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(en) Palestine-Israel, Budrus, Alt. Media*, The Third Intifada - 'Yes to Peace, No to the Wall'

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 11 Dec 2004 12:11:05 +0100 (CET)

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To appreciate the breathtaking magnanimity expressed by this
short slogan, one needs to remember its context. Imagine: a
foreign army occupies your village for decades, reduces you to
subjects without any rights, arrests you arbitrarily, savagely
tortures the arrested, and, on top of it all, sends mighty
bulldozers to erect a gigantic wall on your land, locking you up
as in a cage. And your reaction? Peaceful demonstrations,
shouting "No to the Wall" – but "Yes to Peace," to peace
with your very oppressor and dispossessor.

Budrus, where this slogan was coined, is a small village of
some 1,200 Palestinians in the northern part of West Bank, just
across the Green Line. Few Israelis have ever heard of it; but
some may remember neighboring Kibia, just a mile to the east,
where, on Oct. 14, 1953, an Israeli army unit – led by a
young officer called Ariel Sharon – ravaged the village (then
still under Jordanian rule), destroying 40 houses and killing
more than 50 people, an atrocity that caused international
outrage and was strongly condemned by the UN Security

Half a century after that massacre, PM Ariel Sharon sent his
bulldozers to the same rural area. Many imagine the Wall as a
kind of border separating Israel from the Palestinian territories.
The facts are different: the Wall twists like a snake entirely
inside the Palestinian territory, and – in combination with
other physical barriers, most notoriously roads for-Israelis-only
– it creates numerous small enclaves, in which Palestinian
villages and towns – sometimes just a few hundred people,
less than in any average prison – are locked up, unable to
leave their unsafe haven except by mercy of an Israeli soldier at
the gate, when equipped with proper permits issued (or rather
not issued) by the Israeli army. The contiguous territory
in-between the enclaves is designated for the Israeli

Living in a Cage

A'ed Murar from Budrus counts three levels on which the Wall
is destructive to Palestinian life. First the immediate level: the
Wall takes the agricultural lands and water wells of the village,
either because it is constructed on them, or because they are
left outside the Wall, inaccessible to the farmers. The section of
the population that depends on agriculture thus loses most of
its means of survival.

The second level is imprisonment: there are no clinics or
hospitals, no higher schools or universities, nor any other social
and economic infrastructure inside the enclave; moreover,
about 80% of Budrus' population works outside the village:
they, too, lose their means of survival as their access to the
outside world is dependent on Israeli army caprices.

The third level is that of nation and vision: by locking up the
Palestinians and taking the land in-between the enclaves, Israel
robs them of their future, of a contiguous territory for the
Palestinian State promised in President's Bush roadmap. The
Palestinians are thus left with no way to earn their living, with
no infrastructure to run their present life, and with no hope for
the future.

A Short History of the Wall

Historian and Ta'ayush activist Gadi Algazi distinguishes
several periods in the construction of the Wall. From April
2002-May 2003, the Wall was built with incredible speed –
300-500 bulldozers working simultaneously – hardly
attracting any public attention at all, neither in Israel nor
abroad, thus enabling the Israeli government to quietly and
irreversibly change the geography of the land for decades. The
Israeli public had the illusion that the Wall was being built
along the Green Line – a good reason for naďve peaceniks
to support it – and that at worst it was perhaps conflicting
with property rights of some Palestinian landowners along its
route. Even the Palestinians could hardly grasp the full impact
of the project, both because of its indeed incredible dimensions,
and because Israel refused to publish any maps at the time, so
that information was scarce in a West Bank hardly recovering
from the massive Israeli aggression of "Operation Defensive
Shield." Some resistance to the Wall was led by small groups of
Israelis, international activists, and Palestinians, like in the
Mas'ha camp.

May 2003 signaled a change: since then, the Wall has become
the focus of media attention, and turned into a political issue in
Israel and abroad. Demonstrations, many of them by Israelis
and international activists, and their violent dispersion by the
army increased public awareness and reduced the pace of
construction. The clear decision of the International Court of
Justice against the Wall as well as the critical position taken by
the Israeli Supreme Court regarding its route mark a peak in
the public struggle against the Wall; consequently, in the
summer of 2004, the construction was virtually stopped, and
the Israeli establishment started looking for new tactics.

It is in this period, in places like Budrus, that people like Mr.
Murar – who had participated in the first Intifada and had
been jailed and brutally tortured by Israel – reached the
conclusions that resistance to the Wall should be led and
organized first of all by Palestinians themselves; that waiting
quietly for courts and verdicts was not enough; and, above all,
that nonviolent demonstrations were the best weapon of the
weaker side. He believes this for moral reasons, but also
because nothing could harm the Palestinian interest more than
violence, immediately exploited by Israel to distract public
attention from the Palestinian plight and to accelerate the
construction project behind the thick screen of "fighting off
terrorism." A'ed Murar calls it the Third Intifada: the Intifada
against the Wall.

Since the Palestinian Authority offered no real strategy or help
in the villagers' struggle, they had only themselves to rely on
– aided by Israeli and international supporters, like
Ta'ayush, International Solidarity Movement, or Anarchists
against the Wall. The Third Intifada is a popular uprising: in
villages like Budrus, party affiliation and other differences are
put aside, and the whole village marches together time after
time to demonstrate against the Israeli bulldozers. Footage
taken in several such demonstration shows the utter
embarrassment of the Israeli soldiers, armed to the teeth
against unarmed men, women, and children, who can stand for
hours just a few meters away from them singing and shouting
without any violence at all. If at last a single stone is thrown,
the soldiers seem to be truly relieved: they immediately employ
their heavy truncheons, shoot tear-gas and rubber-covered
bullets at the crowd, and make violent arrests. But the
resistance is not in vain: when a whole village stands together
day after day, even the cruelest army must have second
thoughts. So far, the demonstrations in Budrus managed to
save the biggest plantation of the village from Israel's

Crucial Stage

The construction of the Wall, says Algazi, seems to have
reached a crucial period. Following the verdicts from The
Hague and Jerusalem, the Israeli establishment made a pause
and took some time to reorganize and elaborate a new route
and new strategies; these are now ready, and the construction
of the Wall is about to resume in full speed. Signals and threats
conveyed to inhabitants in Budrus make it clear that Israel is
not going to give up easily on their land and water. The number
of soldiers sent to demonstrations in villages like Budrus has
been reduced, to increase the soldiers' insecurity and ease their
finger on the trigger, and villagers are warned that if they do not
capitulate this time, live ammunition may be used.

This nonviolent popular struggle is hardly reported in
mainstream press. One needs to refer to alternative media to
read about it. The idea of nonviolent Palestinian resistance
sharply contradicts the stereotype of Palestinians as a "nation of
suicide-bombers"; reporting peaceful Palestinian
demonstrations is highly undesirable in official Israel's eyes.
For all those reasons, this is a struggle very worthy of both
public interest and support: The future of Israel/Palestine will
be decided here, on the ground, rather than in press
conferences in Washington or coalition intrigues in Jerusalem.
* Ed. Note: It is not ignorance - it is just selectivity
of presenting the facts...
Every one, including main Media acknowledge the contribution
of the Anarchists Against The Wall to the third intifada.

Many are aware that the March-April 2003 Masha camp of
Israeli (anachists mainly) international volunteers, and nocal
villagers was the catalist that ignitted it.

Few are aware that the origin of the idea of the camp came
from a workshop in the PGE European conference in Leiden (Holand)
summer 2002. In the workshop participated a significant contingent
of the Israeli anarchist scene, Israeli Palestinians, and other
PGA people interested in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle against
the occupation.

The confrontational mode of the Anarchists Against The Wall
who were not satisfied with the less beligerant mode of the
other Israeli activists draw the attention of the mainstream
media. It also supplied to the Palestinian villagers a kind
of shield agains the full use of murderous live ammunition
by the Israeli army in the suppression of the mass demonstrations.

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