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(en) Israel-Palestine: Interview with 2 Anarchists Against the Wall*

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 1 Oct 2004 12:27:56 +0200 (CEST)


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D: We just want people to know what is going on inside the occupied territories
and also inside Israel about the situation. Cause actually the media in and
outside of Israel is really based on lies and denying what's happening. No-one
really knows about the the situation and the conditions of the Palestinians.
People are certain that the wall is going to be built on the green line, which
is supposed to be the border of Palestine. Which is decided in 1967 by the UN,
but actually, the way that the Wall is built, it's not on the Green Line. In
some places it's 22, 24 kilometres far from the Green Line inside Palestine.
It's not about security but landgrab, because the Wall annexes about 40% of
Palestinian land, good agricultural land and their water reserves. It's really
important that people know what is going on there.

* How does this effect the daily lives of people living in the occupied
territories?

R: The way the wall is affecting the Palestinians is, well, first we can talk
about the Palestinians that live near the villages where the wall is being
constructed cause on one level, for a lot of villages it cuts them of from
their land, from where they usually make their living from. Then, some villages
are completely isolated from other villages and then... they have problems of
movement. If families are cut off from hospitals and schools. Then there is the
situation where villages have tried to grow, to build more houses, but they
can’t because they're completely surrounded by a fence and the wall. It
depends, like, for the first phase of the wall - 145km has been built already-
there are like 50 villages which are caught between the wall and the Green
Line, I mean the green line which is supposed to be the original border between
Israel and Palestine). So even though they [the villages in the area between
the Green Line and the Wall -ed.] are left out of the wall, they are not
Israeli citizens so they have problems of labour, having any rights whatsoever
even getting inside Palestine because you have to have a special permit, even
if you want to go to Israel you have to have a special permit. Usually you get
screwed from both sides, so they basically, maybe, will have to move inside the
wall so they can have a normal livelihood and build schools, hospitals etc.

Then you have the fact of all of the water resources and the agricultural land
that is being taken away from them, so they have a problem of sustaining
livelihoods in the bigger cities. Also the fact that you have migration from
villages into the bigger cities. Let's say big markets or towns where you had a
lot of commercial activity with the transfer of goods with Israelis who were
friendly with them or even with Palestinians around the area are being shut
down because they have no way in or out. And the fact that, the way it is
progressing.....(?) ... to completely isolate Palestine from both sides by
Israel so they won't have contact with any other country.

But a positive aspect is that it is actually creating a situation where
Palestinians are actually organizing for themselves.. because the Palestinian
Authority (P.N.A.) and political organisations like Hamas and Fatah showed
little concern whatsoever for these villages, they decided to organisize their
resistance by themselves and also using new methods where it enables them to
have a higher level of democracy. It is not some political official, it is the
village deciding together and inviting who they want, whether an Israeli or
Palestinian, to work together against the wall. This partly enables them to
have a more direct political process happening, where they feel more empowered.
And the fact that they are getting some results, even though they might be
minor and small, they are getting more results then they got with with the
Palestinian Authority or Hamas or political organisations that showed little
concern for the villages. In that aspect it is actually changing the way things
are dealt with. Also the fact that they do non-violent resistance and actually
achieving something with it is giving them more force to do these kind of
actions than actually using guns.

* So we get the picture of villages that are cut off from the rest of the
world. So in the future things will get worse, you think?

Yes, things are getting worse. But even sometimes the effects in some of the
places take time. When the wall is built you don't really feel sometimes the
impact immediately. You feel it, let's say, when you're waiting for the harvest
of olive trees which is next year, and then you see that you cannot always go
and harvest them, it is really important to have a certain time to harvest them
before it rots down or it starts raining too much and it's hard to harvest.

So on that aspect they're not even sure how it's going to be sometimes, and in
some places it slowly has created a situation where villages slowly get more
and more frustated. Actually in that area it's created a new hostility in
places that before were not even political. Sometimes the occupation in the
foreign news always seems as if it's happening everywhere and everybody is
aware of it. And to a certain agree everybody is aware of it, but to different
degrees. In the cities they're much more aware of it, you have tanks... In the
Palestinian cities there are curfews, closures... So for a lot of villages
which are more or less left to themselves they couldn't get out of the city
easily, but they did not feel the whole impact of the occupation.

Then there's also the difference between the village and city: village people
say this about the city people, city people talk about that about the village
people. But here it's actually creating ... the big impact of the occupation is
here in the villages. So it's also creating a whole new association between the
city and the village, where cities are also getting more involved what's
happening in villages and are trying to create demonstrations in support of the
villages which are uprising. I mean, like at Nablus and Ramallah where they're
getting more active about it.

* Is this something that is initiated from the Palestinian side or is this a
cooperation beween the left in Israel and the Palestinian action groups that
want to use non-violent measures against this wall?

Well, it's a combination of a bit of all. I mean it starts from Palestinians -
they're the ones who are the most concerned and they're the ones who invite
Israelis, that's the shift in the policy - where we can do demonstrations
together and reach a broader audience and a bigger spectrum and maintain a more
civil demonstration style.

It always comes from the Palestinian villages: you never have a situation where
internationals and Israelis will come to the village and say: "OK, we want to
do a demonstration here because there's a wall". So it's the Palestinian
village, because they'll have to suffer the consequences. If it's having their
land confiscated, having more problems with the army or with the police, maybe
in the future having permits to cross the wall or go into other areas - they're
the ones who are going to suffer for it, and they're theones who are deciding
it.

And it is also creating a stronger point for non-violent resistance, which has
always existed in Palestine but in the last few years, especially from the
beginning of the 2nd Intifada, was very minor because of all these political
organisations who were saying the only way to confront the occupation is
through violent means, militias, suicide-bombers etc. Now we've said, no, you
can do it differently.

* Can you tell us for how long this is going on, these non-violent protests
against the wall?

I think it's about for just over a year. It started very small, and then
through different actions just grew and grew. And now it's a situation where
almost every village decides to do its demonstration and to do it on their own
agreement and sometimes a neighbouring village will come in support. Each
village tries to be non-violent and usually it's the new kind of way of dealing
with it so... different results, usually.

* The support in Israel for these kind of actions, how is this, for instance,
how is this portrayed in the national media?

D: Actually, it was not so long time ago in the Israeli national newspaper they
said that about 65% of the Israeli population support non-violent, direct...
ah, sorry, 75% of the Israeli people support actions against the wall but in
legal ways and not violent. It means that people who are getting more aware of
the situation, won't do anything on their side, but they support us as long
we're not doing it in illegal ways.

* Are there are also many people that want to join?

This is complicated because there are a lot of left-wing groups in Israel which
are against the occupation but won't join those kind of actions. They support
us, like, in passive ways (and sometimes it's not so passive) but it's out of
Palestine - in Israel, in Tel Aviv, the big cities - Peace Now demos, they're
just holding signs and singing and talking about it. But most of the people
won't take part in this kind of action in Palestine, against the wall. Yes, you
know it's scary and dangerous.

* What sort of actions are there now in Israel against the occupation?

R: Oh, actions inside the territories? But, it always attracts small groups of
people because it's usually 24 hours' notice in advance, and it's complicated
to get in (the occupied terroties) and it's always hard to telephone around
everybody and ask... But then you have big organisations that create a
demonstration and plan it one month in advance or so with a certain village and
do some peaceful demonstration, graffiti against the wall. Then you have
organisations that spread lists about what products to boycott which are built
in Jewish settlements inside Palestine. There's the Comittee Against House
Demolitions, which is an organisation which is in Jerusalem which helps fight
the demolition of houses because it's hard for Palestinians to get permits to
build their houses for absurd laws, so everytime they try to built let's say
another room, because they cannot have another house because of the legal
administration won't let them have one, you know for the plans? So they build a
room onto their house and then the army comes in and destroys the house. And
also trying to work with people inside the villages inside the wall which are
certain to have houses demolished or schools. You have demonstrations inside
major cities like Tel Aviv, who do like peaceful noise demos. And doing
petitions, trying to bring the message across and doing small alternative
demonstrations and even bigger demonstrations and making their own noise
demonstrations inside Israel. And also doing info evenings inside of Israel and
showing movies. And then there are also organizations that work on a bigger
level in sustaining solidarity with the Palestinians.

* So a lot of things going on. We also saw on your video that there are a lot
of people from outside Israel and Palestine joining in. Does this help and in
what way?

Well, it works on a few aspects. First of all it shows that we're not isolated,
that there are also other people who are also concerned about what's happening.
On a moral level this is very important. On a practical level internationals
can go to places where Israelis cannot go. There are areas in Palestine which
is it forbidden for Israelis to go to and internationals can, basically the
bigger cities in Palestine, which is considered Area A for Israelis, but
internationals can go. Then, in some villages it's still hard for them or
difficult for them to work with Israelis, so the internationals can prepare the
ground for working with other groups. They can even have their base network
inside Palestine, which is hard for Israelis to maintain. And also, like,
spreading out the message, coming over, documenting, trying to help, going back
to their countries and trying to create support overseas and create pressure
from outside which is also very positive.

D: It's really important for Israelis to be there, first of all for the
Palestinians. It's really important that Israelis support them because the
Israelis are the ones who put them in this situation, they are the ones who
conquered them. It's really important for the Palestinians to see that also
Israelis support them, and really care for them and really want to help them. I
mean, it changed the whole image for them, because now it shows them that not
all the Israelis are the enemy and, yeah, we can still work together and try to
learn to do postive things together. So it's really important that there are
Israelis there. When Israelis are there it changes the situation with the
soldiers a bit: now they cannot do what they want do and shoot the
Palestinians, because when Israelis are involved it also means that the media
gets involved more easily. Now they cannot just shoot live ammunition; they
have to be a little bit more calm.


[* ed. note: this is a transcript of a radio interview made earlier this year
with some members of the Anarchists Against the Wall initiative. The interview
was broadcast by Free Radio Tonka in the Netherlands. Link to audio version at
http://www.ainfos.ca/04/sep/ainfos00540.html]






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