“In general, people are very demoralized because of the occupation, because of frustration…” – Zoughbi Zoughbi
Last Friday, I attended an inspiring mass service at Cremisan Monastery for the International Day of Peace. We even sang Kumbaya, and international guests read prayers in their own languages – I recognized German, French and Spanish (English, both Australian and British) among others. I wanted to write a blog post about how inspired and touched I was. And indeed, I remain inspired by the solidarity I have seen at the two services I’ve attended at Cremisan.
Since I couldn’t put a video on here (I think you need to pay for that, here’s a link to a Cremisan Prayer Clip on my photobucket, where you can also find other videos).
Then on Saturday I took a day trip to Ramallah to see some friends. Seeing my friends Dima, Haneen and Bashir was wonderful, as well as meeting Mariam, Haneen’s friend. In the afternoon we attended a demonstration to show solidarity for prisoners who have been locked up by the Israeli government since before the Oslo accords. I assume some are without charge and some are charged, but I got the impression that they are all widely considered to be unjustly incarcerated.
The demonstrators marched to the government building and burned papers that read things like “Oslo Accords” and “Camp David” before being turned around by police. The demonstration didn’t end there, as we marched to the city center and the main organizers read the names of 128 prisoners who were imprisoned before Oslo, with no justice since.
The moral of the story, however, is that people are getting tired. Their voices are getting hoarse, like one of the most adamant protestors at the march who just couldn’t yell anymore at some points, after straining his voice so much. People are frustrated with all the nonviolence used by the Palestinians, while the world never calls for Israel to practice nonviolence. People are frustrated because this kind of activism gets them nowhere.
One activist said they usually don’t participate in demonstrations like this, because they don’t accomplish anything. They would rather attend demonstrations in the villages and by the wall, where clashes occur between protestors and the IDF, including settlers, who represent another aspect of Israel’s militarism and sometimes are hardly different than the soldiers themselves. I don’t advocate violence, and neither do the majority of Palestinians, but these incidents get more publicity and some think they have a greater impact than completely nonviolent demonstrations like the one in Ramallah. People commonly say, where is the Palestinian Gandhi, the MLK, who will lead a nonviolent resistance? The truth is, the nonviolent resistance against occupying powers here has been going on for thousands of years. Palestinian Gandhis, MLKs, and others have come and gone without the international community taking any notice. People want to know what’s next.
People from my high school, West High School in Madison, may not recognize Bashir Massad, who moved back to the West Bank in our sophomore year of school. He is now a tall, bearded, proud Palestinian activist.
Since I am short on time before I go today to observe a demonstration in Hebron, I will leave you with a couple more pictures and the link to my photobucket account, where you can find more recent pictures and videos.
Some people will recognize this Banksy original, which is on a wall just across the street from Wi’am (where I work in Bethlehem).
More from Aida Camp in my next post.