to the ground, Dawood from the UK hit on the inner thigh near his groin, Ali from Palestine hit in the leg, and tear gas canisters were oozing with white smoke from what seemed like every inch of the land. Suddenly, Ms. Maguire, the Irish Nobel Peace prize winner was shot in the leg. Two other street medics carried her to safety and the army continued to fire into the non-violent crowd.

The resilience was astounding. The demonstrators kept regrouping. Even Ms. Maguire, after being shot and with red, watery tear-gassed eyes — she rejoined the march.…An estimated 25 people were either hit with rubber bullets, soldier batons, or received medical care from tear gas inhalation.

Máiread once wrote: “Hope for the future depends on each of us taking nonviolence into our hearts and minds and developing new and imaginative structures which are nonviolent and life-giving for all. Some people will argue that this is too idealistic. I believe it is very realistic. I am convinced that humanity is fast evolving to this higher consciousness. For those who say it cannot be done, let us remember that humanity learned to abolish slavery. Our task now is no less than the abolition of violence and war…. We can rejoice and celebrate today because we are living in a miraculous time. Everything is changing and everything is possible.

"While Governments can make a difference, in the final analysis it is the individual — that is each one of us — that will bring the dream of a nonviolent world to reality. We, the people must think and act nonviolently. We must not get stuck in the past as to do so will destroy the imagination and creativity which is so n a new future together…

"To change our world we need a spiritual and a political evolution. The political steps are often very obvious: uphold Human rights, and International Laws, demand our Governments meet their obligations under these Laws, support and reform United Nations, etc., However, all the legislation, resolutions, and fine talk will be of no use, if we do not as men and women evolve and become transformed, so that we, the human family, achieve a more enlightened and humane way of living together, and solving conflicts."

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that The Wall is a violation of International Law because it cuts through the West Bank appropriating Palestinian land and destroying Palestinian villages and economy to make way for further Israeli illegal settlements.

My first trip to Bil’in, where Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maried Maguire was shot, was in January 2006; my second time upon the potholed unpaved roads to this agricultural village near Ramallah was on November 10, 2006.

Bil’in is one of many villages in the occupied Palestinian territories where locals, Israelis and Internationals have been nonviolently and creatively resisting “The Wall” which in Bil’in is an electrified fence and miles of rolled barbed wire.

The electric fence and the Israeli army prevents the indigenous people to care and harvest their olive groves and 2,003 dunums of land have already been confiscated for The Wall/Fence and 750 settlers apartments have been built and are now occupied which the indigenous people are forbidden to enter.

In Bil’in, the Green Line is five miles from The Wall/electric fence and the Popular Committee in Bil’in has been nonviolently fighting the illegal actions of the Israeli government with nonviolent demonstrations and legal actions. Three court cases have been filed regarding the route of The Wall, the illegal settlements and land ownership. The Israeli government uses the Ottoman Law that states if the landowner doesn’t tend his land it can be confiscated by the State. The Israeli army and the electrified fence have effectively prevented the indigenous people from accessing and caring for their olive tree crop, depriving them of food and income.

The indigenous people of Bil’in brought their case to the Israeli Municipal Court and the High Court. Both courts agreed the building of the settlement dwellings was indeed illegal and ordered the construction to cease in January 2006. Construction continued and now that the settlers have moved in, the High Court has chosen to accept these “facts on the ground” and the colonists have been allowed to remain and the indigenous people have not received any compensation.

Abdullah and Mohammod, the local Coordinator’s of The Popular Committee Against The Wall in Bil’in informed me that 1,700 people live there and legally own 4,000 dunums of property. By erecting The Wall on Palestinian land, the Israeli government has effectively confiscated 2,003 dunums of prime agricultural land.

Beginning in 2004, every Friday afternoon in Bil’in after prayer at the mosque the ritual is for locals, Israelis and Internationals to march in solidarity to The Wall/Electric Fence while singing and chanting in Arabic slogans such as:

“The wall will fall in Bil’in; the wall will fall like in Berlin!”

On November 10, 2006, I was one of over 40 internationals from the UK, France, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Netherlands and the US who marched with dozens of Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall and over 300 locals down the dirt road to The Wall/Electric Fence. Soldiers hid behind trees to the right and to the left of us while over five dozen well armed soldiers stood on the other side of The Wall/Fence while one videotaped us. Jonathan Pollak, an Anarchist Against the Wall/AAtW, that I met during his USA speaking tour was also there.

After chanting a while in front of the soldiers, Jonathon was the first down the steep rocky hill and over a metal railing to grab the roll of razor sharp barbed wire that is in front of the electrified fence in order to shake it. He was immediately joined by a few dozen locals and other AAtW who were swiftly greeted by the first of dozens of sound bombs-thick orange plastic grenades that hit the ground with a deafening sound.

I was half way down the hill when a teenager next to me threw a rock at a soldier and I know that action alone can get one killed or arrested, so I headed back up the hill before the tear gas assaulted the crowd at the barbwire.

By the time I made it up the hill the first of hundreds of rubber bullets were being shot into the crowd. Only two internationals were hit that day, but last Friday in Bil’in, an estimated 25 people were either hit with rubber bullets, soldier batons, or received medical care from tear gas inhalation.

A Typical Friday Afternoon in Bil'in:


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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

 "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." - Aquinas

BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's Freedom of Speech Trial

Published 10/30/10

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa

“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946

The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright

“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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