Paul Larudee, piano tuner and non-violent activist, has been denied entry to Palestine by the Israeli authorities and is being held in detention at Ben Gurion Airport. Please take a few minutes to take action to free him!
Paul Larudee, a piano tuner from El Cerrito, California, is the lastest of over 13,000 people to be denied entry to Israel/Palestine in recent years. Like many others, Paul was not trying to visit Israel, but territories ostensibly controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Yet the Palestinians have no say in deciding whether he is allowed to visit their country, where he was scheduled to tune more than 20 pianos.
People concerned about the detention and exclusion of Paul Larudee by the Israeli authorities can take the following actions:
1. Write op-eds and letters to the editor in your local newspapers or any other media you have access to based on the Talking Points below.
1. WE ARE NOT ONLY DEMANDING PAUL BE ADMITTED; WE DEMAND THAT THE UNITED STATES AND ISRAEL BREAK THE SIEGE ON THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. Israel’s policy of denying entry to people who support Palestinian non-violent protest and report on the situation to the world is one aspect of a campaign to isolate the Palestinian people from the world. This campaign, which began long before the election of Hamas affiliated candidates to lead the Palestinian legislature, includes closing the only passage for goods into the Gaza Strip (it has been closed more than 50% of the time since the beginning of this year), building the Segregation Wall, frequent closures on the West Bank, and malicious prosecutions of Israeli activists who participate in Palestinian-led demonstrations (recently a judge ruled that an almost two-year prosecution of two Israeli anti-Wall activists was completely devoid of merit). Recent U.S. moves to strangle the Palestinian people economically to punish them for exercising their democratic rights have created what the UN Food Program and the World Health Organization call a humanitarian disaster. Because the official Israeli view receives much more widespread coverage in the U.S. media than reports reflecting the relaity of the impact these policies have on the lives of Palestinians, it is important that people like Paul be able to go and report the situation accurately, and show the Palestinian people that the world has not completely abandoned them.
2. PREVENTING PEOPLE WHO PLAN TO SUPPORT PALESTINIAN NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE FROM ENTERING THE COUNTRY IS INTENDED TO DEPRIVE THEM OF THEIR RIGHT TO RESIST OCCUPATION, WHICH IS ENSHRINED IN INTERNATIONAL LAW. There is no evidence to support the claim that Paul specifically or ISM in general participate in “violent” demonstrations. Rather, ISM has clearly and repeatedly stressed its commitment to non-violence. ISM requires non-violent direct action training of all participants, and Paul has participated in a number of these trainings. The only violence at the demonstration at which Paul was shot in 2002 came from the Israeli Army.
Paul’s desire to share his love of music and his skill as a piano tuner with people in the Occupied Territories demonstrates that his intent is to increase harmony in the area, not to support any form of violence.
3. OVER 15,000 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DENIED ENTRY BY ISRAEL IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS. SOME EXAMPLES:
1. Kate Maynard, UK Human Rights Lawyer (May 2006)
2. Raeed Tayeh, Palestinian American former public affairs director for the Muslim American Society (May 2006)
3. Enayeh Adel Samara, US citizen, married to a Palestinian, owned business in Ramallah, two kids born in Jerusalem (May 2006)
4. Meri Calvelli, representative of the Italian development NGO Centro Regionale d’Intervento per la Cooperazione (CRIC) (November 2005)
5. Black Umfolosi, renowned Zimbabwe music group (July 2003)
6. Curtis Unger, Michael Goode, Kathleen Kern, US/Canadian Christian Peacemaker Team volunteers (2002)
7. Ahmed Bahaddou, Belgian Reuters cameraman (August 2002)
8. Eva Rinsten, Swedish lawyer coming to work with PCHR (June 2002)
9. Fellowship of Reconciliation delegation of 19 people, including 9 Muslim Americans and quite a few Jewish Americans (January 2001)
10. Cat Stevens, Pop Star (July 2000)
MANY OF THESE PEOPLE, LIKE PAUL, WERE NOT TRYING TO GO TO ISRAEL BUT TO SUPPOSEDLY PALESTINIAN CONTROLLED AREAS. The Palestinian people have the right to choose who can visit them. If Israel wants to be taken seriously about any plans to withdraw from the Occupied Territories, it cannot maintain control over Palestinian borders.
4. THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT CLAIMS IT IS EXCLUDING PAUL IN PART BECAUSE HE SLEPT IN HOMES OF FAMILIES OF PEOPLE WHO HAD CARRIED OUT ATTACKS AGAINST ISRAEL. ISM’s policy has been to provide accompaniment for families who are threatened with collective punishment by the Israeli forces because of acts committed by family members. This does not convey any support for attacks against civilians. Rather, it conveys support for international law, which considers collective punishment a war crime. In February 2005 Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz announced an end to the policy of punitive home demolitions, upon recommendation of a military panel. The Israeli human rights group Bt’selem had long campaigned for an end to the policy, which left at least 4240 people homeless.
5. IT IS NOT ONLY INTERNATIONAL ACTIVISTS WHO ARE BARRED FROM PALESTINE. MORE IMPORTANTLY, MILLIONS OF PALESTINIAN REFUGEES LIVING ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE PREVENTED FROM RETURNING TO THEIR HOMELAND. The ongoing refusal of Israel to implement UN General Assembly Resolution 194, passed in December 1948, requiring “that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date” is one of the most serious obstacles to peace in the region.
Moreover, 1552 Palestinians were deported from their homeland by Israel between 1967 and 1992, when such deportations stopped. However, even after 1992 Palestinians have been deported to Gaza from their homes in the West Bank.
Once again, the right of the Palestinian people to control their borders, and to travel freely to, from and within their land, is an essential condition for peace.
2. Call your local Israeli Consulate (San Francisco Phone 415-844-7000, Fax 415-844-7555) to protest the exclusion of Paul and hundreds of other nonviolent activists, human rights lawyers and Palestinians wishing to visit their families.
3. Contribute to the NorCal ISM Legal Fund, which is paying for Paul’s appeal of his denial of entry. We need to raise at least $1,400 for his costs. Anything we raise over what is needed for Paul’s defense will go toward the defense of Palestinians or international activists arrested in nonviolent protest or other ISM volunteers denied entry. To find out how to contribute, see http://www.norcalism.org/contribution.htm.