The risks of solidarity are the essence of shared struggle

Palestine Update 519
Editorial comment

The risks of solidarity are the essence of shared struggle
“When you go to the Holy Land and see what’s being done to the Palestinians at checkpoints, for us, it’s the kind of thing we experienced in South Africa. Whether you want to say Israel practices apartheid is immaterial. They are doing things, given their history, you think, “Do you remember what happened to you?” Then they clobber you and say, “You are anti-Semitic.” (Bishop Desmond Tutu in his own words –From an interview in Washington Post)

In a post, Actress Emma Watson shared a picture from a pro-Palestinian rally with the phrase, “Solidarity is a verb”. In the caption, Watson included a quote from British-Australian activist Sara Ahmed, who said: “Solidarity does not assume that our struggles are the same struggles, or that our pain is the same pain, or that our hope is for the same future….”10 points from Gryffindor for being an anti-Semite,” [former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny] Danon tweeted.”   Watson adds: “Solidarity involves commitment, and work, as well as the recognition that even if we do not have the same feelings, or the same lives, or the same bodies, we do live on common ground.” Indeed, solidarity is costly. You are accused, vilified, and expected to toe the line – and, sometimes, by both sides. The liberals advice you to tone down, the conservatives want you out, and a handful of justice-seeking radicals egg you on. Very few will travel with you the distance. At best, they would applaud from the safety of distance”.

Solidarity in essence is that action which affirms inclusion of the victim who is abandoned and isolated. It says humanity is one. The everyday life of the Palestinian is one that demands human solidarity in more than words. As Tutu says, you can be clobbered for doing the right thing. To those who have conditioned themselves to fight and assert justice, indeed solidarity is a verb. According to Google, verbs are words that show an action, occurrence, or state of being.

The stories in this issue show why solidarity in Palestine is not a mere choice but an obligation. It must correspond to those actions which generate and augment hope, as highlighted in the last story in this issue. “Six Palestinian women have found a creative outlet to bring hope to their community: a carpentry workshop producing beautiful pieces of art made out of wood…. “We love and care for our village. This is our own way to tell our story, to resist, and to keep fighting for our lives here. We see it as sumud [steadfastness].”

In solidarity

Ranjan Solomon


Israel approved 12,000 new settler units, demolished 177 Palestinian buildings in Jerusalem in 2021

Israeli officials approved plans for the construction of thousands of new housing units and demolished dozens of Palestinian-owned buildings in occupied al-Quds last year, the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs says. The ministry said Israeli authorities green-lighted a host of plans in order to build about 12,000 units in the contested holy city throughout 2021, while they razed 177 Palestinian residences there. They also ordered demolition of another 200 homes in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces also killed 13 residents of the city, arrested more than 2,784 others, and forcibly evicted more than 490 Palestinians from their ancestral homes there. Israel regularly flattens Palestinian homes and structures in Jerusalem on the pretext that they lack building permits, expropriating more Palestinian lands to expand its illegal settlements.

The international community considers Israeli settlement construction illegal under international law. Nearly 700,000 Israelis settlers live in illegal settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The UN Security Council has in several resolutions condemned Israel’s settlement projects in the occupied Palestinian lands. Israel’s land grab in the occupied West Bank sparked a war between the military and Palestinian resistance groups in the Gaza Strip that lasted 11 days. During the war, Israel’s relentless bombardment of Gaza killed over 250 Palestinians, including 66 children. In addition to expanding its illegal settlements, Israel restricts freedom of movement for Palestinians not only in and out of Palestine but also within it. Israeli settlers, backed by the military, also routinely storm the al-Aqsa mosque and provoke clashes with Palestinian worshipers.
Source:

What my son is learning about being Palestinian in the Jewish state,

Palestinians bathe in the Mediterranean Sea during the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday as the sun sets in Jaffa, July 19, 2015. (Oren Ziv) “Already from the age of three or four, Mahmoud understood this state differentiates between people — a hierarchy determined according to skin color, religion, and nationality. Mahmoud understood that Jewish children are deemed more important. He understood this because there was no playground near our house, and even when one was built later it was pitiful, despite the fact that there were many small children in the neighborhood….At the age of 12, Mahmoud understood that the resources provided to the Arab education system were less than those of the Jewish system….Shortly before the age of 14, Mahmoud understood that not only was he less important than a Jewish child, he is a suspect by definition, exposed to police bullying and violence….Now, weeks after his 18th birthday, Mahmoud is setting out on his own path. He is no longer a minor, and yet I worry whenever he leaves home. The amount of violence that exists in this country, the proliferation of illegal weapons that the police do nothing to stop, the amount of violence from police officers themselves — it all terrifies me.” “Already from the age of three or four, Mahmoud understood this state differentiates between people — a hierarchy determined according to skin color, religion, and nationality. Mahmoud understood that Jewish children are deemed more important. He understood this because there was no playground near our house, and even when one was built later it was pitiful, despite the fact that there were many small children in the neighborhood….At the age of 12, Mahmoud understood that the resources provided to the Arab education system were less than those of the Jewish system….Shortly before the age of 14, Mahmoud understood that not only was he less important than a Jewish child, he is a suspect by definition, exposed to police bullying and violence….Now, weeks after his 18th birthday, Mahmoud is setting out on his own path. He is no longer a minor, and yet I worry whenever he leaves home. The amount of violence that exists in this country, the proliferation of illegal weapons that the police do nothing to stop, the amount of violence from police officers themselves – it all terrifies me.”
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Stripped, Beaten, Tasered: Complaints by Palestinians Reveal Jerusalem Police Brutality
“A 16-year-old stripped and beaten in a public washroom, a 60-year-old woman handcuffed and dragged across the floor, a female journalist subjected to sexist comments during an interrogation, a youth attacked in a city center, and another one dragged out of bed in the middle of the night, falsely identified as someone else, his family members beaten. All of this can be found in six complaints filed in recent months at the unit for investigating police misconduct at the Justice Ministry, copies of which have reached Haaretz. Following several complaints of serious violent behavior towards Palestinians, only one indictment was filed against a policeman…. Jessica Montell, the executive director of human rights organization HaMoked, commented. “This situation creates a cycle that perpetuates police violence because officers act with a sense that they are immune from accountability,” she said. “Violence against Palestinians in East Jerusalem has become routine over the past year, and therefore it is incumbent upon the internal investigations unit to pursue justice in the complaints we filed, with the goal of hopefully preventing additional harm in future.”
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An evacuated settlement becomes a symbol of Jewish extremism
Amid tensions over the fate of the West Bank outpost of Homesh, settler attacks on Palestinians have surged — often abetted by Israeli security forces.

“Between 2017 and 2021, the Israeli anti-occupation NGO Yesh Din, which filed repeated petitions to the High Court on behalf of the residents, documented 27 settler attacks in the Homesh area, including both physical bodily violence and property damage. In August this year, settlers from the outpost abducted and tortured a Palestinian teenager, burning his legs and hanging him from a tree, until he was found by the army and returned to his family….According to Yesh Din, only nine of the many Palestinians who were attacked over the last four years lodged a complaint with the Israeli police. One of those complaints is still under investigation; the other eight were closed without indictments….The public campaign for Homesh culminated last Thursday, when about 10,000 settlers and right-wing activists, including MKs and young yeshiva students, marched to the outpost. Several groups in the crowd sang racist, anti-Arab songs as they marched by the nearby village of Burqa. In the days that followed, a number of young settlers were documented hanging an Israeli flag on a building in Burqa. The army, which did not give official approval for the march, nonetheless allowed settlers to walk or take buses to Homesh — even though it is still meant to be off-limits to Israelis under the Disengagement Law. While the settlers marched freely, soldiers restricted Palestinian movement in the area, closing the main road from Nablus to Jenin to Palestinian traffic, and using dirt mounds to block entrances to villages like Burqa and Sebastia.”
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Carving sumud out of wood
A carpentry workshop is providing Palestinian women in al-Walaja a creative outlet in an agricultural community stifled by Israel’s separation wall.

Members of the Palestinian women's carpentry workshop Rweisat for Wood Art at work, in al-Walaja, West Bank. (Courtesy from their Facebook page)“The Palestinian agricultural village of al-Walaja straddles a suffocating boundary between occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. Nearly totally surrounded by the Israeli separation wall, it also lies in the shadow of settlements guarded by armed personnel and security cameras that monitor every movement in the area. And yet, in the midst of it all, six Palestinian women have found a creative outlet to bring hope to their community: a carpentry workshop producing beautiful pieces of art made out of wood…. “We love and care for our village. This is our own way to tell our story, to resist, and to keep fighting for our lives here. We see it as sumud [steadfastness].”
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