Friday, July 30, 2004

Non violence in the Promised Land

I just got back from an ISM meeting. A local student and a lady from a nearby city had returned from Tulkarem. It was moving. I'll try to put down whatever I brought back from the meeting.

Someone asked if ISM was trying to promote ideas of non violent resistance among the Palestinians also. Well, under the harsh conditions that exist where your land and is being taken away from you inch by inch, you are under an illegal occupation where you are humiliated everyday, where you are unsafe even in your own home, just living each day and coming back home is an act of non violence.

Someone mentioned how living under the Nazi, and the subsequent Soviet occupation of Poland made them hate and despise occupation so much, and that is why they sympathise so much with Palestinians.

Conditions in Gaza are just so bad and horrific that the UN has no international staff in the Rafah refugee camps. With the intense Israeli harrassment, they have simply given up and all relief work is done by Palestinian employees. An american ISM volunteer in Gaza said shops would simply empty out if she went in - that was the height of distrust everybody had with americans. However, once people got to know her, her hosts were so protective of her that they won't let her venture out alone. The paranoia that exists in the huge ghetto called Gaza is simply insane. Life in the West Bank is a little different. There, you have isoated closed villages and towns. The wall is simply monstrous. One volunteer had an interesting story. Near the town of Biddu, one Palestinian family managed to stay put in their home even as the land around them was confisicated for settlements. The Israelis have built a 12 feet high wall encircling the house, with a narrow wak-way leading to it, also bounded with a high wall, enclosing them in their own little prison. A huge watch tower of the settlement stands overlooking their house.

However, there is hope, and a lot of Palsetinians say that they are ready to live with Jews if things get better. The occupation has to go! And the least Americans can do is stop the aid that feeds this occupation.

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