Palestine is a place where you can not only learn valuable lessons in community organizing around non-violent resistance, but can experience first-hand a place where people are resisting occupation every day. Palestine needs internationals to support their demonstrations, to help protect their land, and to support their continuation of everyday life, such as going to school or getting through a checkpoint.
Now more than ever, Palestinians need an international presence to ensure that the lives of average Palestinians and not their governmental leaders are the focus of world-wide attention. When the Israeli government says they are going to “Starve” the Palestinian government, they are really intending to starve the Palestinian people. The world believes that Israeli Occupation ended with the Gaza pullout. It is important for internationals to witness the continued settlement expansion on Palestinian land in the West Bank, and the insatiable appetite of Israel for Palestinian land.
International Volunteers with ISM’s Freedom Summer 2006 will stand side by side villagers in places like Bil’in as they continue their tireless struggle to save village land from Israel’s apartheid wall. When international volunteers are not standing with Palestinian non-violent protesters, the Israeli occupying forces often uses live ammunition against them.
Volunteers will also serve as human rights monitors in the Hebron neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida, where Palestinian children are harassed on their way to school daily by settlers, and in the small village of Qawawis, where shepherds and farmers face regular intimidation from soldiers and the occupants of three surrounding hilltop settlements. This is also a form of non-violent resistance. Last but not least we need volunteers in the ISM media office doing support work for activists out in the field.
The power of visiting Palestine during this difficult time is that volunteers witness first-hand the suffering, the courage and the generosity of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation rather than just seeing the sanitised media view. Experiencing the reality of the situation as a eyewitness experience will equip you with the facts to highlight the issue with others and influence opinions in your home countries.
Your presence in Palestine this summer, for a week or for three months is an important part of building bridges with Palestinians. Freedom Summer 2006 will run from July 2 until the August 5 with volunteer training sessions to be held every weekend, July 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, and 30-31.
— Please Forward Widely —