The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is inviting volunteers to come to Palestine for a conference on Joint Nonviolent Struggle in Bil’in and for ISM’s Spring campaign
The Bil’in Conference will take place February 20 & 21, 2006. ISM’s Spring Campaign will take place between March 1st and April 23rd, 2006.
Come for a week, a month or two months. Volunteer training sessions will take place every Sunday and Monday. For more information on travel and logisitcs, see our Join Us in Palestine section.
ISM needs volunteers to support Bil’in and other west bank village’s nonviolent resistance. We also need volunteers to serve as human rights monitors in the Hebron neighborhood 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. Last but not least we need volunteers in the ISM media office doing support work for activists out in the field.
For the last year our West Bank village of Bil’in has campaigned nonviolently to save our land – chaining ourselves to olive trees, locking ourselves to tree roots, lying in front of bulldozers, and tyng our hands together in front of jeeps. We even established the first ‘Palestinian outpost’ on our land beyond the wall, 100 meters from several Israeli settlements also built on our land. The Israeli soldiers have responded with violence – tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, live ammunition, arrests, beatings and curfews. Still, some days we reach our goal.
The media paints a confusing picture as to who are the victims and who are the aggressors here. Focusing on armed Palestinian resistance, the media portrays the conflict as a struggle between two armies. But there is really only one army (Israel’s) against one people (the Palestinians) and we want the world to see this.
According to the fourth Geneva Convention as an occupied people we have the right to resist Israeli occupation under international law, even by violent means. However, when we use nonviolent resistance, Israel’s weapons lose their power. When I face a soldier with nothing in my hand, the soldier is forced not to use his weapon. If he uses it, he shows the world that we are being attacked for opposing the theft of our land. When we protest peacefully, we are equal because we cancel out the soldier’s power.
Though Bil’in sits inside the West Bank, 2 1⁄2 miles east of the Green Line, Israel is building its Wall on our land, seizing 57% of our village’s land to expand two settlements. We have depended on this land to feed our families for generations.
The leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad participated in two protests here, marching in nonviolent demonstrations with Israeli activists. Hamas leader Hassan Youssef told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz Daily that if they see that this kind of demonstration can end Israel’s occupation, and then they will do it. So we in Bil’in and other villages chose nonviolent resistance to show that it can end the occupation.
We will continue to try and touch the soldiers’ humanity. There will never be security for any of us unless the Israeli people respect our rights to this land, end the occupation, and let us achieve our freedom.
But we need help. If the Palestinian people saw more support from the international community, from ordinary people and governments, many more would choose this path. We hope that the power of people who believe in peace between these two peoples will prevail.
–Mohammed Khatib, member of the popular committee against the wall in Bil’in
For more information on joining the ISM see our Join Us in Palestine section.