The following is a transcript of Praxis from July 7, 2014. Some small changes have been made, links have been added, and the full audio is available here for listening.
Taylor Weech: Good morning, you’re listening to Praxis. I’m your host, Taylor, and today I’m joined live in the studio by Marianne Torres. She is the current co-chair of the Palestine Israel Human Rights Committee at the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane. She and I are going to be talking a little bit this morning about the escalation of violence and the things that have led up to it in Palestine, in the West Bank and Gaza, where there’s been bombing by Israel. We’re just going to discuss all that and how it fits into the context of the Israeli occupation and give a little background on that for people but this is mostly going to be diving into some of the nuts and bolts. If you are interested in some of the basics of this conflict from a perspective that you haven’t heard from the mainstream media in this country, there are some resources in the podcast archive at praxisradio509.podomatic.com and we’ll mention many more throughout the broadcast.
Later in the hour we’re going to be joined on the phone by Ayman Nijim who is a Gazan student studying in the U.S. around 10:30. Hopefully that will work out and he will be able to give his perspective, which I think is very important to amplify. Marianne, can you introduce yourself quickly? I don’t think you’ve been on Praxis before.
Marianne Torres: I haven’t been on Praxis. I’ve been doing this work for a little over 30 years and studying it intensly, talking about it, teaching about it, have been to Palestine several times. It’s very close to my heart. It’s of course always been very distressing to hear the news coming from there every day, but the last six weeks have been especially painful for Palestinians and for people who support the Palestinian attempt to gain their freedom.
TW: So for people following the news media in the United States, to the extent that we talk about Israel and Palestine and the “special relationship” that the U.S. has with Israel in military aid, most of what people had been hearing earlier in the spring centered on the so called peace talks, those dissolving. What’s their role in the timeline from your perspective?
MT: –of the peace talks? I don’t believe that the peace talks actually have any role at all in terms of Palestinian expectations. It’s been very clear for many many years, since Oslo, in 1993, but it’s become very clear in the last five years that the peace talks are not intended to result in any kind of peace or even negotiations. What they are is a space holder for Israel to continue to gather, to confiscate, land and build settlements. What Israel has always referred to as “the facts on the ground”. To make that part of Palestine also Israel to the point where it can’t become a Palestinian state.
TW: –which is something that’s continued to accelerate rapidly. From the time I went a year ago, I was showing you and Myrta Ladich, who went with you a couple years before that, pictures, and there are settlements that weren’t there the year before and now things are drastically different than they were a year ago again. So I don’t think a lot of people in the U.S. get that.
MT: I don’t think they do either and I think it’s hard for people to really imagine the magnitude of those settlements and the way they surround Palestinian villages. They sit on top of hills which allows the settlers to go down and attack the shepherds, the farmers in their fields much easier and also little by little claim more and more of the land that belongs to the village.
TW: And it’s a psychological effect.
MT: Very much so.
TW: Just one final thing on the peace talks, I remember meeting young people, Palestinian activists in Ramallah who were slightly younger than me, 19 or 20, so their entire lives have taken place during so called peace talks, their whole lives have been post-Oslo in 1993. It’s a generation that’s largely very cynical about that idea, that just wants peace by stopping [the occupation].
MT: Yes, even Netanyahu, although this has been the case since long before he came into office this last time, even he made a statement, it’s been a few years, I wish I could give you the source, but he made a statement to the effect that there will never be a Palestinian state and that has been the policy of Israel since 1948 so the peace talks are,I’d say they’re a waste of time but they’re only a waste of time for Palestine and the U.S. and the rest of the world, they’re very definitely not a waste of time for Israel.
TW: Just prolonging the process for long enough…
MT: Those talks have allowed Israel to expand the difference in the size of the settlements in 1993 when Oslo was signed it has just been 1,000-fold and they couldn’t have done that if they hadn’t all along been telling the world they were working for peace.
TW: So to go back to more recent times, all of this kicked off, ‘this’ being a pretty serious uptick in violence, settler violence in the occupied West Bank, military violence, etc. what happened?
MT: The violence in the West Bank has actually been escalating slowly for about a year now; it’s becoming more intense, the army has become more brutal and they’re doing more wholesale arrests, but on May 15 there had been a demonstration that day in response to the increased violence by the settlers mostly but also the army and this was caught on tape: two young men at two different times of the day walking on a street that was pretty empty, they weren’t shot in the middle of doing anything except walking from point a to point b and they were shot by an Israeli sniper. Israel has identified the soldier who shot and killed each of those boys, and they were boys just like the settler boys, the two 15 year old settler boys, and even though they said that they have identified the shooter, they also said that no live ammunition was used. That’s one of those mind warps that you hear a lot with Israel, you know, “I didn’t do it and I won’t do it again” kind of thing.
So that set off a lot of anger and then on June 12, 3 settlers disappeared aged 15, 16 and 19 years old. One was a soldier and the other two were younger. They disappeared and what happened following that was just almost unbelievable. Israel went into the West Bank full scale with the army doing what they called a search, a manhunt, for those three. They arrested more than 400 men and boys and children, they arrested a lot of children, they destroyed many of the homes, the insides of the homes they searched, they went into more than 2,200 homes ostensibly looking for the 3 settlers, who may have been hiding in refrigerators or inside walls, they destroyed everything and it was very clear it was not a manhunt or a search for those settlers. Word came out just recently, probably a week or so ago, from Israeli sources, that Netanyahu knew all along or within a day or two he knew that a) they were dead and b) where the bodies were. Well, that’s a speculation [the location]. The belief is that, and this has been in Haaretz, The Daily Forward, a number of Israeli sources, that this invasion of the West Bank had been planned for quite some time. The plan was set off by the need Netanyahu felt to destroy the unity government which they did once before, two times before. There was a unification of Fatah and Hamas which was not allowed to stand. Israel destroyed it and that was the intent. And also among those 400 people arrested was a significant number of the Hamas leadership in the West Bank. So that seemed to be the intent according to Israeli sources.
TW: It was really dramatic to watch, I was obviously here in Spokane, reading some news, but not a lot, but the general Israeli public, the pro-Israeli-policy Israeli public, I should say, the non-dissenting majority of Israeli public and many Americans, there was a big push social media-wise that spilled over into real life on the ground, this #bringbackourboys. That was the hashtag used, it was supposed to be a response to the recent #bringbackourgirls campaign in Nigeria. I was mostly seeing it from my friends, Palestinian activists and people living there who were trying to reclaim it and use it and say bring back our boys, bring back the hundreds of Palestinian children who have died, been arrested, illegally detained and tortured. In some ways that’s, it’s obviously true, the disproportionality for anyone who looks, that tends to be an argument that doesn’t go anywhere. “Who did what to who first” is I think what you call it–
MT: Yeah, people don’t understand the magnitude of that disproportionality. It’s just really stunning.
TW: I’m going to try to find something I saw about that, there was a statistic about it, it broke down the total arrests and deaths of children specifically and it was…[I didn’t find it during the show, but here it is]
MT: I’ll continue with what happened. After 2 weeks, the 3 bodies were found and I read on one of the newspapers from the Orthodox community in Israel a rabbi was trying to figure out how it was that those bodies that he apparently saw were not decomposed after two weeks out in the desert. There was no decomposing going on and no signs of abuse on their bodies other than apparently the gunshots that killed them. The whole thing just called into question: who knew where those young men’s bodies were and when did they know it? But at some point right after the bodies were found, the illegal Jewish Israeli settlers just exploded and you could see it in comments on the Israeli newspapers and you could see it in 100 videos that have been posted of rampaging in the streets. It is absolutely unsafe for any Palestinian to walk around in Israel. Many videos of Palestinians being attacked in the streets. a number of things happened–a ten year old boy was kidnapped and he managed to get away. I’ve read a number of stories about that–it’s unclear whether his family rescued him or he just ran but he got away from this group. There was a 10 year old girl in the West bank who was walking on a road and a settler woman hit her deliberately with her car then got out of the car and tossed her body into a ditch. She is still struggling for her life. There have been many instances like that, right up to the moment that Mohammed Abu Khdeir was taken by a group of Israeli settlers, six of whom have been arrested, and his death was so horrendous that I don’t know whether, well, I will say it on the radio.
He was beaten and gasoline was poured down his throat and then gas was poured all over his body and he was lit. The sanitizing of that death has already started. They’re eliminating some of the most savage parts of what happened to him, but nevertheless the public heard. The public sees and hears what happened there and it was so unbelievably egregious that there was a tremendous amount of pressure on Israel to actually look for the men who killed that young boy. That one generated demonstrations even in Israel of Israeli Jewish citizens against that level of savagery. But then you go on and read the comments on the stories in Jerusalem Post and Haaretz and The Forward [The Jewish Daily Forward] about that killing and you realize that it didn’t change anything. They’re unbelievably horrendous.
TW: And I think comment threads tend to draw out the worst of the worst.
MT: They do, they do.
TW: People who are feeling the most emotional and the least rational are known to populate them [comment threads], but in this case I mean, first of all, it’s one of many examples of collective punishment, which is, everyone has agreed except Israel and the U.S. basically, that it’s against international law and many of the actions that the Israeli military and government takes against Palestinians fall into that category. The restriction of water, of movement, the theft of land, it’s not as though every person who lives in Palestine has done something, has done anything at all to be punished for.
MT: –and moving your population into an area that belongs to an occupied people is also a violation of international law, as is moving people out of areas that they live in and sometimes own.
TW: So it looks like the protests following his funeral, which was gigantic, I’m looking at a still from a video of it and there’s thousands of people sort of a demo combined with a funeral. it looks like a light rail stop in Jerusalem, which is a segregated light rail system, was destroyed. And this, as of Saturday, this is from Electronic Intifada, on one of the blogs there…
MT: –that’s an excellent source of information.
TW: …it says 170 Palestinians have been injured by occupation forces in these demonstrations, specifically with teargas and rubber coated steel bullets, there’s a video of that young man being beaten up.
MT: And I was just going to mention that. That’s another thing, a young man who, luckily for him is an American citizen, which actually is causing the Obama administration some serious discomfort, 15 year old Palestinian American who is the cousin of the boy who was burned to death, Tariq Abu Khdeir, was beaten badly by the Israeli police and that was caught on tape. Thank goodness for tape as we know from the Otto Zehm case. Tariq was beaten badly and held for several days and he was never charged with anything but he was fined $800 for nothing and put under 9 days of house arrest and I just read this morning that he’s going to be going to court on Sunday. I’m presuming that’s next Sunday. Normally it’s absolutely useless to try to get the American government to do anything about any of that but in this case because he’s a citizen there’s beginning to be some slight irritation expressed by the State Dept. I’m going to ask people to call the State Department at 202-647-4000 and demand that Israel release Tariq Abu Khdeir and while they’re at it, use that phone call to demand that sanctions be levelled against Israel and call for an end to all aid.
TW: So he, in poor timing, was vacationing there, a visit, the boy Mohammed was his cousin. And visiting from Florida, that’s the treatment that you receive if you’re involved in…
MT:–or sitting on the sidelines as witnesses are saying was the case with him. I mean, he was an American kid, he wasn’t involved, I don’t know, they say he wasn’t involved but whether he was involved or not he didn’t deserve what happened to him. The interesting thing is that thinking back over 9/11, when it happened and the American response was to bomb and destroy Iraq and a few people in this country said, ‘What? What kind of sense does that make, Iraq had nothing to do with it?’ Well, right after the disappearance of the 3 settlers, Israel turned on Gaza and actually they’ve been bombing them periodically, consistently over several years, but every once in a while they ratchet up the attacks and now they’re really ratcheting up the attacks. Again they’re saying that it’s in response to rockets coming from Gaza but there’s a murderous attack going on now and currently they’ve killed 10 Gazans in the last couple of days alone.
TW: So, just background, part of the reason it’s so absurd to attack Gaza in reaction to these settlers disappearing is that is would be physically impossible for any Gazan, basically, to be involved in that attack, they can’t get out. Hopefully people know some of these basics, but it’s good to review, it’s more or less an open air prison, one of the most densely populated areas on earth.
MT: -and it’s been under siege, under blockade, since 2006 when Hamas won the election in the West Bank and Gaza and the U.S. and Israel did not allow that to stand and there was a struggle between Hamas and Fatah and Hamas now controls Gaza which is why Israel goes after them every once in a while.
TW: My phone just blinked and I’m hoping that it’s Ayman calling us. He is from Gaza, he is here in the U.S. and will have his perspective to share on that. So what do you think now that, you know, there’s bombing in Gaza, there’s widespread violence in the West Bank, there are solidarity protests happening all over the world, all over Europe, here in Spokane there’s a demonstration today?
MT: Yes, at 4:30 at the Ruby-Division split at North River Drive and I will link to that event in the podcast notes. Anyone who’s curious, come one come all, and it’s an expression of outrage. Bring your signs about how outraged you are. It’s important to show that there are many in the U.S. who are absolutely outraged at what’s going on and what the American role has been all along so that’s what that is. It’s really amazing watching pictures coming across one after the other of worldwide demonstrations.
Phone rings and second interview begins
TW: Hi, hello?
Ayman Nijim: Hi, this is Ayman.
TW: Hi, this is Taylor, you’re live on the air right now so it’s working out! I’m glad you were able to call us. Would you like to introduce yourself for our listening audience, let them know who you are, where you’re from, why you’re joining us today?
AN: My name is Ayman Nijim and I grew up in Gaza, Palestine and I am studying conflict transformation at School for International Training Graduate Institute in Vermont. I am trying to focus on what’s going on in Palestine as a conflict and we are trying to bring understanding to the Palestinian issue and what’s going on in Palestine right now which is atrocities from the Zionist ideology and the Zionist group in Palestine.
TW: How long have you been in the U.S. studying?
AN: I came to the U.S. in 2012 because I had training in trauma healing in a war zone and I started to go to join my colleagues from different parts of the world in how to resolve current conflict and how to manage conflict in a better way.
TW: So your plan is to return home and apply that knowledge when you get back?
AN: Yeah, after finishing my Master’s degree I’m going to return home and we will try to show for the international community and for everyone over the planet how vicious and how maliced the Zionist ideology is in every country because it is against human beings, it is against morality, against humanism, against universalism. I am not talking like that because I am Palestinian, but out of my deep knowledge of Zionism, which is right now using the Holocaust for their financial and political gain. Palestinians– they are against killing anyone and they are against the Holocaust, but at the same time we are not the perpetrators of the Holocaust and their psychological projection onto the Palestinian people should be ended.
TW: Absolutely. I think it’s something that in the U.S. doesn’t get talked about a lot. I’ve been seeing an image floating around of a young woman holding a Qu’ran and a gun placed next to a young woman who’s standing in front of an American flag with a Christian Bible and an assault rifle and the image I see missing is radical Zionist philosophy.
AN: I have just to tell you that in Palestine and also in historical Palestine, 1948, our country is comprised of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish for a long time but Zionism is against the Jewish religion…in the U.S. and everywhere, Zionism is against religion, it is a secular ideology. It is not like it’s own religion. It was established in 1897 and Theodor Herzl, who was the founder of Zionism, he was secular and he wasn’t believing in God! How come he would ask for a Jewish state? The Jewish state, it doesn’t make any sense, we can’t say to the Americans this is the Catholic Christian United States of America. It doesn’t make any sense because in each country there are a lot of places , a lot of religions, a lot of diversity. So what is going on in Palestine right now is racism, it is deep racism against human beings. If you can see the images of kids who are slaughtered, who are tortured just because they are Palestinian and if you listen just to the Israeli media, there are some rabbis who will say that the Palestinian is subhuman, they don’t deserve life, and we have to kill them. It seems ingrained in the education of the Zionism inside Israel. They are teaching the kids how to be Zionist, not how to live side by side.
I want to mention something, you know, I understand why the western media are not backing up social justice and human rights in Palestine, because of the corporate media, but I can’t understand why the American people can until now pay taxes to kill other people in other countries. These taxes are a gift for Israel to kill other people. I mean, I ask everyone over the planet, and I swear by God, these funds for Israel are against human rights. And just to tell you, in 1947, when there was a partition plan between Israel and Palestine, the U.S. was the first country to say that the establishment of Israel on other people’s land would be against the moral values of the U.S. and against the founding fathers’ ideology of the U.S. But you know, after that, the corporate media and the military corporation backed up the state, we had to have a strategic alliance with Israel.
It turns out that this entity inside Palestine will make the world worse and more hostile. You can’t be everywhere; in Egypt, in Lebanon, in Iraq, you can’t be everywhere. I think that Zionism is against the will of the human being. I am not talking that because I am Palestinian, but I am a human rights advocate and I am against killing anybody, I am against human rights abuse, against torturing of the kids. You know right now 92% of the traumatized kids are in Gaza. In Gaza, they have cut our electricity, we can’t go overseas, we can’t leave Gaza, we can’t go in or out, they just opened the curtain which is between Gaza strip and Egypt, just 3 days per 3 months. Imagine: people with cancer, people in severely hard situations, they can’t leave the country, they can’t leave Gaza Strip, It’s been under siege since 2007. So what’s going on? I mean, does this make any sense for any outsiders, if you allow me to say outsiders, to any mediators, to any peace builders, to be passive? To not have a high standard for the humanity of Palestine?
MT: Ayman, as you were talking about the conditions in Gaza, I can’t help but think often about the plan that Israel set into place when it first decided to blockade Gaza. They sat in a room and figured out how many calories it took to keep a person alive and they calculated the amount of food they would allow into Gaza to make sure that it kept azans at a level of malnutrition, not to starve to death, because that didn’t look good for israel, but malnutrition. And i find that kind of planning to be so hard to wrap my mind around, it’s so inhumane. Especailly when the very same people underwnet texactly that kind of palnning as the victims of it. Can you talk about getting supplies into Gaza? Vital supplies, medical and food?
AN: You know, Gaza is under siege since July 2007 and from that time there is no construction. Materials come to Gaza under the basis that it’s going to be used for armed struggle. And even food material, even napkins, sometimes they say will be used for armed struggle.
MT: Yes, and rice.
AN: And now, there’s economic inflation in Gaza, most of the time because the people don’t get the food or don’t get the construction materials and after 2007, the people in Gaza Strip thought that the best option for us is to get tunnels and we started the tunnel economy. It’s illegal under international law, but at the same time it is “legal” to the people in Gaza to feed themselves. I mean, it is illegal to make other people hungry and they didn’t like starving. But I think from my talk with you, it is legal, it is very legitimate to any other people to get food for their kids. It’s what they’d want for their kids. And because it’s a siege, all of the international community can know about what’s happening in Gaza and what’s going on now in the West Bank.
What I want to tell you about the siege and before the siege, like me, I am from Gaza Strip and I can’t travel to West Bank or to visit the place where Jesus Christ was born or Jerusalem. Why? Because Israel tried to build a racist state in three compartments: if you are from Gaza, you can’t go to West Bank. If you are from West Bank, you can’t go to Gaza. And you know, they built a system based on racism. This is apartheid. And I am wondering, why is the international community, why is it that international leaders can’t do anything to stop these atrocities against their fellow brothers and sisters in Palestine? I can’t…I am very mad about what’s going on. We are fighting for human rights, we are not fighting for anything else, we are fighting for our kids, we are fighting for our self determination, and I have to say to Americans, like when they were against the British people, it’s right in the history. It’s in each religion, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, in everything, everyone is entitled to fight for the human rights of his country.
MT: –that’s actually in international law also that people have not only a right, but a responsibility to resist military occupation.
TW: So, Ayman, I wanted to ask you. You’re studying conflict transformation and resolution. What are some strategies, since at this point, this project that you rightly describe as a racist Zionist project has so much momentum over this last century, what kind of strategies can people use, international, Palestinian people, Israeli people, who disagree with whats going on, what kind of strategy do you see working to move toward peace?
AN: I think there will be no peace without justice. There will be no peace with Israel without justice. Because in most of the past agreements with Israel, Oslo accords, Paris agreement, all of the international agreements with Israel, there was no justice, no historical justice for the Palestinian. There was no justice in 1948 when 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their land, when 532 refugee camps were demolished by Zionist gangs. There was no historical justice. With justice, there is going to be peace. Conflict settlement, conflict resolution, is not conflict transformation. Conflict transformation is not a short term, it is a long term for human beings. You ask me what is the best solution to Palestine-Israel conflict? Justice. In a simple word, justice. Israel should consult their history in Germany and Eastern Europe and they will focus on how to live side by side with other people. And they should forget that God gave them the land of Palestine, because God is not racist, to discriminate between other people to say it’s for Jews or for Muslims. Palestine is for all of the Palestinians since 5,000 years ago. So no one could claim that it was my land or not my land because in 1897 the Zionist group were looking for countries like Uganda and in other parts of the world and they found Palestine because it has a moral and religious value. It’s in the history. If you can read the book by Alison Weir, “Against Our Better Judgment”, it’s documented, it’s in the history and you can’t hide it.
TW: What’s been your experience of encountering people in the U.S. in general? Do you think their level of knowledge about Palestine is adequate? Have you seen it change in your time here?
AN: I mean, I don’t think so. The people here are very compassionate, are very understanding, and they are peaceful deep inside. Deep inside, they are very peaceful and they want to move forward for the human rights in Palestine but they are stuck in the media. The media, especially in the corporate media, which is against any reasonable knowledge. I think there is a shifting in the international community and in the U.S. against atrocities of Israel and against the settlements. For instance, Barack Obama more than one time said they should remove the settlements. I think there is a shifting in the american people’s minds regarding the Palestinian issue. It is a shifting which is like very small but it is about fighting for freedom, that people should be apprised of what is going on in other lands, and I know that everything will be very strong in the future and all of the american people will stand for human rights in Palestine as they stand for human rights in other countries and they will fight tenaciously against Zionism. I understand it’s very hard, especially in the U.S. because of the Zionist lobby, but I believe, there is deep knowledge now of the atrocities against their brothers and sisters in Palestine and they [Americans] will spare no effort to break this lobby.
MT: Yes. Ayman, I have a question for you about the possibility of a third intifada. There has been talk that one of the reasons Israel went into the West Bank in the ostensible search for the settlers was that they wanted to provoke a third intifada. I don’t know, for what thats worth, and on the other hand there are calls coming out in the last few days, from Palestine, by many people who are in the resistance, who are calling for a third intifada or saying that it has already started. What is your sense of that one way or another?
AN: I think you are right that maybe there is a strong possibility of a third intifada because Israel tried to dismantle the Palestinian reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. And now Israel is very afraid about the increase of the international boycott and divestment of Israel. They want to change the paradigm of thinking, they want to redirect the media according to their own gain, financial or political. And because the negotiation, in terms of Palestine, because the negotiation will fail, they believe the negotiation system with Israel will not work. There is no procedural justice, there is no…if you are dealing with me as though you are superior and I am inferior, this is not mediation, this is not negotiation. And also they [Palestinians] are saying the mediator, Martin Indyk, is the Israeli ambassador and a Zionist how come he can mediate for the people in Palestine? The key things that I told you: international boycott, the negotiation, the failure of the negotiation, there was no procedural justice.
You know, if you live in Palestine for just one week, even if you are American, you will ask for a third intifada, I believe. If you go to Palestine, in just one week and witness what’s going on there, the abuse of human rights, the checkpoints, you will ask for a third intifada. Just to get the international community to see what is going on! What’s going on right now is a concentration camp in the West Bank! It is inhumane!
MT: It is inhumane. In the U.S., many of us believe that the very best tool that we have to support Palestinian freedom is the BDS movement and we’ve seen it go from just about a year and a half ago Israel and Netanyahu were making fun of it because they said it was weak and a silly idea and they’ve gone from that to being very much afraid of it and fighting it as hard as they can. And its had tremendous victories just in the last 18 months. What’s your sense of that?
AN: I think boycott and divestment worked very well in South Africa in the apartheid system in South Africa and it will work very well in the U.S. and in Europe to divest and sanction and boycott Israeli goods. I mean, everyone can Google which companies are with the Zionist regime and impact them financially. I think it will work out even if Netanyahu says ‘oh this is not too important for us’, but i think it is important because it is dismantling the moral values in each settlement, each illegal settlement in Palestine. And boycott and divestment is not just boycott and divestment in itself but it is about the understanding of human rights in Palestine. It means for us that our brothers and sisters everywhere will fight hand by hand, by any means they have, against occupation of other people’s land, against other’s human rights.
We should build a universal world based on human rights when we can. We don’t ask someone to act when he can’t do it, but sometimes you do have a choice whether to go to this company or this company; you have to choose which stands for human rights, which stands for humanism and universalism. A boycott will work! It takes time. It took time in South Africa. And it will work in Palestine. I believe it will work soon and faster than South Africa because when they’re all [in Israel] trying to explode again and again against the people in Gaza Strip and trying to make everything harder, it means they are very weak.
TW: I think that’s a good point. I had a question to follow up on Marianne’s question about a third intifada, and for people who might be listening who aren’t terribly familiar, the first and second intifadas were uprisings within the West Bank and Gaza that resulted in further backlash from the military, further tightening down of Gaza into its current state, basically an open air prison, people often can’t leave, no supplies. I went to the West Bank for about 2 weeks last year and many of the younger people I talked to particularly and also their parents, people in their 40s who remember the second intifada, were hesitant about that idea. They’re hesitant about engaging in any violence, even in self defense, because of remembering the reaction to it, remembering the fear that it spawned and everything like that. What’s your take on that and how does nonviolence and self defense play into the politics of an uprising?
AN: I look at the nonviolent campaigns in Palestine, which we call it popular nonviolence, and if you just look at information on Palestine you’d find that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, supports popular resistance against the occupation but for some of the Palestinian people, popular or active nonviolence will not work out because they are starting to work nonviolently and to work for peace but they [Israelis] just don’t care. They start to establish settlements, to try to dismantle Al-Aqsa mosque, which is very holy to the Muslims, and theres no gesture of hope with these guys in the current Israeli government. The people are thinking now, ‘What does this mean negotiation? What is that when they won’t give up anything? What does it mean active nonviolence?’, especially when the occupiers are still killing and destroying and bombarding every day.
I think in my understanding I think active nonviolence will work out, but it will be strategic. It will be planned by the Palestinian people so they can fight well. But I mean, I’d hope we have interstate conflict like in South Africa they were living on the same land and we could start popular resistance or active nonviolence, but we are not dealing with a neighbor, we are dealing with an occupier, with a colonizer. Before the kidnapping of the three teenagers in Israel, then they kidnapped Mohammed Abu Khdeir, let him drink fuel, and then burned him to death and there was nothing. It’s a cycle of revenge. Active nonviolence will not work out without strategic planning for it, without international support for the active nonviolence, and for, as you know, BDS is an active nonviolence campaign, it’s not a violent campaign. But the Israelis start with violence because they have ammunition, they have tanks, they have jet fighters, they have everything and they use it.
MT: I just wanted to let you know before we end the program, we are having a demonstration here in Spokane in support of the Palestinian resistance and against the Israeli brutality as is happening all over the world.
TW: Ayman, we’ve got two minutes left. What else would you like people to know? What else would you like to share with us?
AN: I want to say to the people of Spokane, we love you. All of Palestine loves you, and we will work hand by hand for you guys to just sensitize your people and just to let everyone know about what is going on in Palestine. It isn’t about Palestine as Palestine, but about the human rights. You have just to give yourself five minutes to go to this demonstration and let your congressman know that we are with human rights in Palestine. Just ask your congressman or congresswoman to back and to encourage and to be and to write for everyone that we back the Palestinian community and that we will boycott, we will divest…thank you so much for having me and I appreciate your coordination to get me to talk on the radio.
TW: Thank you so much for making time in what I’m sure is a busy master’s program, and life. We have almost no time left, but Marianne thank you so much for helping me, that hour flew by.