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The Palestinian Elections

1. The Palestinian Elections
2. The Struggle of Bilíin Continues
3. Life in Tel Rumeida; “It is clear who are the terrorists around here.”
4. HRW Released from Israeli Detention
5. Democracy in the Middle East
6. A Statement From J.A.G
7. Jerusalem Post on Kalandia Grafiti
8. Christmas in Israeli Detention

1. The Palestinian Elections
January 27th, 2006

By Noah Salameh

I’m trying to look back and understand why the Palestinian people reacted and voted for Hamas, also those who have not been Hamas supporters before.
Fateh has been ruling the Palestinian people since the Oslo Agreement in 1994. Fateh selected the negotiation track and accepted the Oslo agreement and also the Road Map. This is on the political side. As Palestinians, our people are very disappointed from the achievement of the negotiations.
When people supported Abu Mazen in the presidential elections we hoped for improvements in our lives – reducing the checkpoints, improving the economic situation, or fighting corruption. We got none of what we hoped for.
The lack of support from the USA and the EU in the negotiations played a strong element in the Palestinian elections.
The interference of the Americans whether by supporting candidates that lacked credibility in the public or by vocally opposing others had a counterproductive effect.
Everyone involved in this conflict and interested in peace has to evaluate the recent period and reconsider their policy and actions.
The Palestinian vote is a protest against the negotiation process, which lasted all these years without managing to open one checkpoint or cancel the British Emergency Laws, which rule since 1945.
Peace is not just an agreement, it is changing the life of people, it is giving our children hope, it is ending the occupation, and it is stopping using double measures from the democratic worlds.
We in the Palestinian peace movement will continue to struggle by nonviolent means against the occupation, the corruption and raise hope for the future of the children in Palestine and the world.
It is difficult to be optimistic in this time, but we have to work hard if we want peace based on justice, respect, equality and reconciliation.

Noah Salameh is directer of the Palestinian Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation in Bethlehem

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2. The Struggle of Bilíin Continues

January 28th, 2006

by Henry
for photos go to http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/01/28/14-year-old-shot-and-korean-activist-beaten-by-iof-the-struggle-of-bilin-continues/

A sign placed by the military on Razor wire in an area were the foundations for the Annexation wall are being laid reads: “MORTAL DANGER – MILITARY ZONE Any person who passes or damages the fence ENDANGERS HIS LIFE”

The weekly non-violent protests against the Israelis Apartheid wall continued yesterday, when Palestinians from the village of Bilíin displayed their resistence to the ongoing theft of their villageís land.

During the protest, two Palestinian residents, including a child, and one Korean peace activist, were injured. Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall reported that one child, identified as Ahmad Zohdi Ashíal, 14, suffered moderate wounds after being hit by a rubber-coated bullet fired by the army.

Accompanied by international and Israeli activists, the crowd of approximately 200 people marched to the construction site where the Apartheid Wall is gradually cutting off the village from much of its land. The IOF and Israeli Border Police were on hand to prevent the demonstrators from crossing the barrier and reaching the recently established ‘Centre for Joint Struggle’ adjacent to the illegal settlement outpost of Metityahu Mizrah.

(Seen in the background is the winding path of the Apartheid Wall and nearby settlement construction)

Although most of the demonstrators were quickly surrounded by the Israeli military, a small group of Israeli and Palestinian demonstrators were able to evade their control. Soon, they too were treated harshly by the Israeli Military, who detained three Israelis for approximately one hour. After securing their release, the group returned to the main group and chanted on top of a nearby gravel mound. Surrounding them was a surreal scene created by the construction of the wall; huge amounts of razor wire, destroyed agricultural land, and soon-to-be uprooted olive trees.

Approximately half of Bil’in’s lands are being isolated from the village by the Wall. The Israeli government argues that the route of the wall in Bilíin was determined purely for security reasons. However, a brief visit to the village shows this to be false.

The olive groves were in a cloud of teargas, and soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets at will while the demonstrators started to walked back towards the village, determined to continue the non-violent resistance against the Apartheid Wall and the Israeli Occupation.

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3. Human Rights Worker Released from Israeli Detention

January 25th, 2006

David Parsons, a Canadian citizen who was arrested while doing human rights work in Hebron, has been released on bail from Israeli detention. An Israeli Interior Ministry official ordered his release on condition Parsons not participate in any ìinternational activityî in Hebron. Parsonís lawyer Gaby Lasky views this as a victory and says that the police and military are using their authority to get rid of the international observers while doing nothing against the real perpetrators, the settlers. Parsons release increases his chance of winning the appeal against his deportation.

Parsons was arrested Jan. 19 by Israeli police in Tel Rumeida, and sent to Tel Aviv where he was awaiting deportation at Ben-Gurion Airport. David stated from the airport detention center that ìduring the last week, the incessant settler attacks on the Palestinian residents have increased dramatically. International observers insist that the Israeli Military and Police fulfill their responsibilities of protecting the Palestinians; however, they clearly resent this and have been doing everything to remove witnesses from the area.î David has been working with other Internationals and Palestinians in Tel Rumeida, trying to decrease settler violence against Palestinian civilians in the area. Among other things, they escort Palestinian children to and from school, thus preventing settlers from throwing stones and harassing them, as normally happens several times a week.

There has been a concerted effort by the Israeli Military and Police forces to remove International HRWís from Tel Rumeida, Hebron. David was one of 4 internationals arrested on false premises in early November 2005 in Tel Rumeida. ìI would like to express outrage and contempt for the behavior of the police,î were the words of Judge Rafi Strauss in his final statement, before releasing the four Human Rights Workers falsely accused of assaulting an Israeli soldier in Tel Rumeida. The police officers tried their hardest to bend the law in order to get the Human Rights Workers deported, but did not succeed in their quest at that time.

For more information please contact:

David – 0546 517 234 ISM & Tel Rumeida Project

Luna, Tel Rumeida Project – 054 557 3154 www.telrumeidaproject.org

ISM Media Office +972 2 297 1824 www.palsolidarity.org

ISM Media Office Mobile – 0575720754

Gabby Lasky 0544418988

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4. Life in Tel Rumeida; “It is clear who are the terrorists around here.”

January 28th, 2006
by Katie
for photos, go to http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/01/28/life-in-tel-rumeida-it-is-clear-who-are-the-terrorists-around-here/

The city of Hebron (al Khalil) is divided into two areas, one controlled by the Palestinian Authority (H1) and the other controlled by the Israeli military (H2). Tel Rumeida is a Palestinian majority neighborhood in H2 with two illegal (under international law) Israeli settlements named Tel Rumeida and Beit Hadassa. The settlers of Tel Rumeida pose a daily threat to the Palestinian residents of this neighborhood. These settlers would be on the extreme right side of the political spectrum, more to the right than your average Zionist. In addition to harassing Palestinians, some of them have squatted in currently unoccupied Palestinian homes, refusing to leave. There is supposed to be an evacuation of these squats in a market in the old city on January 28th.

Recent acts of violence against Palestinians include physical assaults on children going to and from school, throwing light bulbs filled with red paint at children, rioting, shouting insults and threats, and throwing rocks and garbage. The settlers kids here are absolutely out of control. Saturday the 21st was my first day in Tel Rumeida, and group of boys called us anti-Semites bent on destroying the state of Israel. They usually get away with their violent behavior because the IOF soldiers are reluctant to get involved in violence against Palestinians because they are here only to protect the settlers.

Why are they behaving this way ? They believe the state of Israel has forsaken them by removing settlers from the Gaza strip. They feel that the West Bank is nothing more than Judea and Samaria, part of Western Ertez Israel (the Land of Israel). Having the state of Israel within pre 1967 borders apparently is not enough. American Jews are being recruited by the right here to come and be settlers all over the country. We ran into a group of them the other day and they called us pieces of shit, prostitutes and said they hoped we get raped by the Arabs.

Why is ISM here? There has been a need for international observers and accompaniers to record harassments and violence against Palestinians and act as escorts for children coming to and from school. Our presence is intended to give Palestinians some sense of security, so they can go out and their children can play in the street, and to pressure the Israeli Military to respond to and prevent settler violence against Palestinians.

Today was my first day working on the school route. It was quiet for the most part, aside from some Americans coming to visit the settlers who told us to go home, and some other people asking me what I was doing. I met a Tel Rumeida resident named Hashem who invited myself and another ISMer to his house for tea and occupation stories. Hashem’s home is located directly underneath the Tel Rumeida settlement and he took us for a tour of settler damage to his property. He showed us where settlers had put up barbed wire and razor wire around his house, where they had cut his olive trees in half, dumped garbage into his yard, threw a washing machine at him, broke windows, (he had to put up the metal window covers you see in this picture). His nephew Yousef is holding up a rock wrapped in a kerosene soaked cloth which was set on fire and thrown at the olive trees.

We watched several video tapes of settler mobs vandalizing Palestinian property. Gates were kicked in, property was smashed and thrown on the ground outside, rocks were thrown at windows. In the video the military was standing around doing nothing.

I asked Hashem what international volunteers can do for the situation. He said that the best thing we can do is to educate Americans about what is going on. He said most Americans believe Palestinians are terrorists but, he said, “it is clear who are the terrorists around here.”

Hashem said that at one point he asked his neighbors how they could have peace with each other. His neighbor told him that they could have peace if Hashem moved to Egypt, Jordan or Iraq and that Hashem’s house and land was promised by God to the Jews. There’s no arguing with that.

Are these the Palestinians your government warned you about ?

more info: www.telrumeidaproject.org

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5. Real Democracy in the Middle East (no it is not Israel).

January 27th, 2006

Harrison Heally – Ramallah

In the days leading up to the Palestinian election, in East Jerusalem you could be forgiven for not knowing that there was an election going on. You could not find a single poster in the city. There was no information on candidates, who to vote for or how. The Israeli government had banned Palestinians campaigning in the lead up to the election.

The vibe on the streets of Ramallah told a different story. The buses were shrines for various political factions. They were covered in stickers and posters inside and out. Flags and political murals decorated roofs of vehicles. Different buses and taxiís played different songs supporting various factions Even as the serviceís were taking off campaigners would stick more stickers on the windows.

You could barely find a single shop that didnít have a candidate in the window (sometimes 10). From cafes to hardware stores, to mainstream clothing and video outlets, they all presented their candidates. Banners would hang every few meters across the streets with different factions represented.

Houses down back streets were being used as campaigning centres as everyone set out promoting their material. Newspapers were being handed out on the street as well as pamphlets saying what the candidates were about.

In the city square Fatah was holding a rally of about 150 people whilst only a few blocks away Hamas held a marching band of about 60 young people mostly about 6-15. Even in some of the smaller West Bank towns such as Bilílin, (made famous for its anti-wall demonstrations), there were more posters around the place then you would see in the most intense of elections in Australia.

During the day of the election itself (January 25) I was posted at the largest polling stations in East Jerusalem. All the polling stations in Jerusalem were at post offices because the Israeli government didnít want to recognise Jerusalem as being part of Palestine. The post offices were so the Palestinian people would be casting ìpostal absentee votesî that would be counted further in the West Bank.

There were hundreds of Palestinians surrounding the polling station as well as internationl observers from former US President Jimmy Carter to different NGOís and peace groups making the crowd outside the polling station number well over a thousand. Teens handed out election material, something that was actually in violation of election regulations however given the ban by the Israeli government on campaigning this seemed like a good thing. People were extatic. The place being a Fatah strong hold had several people chanting.

The crowd grew even more as a Palestine Peace Coalition (PPC) staged a hundred strong rally outside the polling booth. The rally was non-factional but criticised the Israeli government for only allowing 6,300 Palestinians in East Jerusalem to register in this election.

A women was applauded for waving the Palestinian flag, illegal in Jerusalem under Israeli law. Yet the police stayed at bay and barely went past the polling both. There was a large police presence about 500 meters away with a Zionist rally of 20 people congregated with Israeli flags saying that this land was Israel and the Palestinians had no right to vote for the PA if they wanted to live in Jerusalem. When I approached to ask why the rally was so small, an organiser told me that there were only 20 people because the police said they could only have 20. Yet it didnít look like they had any supporters near by and they packed up pretty early.

Later that night I was in Ramallah and people were all talking about the election and debating the outcomes. Whilst Fatah has lost ground in this election the participation from the people was inspiring. A Palestinian activist commented ìhopefully this will mean more people will come to the [anti-wall] demonstrations.î

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6. A Statement From J.A.G

January 25th, 2006

On January 19th we, a group of concerned Jews, spray painted the infamous Nazi slogan ìArbeit Macht Frieî (îWork Makes You Freeî) on a sign placed by the Israeli occupation authorities at the Kalandia checkpoint that read ìThe Hope of Us Allî.

The Sign ìthe hope of us allî and the New Ramallah Terminal were inaugurated on the 20th of Dec 2005. The new terminal is set up so that there is no physical contact between the soldiers and the Palestinians. The soldiers scream commands to the Palestinians over loud speakers as they are made to go through a series of electronic gates and turnstiles. The new Terminal embodies the occupation in its alienated, bureaucratically cruel form. it is situated between one Palestinian area and another and flanked on both sides by the annexation barrier effectively turning Ramallah into a ghetto.

ìArbeit Meicht Frieî was written at the entrance of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. In spray painting on that sign we did not mean to say that Ramallah is Auschwitz. We did, however, wish to point out that there are many disturbing parallels between the tactics used by the occupation and those used by the Nazis. For example, the attempt to beautify dehumanizing institutions through empty phrases like ìThe Hope of Us Allî and ìArbeit Macht Frieî. We believe that it is important to heed these disturbing parallels as warning signals in order for another Holocaust never to happen again, to any people. We wrote a paragraph explaining our action in Arabic and English and distributed it to people as we were painting the sign, and we posted that paragraph next to the slogan.

Unfortunately the Israeli authorities have decided to use our action for their own purposes and are accusing the Israeli human rights group Machsom Watch of ìdefacing the checkpointî. (See Kalandia terminal crossing compared to Auschwitz By MARGOT DUDKEVITCH Jan. 24.) These accusations are baseless. None of the people involved in writing the slogan have anything to do with Machsom Watch. The Israeli Military is attempting to find excuses to deny witnesses access to the checkpoints where human rights are systematically violated.

Signed,

J.A.G.

Jews Against Genocide

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7. Jerusalem Post on Kalandia Grafiti

January 24th, 2006

“It’s the ISM, not Machsom Watch”
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/01/24/kalandia-terminal-crossing-compared-to-auschwitz/

From Jpost TalkBack :

by Judy – Israel
“Margot Dudkevitch reports that Machsom Watch defaced the Kalandia entrance. Iím no friend of Machsom Watch, but anyone monitoring the rantings of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) will have noticed that on January 19, the day of the daubing, ìKatieî from ISM proudly describes how she and an ìAmerican Jewish activist friendî did the deed with a home-made stencil. She even notes how they handed out flyers describing why they were doing it. Why doesnít the Israeli police or Interior Ministry monitor this stuff and go after these people??”

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Kalandia terminal crossing compared to Auschwitz

By MARGOT DUDKEVITCH Published in JPOST

Vandals defaced the newly erected entry sign to the Kalandia terminal north of Jerusalem, daubing on it the infamous Auschwitz inscription ìArbeit macht frei,î (Work Liberates).

Security forces deployed at the recently refurbished checkpoint accused members of Machsom Watch, saying that its members were responsible for defacing the sign, which is decorated with a painted flower and the inscribed (in Arabic, Hebrew and English) with the slogan ìThe hope of us all.î

Adi Dagan, spokeswoman for the Machsom Watch checkpoint-monitoring group, vehemently denied the charges.

However, Hava Halevy, a member of the womenís group told The Jerusalem Post that she fully agrees with comparing the checkpoint to Auschwitz, the inscription and flower are not only degrading but also humiliating, she said. ìOf course I agree with the comparison, the sign there is horrendous, hopes for what, the slave and the landlord, the oppressed and the oppressor, the occupier?Ö It is disgusting.î

Security officials said the flower and inscription in Arabic were designed as a friendly touch in the area that caters for the hundreds of Palestinians who use the checkpoint daily. Aside from the message of hope, words inscribed on the leaves and petals of the flower include tolerance and education, the officials said.

Central Command headquarters has ordered the immediate removal of the graffiti. Sources at the command said that a soldier reported seeing a left-wing group with a cardboard stencil near the sign on Thursday and later noticed the graffiti.

Dagan denied that anyone from Machsom Watch was involved. ìIt was probably done by a Palestinian, none of our women would write such a thing. We are very cautious when observing checkpoints,î she said. ìWe do not want to give the army any excuse to kick us out,î she added.

Since the opening of the new terminal at the checkpoint, Machsom Watch members are barred from entering it and are forced to wait outside. Dagan the group has written to OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh demanding that they be permitted to monitor the situation inside.

IDF sources said a decision was made to bar the women from entering the terminal in order to prevent them from interfering with the soldiersí work. Security officials claimed there have been numerous incidents of confrontations between members of Machsom Watch and security forces manning checkpoints and occasions when women have called the soldiers Nazis and other slurs.

One security official cited an example of a recent confrontation involving MK Binyamin Netanyahuís sister-in-law Neta Ben Arzi, who he said called one of the soldiers manning the Kalandia checkpoint a Nazi. ìThe poor guy was shocked, his commander comforted him and calmed him down, and told him that such behavior was not worthy of a response,î said the official.

The head of the district coordinating office has complained to his superiors over the behavior of some Machsom Watch members towards officers deployed at the checkpoint. The document, obtained by The Jerusalem Post, describes an incident on the day last month that the new terminal was opened.

Three members of Machsom Watch approached a Civil Administration officer deployed at the sleeve used by Palestinians seeking to enter Israel and waving a piece of paper, demanded to speak to the commander in charge. The officer told the three he would be willing to assist, but only if they modified their behavior.

In response, the three screamed at the officer and said ìthis place is a concentration camp, you are behaving like the Nazis,î and you should ìput up a sign that work liberates instead of the sign you have erected at the entrance,î they declared.

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Note from the ISM media office:

The Graffiti in Kalandia checkpoint was done by a group of Jewish activists called JAG ìJews Against Genocideî and reported on by the ISM see: The Occupation Will Not Be Sugar-Coated, http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/01/19/the-occupation-will-not-be-sugar-coated/ and Statement From J.A.G, http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/01/25/a-statment-from-jag/

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8. A Human Rights Worker Writes of her Christmas in Israeli Detention

January 23rd, 2006

By Shireen

In a prison cell, the few times a day when the door opens are an event. On the evening of Christmas Day, when the rattle of keys was followed by a soft Scottish voice asking cheerfully, ìis there a bed free in here?î I didnít know whether to be happy or sad. It was Theresa, and she, like me, was attempting to attend Decemberís International Nonviolence Conference in Palestine.

I was very glad to have a colleague join me, but her arrival in my cell meant that she too had been refused entry into Israel – which controls all the routes into Palestine. Already three of us were spending our week in the detention cells at Tel Avivís Ben Gurion Airport, and beginning to think if we never saw another piece of white bread again, it would be too soon.

I had never actually met Theresa before her appearance in the prison, but we have a lot in common. Over the last few years, we have both regularly come to volunteer for human rights work in Palestine. Army training and years of propaganda makes it hard for an Israeli soldier to look at a Palestinian and see an equal human being, someone whose life should be respected. The presence of Internationals can mean that Palestinians move more freely and safely through their neighbourhoods than would otherwise be possible.

Theresa, and I, along with South African Robin (in the next door cell), and Italians Vik and Gabriele (who had been refused and put back on a plane within hours of his arrival some days before) had all come many times to Palestine to do this work. And therein lay our problem.

By 2002, the Israeli ìDefenceî Force was faced with increasing numbers of Internationals who kept turning up at inconvenient moments with cameras and quotes from the Geneva Convention. During 2002-2003, Israeli soldiers were alleged to have deliberately wounded at least twelve foreign human rights workers with live ammunition, and killed several others, the best known being Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall, and UN worker Iain Hook. The international outcry that resulted appears to have protected internationals to some extent. But recently human rights organisations based in Palestine have realised that there is a more subtle weapon being used: the ìBanned Listì, or, as the Israeli court calls it, the ìInclusion Listî.

Though my friends and I were coming with personal invitations to an internationally recognised conference, it was the fact that the Israeli immigration computers apparently recognised our names from this list, that carried the most sway with the airport authorities. We each experienced several hours of grilling by a representative of the Ministry of Defence, who set our teeth on edge with his very unconvincingly friendly ìIím sure everything will be cleared up and youíll be very welcomeî routine. None of us were surprised when a young woman came to announce that, for the usual mysterious ìsecurity reasonsî, we were all being refused entry to Israel (ìDid I ask to go to Israel?î Robin muttered resignedly.) and that we would be escorted to the Detention Cells overnight.

We comforted each other with the reminder that it was all part of our cunning plan. At least, Plan A had been to sail through immigration and attend the Conference, but Plan B was that we would sit tight in prison, and our lawyer would take our case to court. This would require a presentation of the evidence against us and a chance to argue our right to enter.

None of us was allowed to call our consulates. Luckily friends contacted our lawyer on our behalf because we werenít allowed to call her either. Six days later, when a friendly bloke from my consulate called the prison to speak to me, he was still rather startled. ìHeard about you on the news!î he said. ìThe usual ësecurity reasonsë line, eh? Yes, means absolutely nothing to us either.î When Theresa arrived, our lawyer took the opportunity to demand to speak to all of us, and that was a relief, because I was very worried about Vik.

We had known that the agenda of the authorities would be to send us back to our own countries before we could go to court, that our lawyer could eventually get a halt on this order, but that there would be a short time lapse before this, during which only our lack of co-operation with this agenda would keep us in Israel. At 4am the day after our arrival, we were all simply shouted at when we refused to get ready to board a plane. Then, at 4pm the same day, a group of police entered Robin and Vikís cell and announced they would be removed by force. Robin and Vik stated our lawyer would have obtained an order to allow us to wait for court by then, and repeatedly asked to speak to her. When Vik demanded a call to the Italian consulate, a policeman responded by kneeing him in the groin.

Once they had Vik (who has a heart condition) on the ground, he clung to the bed frame, so they commenced to punch and kick him, violence that continued within my view after they dragged him into the corridor. Despite my pleas, this ended only when they realised they needed to take him to hospital. Vik told us later that he feared he was having a heart attack, but this turned out to be pain from torn chest muscles. He spent the remainder of the week in CCTV-monitored solitary confinement.

On day 7 we went to court. It was a huge relief to be able to speak to Robin and Vik, who were handcuffed together. During a court case entirely in Hebrew with no translation, with an hour of ìsecret evidenceî given about us which neither we nor our lawyer could hear, the judge came to the conclusion that he would uphold the refusal for us to enter.

His two main reasons appeared to be that we had, in the past, been with Palestinians holding non-violent demonstrations against the Land-Grab Wall (as a human rights observer and a medic I am invited by Palestinians to attend in both these capacities) and that two of our own governments had informed Israeli security that we were anarchists! In true ìLife of Brianî style we have been fighting ever since about which two of us – ìIím definitely one of the anarchists.î ìNo, Iím the anarchist!î Since in my case, my anarchism involves a belief that people can co-operate together without leaders, but generally means I do a lot of community work, Iím surprised that Iíve managed to frighten two governments, but there you go.

While in the prison, we took the opportunity when we could to talk to the guards about the reasons we were there. A young guard, working to fund his studies, responded to our descriptions of the Israeli army regularly firing upon unarmed men, women, and children, with the disbelief I often hear from Israelis uninvolved in the peace movement. ìNo,î he said, ìJewish people wouldnít do that.î ìI have seen it, many times; it is an accepted policy,î I told him. ìNo,î he repeated, ìthere must have been some mistake, or you didnít understand.î What I find interesting is that when people respond in this way, they donít try to suggest that I am lying, but they never ask for any more details. It is simply that it does not fit with what they wish to believe about their country, and therefore, the less said the better. Working alongside Israelis and Palestinians who have faced up to the truth and found courage and comradeship on the other side of it, I wish I knew how to present this truth so it would be heard by young Israelis like my guard.

As I write this, a countryman of Theresaís, Andrew MacDonald remains in the detention cells. Andrew has done similar work to us, been deported, changed his name to return, been arrested, and held again. What makes Andrew different is that he is still resisting his deportation, stating that he cannot co-operate with the removal of human rights workers, and he has now spent months in prison, with little hope of release back to Palestine. (ìHe resists how? Do they only kick me?î complains Vik.) [Update on Andrew below.]

After we left, Theresa was held until the conference was over and the day she had to fly back to return to work came up. But she already has her time off work booked for this yearís Palestinian Olive Harvest. We feel that our thwarted attempt to return to our friends in Palestine is not the end of the battle, but just an early skirmish in the fight to overturn the Banned List, which so far appears to include more than 200 people, and possibly a much larger number. Under the ìAccess for Peaceî banner, we hope that many more human rights workers like ourselves will refuse to accept ìNoî for an answer.

Update as of January 21st:

At 3:00 in the morning of January 15th, ISM-activist Andrew Macdonald was forcefully deported from Israel, 7 weeks after being abducted from Palestine by the Israeli Border Police. He was carried on to the plane and accompanied by two Police Officers on the plane from Tel Aviv to London. [Read more]

On Thursday January 19th, David Parsons, a Human Rights Worker from Canada, was arrested by the Israeli Police in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron and taken to Kiryat Arba Police station, and is currently awaiting deportation at Ben-Gurion Airport.

On January 20th, Theresa MacDermottís Member of Parliament, Mark Lazarowicz, tabled two questions to Parliament, as follows

1. To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will investigate the case of Theresa McDermott who was detained by the Israeli authorities on her arrival in Israel on 25th December 2005 and thereafter deported.

2. To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he has made representations to the Israeli authorities on the operation of a blacklist of persons not allowed to enter the occupied territories.