Wednesday, December 30, 2009

As world's attention turns to Gaza, apartheid, settlements, and crack down on nonviolent resistance in the West Bank and East Jerusalem

One year since Israel unleashed "Operation Cast Lead," Israel's 22-day assault against Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, injured thousands more, and destroyed billions of dollars of Palestinian civilian infrastructure, the world's attention is once again falling on Gaza as more than 1300 Gaza Freedom Marchers continue to make headlines in Cairo...with good reason. Yet we should be careful not to separate the occupation of the Gaza Strip from the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, nor the Palestinians of Gaza from the rest of the Palestinian population that continues to suffer the effects of Israeli apartheid. Here are some updates on apartheid, settlements, and the crackdown on nonviolent resistance in the West Bank and East Jerusalem: 1) Israel has announced that it will build 700 new housing units in settlements in East Jerusalem. The White House has voiced its opposition to this plan, but still refuses to attach conditions on its aid and support of Israel. Meet with your Members of Congress during the winter recess and come to D.C. in March to let the U.S. government know that opposition without accountability is no opposition at all. 2) The Israeli High Court has ruled that Palestinians can use Highway 443, which was built on Palestinian land in the West Bank but closed to Palestinian use since October 2002. In Ha'aretz, Gideon Levy calls Highway 443 "28 kilometers of distilled apartheid" and notes that, inexplicably, the High Court ruling will not come into effect for 5 months. Democracy Now's report on the ruling notes that "It is unclear if the ruling will apply to other Israeli-only roads in the West Bank." Learn how you can stand against Israeli apartheid by clicking here. 3) The Israeli crackdown on nonviolent resistance to Israeli continues. According to Stop the Wall, Mohammad Othman's administrative detention, which expired last Wednesday, has been renewed until January 22. He is still not allowed to talk with his lawyer and is still held as a West Bank resident though he has a Jerusalem ID. No charges are being given. Jamal Juma's detention was extended 12 days after a hearing in front of a military judge on December 24. And of course Abdallah Abu Rahmah has been charged with arms possession for collecting U.S.-funded tear gas canisters in a move that can only be described as unbelievable. (If you haven't already, get ideas for action from Stop the Wall.) Here's US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab writing for the Agence Global:
"I remember the day I first met Jamal Juma. He was speaking at a United Nations conference in 2003 about the damage being done by Israel’s Wall. The audience was shocked: Many had heard that Israel had started carving a Wall in the West Bank in 2002, but they had no idea it could already be seen from outer space....Now Jamal is in jail. Israel’s occupation army detained him on December 16. After interrogating him, they brought him back home, handcuffed, and searched his house while his wife and three children watched. Then they took him off to prison....Jamal is the third anti-Wall activist to be arrested in the last few months. Their arrest is an Israeli acknowledgement of their success, at great personal cost."
Hijab notes that US Campaign member group Jewish Voice for Peace has been active for the release of the anti-Wall protesters, and points out the connection between the Stop the Wall campaign and the international campaign for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli apartheid and occupation:
"Moreover, the Stop the Wall Campaign made a strategic decision to link to the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The first Stop the Wall activist to be arrested was Mohammad Othman on his return from Norway, where his advocacy efforts contributed significantly to the Norwegian Pension Fund decision to divest from the Israeli military giant Elbit Systems....Israel still believes it can act with impunity. It will only stop if there is a cost to its human rights violations. Appeals to the Israeli authorities to respect due process are not enough, as Omar Barghouti put it in a call to redouble efforts for BDS. Israel will only change if it "gets the message that its arrest of civil resistance leaders will only intensify the already massive BDS campaigns against it."
Find out how you can "intensify the already massive BDS campaigns" against Israeli occupation and apartheid by clicking here.