Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Palestinian people need U.S. support"

January 17, 2010

Iowa City Press-Citizen


Palestinian people need U.S. support


David Goodner - Guest Opinion


A fledging nonviolent popular resistance movement in occupied

Palestine is in danger of being wiped off the map by a coordinated

campaign of repression by Israeli forces and it needs the support of

international solidarity activists if hopes for a just peace are to survive 2010.


I spent the last three weeks of December in occupied East Jerusalem

and the West Bank volunteering with the International Solidarity

Movement, "a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the

Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct action

methods and principles ... to support and strengthen the Palestinian

popular resistance by providing ... international protection and a

voice with which to nonviolently resist an overwhelming military occupation force."


During my time in occupied Palestine, I was physically assaulted by

Israeli soldiers, tear gassed, shot at with rubber-coated steel

bullets and arrested. In just three areas of the country -- the

occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the West Bank

villages of Bil'in and Nil'in, and the cities of Nablus and Tukrem --

I personally witnessed or later documented:


• More than 75 arbitrary arrests of nonviolent demonstrators.


• The violent dispersal of a cultural celebration that left nine people wounded.


• The forced eviction and displacement of four families of Palestinian

refugees from their homes and the resettlement of the neighborhood by

fundamentalist settlers.


• The relocation of dangerous chemical factories over the Green Line

from Israel into occupied Palestine.


• The demolition of a small family business.


• A road blockade that cut off hundreds of farmers from their land.


• A "price-tag" campaign of terror by settler organizations against

Palestinian civilians.


• The burning of the Yasuf mosque to the ground.


• Three extrajudicial executions of alleged militants.


• The existence of an Apartheid Wall, settler-only roads and military

checkpoints that prohibit freedom of movement and trade and cut of

Palestinian villages from their traditional land.


A coalition of Palestinians, left-wing Israeli Jews, and international

solidarity activists have organized a nonviolent popular resistance

movement to protest the systematic land confiscations and new

settlement construction that has turned the West Bank into a Swiss

cheese of American Indian-style reservations, but the violent

criminalization and systematic disruption of legitimate dissent by the

Israeli Occupation Forces has had a devastating effect on local

organizing efforts.


Imagine if every week your local community organization had their

offices raided, their computers smashed, their files stolen, the doors

to their homes kicked down at night, their leaders arrested and held

for months without charges, or targeted at protests by snipers with

rubber-coated steel bullets, and you begin to see what life is like

for the Palestinian peace movement in the West Bank. In the open-air

prison that is the Gaza Strip, things are worse.


The Palestinian popular resistance movement is organized independently

of the established political parties such as Hamas and Fatah. The

movement's goal is to use nonviolent direct action and community

organizing to shift the balance of power in the conflict towards

Palestinian civil society and to stop the Israeli project of land

confiscations, territorial annexations, house demolitions, forcible

evictions, and internal displacements designed to pre-empt final

status negotiations.


Israel is the fourth largest military power in the world, with a

globally integrated, modern economy and the full diplomatic and

financial support of the United States. The Palestinians are a

developing nation of people without a state. Without a fundamental

shift in the power dynamics undergirding the conflict, there is little

incentive for Israel to grant the kinds of serious concessions that

are necessary to achieve a two-state solution.


That's why the international solidarity and boycott, divestment, and

sanctions movements are the two most effective ways for American civil

society to support and strengthen the Palestinian people.




David Goodner, a Des Moines Catholic Worker, was with the International Solidarity Movement, "a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods

and principles" from Dec 10 to Jan 1. Go to  David returned to the DMCW on Jan 3rd.  He can be reached at

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