Saturday, May 26, 2007
Many may say that this is strange or outride weird, but the message was clear and strong, “This is our land and we have the right do as we want on it … even play football…” This was the statement made by Abdullah, one of the leaders of the Popular Committee to Resist the Wall in Southern Bethlehem when asked to comment on this weeks protest in the village of Um Salamona south of Bethlehem.
As part of the continuously growing nonviolent movement in the Southern part of Bethlehem, more Palestinians were joined by internationals and Israelis to protest the building of the Wall this Friday through a football/soccer match that was held on the exact path of the wall. Once the wall is constructed 70% of the agricultural land of the southern Bethlehem villages will become prohibited to the farmers. No farming, no playing, no livelihood, and eventually no existence to all Palestinians living in that area.
Over one hundred activists participated in this event that began with a procession from the village of Wadi Nees (whose football team is the nation’s champions) to the land. Once we reached the location where the wall will be build we divided into two teams one made up of the Palestinians and the other mostly of the international and Israeli activists. The Israeli army came in with over 50 heavily armed troops and surrounded the protest match.
The purpose of this particular activity was not to engage in confrontation with Israeli soldiers but to commit to a goal and achieving it. The presence of the Israeli army meant nothing to all those who were there, because the most important thing has developed for this community: The fear factor has disappeared.
This is true power of nonviolnce; while injustice might exist, excuses for not confronting the injusutce disappear.
A Palestinian boy plays football during a protest at the construction site of the Apartheid Wall in the village of Umm Salamona, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday May 25, 2007. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Two Palestinians and an international activist, right, play football during a protest at the construction site of the Apartheid Wall in the village of Umm Salamona, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday May 25, 2007. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)