From Palestine to Virginia Tech: We are with you in this Time of Pain
by Sami Awad, 20 April 2007
Two days ago a tragic event took place in Virginia Tech in the US that shocked not only the people of the United States but people all across the globe. A violent massacre took place there that resulted in thirty two killed, individuals who presented different cultures, religions and nationalities. In a sign of solidarity the people of Palestine in general and those from the Southern villages surrounding the Holy city of Bethlehem dedicated their weekly nonviolent activity against the building of Apartheid wall to the families of the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre.
Every Friday, Palestinians, internationals, and Israeli nonviolent activists gather in the Southern villages of Bethlehem to protest against the building of the Apartheid Wall that will eventually destroy the livelihood of these villages. This Friday, the protest began with a silent procession by the group of about fifty participants. We carried banners and leaflets with the Virginia Tech logo and statements supporting them in this time of pain. Thirty two olive trees were also carried in the procession to remember each person killed in the massacre. The olive tree is a global symbol of peace and hope.
Once we reached the path created by the by the bulldozers for the building of the Apartheid Wall we dug the earth and plated the thirty two olive trees in a row – instead of building an ugly wall that divides people, let us plant trees that bring people together. Several of the participants made statements condemning the violence that we all, as the human family are witnessing and condemning the building of the Apartheid wall and the killing of innocents. Over 150 Israeli soldiers came to dismantle our protest. Our commitment to nonviolence and to achieve our goal completely paralyzed their weapons and their goals and eventually our power made them withdrawal. The planting of the trees was followed by reciting the names of all those who were killed in the Virginian massacre followed by a fifteen minute period of silence before the group moved back to the villages.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “where there is an injustice somewhere … there is an injustice everywhere.” This also means that where there is violence somewhere there is violence everywhere… We need to work for peace somewhere so that peace can also spread every where.