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ISM USA Speaking Tour

From October 14 – November 15, 2005, Palestinian Ayed Morrar and Israeli Jonathan Pollak will be touring the United States speaking about Nonviolent Resistance in Palestine. The tour will visit New York, North Carolina, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Olympia Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, Florida and Philadelphia. Click here for a complete tour schedule.

Ayed and Jonathan are friends and among the major figures in the Palestinian-led nonviolent struggle against Israel’s military occupation. Ayed, a community leader from the West Bank village of Budrus, and Jonathan, an activist from Tel Aviv, stand for a new vision of Palestinian/Israeli partnership based in human rights for all, regardless of race or religion.

While world leaders praise Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza as a step toward peace, and demand that the Palestinian Authority harshly suppress armed resistance to Israel’s military occupation, activists on the ground like Ayed and Jonathan report that Israel has stepped up its brutal repression of Palestinian and Israeli activists who are struggling nonviolently against the escalating occupation in the West Bank.

Largely unreported by the media, thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis are waging a major grassroots nonviolent campaign of resistance to the construction of Israel’s Wall. Palestinian farmers, workers, mothers, and students, together with Israeli and international volunteers, are braving teargas, beatings, bullets, arrest, and even death to block the construction of the Wall with their bodies. In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the Wall is a violation of international law because it cuts through the West Bank appropriating Palestinan land and destroying Palestinian villages to make way for further Israeli settlement.

Ayed led his village of Budrus in a victory for nonviolence over the Israeli military in 2003-2004. Through a campaign of 50 protests, the village of Budrus pushed the Wall’s path off village land and to the Green Line. Day after day, Budrus’ men, women and children blocked the destruction of their land and construction of the Wall by marching to the land, despite soldiers’ attempts to stop them, and placing their bodies in front of the bulldozers.

Hundreds of residents were injured during the campaign by clubs, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Ayed was jailed for eight days by Israeli authorities, but was eventually released due to international outcry and because his only offense was organizing nonviolent protests. Two of Ayed’s brothers were also arrested for organizing protests, but eventually released.

Budrus’ resistance was supported by activists from ISM and from Israeli groups like the Anarchists Against the Wall. Budrus’ strategy and achievements have served as a model for other Palestinian communities attempting to nonviolently resist Israel’s military occupation and the confiscation of Palestinian land. Ayed continues to work with other communities and organizations to support the development of a broader strategy for Palestinian nonviolent resistance.

Jonathan was one of the first Israelis to begin protesting regularly in the West Bank with Palestinians and internationals against the construction of the Wall in 2002. He is one of the founders of the Israeli group Anarchists Against the Wall which has played a vital role in supporting Palestinians in nonviolent protest over the last two years.

Since 2002 Jonathan has participated in over 200 West Bank protests, and mobilized hundreds of Israelis to join Palestinians in resisting the Wall and the Occupation. As a result, Jonathan has been jailed repeatedly by Israeli authorities. In April 2005 during a quiet protest in the village of Bil’in he was shot in the head from 40 meters by an Israeli soldier with a tear gas canister fired from an M16 rifle. He had internal hemorrhaging and wounds requiring 23 stitches. Jonathan appears frequently in the Israeli media commenting on West Bank protests and nonviolent resistance.

Despite Israeli government efforts to stop them, Ayed, Jonathan and their Palestinian, Israeli and international colleagues remain determined to continue their joint, nonviolent campaign against Israeli occupation and the denial of rights of the Palestinian people.

The national Nonviolent Resistance Speaking Tour is organized by ISM-USA, the US network of support groups of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Palestine. ISM is a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent direct action.