From Palestine to Virginia Tech: We are with you in this Time of Pain

Friday, April 20, 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 Sothern 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.


April 20th protest bethlehemApril 20th Protest Bethlehem palestine virginia techApril 20th Protest Bethlehem palestine virginia techApril 20th Protest Bethlehem palestine virginia tech

Photo Credits: Muhamad Zboun – PNN




20 thoughts on “From Palestine to Virginia Tech: We are with you in this Time of Pain

  1. During this reporter’s January 2006 visit to Israel Palestine, at another nonviolent demonstration at The Wall, Sami Awad was detained and beaten by Israeli soldiers.

    Afterwards, Sami stated, “The Israeli occupation is sending a clear message to the Palestinian people, they don’t want us to engage in nonviolent resistance because it truly exposes them and the injustice they are doing to the world.”

    There is something very wrong when a ‘democracy’ does not follow the rule of law and children only view their neighbors looking up through the barrel of a gun.

    “Injustice is unsustainable and that is the hopeful thing about this conflict; injustice is unsustainable…Israel is not a democracy, it is an ethnocracy; full rights to Jews, but not to Palestinians.”-Jeff Halper, American Israeli, Founder and Coordinator ICAHD

    “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

    In Solidarity,

    eileen fleming, author, reporter and editor

  2. Joe Parko

    I marched with you in the Palm Sunday peace march in 2005. When we were stopped by the Israeli soldiers, I remember your words to them—
    “Each day as you come to our city, you serve the system of violence that keeps our people imprisoned and without the ability to live the life of a normal human being. With your guns, tanks and insults, you teach our children to hate.
    However, we believe each of you has the power and choice to choose a different ending to this story. We appeal to your conscience and humanity as individuals and as soldiers who may feel there is no way out of this system. Put your guns away, and join us in the fight for peace and freedom.”

    We in the U.S. have just witnessed the madness of a lone gunman. The Palestinian people have faced an organized army of guns for 40 years. We have experienced random violence. The Palestinian people experience organized violence. We stand with you in your struggle for peace with justice. Many of us here in Atlanta are involved in the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and are working hard to make the demonstration on the 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation in Washington, DC in June a big event.

    In Peace,
    Joe Parko

  3. Thank you for your work,
    Thank you to your Courage and conection to the source of life. I am just coming back from Columbia.
    Deeper and deeper we see the step to peace and freedom in the (R)Evolution, going over borders, withoit fear. Those who choose this deep decision, the way of nonviolence-revolution, who choose the natural way and keep on going will be confirmed in the long term.
    Like you say: 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.

    Let us go together hand in hand for global peace on earth. The vision will give us the empowerment.
    Thnak you
    Sabine Lichtenfels

  4. Sami

    Good to see that you still have your fighting spirit. As always, you are creative in your solidarity and intelligent in your actions. Needless to say, I am looking forward to see you. Make love and not war. Carry on the good work. Slap on your back.

    Your friend,


  5. Dear sami

    happy to heard anew activity from y thatr make us say there is aperson have agood work for peace need less to work with him

    keep in touch

    Amneh daragmeh

  6. Joyce F. Guinn

    Dear Sami,

    Mary-Alice Martines and I stood outside a busy grocery store today with a sign saying: “The World says NO to the Isrtaeli Occupation”. We stood in solidarity with the people of Bi’lin and with all Palestinians.
    We will continue every Friday. Thank all of you for your kind thoughts about the tragedy in VA.

    In Peace,


  7. Dear Sami, Marwan, Awni, Rafat, Elias, Iliana, Elias, Eilda & Tahani,

    Thank you for your generosity. Your words reminded me a demonstration & a wedding on that land in January & of an olive harvest nearby in October. Your voices will always sing in my heart.

    Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
    (Where charity & love are, God is there.)

  8. Josef Wick

    A persuading gesture to invite us Swiss Christians
    not to forget our sisters and brothers in Palestine/Israel
    who give all their effort to open the way for PEACE now !

    With you,
    Josef Wick

  9. ellen

    This is so beautiful!
    It brought tears to my eyes.
    That people who are in such pain and struggle could care about others’ pain.

    This is how the world should be, but usually isn’t. It would be a wonder, if the people who are mourning the dead and wounded of VT, also had a thought for the people of Palestine.


  10. emma sham-ba ayalon

    this way of protesting is meaningful and a good example for me of how the spiritual and the political can come together. i will be happy to be there with you in two weeks. i published this article in two alternative journalism sites. and maybe we can think together for next time how to make a meaningful article also in the jewish press. uri can support it with his connections. with love and vision for global healing. sham-ba

  11. I am a professor at Virginia Tech. By chance, I was traveling in the middle east when the horrible and senseless killings took place. I received only sympathetic and comforting words from colleagues and fellow activists in Israel and Palestine. On Friday, 20 April, I was participating in the nonviolent protest against the apartheid wall in Bil’in when I received word of the commemoration of the VT events in Bethlehem. I am very moved by this act, bridging thousands of miles in solidarity against the contagion of violence and its use against those whose only crime is the pursuit of a decent existence.
    Thank you.

  12. hans linders

    Dear Sami,
    Thank you for your email to inform me of your nonviolent actions for peace in Israel and Palestine and of your compassion with the people in Virginia USA. I wish you and all the people with you the powers of love and peace to go on with your work.

  13. Rana Mahmoud

    it seem that u r more interested in promoting yourself than nonviolence. also it looks like u care less about palestinians as you work to indulge westerners

  14. Rónán O'Cuin

    Your ongoing non-violent resistance against Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people is appreciated. It is important that there is a coordinated non-violent resistance from Palestinians, Israeli Peace activists and internationals. It is easy to sit at home and criticise non-violent resistance. I would encourage “arm-chair” commentators to come along and participate. Complacency will not contribute bring peace. Participation will.

  15. Pingback: Sabbah’s Blog » Blog Archive » Palestinian activists plant trees in memory of Virginia Tech

  16. Dear Rana,
    Thank you for your comment. This blog is a personal blog that reflects my personal views on what i am personally involved in from activities and people from around the globe (as you can see from my “about me” section).

    As you konw there are many web sites that present the Palestinian cause in details that are better than i can ever do and there is no need for repetition. This does not mean i am less committed to the cause. I created my personal blog so that I can guarantee that my personal opinion are not reflected even in the work of the organization that i run. For example, a sepreate report for all our activities is reflected in the Holy Land Trust web site written by our staff.

    It is truly not a desire of mine to promote myslef as i have no fullfilment in such promotion, but if through the work i do people can learn about the situation and truly acknowledge the fact that Palestinians are engaging in direct nonviolent action against the occupation then i have acheived my goal.

    In terms of “indulging the West”. The power of nonviolence is not only in its tactics to resist the oppression, but at the same level to open the eyes of those who have been blinded by this same oppression. To me, i say it with complete honesty and straighforwardness, there is no West or East; this is one of the traps that certain groups with certain agendas have created to justify racism against those who are not “of their color, race, religion, culture, etc.” There is no “Clash of Civilizations,” there are battles between those who promote and seek justice and those who deny it.

    It is our duty to fight the battle for justice not only in Palestine but all around the world. If sometimes we are able to reach people in Europe and the US by doing actions that link to them in a way that can open their eyes to our reality in a very real and personal way and remove the walls that have been placed between us and them by certain racist agendas, then i am 100 percent for such actions.

    Your comment is a true reminder for all of us to maintain humbleness in these difficult times.

    If you are in Palestine please feel free to contact me or the organization for more information or come and visit at any time (or as Ronan has said, come and join). If not in Palesitne, please stay in touch and let us see how we can learn from each other so that we can unite our efforts to fight the cause we all beleive in.

    in peace,
    Sami Awad


    Dear Sami
    Iam originally Palestinian from Gaza and have a Son and Daughter as Virginia Tech alumni;the last one will graduate in May 11, 2007.I support and appreciate your efforts to promote peace all over and your recent initiative to stand with VT community is highly recognized and demonstrate to the world that we will fight oppressions and injustice at any place.

  18. Rana Mahmoud

    Dear Sami
    I really appreciate your response. I agree that it is your right to express your political views. That is very true when you express your opinions about political, social, or any other issue but I don’t think it is your right when it comes to the Palestinian struggle. What your webpage shows that you using the Palestinian struggle for your own interest. At least from my perspective as a person who lives in this land and been involved in many activities. I don’t want to have a debate with you about nonviolence as it is clear that there is a fundamental difference in our understanding of what nonviolence is. Palestinians have been practicing nonviolence since long time and don’t think that they need lessons from anyone. The history of Palestinian struggle is all about the use of active forms of nonviolence. Please ask yourself if what you do is really resistance? I am Palestinian and live in occupied Palestine.
    p.s for Ronan I think it is better not to speak when you have no idea what you talking about. We who are living under such brutal occupation are not setting on “arm-chair”.

  19. Leslie Deane roth


    Is it naive to hope that goodness can prevail in the future? Being a Jewish observer, it is so difficult to support the Israeli government point of view. But it must be man’s point of view and not individual states or communities. How can we create the larger view? Noone owns the earth as noone owns the sun. Real estate is a human invention.

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