Friday, October 19, 2012

in the village of Budrus

“On our way to Budrus
with our minds
set ”

Vincent Harding leads many voices on our bus

“on freedom...”

Recalling the buses of the civil rights movement, we are visiting Palestine to join with/learn from the struggle for freedom of poor Palestinian farmers.


The wall runs through the Occupied Territories. Yesterday we went on the bus to Beilin, the home of a thousand people which the wall cut.

For 7 years, people demonstrated every Friday against the wall. They pursued nonviolence. They oppose the settlements and the Occupation, not Jews (they welcome Jews who support their struggle like Anarchists against the wall and some of us).

Some times they demonstrated each day, surrounded and stopped bulldozers.

The villagers pursued a case in the Isreali High Court and finally achieved an abatement of the Wall which was moved many yards further away. They saved hundreds of dunims of land.

At at early demonstration, the IDF shot and killed five people. The filmmaker of "Five Broken Cameras” was wounded several times and in a coma after his last broken camera for four months.


The murders are behind the Israeli silence about the Wall (except for Amira Hass, with whom we met, and some others in Haaretz). Israelis often forget they have blocked off, screeened out and wrought violence on the non-people.

The Palestians are amazingly kind and hospitable. The villagers say over and over that their enemy is the Occupation, not the Jews.

Where are Israelis who say such words?

It is good to meet people in Anarchists against the Wall or know of Rabbis for Human Rights who stand with Palestinians.

“Good Germans,” “good Israelis”…


Ayad takes us near the wall. We must stay out of the last roadway, Israeli tanks and trucks sometimes barrel along it. We move through the dusty, stony undergrowth.

There, he points out is a silver tear gas canister. A small bullet.

And there a rubber bullet. Each is hard as rock. If you are hit by one, it will tear your flesh. If you are hit by one in the wrong place, it will kill you.

Ayad warns us not to pick them up.

Children are playing among us, some picking up or moving the shells gingerly with their feet.


What are the children learning?

That their parents with great courage protest the Occupation. That they organize nonviolently, even gradually learning the names of King and Gandhi. That they hate the Occupation, not jews.

That adults are killed for protesting.

The parents have some hope of teaching nonviolence. But the the Isreali soldiers act as enemies of humanity. There is a conflict of lessons…

The parents act nonviolently.

That children are arrested in the night by soldiers with AK 47s who come to their house, hold them indefinitely, torture them.

The danger of the shells, I sense, continues afterwards, with the danger of further explosions, further deaths.

The danger to the spirit is also great.


It is illegal for Palestinians to congregate in groups of more than 10. That is the “reason” why Israel fires its weapons - its American weapons, $3 billion a year aid from the US government no matter who is President, to be purchased from American companies, for instance, tear gas canisters and rubber bullets – on peaceful – nonviolent – protesters.

Perhaps the Israeli companies/government makes the skunk bombs, the chemicals which you can't get out of your clothes, washing them day after day, for days.


There is no freedom of speech or assembly for Palestinians.

Israel is a democracy for Jews and a Jewish state for Palestinians and the impoverished and even less recognized Bedouins.

Israel is no democracy for Palestinians.


The Wall has eyes. Three cameras. They can photograph into homes 5 kilometers off. Women do not dress comfortably in their own homes to avoid the prying eyes.

The IDF sends outs its troops to arrest children at night. Sometimes they have photographs, often they just round up "the usual suspects."

The children are tried in military “courts.” They are held indefinitely. They are initially there for 4 days before they ar even acknowledged to a military court, whereas a settler’s child, arrested for a similar offense, must appear in a civilian court within 24 hours. They are not informed of the right to remain silent. They are tortured.


Ayad, a leader of the village, was arrested and sentenced to six years in jail.


We climb some rocks near the bus. We come to the tomb of Al-Shheed [the martyr] Basim Abo Rahmh. Basim was a peaceful and friendly man. He was a family man. He flew kites. His children knew all the other children. At a nonviolent demonstration, he was killed by an Israeli/American canister.

The silver canisters litter the ground near the wall. Ayad has some in his home.

There isn’t a single canister near the homes of the settlers.

No settler has been felled by a Palestinian.

Sometimes, children throw rocks at tanks.

What crimes have these people committed?


They demonstrated. They raised signs.


What crimes has the Israeli government committed? They have stolen land, driven people out, detained people (including children) indefinitely, tortured, and murdered.

They have put up a wall to keep half the population under Israel’s control out of mind for the citizens who are but half of Israel. They have worked to keep the eyes of the world off the Palestinians.

They have lied to themselves that Palestinians are not human,

When did Palestinians cease to have human rights?

Who are you going to believe, the representatives of Israel, American politicians and the Israel lobby say, me or your lying eyes?


Someone says: “Israel built a wall to have ‘security.’ And now they have to secure the wall.”

An Israeli General was named Adan. There is Adan Military Camp by the wall near Budrus.

What may Palestinians do? They may not throw rocks against the tanks. They may not demonstrate peacefully against the Occupation.

They may be silent and go home.

They may be silent and leave (“self-deport” in Mitt Romney’s phrase).

They may be silent and die.

They walk, Friday after Friday, against great violence to protest the Occupation.

I look again at the silver canisters, the hard black rubber bullets in the bushes. So many have died.

Settlers sometimes – out of fear and racism – take out their guns and shoot children. Settlers sometimes burn the olive trees (they pray to heaven, a Palestinian says. Why do they burn these trees that pay to heaven?). The IDF says it is there to protect the settlers against “terrorism.”

When Israeli soldiers are not themselves terrorists, they protect the terrorists when they shoot children.


A merry 7 year old girl joins us and some in our delegation give her peace and Martin Luther king buttons.

What do the children learn when their parents must demonstrate every week at such costs? When some are killed? When some are taken away and detained?

When the children are taken away themselves and detained under the Israeli military prison system?

When the fathers and mothers cannot protect them?


We take pictures over the wall. This is a desolate, stony place, with a small group of Palestinian villagers. On the hills over the wall, there are gleaming, modern settlements.

They have a good water supply. Israel has stolen the water of the Palestinians) as Amira Hass, whom we met, reminds us in Haaretz. The water supply for Palestinians is restricted. In the city, there are black tanks on the roofs to catch the rain, marking, along with poverty and the broken sidewalks, Palestinian houses.

Even the houses of wealthy Palestinians in Ramallah have such tanks.

One cannot flush toilet paper in the city or the villages.


There is no place in Palestinian territory without settlements.

The hills are decorated with Israeli houses (today we drive through Modin on the way to Budrus, and look down the hill toward the Wall, and Beilin).

The settlement is illegal.

Down in the valley under the wall, we stand with the poor Palestinian farmers who often at the price of their lives, demonstrate nonviolently against the Occupation.

Palestinians in the territories are but “permanent residents” according to their Occupiers. Are these not the ghettoes?


Who is Pharoah here?

Who is Moses with a vision of a promised land?


It is easy to get into the Territories, hard ever to leave. The line is short at the check point going in. Guard your passport to emerge through the long lines on the way out…

From Budrus near Tel Aviv, standing on the stones over the graveyard, one can see the Mediterranean, a hint of green under the flaming sky of evening, 35 kilometers off.

A little more than 20 miles, a lifetime away.

The parents here cannot go to the sea. The parents here cannot take their children to the sea.


The maker of the film “Five Broken Cameras” was shot several times. After a tear gas canister struck him and he had to have the stitches out of his chest, he applied for and received permission to go to Israel. He applied for and received permission, for that one day, to take his children to the sea.


We come to Ayad’s home. There are 14 sheep and goats eating. A mother has a little black and white one.

The life of the farmer continues despite the uprooting, the transfer, the occupation.

Reverend Sekou wants to ride a donkey.

The sheep clump together. They are eating.

For previous posts on the visit of the Interfaith Peace Brigade/Dorothy Cotton Institute delegation, see here, here, here, here and here.

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