August 10, 2007
This week marks the 62nd anniversary of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the southern villages of Bethlehem, the Committee to Resist the Wall declared this week’s protest a commemoration to this tragic incident in human history, demand the international community to open and expose the Israeli nuclear program (not only to focus on countries that the US does not befriend), and demand an end to all current acts of violence and destruction such as the occupation and the building of the Apartheid Wall.
Palestinian, Israeli and international nonviolent activists, some who came from Japan to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, participated in this weeks nonviolent actions in both Um Salamona and Walaja. The Japanese as well as the Palestinian flags were raised in this activity that included going to Palestinian farming land and helping farmers harvest the grapes. The land where the protest took place in Um Salamona was part of a new 250 dunum (over 50 acre) private property recently confiscated for expanding the Ifrat settlement.
As the protestors began removing a portion of a new separation fence that would prevent farmers from reaching the land, the Israeli army responded with violence and arrested one of the Israeli activists.
It was incredible to engage in discussions with some of these soldiers as we protested the arrest, many of the soldiers were new to such actions and used foul language and mocking statements to provoke the protestors. One of the soldiers insisted that this land is for the Jews and he is ready and willing to live in war all his life. In addition to his words he (and others) tried very hard to provoke us into a physical confrontation. It was truly sad and upsetting to hear and see this from fellow human beings.
Only one quote came to my mind then, Gandhi’s “first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Friday prayers were held in the village of Walaja where the Israeli occupation forces are building a wall to completely surround the village and isolate it from its farm land and nearby towns and villages. The same soldiers who were at the morning activity in Um Salamona were there to stop us in Walaja. At one point our vehicles were actually driving behind each other as we all left one area to go to the next.
More villages in the Bethlehem area specifically and the West Bank in general are now engaging in these weekly nonviolent actions against the building of the Apartheid Wall.
It is important for us to remember, heal, and learn from the tragedies we created in the past, so that our grandchildren would not have to say such similar words.