This is a compilation of shots from the video camera strapped to my arm from the Friday morning establishment of 'Sumud: Freedom Camp' to the Saturday night arrival of, as well as violence and destruction by, Israeli soldiers. Today Sarura stands because of the work Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish diaspora, and international activists are doing together and the steadfastness of the people who call Sarura home.
This was originally published at +972 Magazine.
The Israeli army really wants to see Palestinian nonviolent activist Issa Amro in prison. We ask Issa why he’s facing 18 charges now, and what ‘winning’ would mean for him.
Video Aaron Rotenberg, interview by A. Daniel Roth, and text by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man
Nonviolent Palestinian organizer Issa Amro has been practicing and teaching nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience in the occupied city of Hebron since 2003, in part through the local activist group he helped establish and operates, Youth Against Settlements. Recently, the Israeli army announced that it plans to prosecute him for 18 separate charges going all the way back to 2010.
Almost all of the charges are related to his political activity and nonviolent action. Under Israeli military law, there is no legal avenue for Palestinians to protest or demonstrate politically. Amro’s activism, much of which is the basis for his current charges, has been reported by +972 here, here,here and here.
+972 sat down to speak with Amro earlier this month. In the three-part video interview below, Amro talks about the charges against him and why he thinks Israel wants to suppress his and others’ nonviolent resistance to the occupation, particularly in Hebron. “Winning,”he explains, would be if the entire Palestinian people adopted nonviolence and civil disobedience as their method of ending the occupation. Amro also discusses the Cinema Hebron project he is working on with Jewish partners from activist groups All That’s Left and the Center for Jewish Nonviolence.
Amro was scheduled to have his first court date for the long list of charges on Sunday, but the hearing was delayed at the last minute. Considered a human rights defender by many in the international community, his latest persecution by Israeli military authorities has spurred several activist campaigns and garnered international media attention. Earlier this year, Amnesty International said it believed Amro and another activist from Hebron had been arrested “solely for their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.”
Issa Amro on the charges against him, and why he believes they are politically motivated:
Issa Amro on what “winning” means in his political struggle:
Issa Amro on the ‘Cinema Hebron’ project and how his and the lives of other Palestinian residents of Hebron are affected by Israeli settlers living in the middle of their city:
On Friday, July 15th Youth Against Settlements brought together around 85 people including members of All That's Left: Anti-Occupation Collective, participants in the Center for Jewish Nonviolence "Occupation is not my Judaism" delegation, and others. The aim was to clear out an old factory on private Palestinian owned land in order to build a cinema on Tel Rumeida, one of the most violent places in Hebron and throughout the occupied territories. The cinema will be the first there in decades. During more than two hours, the volunteers from the community and around the world cleared much of the site. The #CinemaHebron project continues for the people living under occupation there, and the people standing with in solidarity from around the world.
You can read more about it in +972 Magazine, The Forward, Haaretz, Maan, the JTA, more from The Forward, The Canadian Jewish News, and in this post and this one, and this one.
Much of the day is chronicled in these photos and videos.
Tonight thousands of Jews and Palestinians took to the streets of Jerusalem to say no to racism, no to violence, no to occupation, and no to despair. It was an important night. There was opposition out there threatening us and looking to hurt us, but tonight we were many.
The sign in the top left reads "Want Security? End the occupation."
Photos taken by Karen Isaacs and A. Daniel Roth on our road trip/honeymoon between August 18th and September 6th, 2015 traveling Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Portland, Seattle, The Canadian Rockies, and on through Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
I spent much of the last month and more organizing to take part in work, learning and action in Susiya in occupied territory with an incredible group of partners from Palestine, Israel, North America and other places. Nearly 100 (mostly diaspora Jews) joined us. It was a lot of work and I am still thinking about how and what to express. We took part in an important thing with our partners in Susiya and we will continue to push on the system of injustice at work in this occupation, and we will continue to grow this movement, and we will continue to demand that our community(s) stand up with us against violence and oppression. We will continue expressing, continue telling, and continue working.
What happened last weekend was important. Many are paying attention, and we will continue. Here's just a bit of what happened. More to come.
Jerusalem Day carries with it the sentiment of violence, which easily becomes real. Israeli authorities annually facilitate and allow thousands of Rightists to march through the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem, to remind the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem - as their movement is restricted for the day - that the city belongs to the Jewish people alone. Stickers and signs make clear marchers' support for Jewish supremacists such as Meir Kahane, as racist chants and physical violence fill the space.
Tonight in Central Tel Aviv hundreds gathered to call on Israel to hear the claims of African asylum seekers escaping genocide and dictatorship. Police refused to give the organizers a permit and held them in a barricaded zone to the side of the square. At the same time, a group of counter protesters, calling on Israel to force asylum seekers out of Israel, were given the center of the square chanting racist chants that African 'infiltrators' should be forced out. Police allowed the counter protesters freedom to move around the square yelling things like "they aren't refugees, they're infiltrators, send them back [to Africa]", "Leftists are Anti-Semites", and more.
Later, police dispersed the anti-racist group from the square and escorted the counter protesters on a march - with no permit - through Central Tel Aviv back to in South Tel Aviv. On the way marchers stopped to chant and yell at diners, walkers, and bikers in the upscale neighborhoods they passed through. They told the upscale patrons that South Tel Aviv is dangerous because Africans are there, that Africans brought aids to Israel and much more racism. They occupied intersections on major streets, and police facilitated it.
Many of the anti-refugee protesters are working class, Mizrahi, residents of South Tel Aviv. They have suffered decades of state racism, and are enduring the growing divide between rich and poor in this country. Other than imprisoning and deporting some asylum seekers, Israel has ignored its responsibility to hear asylum seeker claims and settle them in economically sound and socially just ways. So thousands have found living space and homes in South Tel Aviv. Some residents of South Tel Aviv - encouraged by racist politicians - have taken up cause against refugees, here to seek asylum, instead of organizing to oppose the oppressive class and the racism in this system.
For the tenth consecutive year Combatants for Peace hosted a joint Palestinian-Israeli memorial ceremony "honoring the victims, fighting for peace" in Tel Aviv. As violent and racist extremism grows and death tolls rise, the will to mourn together is important as we acknowledge and oppose the occupation and its reality of asymmetrical power. Thousands came to mourn together, listen to beautiful music, and hear from speakers including members of the Parents Circle - Families Forum, made up of Palestinian and Israeli bereaved family members. The venue was so full this year that some couldn't get in.
Note: These photos were taken with an older phone. Apologies for the low quality.
Hundreds joined Breaking the Silence and Youth Against Settlements to learn about the violent and oppressive reality in Hebron and to meet some of the people resisting the occupation.
When I visited Cuba in 2007 I was surprised to find so many of the street vendors selling books instead of plastic toys trinkets. This is is probably related to the Cuban Literacy Campaign and the nearly 100% literacy the country boasts. I stayed in the home of a family, as many travelers without the funds for a hotel room do. Speaking to my hosts and random people on the street revealed mixed feelings about Castro's communism. Education, healthcare, and many more services were accessible, but things like the internet and democracy at the top was lacking, big time. I hope the path the Cuba is on today can maintain public services while bringing more information as well as democracy without the country being turned into a corporate playground for the United States.
On "Jerusalem Day", when some Jews celebrate when Israel unified/conquered Jerusalem in the 1967 war, they march through an East Jerusalem gate (Damascus Gate) and through the old city in part to incite the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem by yelling racial slurs such as "Death to Arabs", putting up stickers that say that the terrorist, Meir Kahane "was right", and in some cases picking fights with Palestinian onlookers (many yell back and get angry too), people who look "Leftist", and journalists.
Others bring their kids to join the parade and songs.
Today 250 people walked through Hebron with Breaking the Silence learning about the system of occupation.