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Home arrow Blog arrow September 2007 arrow September 13, 2007

September 13, 2007
WAWA Blog  September 13, 2007
They Are All Our Children


[East Jerusalem, Occupied Territory and Arlington, Virginia] "Everyday I must figure out what is the thing for me to do today to seek justice and accountability," Cindy Corrie, mother of Rachel, told the crowd of over 100 nonviolent justice and peace activists who attended the 6th annual U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine held at George Mason University in Arlington, Va. this past weekend.


On March 16, 2003, 23 year old, Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by a USA made Caterpillar D-9, in Rafah, the southern tip of the Gaza Strip. Rachel's hope had been that she and other non-violent peace activists who had been trained by ISM/International Solidarity Movement, would be able to prevent the demolition of the home a pharmacist of three children.

The Corrie family has yet to receive an apology from Israel or accountability from the Caterpillar Company.

[Learn More:
http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/



Over fifty member groups were represented at the conference, among them The Rebuilding Alliance which is dedicated to creating positive facts on the ground. Donna Baranski-Walker, Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit group raised awareness of Abir's Garden, which arose from her family's "decision to turn their tragedy and despair into care, creativity, and teamwork. Abir's Garden will nurture the children of Anata, East Jerusalem and provide a model way to overcome violence because it brings former combatants together to build the playground in Abir's memory."


On January 16, 2007, 10 year old Abir Aramin was walking home from school with her sister and two friends, but instead of having milk and cookies that afternoon; she was shot in the head. An Israeli Border Police jeep had parked outside the gates of the Anata girls' school and opened fire, and Abir was hit with a rubber bullet. After three days on life support her struggle ended.

Avichay Sharon, of Combatants for Peace stated, "Over the past 2 years, the Israeli Border Police and IDF forces have been creating provocations near the school district of Anata [which] has become a part of the daily routine for the children. Ever since construction started on the separation barrier surrounding Anata, the jeeps have been roaming the streets especially near the schools and shooting grenades and tear gas along with rubber bullets.

"Many children have been injured in the past by these brutal actions of the soldiers and on January 16th it became deadly. As in many other cases the police replied that the soldiers were shooting in response to stones thrown at them by children. Even though all the evidence and witnesses stated that no stones were thrown that day" the prosecution dismissed the Aramin family's case, claiming lack of evidence.


Bassam Aramin, Abir's father and co-founder of Combatants for Peace affirmed, "I'm not going to lose my common sense, my direction, only because I've lost my heart, my child. I will do all I can to protect her friends, both Palestinian and Israeli. They are all our children." Mr. Aramin works as a clerk at the Palestinian National Archives, but at the age of 17 he was sentenced to 7 years in Israeli prison for belonging to the then-outlawed Fatah movement. Although he had been beaten by soldiers in prison, he decided that he would not become a prisoner of hatred.


In March of 2006, this reporter was one of over 90 international ecumenical Christians on a Sabeel Reality Tour through the West Bank, who visited Anata and the neighboring refugee camp of Shuafat. Sabeel, which is Arabic for The Way has become a global liberation theology movement, and was founded in Jerusalem by a 1948 refugee and Anglican priest, Rev. Naim Ateek.

We viewed the thirty foot high concrete Wall erected next to the boy's high school and walked around the 'playground' for the 780 adolescents, but the facts on the ground is that their playground is just a slab of cement about the square footage of a basket ball court.

A resident refugee informed me that on a daily basis, "The Israeli Occupation Forces show up when the children gather in the morning or after classes. They throw percussion bombs or gas bombs into the school nearly every day! The world is sleeping; the world is hibernating and is allowing this misery to continue."

I wandered around taking photos and was warmly greeted by a teenage boy who asked me my name and where I was from. I cringed when I said America, for I was ashamed that over one hundred billion USA tax dollars since 1948 have gone to Israel and that over 1.2 million of our tax dollars are eaten up for every one mile of The Wall. The Wall has been deemed illegal and must come down, by the International Court of Justice.


A few miles from Anata, one can enter into an Orwellian Disney Land of lush green grounds of the Pizgat Ze'ev settlement. All the settlements in the West Bank populated by over 275,000 Israeli's are considered illegal under international law.



I was sick at heart and in my gut when I drove less than a mile into the colony for I counted three playgrounds and a swimming pool, and wondered how many USA tax dollars helped to build them, and why the same had not been done for the refugees; who are the indigenous people of that land.


Less than fifteen minutes after my group left Anata, and were praying next to a playground in Pizgat Ze'ev, a barrage of gunshots issued from the refugee camp. I was informed that the Israeli soldiers were showering the refugees with gun fire and terror; just a normal daily occurrence.

I lost it completely and sobbed uncontrollably, and felt like the Magdalena when she could not find her Lord. But then I thought of Jesus, and how he cried buckets of tears over Jerusalem.

2,000 years ago roving bands of politically radical and religious Jews rose up and violently resisted Roman rule in Palestine. They were called Zealots, and I imagine if I had lived back then, I might have been tempted to join them. But, as I live in the 21st century and choose nonviolence, I ardently, fervently and zealously curse the empire that condones the terrorizing and murder of innocent people just because they are Palestinian.

But, the good news is that nonviolent Israelis, Palestinians and Internationals have united as a community to build a positive fact on the ground. Abir's Garden will be more than a symbol of hope, it will be a safe place to grow and play as the struggle for justice and accountability continues.


YOU can Do Something:

http://www.rebuildingalliance.org/campaignAbirsGarden.html






















   
 
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