Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Challenging Israeli apartheid, starting at Ben Gurion Airport

by LAURA DURKAY on JUNE 20, 2011

From July 8-16, I will join hundreds of internationals for a week of solidarity actions in coordination with 15 Palestinian civil resistance organizations in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. To my knowledge, this will be the first attempt to bring such a large number of internationals—already over 500, according to organizers—to the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a coordinated manner. While Freedom Flotilla 2, sailing in the coming days, rightly puts the spotlight on Israel’s cruel blockade of Gaza, we intend to show that Israeli repression in the rest of historic Palestine—the West Bank, Jerusalem, and what is now Israel—is no less important and is part of the same project of ethnic cleansing and colonization.

The opening act of our week of nonviolent resistance is, in my opinion, its most creative and daring component. On a single day, July 8, hundreds of internationals and Palestinians living abroad will fly in to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and perform one simple but radical action: refuse to lie about the fact that we are there to travel to the Occupied Territories and visit Palestinians.

Anyone who has traveled to Palestine knows the potential risks associated with this action. Israel controls all entry points into Palestine, except for the Rafah crossing into Gaza, which is controlled by Egypt and has its own Kafkaesque challenges. The Israeli government routinely denies entry to people it knows or simply suspects of being Palestine solidarity activists; journalists, academics and cultural workers sympathetic to the Palestinians; even people coming to do volunteer or charity work in the Occupied Territories.

This means that for years, the most common strategy among solidarity activists entering Palestine has been to keep your head down and lie about why you are there.

Plenty of us know the routine. You say that you’re a tourist. You play dumb about history and politics, and you never say you are going to visit Palestinians. You don’t point out the fact that every person of color in your group just got picked out for questioning. You submit calmly to interrogation and construct non-offensive half-truths, conveniently leaving out certain parts of your itinerary. When they search your stuff, you nod and say you understand it’s for “security reasons.” You swallow every rebellious instinct that brought you to Palestine in the first place and temporarily submit to a racist, invasive, intimidating security apparatus in the hope that they will deign to let you in to Palestine, and accept that this is the price to be paid for being able to do the work you want to do.

For the record, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with this strategy. In any given situation, the most useful way to interact with agents of the Israeli state is a tactical decision. I understand there are many groups of people who do not have the luxury of pissing off Israeli security: people who depend on free movement in and out of Palestine for work, study, or to see family; those engaged in long-term projects in the region for whom maintaining access to the Occupied Territories is crucial; those engaged in critical media work that gets Palestine’s story out to the world; those who may be in a more vulnerable position for any number of reasons.

But at the same time, we should be clear that Israel’s border controls and repressive entry policies are part of the apartheid system—a big part. Entry restrictions on solidarity activists, journalists, and NGO workers are a natural outgrowth of the restrictions that prevent a large percentage of the worldwide Palestinian population from returning to their own country and/or moving about freely within it. They are a component of the elaborate matrix of borders, walls, checkpoints, permits, soldiers and secret police by which the Israeli government exerts a choke-hold on free movement and political activity throughout occupied Palestine. They are part and parcel of the occupation machinery that seeks to isolate the Occupied Territories and make life there unbearable so that Palestinians will leave, and that frequently forces them out whether they want to go or not. And like all other parts of the apartheid system, they deserve to be challenged.

This year’s Nakba and Naksa Day protests saw Israel besieged on every one of its garrisoned borders by unarmed Palestinians simply wanting to return home. At the end of this month, Freedom Flotilla 2 will defy Israel’s punitive and illegal naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. We see the July 8 fly-in as our contribution to the new movement that is chipping away at Fortress Israel.

Some fellow activists have raised the possibility that this action will result in nothing more than hundreds of us being summarily deported, and possibly banned from entering Palestine in the future. It is entirely possible that this will happen, and anyone participating in this action should be aware of the risk. It seems to me a very small risk to take in comparison to the crushing violence Palestinians have stood up to for over 60 years. While this action is not for everyone, I believe the time is right for those in a position to expose and nonviolently resist Israel’s repressive entry policies to do so on a mass scale.

Just as no one thinks one flotilla (or two or three) is going to bring the siege of Gaza to an end, no one believes this one day of action will immediately alter the state of affairs at Ben Gurion Airport and the rest of Israel’s borders. In the short term, it is possible that it may even make airport personnel more suspicious and aggressive. That is how oppressors respond to acts of resistance. They often become more aggressive before they are defeated, because they rightly sense that the momentum is on the side of justice.

July 8, and the week of solidarity it opens, is one step in the long process of taking down the apartheid system. The Arab revolutions, the growing BDS movement, and Israel’s own increasingly hysterical reactions to nonviolent protest have radically accelerated the timeline of that process from what many of us believed possible only a few years ago. Israeli apartheid’s days are numbered, and now is the moment to challenge it on every front.

Laura Durkay is a member of Siegebusters Working Group and the International Socialist Organization in New York City. You can follow updates from the week of solidarity on her personal blog, Laura on the Left, and on Twitter at @lauradurkay.

Individuals interested in participating in the July 8-16 week of solidarity should email info@palestinejn.org or visit http://www.palestinejn.org/ for more details.


Monday, 20 June 2011

GISHA: The top 10 reasons why the opening of Rafah Crossing just doesn't cut it

Rafah Border Crossing | The Egyptian Side

In no particular order of importance, we thought we'd list some of the reasons why the opening of Rafah, while significant and helpful, doesn't meet all of Gaza's needs for access and why, as some voices in Israel have recently suggested, it can't serve as Gaza's only access point. Despite four unanticipated days of closure last week, the crossing has been operating for the passage of travelers on a more regular but still semi-limited basis.

1.Passage through the crossing remains limited: Egypt has indicated that it will operate the crossing six days per week during regular working hours, but it seems this won't be enough: between 400 - 450 individuals have been able to travel through the crossing per day from Gaza to Egypt. From November 2005 to June 2006, approximately 660 passengers per day exited the Gaza Strip through Rafah and according to the Palestinian Crossings Authority, 10,000 people are currently waiting to travel.

2.The situation is unstable: As last week's closure of the crossing indicates, the situation on both sides of Rafah remains unstable, such that it's not clear whether the crossing will remain open, nor exactly to what degree.

3. Rafah doesn't lead to the West Bank: Travel and movement of goods between Gaza and the West Bank remains severely limited, a problem which Rafah cannot address, as goods and Gaza ID holders are not allowed into the West Bank even via the Egypt-Jordan route. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are part of the same customs envelope, and are recognized, including by Israel, as a single territorial unit, which, despite four years of tight closure, still shares one economy, one education system, one healthcare system and countless familial and social ties.

4. Export is not moving and not through Rafah either: Export remains severely limited (about 2 truckloads per day, the last of which left Gaza on May 1, 2011, compared with a target of 400 per day in the Agreement on Movement and Access) and is currently not taking place through Rafah at all. This is impacting industries across Gaza which used to sell or export their wares in Israel, the West Bank and abroad. Before the closure, the vast majority of Gaza’s "exports" were sold in Israel and the West Bank.

5.Construction materials do not enter through Rafah: Construction materials are being let into Gaza via Kerem Shalom only (between Israel and Gaza) for approved projects undertaken by international organizations and following exceedingly lengthy bureaucratic procedures. Each month since January 2011, about 10% of what entered monthly in the years prior to June 2007 has entered for these specific projects. At present, Egyptian authorities have not indicated if or when they will allow construction materials to pass at Rafah.

6. Import of goods does not take place at Rafah: Imports to the Strip purchased by the private sector enter Gaza from Israel via Kerem Shalom Crossing. Even if Egypt were to allow goods to enter at Rafah (and there is no indication that they intend to do so nor when) the crossing and surrounding roadways are not currently equipped to handle the transfer of large quantities of goods, on the scale of the access needs of the Strip.

7. Humanitarian aid does not regularly enter through Rafah: Aid enters Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing, between Gaza and Israel. At present, Egyptian authorities have not indicated if or when they will allow convoys of humanitarian aid to pass at Rafah.

8.Medical patients in need of treatment not available in Gaza cannot always make the long journey to Egyptian hospitals. In any case, Palestinian hospitals in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, part of a common Palestinian health care system, are there to serve all residents of the Palestinian territory, including Gaza residents.

9. Reports prove it: Restrictions on access at the crossings between Israel and Gaza (at Kerem Shalom for goods and Erez for people) continue to impact the well-being of residents of the Strip. Yesterday UNRWA published a study showing high rates of unemployment and the Association for International Development Agencies also reported recently on how limits on the entrance of construction materials primarily impacts the work of aid agencies and residents of Gaza.

10. Rafah doesn't lead to the West Bank: Oh wait, did we say that already? Well, we're saying it again, because it's very, very important.

Monday, 13 June 2011

معا لنغير واقع فلسطين هذا الصيف

معا لنغير واقع فلسطين هذا الصيف

لجان المقاومة الشعبية ومؤسسات المجتمع المدني الفلسطيني ومناصري ونشطاء السلام وحقوق الإنسان و أصحاب الضمائر الحية في كل العالم يدعون الجميع لنشاطات في فلسطين في الفترة بين 8-16 /7. مئات ألأجانب استجابوا للدعوة وبانضمام أعداد كبيرة من الفلسطينيين نستطيع عمل الكثير للتغيير. لندركْ أنّ الدخول بالمئات لفلسطين عبر مطار بن جوريون في فترة 24 ساعة سيرسل رسالةً واضحةً لإسرائيل لاحترام الحقوق الإنسانيّة الأساسيّة للذين يريدون زيارة فلسطين. يمكنكم زيارة موقع حملة الحق في الدخول على http://www.righttoenter.ps. سيكون هناك برنامج فعاليات ومقاومة شعبية في القدس ومحافظة بيت لحم والخليل ورام لله والأغوار والنقب الخ.

إنّ الفلسطينين في فلسطين التاريخية و المنفى لا زالوا يؤمنون بالعمل من أجل السلام المبني على العدل وبمساعدة المجتمع المدني نستطيع أنْ نحقّقَ سلامنا و حريتنا. نحن نؤمن بالمقاومة الشعبيّة كوسيلة لاستعادة حقوقنا كما اعترفت بها القوانين الدوليّة. نحن نؤمن -بناء على تجاربنا الناجحة السابقة- أنّ كلَّ فردٍ منّا تقع عليه مسؤوليّةٌ ويستطيع أن يصنع التغيير اللازم. ندعوكم للإنضمام إلينا لكي نكون التغيير الذي تريدون أن تروه في هذا العالم. إنّ تجربتنا السابقة في هذه الفعاليات كانت ناجحة مثلا أنظر فعاليات شهر 12 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rif2ZSSeRok وفعاليات يوم النكبة 15/5 والنكسة 5/6 وأسطول الحرية. هناك عددٌ كبير ملتزم بالحضور والمشاركة في هذه النشاطات وأكثر من 100 متطوع محلي.

مجموعات النشطاء المحليّين في أوروبا وامريكا الشمالية واللاتينية ومناطق أخرى من العالم تقوم بترتيب قدوم الوفود إلى فلسطين. وقد قامت المجموعات المحلية المدرجة أدناه بتكوين لجانٍ مختصّة للعمل في نواحٍ(قانونية, وإعلامبة, ولوجستية,وتواصل, وبرنامج) ولقد شرعت في العمل. راسلونا على info@palestinejn.org اذا كنتم تودون التواصل أو المساعدة مع المجموعات المنسقة في بلدكم أو محليا في فلسطين. معا لمرحلة جديدة للتغيير والحرية.

مسرح الرواد alrowwad-acts.ps شبكة العدالة لفلسطين palestinejn.org

مركز بديل badil.org المركز الفلسطيني للتقارب بين الشعوب PCR.PS

أصدقاء الحرية و العدالة في بلعين bilin-ffj.org الحملة الشعبية- اوقفوا الجدار stopthewall.org

مؤسسة هولي لاند ترست holylandtrust.org مشروع المناصرة palestinesolidarityproject.org

اللجان التنسيقية للمقاومة الشعبية popularstruggle.org مركز سراج للسياحة البديلة sirajcenter.org

شباب ضد الاستيطان youthagainstsettlements.org حركة التضامن العالمية palsolidarity.org

مركز المعلومات البديلة alternativenews.org مركز العمل المجتمعي- القدس cac-alquds.org

حملة شدو الرحال من أجل القدس pncj.org الإغاثه الطبية الفلسطينية PMRS.ps

مبادرة الدفاع عن الأراضي المحتلة OPGAI.net مركز العودة-بيت ساحور

مركز شباب مخيم عايده key1948.org اللجان الشعبية في عدة قرى ومواقع

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Mind the Strip Documentary

Mind the Strip is a documentary to highlight a story of Ayman Qwaider, Gazan student who had difficulties to access the closing borders of Gaza to pursue his studies in Spain. It does not often happen that students can easily get out from the blockade in Gaza Strip pursuing their further studies abroad. Ayman had numerous obstacles to reach his goal in Spain and pursue his masters’ studies. After working tirelessly and contacting anyone who would listen to his story, comprehensive media campaign, he received his longed-for transit permit from Israel in order to exit the Gaza Strip and travel to University of Jaume I in Spain, to pursue a graduate degree in Peace, Conflict & Development Studies (how appropriate!).

Facebook Event in Girona, Spain June16

Mind the Strip Facebook page

Website: Mind the Strip Website

Let´s take part of ending injustices happening in Palestine

ItalicDear friends,Palestinian civil society organizations applaud the Freedom Flotilla that will again, in May, challenge the brutal and illegal siege of the people of Gaza. Decent people around the world will be working in support of this international intiative.

While we rightly focus on Gaza we must not forget that Israeli colonial authorities are implementing their racist apartheid policies throughout historic Palestine. In the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and in the Negev and the Galilee, ethnic cleansing and killing/injuring civilians are just some of the many violations of basic human rights. The aim is always to keep us isolated as well as divided, the better to achieve the goal of dispossessing us.

For this reason, we call on civil society organizations and people of conscience around the world to support and join the other important international challenge this summer to the Israeli siege of the whole of Palestine. The daily indignities heaped on the Palestinian people are reflected in the attitude of officials at Tel Aviv airport to prevent any humanitarian/solidarity trips. Israel’s attempts to prevent entry by peace activists even though the occuupied Palestinian Territories are recognized internationally as illegally occupied by Israel. We must oppose Israel’s arbitrary, unlawful, and abusive behavior (See the Right to Enter Campaign at http://www.righttoenter.ps/)
A week of solidarity: 8 – 16 July

Hundreds of men, women and children fly into Tel Aviv airport to visit us in the occupied Palestinian territories The international community must recognize our basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without harassement. We call upon citizens of many countries to visit us on July 8th. Where Israel works to isolate us, we invite you to join with us openly and proudly as the decent human beings you are. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to force you to speak less than with the honesty you are used to.

You will be accommodated locally. You will enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship, and volunteer peace work in Palestinian towns and villages (e.g. land reclamation).

For futher details please check: