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News ::
March in Support of Human Rights Workers in Occupied Palestine (english)
22 May 2003
Modified: 25 Jul 2003
On May 20, about fifty people gathered for a march in support of the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine, which is under an increasingly brutal military occupation by Israel. In an effort to hide their crimes the Israeli military has also begun targeting human rights groups like the ISM which might carry word of the brutality of the occupation to the outside world.
March in Support of Human Rights Workers in Occupied Palestine
by Matthew Williams

Boston MA, May 20, 2003--At 3:30 today, about fifty people gathered at Park St. for a march in support of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and other human rights workers in Palestine, which has been under military occupation by Israel since 1967. The march had been organized by BostonToPalestine, a local group that supports the work of the ISM. From Park St. we marched through Downtown Crossing to the Israel consulate, where the organizers unsuccessfully attempted to send in a delegation, and then on to Copley Square, where we joined the weekly anti-war vigil. The brutality of Israel’s occupation has grown over the last few years, since the start of the most recent intifadah (the struggle against the occupation). In an effort to hide their crimes the Israeli military has also begun targeting human rights workers, journalists and United Nations (UN) humanitarian workers who might carry word of the brutality of the occupation to the outside world.

The procession was lead by people carrying four coffins, one each draped with the American, British, UN, and Palestinian flags. The coffins were followed by a large banner reading, “Israeli Military: You Kill The Witnesses, But You Can’t Close Our Eyes!” Many of the marchers wore bright orange vests similar to those worn by members of the ISM and other human rights activists working in the Occupied Territories (the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip).

Sherif Fam, a media representative for BostonToPalestine, said, “We are out here today to protest the Israeli government’s policy of targeting peace activists. The ISM volunteers are working for peace and justice in Palestine. We are protesting the fact that they are being targeted, that several have been killed, and the fact that it appears that the Israeli government doesn’t want to have any witnesses to what they are doing.” The American, British and UN flags on the coffins represented the internationals who have been killed or maimed recently by the Israeli military. These include three members of the ISM--Rachel Corrie, an American who was run over by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to protect a Palestinian family’s house; Tom Hurndall, a Briton who is brain dead after the Israeli military shot him in the head; and Brian Avery who was shot in the face and has been permanently disfigured. Others murdered recently include UN relief worker Ian Hooke and journalists Nazeh Darwzeh and James Miller. Many of the signs carried by protesters bore the pictures of these victims of the Israeli military.

The toll among Palestinians, of course, has been far higher--2,323 have died since the intifada started on September 29, 2000; by comparison, 778 Israelis have died in the same period (sources: Palestinian Red Crescent Society and the Israeli military, respectively). Although the death toll on both sides is disturbing, that of the Palestinians is three times higher. Additionally, Palestinians have to live their daily lives under far harsher conditions. Tom Wallis, who recently returned from working as the ISM’s media coordinator in Palestine, said, “By targeting us, the Israeli military is basically eliminating what remains of witnesses in the Occupied Territories who are getting the word out about what they are really doing. What they’re doing is basically killing Palestinians at will, but more that than that, they’re choking all of Palestine through the building of the Security Wall, through closure, through curfew, stealing land, stealing water--basically, all of the settlement-building contributes to stealing the water supply of the Territories.” The Israeli military is guilty of numerous human rights violations in the occupied territories. The Israeli military has surrounded Palestinian cities and villages and forces Palestinians to pass through checkpoints to go anywhere, often holding them arbitrarily for long periods of time. The military also frequently imposes curfews without warning, the violators of whom may be shot. These policies have severely damaged Palestine’s social infrastructure and economy. Israeli actions have also included mass round-ups of Palestinian men (apparently on the racist pretext that all Palestinian men are suspects for terrorism), attacks on ambulances and other medical personnel, and the bulldozing of the homes, olive tree farms and wells of Palestinians.

The Israeli government has defended both the occupation and its repressive actions as necessary to protect the security of Israel. Marty Federman, a member of the local Jewish peace group Visions Peace with Justice in Israel-Palestine and a self-described “long-time supporter of Israel”, turned this argument on its head, saying that the occupation actually harmed Israel’s security and endangered the lives of Israeli Jews as well as Palestinians: “We see by what’s been happening in the last few days [a wave of suicide bombings] is that these borders are not defensible--the Israelis stop a lot of suicide bombers, but they can’t stop them all. They would have a much better chance if they were back at the ’67 borders. The other thing is that history tells us that whenever Palestinians have had a sense of some sort of hope for some resolution, the support for the extremist groups like Hamas goes down tremendously and it becomes in the self-interest of the Palestinians to join the Israelis in trying to fight against the extremists so it becomes a much safer situation. The fact of the matter is that withdrawal from the occupation is the one strategy that hasn’t been tested. [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon came into power a couple years ago saying, I’m the only one who can stop the violence, I’m the only one who can stop the killing of Jews, and the numbers Jews being killed has actually gone up precipitously since Sharon came in. This is just not a viable situation.”

Like Federman, Wallis argued that it is not only Palestinian organizations that commit terrorism: “The terrorism that we hear about is terrorism by [Palestinian groups like] Islamic Jihad or Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, as opposed to the state terrorism that Israel sponsors. I don’t see any difference between the two--Israeli state terrorism targets civilians as well. They’re both doing the same thing, but the Israeli army obviously does in on a much larger scale, and they do it in a different form--blowing up food warehouses and eliminating all the food sources, preventing Palestinians from harvesting their olives--these are all various forms of terrorism.”

Needless to say, the Israeli government sees things in a different light and has actually charged the ISM with aiding and abetting terrorists, justifying its attacks on the peace organization on these grounds. Fam dismissed these charges: “The volunteers who work for the ISM are in no way encouraging anything like terrorism, nor are they harboring anything like that. They are there to provide humanitarian services, they are there to nonviolently resist the occupation, but in no way are they affiliated with any kind of terrorist organization. This is a very easy and facile way of attacking them.” Fam stressed not only the nonviolent character of the ISM, but also that ,“The volunteers of the ISM are lead by Palestinians, nonviolent Palestinians, so it is not an independent movement outside of Palestine, it is being lead by Palestinians and it has always stood for nonviolent opposition.”

The roots of the current conflict go back to the early twentieth century when, with the support of the British Empire, European Jews fleeing anti-Semitism settled in the British colony of Palestine. Unfortunately, they showed little sensitivity to the local culture, not thinking how settlements supported by the Empire would look to Arabs subject to colonial rule; they also bought land from absentee land-owners, displacing the peasants farming it, which also generated hostility. In 1947, the UN General Assembly tried to settle the disputes between the Jewish settlers and the native Palestinians by dividing the British colony of Palestine into two independent states--43% of the territory going to a Palestinian state and 56% to a Jewish state, even though the Jews had a population half that of the Palestinians and owned only 8% of the land. When Israel declared independence in 1948, neighboring Arab states moved by their own territorial ambitions attacked Israel. In the ensuing war, Israeli seized 77% of historic Palestine, driving much of the Palestinian population from their homes into exile, where their descendents still live. The remaining 23% of historic Palestine came under the control of the Arab states of Jordan (the West Bank) and Egypt (Gaza Strip). Israel seized these territories as well in the 1967 Israeli-Arab War and has maintained a military occupation of them ever since.

In violation of international laws on warfare and military occupation, Israel began colonizing the Occupied Territories, creating Jewish-only settlements, connected with each other and Israel proper by an elaborate network of roads for Jews only. With the Oslo peace process, the majority of Palestinians conceded to Israel’s right to exist in its pre-1967 borders, in return for which they hoped for an end to the occupation of the remaining 22% of their original homeland and a just settlement to the refugee problem. Instead, the settlements and Jewish-only roads continued to grow. The Israeli government’s apparent strategy was to create “facts on the ground” allowing it to claim control of these territories permanently, dividing Palestinian controlled territory into non-continuous chunks of land that could not form a viable, independents state. In response to these and the daily frustrations of the occupation, the second intifada broke out in September 2000. The Israeli military has responded with ever escalating levels of repression.

A new “road map to peace” has recently been laid out by the US, UN, European Union and Russia. Although the Palestnian Authority (the Palestinian proto-government created under the Oslo peace process) has accepted it, the Israeli government has more or less rejected it. Federman pointed out that the Israeli government’s actions are undermining moves towards a peaceful resolution in other ways: “For years Sharon has been saying, we need a partner for peace, and it’s absolutely absurd for Israel to be targeting the moderate, nonviolent movement within Palestine. There’s no excuse for that. One can only conclude that Sharon’s goal is to squash the voice of moderation, the voice of nonviolence, so he can demonize the extremists as if they were the ones who represented the Palestinians.”

Consequently, the people I spoke with at the protest were not optimistic about the prospects for peace in the near future. The US government remains a staunch supporter of Israel, apparently unwilling to put any pressure on the Sharon government to change its policies significantly. All agreed that a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip is necessary. Fam and Federman were hopeful that the US might eventually come around to this position, with Fam arguing for a US-lead peace-keeping force to separate and protect both sides. Wallis was less optimistic: “All I hear from the White House is the responsibility of the Palestinians for controlling [terrorist] organizations that Israel is incapable of controlling even though they have the entire West Bank and Gaza in shut-down--I don’t hear anything about what Israel’s responsibilities are and until Bush’s White House recognizes some of Israel’s in ceasing settlement building and pulling out of the West Bank and Gaza and ending the occupation, I don’t see that a true peace is feasible. I believe the only way that peace will come to the Territories is if a third party other than the United States, a group of international observers, whether sponsored by the UN or any other group, separates them--someone who can witness and document on the ground and prevent some it from happening.”

In the absence of any official international organization to do peace-keeping, this burden falls on human rights groups like the ISM. As the Israeli government’s repression increases, it is all the more essential that those of us in the US continue to support its work.

****

To get involved with BostonToPalestine, visit there website (http://www.bcpr.org/b2p ) or e-mail them (bostontopalestine (at) palsolidarity.org ). To get involved with supporting Palestinian rights in other ways, get in touch with the Boston Committee for Palestinian Rights (http://www.bcpr.org or info (at) bcpr.org). To find out more about the International Solidarity Movement, see their website at (http://www.palsolidarity.org ). To find out more about the Israel-Palestine conflict, see ZNet’s MidEast Watch page (http://www.zmag.org/meastwatch/meastwat.htm ), the Electronic Intifada (http://electronicintifada.net/new.shtml ) or the Middle East Research and Information Program (http://www.merip.org ).
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Comments

ISM = Terror (english)
23 May 2003
It requires the depraved outlook one finds prevalent here at Nazimedia to align yourself with terrorist supporters like the ISM.

Here is a good shot of what the ISM folks do for fun...burn American flags:

to "saint rachel corrie" (english)
25 May 2003
"terrorist supporters like the ISM"

burning a u.s. flag is nowhere near as much an act of terrorism as celebrating columbus day, or giving henry kissinger the nobel peace prize. it's a political statement, an expression of complete opposition to u.s. policies, which are the direct catalyst of massive poverty, war, famine, political crises and so on, which directly kill thousands, possibly millions every year.

feel free to support u.s. policy, but don't go getting all morally superior when people start expressing their disgust. and trying to prevent such free expression as burning a flag might well result in the question: "who's being the nazi now, pilgrim?"

and one more thing: why don't you try to do something honorable, instead of defaming the character of a young woman killed trying to defend the home of an innocent family, who even the israelis don't accuse of anything except being related to militants.

i wonder, could insulting a murdered woman's memory be classified as 'supporting terrorism?'
anti-semitism is just a coincidence (english)
17 Jun 2003
"It's just a coincidence that Zionist occupation of Palestine was established by the United Nations, particularly by the Stern Gang and terrorists within the British Empire." - Yes, the United Nations is full of Zionists (especially Europe and the Arab states!) and the British governement is full of terrorists. Of course.

"It's just a coincidence that Zionism is a theocracy, but Palestine and most of the Arab world (including Iraq) are secular republics." - Yes, if by most of the Arab world, you mean Turkey. No democratic republics here, folks. Secular? Sure, secular as a Klan rally.

"It's just a coincidence that most inbred Euro-American "Jews" distort the English language, such as pretending they're Semitic or genuine Jews when they are actually Caucasian Mammonists." - Yes, now we're getting into some good old-fashioned Jew-baiting. Oh wait, they're not even really Jewish somehow! Doesn't that make your entire rambling "argument" invalid?

"It's just a coincidence that fractional-reserve fraud was invented by Talmudic goldsmiths about 500 years ago." - Yes, I don't know what fractional reserve fraud is either. Does a Talmudic goldsmith make gold out of Talmuds? That's pretty ingenius!

"It's just a coincidence that fractional-reserve fraud was invented by Talmudic goldsmiths about 500 years ago.
It's just a coincidence that fractional-reserve banking was adopted as "legal" by the Bank of England about 300 years ago.
It's just a coincidence that American Revolutionaries fought against the Bank of England and the British East India Company about 200 years ago." - Yes, if these things have anything to do with each other, you're going to have to say so, instead of implying that American revolutionaries fought 500-year old Talmudic goldsmiths.

Let's just skip ahead and finish with this:
"Is it just a coincidence that some people can't study real world history, observe the obvious, learn from mistakes and start telling the truth?" No, crap like this is made up by racists like you. There is no place on the left, or right for this kind of hateful thinking. Especially not on indymedia, which supposedly is anti-racist, but has no problem with anti-semitism like this. He doesn't even mention the story or Israel! (whose settlement policies I don't support, by the way.) You guys are disgusting.
Cowards (english)
10 Jul 2003
When these "Human Rights Workers" start riding the Israeli buses then i will march and support them. Until that time I will know them for what they are, and it most definitly is not this fashionable label.
people don't invade others and expect peace (english)
25 Jul 2003
Just because the hebrews murdered canaanites, Amorites, etc, 3000 years ago, Zionists think they have a right to just move into Palestine, take over, steal what they can, murder (and it is murder, see below) anyone who resists, route bereaving widows and orphans into the wilderness, and twenty years later, invade the wilderness as well, to start up with MORE ethnic cleansing. Zionists are sick, murderous thieving scum. And they are so in thier own eyes, as well. When it comes to nazi gold in Swiss banks, Zionists say, "Nobody can be allowed to profit from murder." BUT, since Hebrews murdered for the land in the past, Zionists have a right to murder the locals for Palestine? Can anyone explain that rationalization?

Murder-from above- if someone comes into your home and just takes your TV set, that person would be a thief. RIGHT? And if you tried to stop the thief's crime against you, just to have the thief pull a gun and blow your brains all over your family, and still takes your survivor's TV set, then that thief would be a murderer as well. RIGHT? That is the law in my state, and I bet in Boston too. And there is a damn good reason for the law. ISN"T THERE???
Zionists wanted the Palestinian's land, so they put together a crusader's war of conquest (that they call Israel)to destroy palestine. They often claim that there never was a Palestine. Like palestinians not having a western style government with diplomatic recognition from western powers really makes the Palestinians not a real people (more below)who can be invaded and destroyed. What an obtuse notion. and people really buy into that crap.

not a real people-we already know that Zionists consider Palestinians to be subhumans. The Zionist ubbermench have long said that Palestine is "a land without a PEOPLE for a people without a land." So what are the locals if they are NOT people?? Do the Zionist crusade supporters have any half assed responces to that one??? The Zionist ubbermench also try to scapegoat the victims of thier agressions, just like that other tribe of ubbermench did. I got more.