Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reprinted with link Happy New Year from the Israeli Occupation Forces: The Story of the Abu Rahme Family

Happy New Year from the Israeli Occupation Forces: The Story of the Abu Rahme Family


While hundreds of millions of people celebrated New Year’s eve last night by going out in the streets, hugging, chanting and drinking, the people of Bil’in did not change their routine much. New Year Eve or not, Friday in Bil’in means demonstrating against the Illegal Apartheid Wall carving the West Bank into bantustans and stealing their land.

The Wall was deemed illegal by the highest judicial body in the world, the International Court of Justice, in 2004 (1). The ‘World Court’ took the Israeli argument that the wall was built for security reasons and dismantled it in a 54 pages document. There is no valid security reason for this wall to have been built, and this illegal wall should be dismantled now, was their verdict. Their report also asked all members States of the 4th Geneva convention not to aid Israel in building this wall and to make sure that Israel dismantled the wall. This was not optional, in the words of the ICJ. This was the duty of all members States to make sure that International Law was applied even when Israel was concerned.

The route of the wall has also been deemed illegal by Israeli Supreme Court (2) in 2006. The Israeli Supreme Court asked the army to re-route the wall and give back some of the land the Wall construction had stolen from the Palestinians. As of today, nothing has changed. As usual in Israel, the army rules and is even above its own laws.

The “Security” argument thrown about by Israel to justify the building of the wall is nonsense. Only because of the power of Israel’s Hasbara (propaganda) machine it is still used by the media and people around the world. Anyone looking at the facts, should be able to rubbish this idea in a few minutes.

If the Wall was for security, why not building it around the 1967 Green Line? The wall carves into the West Bank, stealing most arable lands and water resources and including the huge illegal Israeli settlements. But more importantly, if the Wall was built to stop suicide bombers entering Israel, why has it not been completed yet? ‘Terrorists’ are clever people. There is still a 200kms zone where there is no wall, and where Palestinians ‘terrorists’ could enter Israel at will. Also, there is still today many Palestinians entering Israel illegally to work. If they wanted to, they could do a lot of harm. They do not, and that’s the main point. Palestine civil society resistance has been mostly non violent, ever since the beginning of the first intifada.

The people of Bil’in, led by the village committee, continued this process. They have the high moral ground and they are stronger than bullets. For more than 5 years now, every Friday, at around 1pm, hundreds (if not thousands) of Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals have been demonstrating against the route of the wall and Israel’s apartheid like policies. Palestinians ‘Sumud’ (steadfastness) at its best.

As usual with oppressive regimes, Israel’s response to those peaceful demonstrations has been indiscriminate force. Sometimes lethal.

The story of the Abu Rahme family is a telling one.

In 2008, Ashraf Abu Rahme, was shot at very close range, while bounded, by an Israeli Soldier (3).

In April 2009, Bassem Abu Rahme his brother, was shot at very close range by a tear gas and died from his wounds (4 and 5).

Even though, Jawaher Abu Rahme, their sister and thousands of others kept going, kept demonstrating, Friday after Fridays after Fridays. Because that the whole point of non violence resistance. To expose the monstrosity of your oppressor by not responding to the most cruel acts and by nevertheless continuing to stand up against them. They’ve got U.S bullets, U.S weapons and one of the most sophisticated army on their side (thanks in part to a 3 billions dollars US cheque every year), the people of Bil’in have got the truth, the law and the high moral ground. The point about this weekly demonstration is to show the Israeli army and its government that their violence will not stop the Palestinians.

On New Year’s Day, thousands had joined the people of Bil’in to demonstrate and celebrate New Year in the best way possible. Resisting, together, regardless of your country of birth, race or religion and standing up against oppression.

Jawaher probably chanted “la la el jidar” (no, no, to the wall) and walked, side by side with others, towards the Apartheid Wall and the line of soldiers, waiting on top of the hill. She then probably run away when the first tear gas were fired, regrouped, and walked back towards the wall again.

……Or maybe she did not. Not this time.

She inhaled a huge quantity of this most poisonous substance and was taken to a Ramallah hospital. She never recovered and died (6). The Holy Land is not the land of miracles.

The Israeli government and its army have been for years now using the West Bank and Gaza as their testing ground. The Palestinians are their guinea pigs. The Israeli army uses tear gas that would probably be banned in any other countries in the world. They shoot tear gas, directly at protesters, once again, an illegal act. But a very rewarding one. Israel’s security industry is booming. It’s never been that good. Countries all over the world are buying Israel’s expertise in security, crowd control and weaponry every day. Israeli soldiers are training other countries commandos all over the planet.

When there is a profit to be made, the law does not count.

An investigation will probably be launched into the incident by the Israeli Army itself. The aggressor investigating itself. Because Israel, under cover of democracy, investigates itself. The problem is that no one is never held to account and those investigations often end in a whitewash. Bassem’s death was investigated, but closed a few months later. Ashraf’s case was also investigated, we’re still waiting for the verdict. In total, only 6% of the Israeli soldiers investigated over the last decades have ever been convicted for their actions. Most of the time, those held to account were only reprimanded and never faced jail or any serious actions. That’s Israel’s democracy in full flown.

The good thing is that less and less people are fooled by this. Israel, a self proclaimed Jewish State, as the only democracy in the Middle East sounds more and more like a laughable quote. It is becoming easier and easier to show that Israel is not a democracy. Activists around the globe do not have to look to hard. Israel’s is doing a good job of demolishing its own myth by passing laws discriminating it’s own populations (Palestinian minority), by arresting and imprisoning Palestinian’s peace activists without providing any evidence, by demolishing houses, bedouin’s villages, by striping Palestinians of their residency in Jerusalem, by building more Jewish only settlements in East Jerusalem, by kicking Palestinians out of their homes and putting extremists settlers in their place, by bombing a Ghetto (Gaza), by killing peace activists (Freedom Flotilla), by repeatedly ignoring UN resolutions….the list is endless.

The issue now is how, for the Palestinians and their supporters to use this to make sure changes for the best happen on the ground. The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions strategy is working very well and is a mean for activists to unite under one manisfesto. Corporations are divesting from Israel, Trade Unions and passing motions to boycott settlements goods, Universities are refusing to collaborate with their Israeli counterpart.

The point of all this for the Palestinians to show the whole world, that they will not remain silent, they will not disappear.

As Howard Zinn said: "The reward for participating in a movement for social justice is not the prospect of future victory. It is the exhilaration of standing together with other people, taking risks together, enjoying small triumphs and enduring disheartening setbacks-together. "

Jawaher death was another disheartening setback for anyone with a conscience.

It is also a very powerful wake up call for anyone that has remained silent so far. This is not an option. In the universal struggle for human rights, everyone needs to be involved, in the hope that one day, change will happen and another powerful page of history will be written, by us, the people.


(1) Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

(2) High Court: State must explain why it won’t move separation fence in Bil’in

(3) Video - Soldier fire ‘rubber’ bullet at Palestinian detainee

(4) The Death of Bassem

(5) Video - The shooting of Bassem Abu Rahme

(6) Sister of Bilin victim dies in anti-fence protest

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