the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) hosted Reports from
Palestine at its 27th St. offices. Various people who had recently
returned from Palestine told stories about to-date life in Palestine.
ISM activists/volunteers/staff members who worked in Palestine to
support in non-violent resistance and to stand in solidarity
with Palestinians. The following will give you a much-needed perspective
to the Israeli/Palestinian story, that of the Palestinian people.
What was most revealing about their reports form Palestine was what
we learnt. Primarily for people interested in going to Israel/Palestine,
you learned of how it is to live there. Though, I must admit, standing
for two-and-a half hours was hard on my feet, my perception of what
has been going on in the Middle East has not changed but has been
validated. No longer under the borders of mainstream media, I was
able to hear real-life stories from real-life people.
Faraj, a16-year-old Palestinian refugee, spoke of the unpredictable
nature of the area in that one never knows how many days the
curfew might last. Amy Laura Cahm, a student at The New School, described
the undrinkable water because of the high level of nitrate; she says,
Gaza needs water, some people have not had water in four days.
Gail Miller, a retired Manhattan social worker, talks of a camp with
a very narrow street/lane with houses on both sides. She continues
describing how they were motioned by Palestinians in the camp to 200-300
boys and men sitting on the ground tied up. Immediately, we called
CNN, al-Jazeera, BBC. Someone did come. She finishes with, well,
once we agreed to leave, a soldier blasted a gun right next to my
ear and after jumping up in fright I yelled, My taxes paid for that
Indeed, they did. With close to $3.1 billion in military aid that
Israel receives from Uncle Sam, American tax dollars pay for many
of these actions. Miller further states that while she was glad she
said it, the soldier wasnt affected at all as he
is not going to change because of what you say.
In a video clip shot by Rick Rowley of BigNoise Films during his two-week
stay, you view
what happened one day when a curfew in a ruined town of Jenin has
been let up and the people are gathering food, much of what appears
rotten in a demolished marketplace.
Some people may not have heard of Jenin so you might want to say the
town of Jenin. Also, the you view when is a little
fuzzy. Can you say You view
Shots are fired, a man and young girl have been hit. The people began
running but did not seem to have a destination. Some scurried into
alleys and others ino broken down buildings.
An omnipotent presence of power and fear in the occupied lands of
Palestine are the soldiers. With military services mandatory for men
and women who have graduated high school, many of these Israeli soldiers
are just 18 years old.
Miller, who likes to see how the oppressors react to all the power
that their guns give them, comments that, some soldiers seem
to enjoy it but most of them look scared especially the young ones.
The power that the soldiers carry is predominantly if not all, carried
out by way of their guns.
Coughlin, a copyeditor who stayed in Hebron helping Palestinian farmers
get back to their land told a story of the roadblocks that are characteristic
of Palestinian roads. We met up with the Christian peacemakers
Team CPT (another organization to help farmers getting their
fields) and got to the first roadblock and we found an older
woman there that had been hit in the head with a rock. The area swelled
like a huge lump. Soldiers come up and yell "you have to get
off these fields
Coughlin and the CPT team try and explain to them that this woman
needs help and they continue to say with guns held high you
have to get off these fields. Seeing them persist in staying
put, Couglin describes the soldier saying, theres a curfew.
Though there was no curfew in Hebron that day on that road there was
a curfew. Finally, Coughlin said, the soldiers throw
a sound bomb and we disperse. Coughlins story gives us
an example of the kind of domineering, despotic control that the soldiers