Nonviolent Activism Gathers Steam in Southern Bethlehem

Friday, April 27, 2007

The southern villages of Bethlehem have been organizing weekly nonviolent resistance activities to the building of the Apartheid Wall that will ultimately separate the farmers from 70% of their agricultural land.

The activity this week witnessed an evolution of size and strategy. For the first time, over 200 participants (Palestinians, Israelis, and Internationals) joined in the direct action; for the first time, the committee responsible for organizing the action included new members from villages in the South of Bethlehem and activists from the northern villages of Hebron (Beit Umar), and for the first time their was a clear increase in the number of International and Israeli activist.

On the strategic level, the success of the previous actions empowered the organizers to target a location that was perceived as impossible to reach, the Bethlehem-Hebron Road (also know as Road 60). Once the wall is completed in this area, Palestinians will not be able to travel on this historic route which will only be used Jewish settlers. Palestinians will only be allowed to use back and side roads increasing the duration of any trip by over 200% at minimum (i.e. to go from Bethlehem to Hebron will take 1 hour instead of the usual 15 minutes).

The goal of this nonviolent action was toprotest on this road and to express our opposition not only to the building of the wall but also to the continued existence and expansion of settlements that are the cause for building the wall, (the wall guarantees the land for future settlement building and expansion).

As soon as we began the procession, tens of armed Israeli troops came and attempted to stop the protest from moving to the land. The demonstrators broke into the army wall that was created and we continued our procession to the land near the main road where the Israeli soldiers used violence again to try to suppress the action (several were injured including journalists). Several people gave talks denouncing the building of the wall and called for a real and justice peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Friday prayer was then conducted on the land. On the return back to the location where we began the action, the Israeli soldiers again pushed and yelled. It was truly wonderful to see the commitment to nonviolence by the more than 200 participants.

The level of frustration by the Israeli army to the success of the nonviolent activity was not witnessed on the site; the retaliation took place on our way to our homes. Israeli army check points were erected on the entry ways to all locations where the participants came from and cars that were at the sight of the action were stopped, participants were insulted, some were forcefully removed from the cars and then cars and individuals were searched for almost an hour. Of course the Israeli army knew there was nothing to search for, but that seemed to be the only response they can think of to “punish” the participants for engaging in this action. 

My hope is that nonviolent action does not only give us an opportunity to show the world our rejection of injustice, but to also give us an opportunity to open the eyes of those who are doing the injustice to truly think about what they are doing. Yes, at first it may be frustrating to them as we challenge their believe system and ideologies, but then their humanity will overcome their prejudice.

April 27 2007 southern bethlehem protestApril 27 2007 southern bethlehem protestApril 27 2007 southern bethlehem protestApril 27 2007 southern bethlehem protest

April 27 2007 southern bethlehem protestApril 27 2007 southern bethlehem protestApril 27 2007 southern bethlehem protestApril 27 2007 southern bethlehem protest

April 27 2007 southern bethlehem protest

Photo Credits: Muhamad Zboun – PNN

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21 thoughts on “Nonviolent Activism Gathers Steam in Southern Bethlehem

  1. Roberta Mohr

    I have been sending your updates on the use of nonviolence to my friends and relatives. I need them to see what is really happening in Palestine, not what they hear from our media. Thank you for keeping us informed. Please keep acting in peace and don’t give up. We are praying for your witness.

  2. Ursula Gallagher

    Dear Sami, two years ago I visited with you in your HLT office in Bethlehem and had dinner with your family. During the time since we have been closely following what is happening in Bethlehem from Seattle USA. We are supporting you and your work and do what we can on our end. During the last 6 months we had 2 lectures series to inform the public on Palestine and the wall. We always hear amazement at learning what is not being said in our newspapers and we are glad to be your voice here. Keep up your non-violent work, we are with you in thoughts and in prayers and read your e-mails eagerly.

  3. Elisabeth Hoeffling

    Dear all, The Human rights are on your side. For heaven’s sake: Why does the IDF doesn’t ‘t care about? It gives us hope to see your non violent struggle against the occupation.
    Keep going,do never give up !!
    Our hearts and thoughst are with you !

  4. Pingback: International Solidarity Movement » PNN: Gathering Steam in South Bethlehem

  5. Martin T King

    Dear Sami – and HLT supporters and participants: What a great and courageous road you are walking – for Palestinians, for Israelis, and for all of us. Thank you.

    Martin T King
    Seattle, Washington

  6. roirandmichele

    keep resisting peacefully the occupation. You need to be free and to bring up your children in peace and love.
    All the best,
    Michele

  7. hala

    dear Sami and all:
    there is no better way to make a palestinian broud than ur work.
    im apalestinian student studying abroad and i do wanna come during summer time to jion ur acts
    acts of wisdom..
    because its really awork of people that liberates us not work of politicians nor anyothers
    keep going..

  8. I am glad to see a movement that prefers non violence. Hope that it will become a norm, and that one day issues will be solved around a table and not with fire.

  9. Pingback: Nonviolent activism takes hold in Palestine - Islamica Community Forums

  10. Marilyn Robinson

    The truth will never let you be silent. Yes, never give up.
    All my love and peace to you all, Sallam, 2nd mamma

  11. Dear Sami & All Non-Violent Resisters:
    We are thinking of you, praying for you, and trying to do our best to bring your message to the people of America. Your supporters are growing as people see your great courage and hope for all sides to live together peacefully and with a mutual respect for each other.
    Keep up your work–as hard as it must be—you are bringing change.

  12. Alvaro Arellano

    Dear Sami:

    To stop apartheid walls you should necessarily build bridges between nations!

    Good luck and best wishes for both people of Palestine and Israel!

    Alvaro Arellano
    Mexico City, MEXICO

  13. Dear Sami, In February I came to Palestine and saw the misery of the Israeli occupation. How fantastic that you and your friends and supporters cut straight through the middle of all that militarism with your peaceful and powerful protest. All best wishes to you. I hope to return before too long and stand beside you all. Thankyou for showing a different way. Diana

  14. Pingback: International Solidarity Movement » When Settlers Attack

  15. Sandra Kanck

    Dear Sami,

    You and your colleagues are doing amazing work. I quote from Joseph Pintauro “… do not underestimate the courage you will need to speak of peace without weapons in your hands. That is when cowards strike you, but if you make peace with weapons you create another war beside the war you would end. Be exceptionally clever when their systems begin to crumble because of their stupidity then, you can easily subvert them with a thimble full of wisdom”.

    I salute you. And I will keep telling people in Australia the truth about Israel’s human rights abuses in Palestine.

  16. June Forsyth Kenagy

    Beautiful, Sami and everyone!
    I believe your non-violent protests are beginning to be heard. Thank God for the Internet and things like You Tube. I wish you would post your videos on You Tube. Many people view it.
    My heart breaks for the hardships, oppression and brutality the Palestinian people are enduring at the hands of a people who felt such things themselves and should know better.

  17. James

    The inhumanity of the ghetto-ization of Bethlehem is intolerable, yet the nonviolent affirmation of rights by the people in conjunction with widespread solidarity by peoples of all nations and faiths outweighs the oppression. Peace and justice WILL prevail.

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