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(en) Palestine-Israel, Budrus, Lessons in popular resistance or We are all Ahmed Awwad by kobi snitz*

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 14 Dec 2004 15:49:59 +0100 (CET)

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In his book "stupid white men" Michael Moore, includes an open letter to
Arafat, instructing him in the principles of non violence. Moore assures
Arafat that when such an approach can not fail and, when taken, it will
have a million potential Israeli supporters amongst those who attend
'peace now' rallies. Moore seems sincere in his support for Palestinian
rights but he must have known that such a letter reinforces the idea
that Palestinian political under-development is responsible for their
misery. Quite apart from the obscenity of criticizing our victims,
Moore also distorts history by giving the impression that Palestinian
resistance has been restricted to terror attacks.

To begin with, strikes, demonstrations and non cooperation with the
occupation have gone on for decades. These efforts have not been joined by
Peace Now nor covered by CNN. In fact, as Peace Now opposes refusal to
reserve service, the only contact many peace now members have with the
Palestinian population is when they man checkpoints or generally
participate in the repression. In fact, I have met such a Peace Now
soldier guarding the wall around the Palestinian village of Mas'ha. He
repeated a common line telling me that he, being the humane soldier that
he is, is reducing the brutality of the occupation and thus doing more for
peace than those like myself who only criticize the army.

For its part, the IDF has tried hard to teach Palestinians a different
lesson in Popular resistance. At the height of Palestinian popular
resistance in 1987-88, AL-HAQ the Palestinian human rights monitoring
organization has documented the deportation, administrative detention
(i.e. imprisonment without trial) and beatings of union leaders, heads of
charitable organizations and popular committees as well as protest
organizers (see 'punishing a nation; Israeli Human Rights Violations
During the Palestinian Uprising December 1987- December 1988', Al-Haq,
south end press, 1988). In fact AL-Haq itself has had 4 out of 5 of its
original field workers in administrative detention for most of the period
of the report.

The Israeli position on Palestinian political organization was made
explicit on March 19th 1988 when the 'Shabiba' was outlawed by a military
order. According to Joel Greenberg writing in the Jerusalem Post on March
20 1988 (quoted in the AL-Haq report):
"The Shabiba, whose members include college students, pupils, and
Palestinian youngsters not in school, has branches throughout the
Territories and in East Jerusalem... among its open activities were
community projects such as home renovation, aid to the elderly and youth
programs. Security officials considered it to be in fact a recruiting
mechanism for Fatah, through which young Palestinians are mobilized for
anti-Israel attacks and nationalist political activity."

The military was not required to substantiate its (unlikely) claims about
the Shabiba being a front for Fatah let alone accusations made against any
particular member of the Shabiba who has been put in administrative detention.
Furthermore, under Israeli law a person can actually be convicted for simply
being a member of such an outlawed organization. Evidence of such membership
can include delivering food to elderly people or the more serious charge of
'nationalist political activity'.

After years of deportation, imprisonment and beatings Israeli policy was
pretty successful in suppressing 'nationalist political activity'. This
success contributes to growth of violent armed resistance and terrorism
in the occupied territories. When political activity becomes impossible
and political leaders are jailed and deported the lesson conveyed is that
the only possible resistance is armed and violent.

In spite of the repression, a Palestinian non violent popular movement has
risen to oppose the separation wall. In Salem, Anin, Masha, Azawia, Biddu,
Beit Awwa, Beit Ula, Iskakka, Budrus, Dir Balut, Beit Surik, Beit Likia,
Al Ram, Abu Dis, Kibbia and other villages. A broad based movement,
including men women and children has persistently resisted the land
confiscation and the caging of their communities. The movement has
persisted in non violent action even after 6 protesters were killed and
thousands injured by live fire, rubber coated metal bullets tear gas and
beatings. For the first time, this movement has also been joined by
Internationals and Israelis on the ground. Those Internationals and
Israelis who have joined the Palestinian movement do not presume to
instruct Palestinians in the conduct of their struggle. Rather, they
realize that it is thier own societies which need to learn that Palestinians
are human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

The Israeli authorities have responded to the popular movement and its
international supporters in the usual manner. Demonstrations are violently
suppressed with live fire, Rubber coated metal bullets, tear gas and beatings.
Not surprisingly, most of the violence is directed at Palestinians. In fact,
commanders can be heard ordering soldiers to not shoot the Israelis.
However, in spite of their relative privileged position, internationals
and Israelis were also victims of IDF and police violence. One Israeli was
nearly killed when he was shot in both legs with live ammunition from close
range and another was shot in the eye with a rubber coated metal bullet. Other
Israelis and Internationals have also been beaten and shot with rubber
coated metal bullets.

Other than violent repression of demonstrations the Israeli authorities
employ a wide range of political suppression tools. The ministry of
interior systematically prevents members of the International Solidarity
Movement from entering Israel and tries to deport those who are arrested
at demonstrations. IDF commanders issue orders declaring demonstration
areas "closed military zones" and arrest Israelis who are caught inside.
Most sever of course is the treatment of Palestinian activists. Those who
are suspected of being organizers can be imprisoned for months without charges.
In the village of Budrus, one of the models for Palestinian popular non
violent resistance the brothers Na'im and Ayed Morar, two members of the
Budrus popular committee against the apartheid wall were placed in
administrative detention last spring. In a rare move, a military judge
reversed the detention order and said that their political activity is
no reason for administrative detention. However, that was not the end of
political repression in Budrus. Since the resumption of construction of
the wall and the resumption of the demonstrations another member of
the Budrus popular committee was put in administrative detention.

A 43 year old school teacher named Ahmed Awwad has been in
administrative detention since Sept 27. In addition, dozens of
Israelis and internationals were arrested for supporting the Palestinian
demonstrations in defiance of the closed military zone orders. In October,
charges of violating the order were brought against two Israeli anarchists.
If convicted, they face a maximum of 2 years in jail. The aggravating
circumstance that invites all the extra attention from the military and the
police is the fact that the Budrus resistance has been quite successful.
After months of demonstrating, the people of Budrus have won back all but
a small part of their agricultural lands that was slated for confiscation for
the construction of the wall. They have also obtained a temporary
order by the Israeli supreme court barring construction on the remaining parts.

In response to the administrative detention of Ahmed Awwad and the
upcoming trial of the two Israeli activists it was decided to respond with
direct action. On the morning of Tuesday Dec 7, close to 100 Israelis from
'Anarchists Against the wall', 'Taayush' and others, as well as about 40
internationals arrived in Budrus. Many of the Israelis got rid of all
identification, including the government issued blue cards identifying
them as Jews and instead wore signs saying 'I am Ahmed Awwad' in many
languages. During the demonstration, the Israelis did not retreat when the
closed military zone was declared and the soldiers approached them. As
hoped for, 41 Israelis were arrested and when asked to identify themselves
they responded with 'we are all Ahmed Awwad'. The police were unable to
process such a number of arrests which were complicated by the refusal
to identify. After a few hours all but 4 of the Ahmed Awwad were released
without even having to identify themselves. The last 4 were not given up
without a fight but were literally grabbed from their comrades' arms and
taken to Givat Ze'ev police station to be released a few hours later.

Two days later in the Jerusalem magistrate court, the prosecution dropped
the charges of violating a closed military zone against the two Israeli
anarchists. Charges of rioting are still pending and the prosecution threatens
to bring more charges. It is impossible to know for sure what part the mass arrest
played in the dropping of the charges but the lesson of the Budrus struggle
for Israelis and others should be clear. They can be quite effective
when they support the Palestinian struggle on the ground, and the best
way to respond to repression and political persecution is with more protest
and more resistance.
* One of the two Israeli anarchists the charges of violating a closed military
against them was droped.

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