MennoPIN Update: August 2018
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MENNONITE PALESTINE ISRAEL NETWORK

August 2018 Monthly Update

In This Issue
The Growing Power of Palestinian Women
The Poem that Sent Dareen Tatour to Prison
Six al-Khalil Women Held in Administrative Detention
Gaza: The Great Return March Continues
Gaza: Medical Ship Hijacked by Israel
Gaza: An Action Alert from MCC
Israel Detains Jewish Activists Opposing Nation-State Law
Go HP-Free
Read More
Prayer

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi after her release from prison on July 29 (Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)

The Growing Power of Palestinian Women
Although the 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi has gotten considerable international attention for her years of activism and eight months in prison, many other Palestinian women have also played a strong role in the resistance to the occupation but without broad recognition. In fact, the power of women in Palestine has never been stronger.

When the First Intifada ended with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 by an all-male Palestine Liberation Organization team, women had almost no role in the struggle for Palestinian rights and were denied any engagement with the decision-making process. Instead, women began agitating for social, political, legal and economic rights within Palestine’s social structure, confronting an entrenched patriarchy and seeking equality with men. It has taken many years for women to rise to key roles in opposing the occupation and seeking justice for all Palestinians. They have now become a formidable force, mediating conflicts between competing Palestinian factions and providing leadership in the Great Return March. Here are just a few of those women:

  • Iktimal Hamad, 51, sits on the Supreme National Commission of the Great Return March, the only woman on the 15-member commission. Her personal agenda goes beyond the march to include ending the Israeli occupation and promoting equality for women in Gaza. Hamad insists that “women can play a prominent role in the liberation of Palestine because they are integral to the Palestinian community…Women will always be in the front lines of our national struggle.”
  • Samira Abdelalim, 41, lives in southern Gaza and serves as the Director of the Women’s Department at the General Federation of Trade Unions. Her intense desire to peacefully achieve the right to return to ancestral villages and towns is tempered with realism: “I know that the occupation will not end in one day, but by cumulative work.”
  • Siwar Alza’anen, 20, is an activist in the Palestinian Student Labor Front and has a deep desire for her and her family to return to their native village. By participating in the Great March of Return, Alza’anen wants “to send the message to the international community that we are suffering a lot, we are living under pressure, siege, pain, poverty.”
  • Reem Anbar, 28, resides in Gaza City and chooses a musical way to counter the violence of Israeli military forces. Since she was a young girl, Anbar has played the oud, a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped stringed instrument similar to the mandolin. When Israeli bombs would be dropping near her home, she would pick up her oud where the notes and rhythms would overshadow, at least for a while, the chaos outside her windows. After the war ended, she played for traumatized children at the cultural center and, later, she joined other artists to compose musical plays and performances for children to overcome trauma and promote their inclusion in society.

The next two sections highlight more Palestinian women leaders.

The Poem that Sent Dareen Tatour to Prison

Dareen Tatour at the Nazareth Magistrates’ Court, July 31, 2018 (Rami Shllush)

On July 31, 2018, Dareen Tatour, a 36-year-old Palestinian poet from Reineh, near Nazareth, was sentenced to five months in an Israeli prison, for writing a poem, a poem that Israel found objectionable, claiming the poem intended to incite violence. Tatour insisted that her poem was nonviolent and “about the settlers who kill and burn Palestinians.” More than 150 international literary figures came to her defense, including Alice Walker and Naomi Klein, but to no avail. Here is Tatour’s poem, “Resist, My People,” translated by Tariq al Haydar.

Resist, My People
Resist, my people, resist them.
In Jerusalem, I dressed my wounds and breathed my sorrows
And carried the soul in my palm
For an Arab Palestine.
Never lower my flags
Until I evict them from my land.
I cast them aside for a coming time.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist the settler’s robbery
And follow the caravan of martyrs.
Shred the disgraceful constitution
Which imposed degradation and humiliation
And deterred us from restoring justice.
They burned blameless children;
As for Hadil, they sniped her in public,
Killed her in broad daylight.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist the colonialist’s onslaught.
Pay no mind to his agents among us
Who chain us with the peaceful illusion.
Do not fear doubtful tongues;
The truth in your heart is stronger,
As long as you resist in a land
That has lived through raids and victory.
So Ali called from his grave:
Resist, my rebellious people.
Write me as prose on the agarwood;
My remains have you as a response.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist, my people, resist them.

Six al-Khalil Women Held in Administrative Detention

A banner showing six women currently held in administrative detention (Christian Peacemaker Teams)

The Old Town section of Hebron, located in the southern part of the West Bank, was built in the thirteenth century and is known as al-Khalil. The Israeli military in Hebron is increasingly targeting local nonviolent activists and recently arrested six women in al-Khalil, holding them in administrative detention. Administrative detention is incarceration without trial or charge, alleging that a person plans to commit a future offense. It has no time limit and the evidence on which it is based is not disclosed. Israel employs this measure extensively and routinely, holding thousands of Palestinians for lengthy periods of time.

One of the women is a writer and another is a member of the al-Khalil municipality. Nearly 100 people regularly hold the above-pictured banner outside the detention center where they are held, calling for their release.

Gaza – The Great Return March Continues

Palestinian boy shot in Gaza by an Israeli military sniper on August 24, 2018 (Timeline Photos)

The Great Return March, begun on March 30, 2018 is now five months old and is continuing. On August 24, 2018, 5,000 people attended the demonstration protesting the Israeli blockade of Gaza, denying Gaza citizens the internationally-recognized right to return to their ancestral homes. As they have consistently done, Israeli military forces fired upon the peaceful demonstrators, injuring nearly 200 people, about 50 from live bullets. Since the beginning of the Great Return March, at least 155 Palestinians have been killed and over 17,000 injured, many with permanent disabilities.

Gaza – Medical Ship Hijacked by Israel
On July 29, 2018, the Al Awda (The Return), carrying 114 boxes of medical supplies to Gaza and sailing under a Norwegian flag, was traveling in international waters, 49 nautical miles from the Gaza City port, when it was intercepted, boarded and hijacked by Israeli military forces. The 22 people on board the Al Awda came from 16 countries and included human rights supporters, journalists and crew. All were taken captive and released several days later.

“It’s what pirates do,” exclaimed one of the human rights supporters aboard the Al Awda. Larry Commodore is a long-time indigenous rights activist and former elected chief of the Soowahlie native community near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He volunteered to be part of the Freedom Flotilla taking desperately needed medical supplies to Gaza because he feels a deep connection between the way his people were forced into refugee status and how that has happened with Palestinians.

Commodore was verbally assaulted, dragged off the ship and kicked, injuring his foot and bladder. In prison, his foot gash was stitched, but his bladder injury was ignored for four days. About their capture and arrest, Commodore said they prepared themselves well for nonviolent resistance, but he was not prepared for the brutality of Israel’s Navy personnel: “I was more angry than afraid. I had prepared myself pretty well for how I would react if something happened directly to me, but what I hadn’t prepared enough for was my reaction when my shipmates were being assaulted…I asked the [Israeli’s guarding us] ‘Why are you wearing masks, only criminals wear masks?’ They were really quite brutal.”

The badly needed medical supplies never made it to Gaza.

Gaza – An Action Alert from MCC
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has issued a special alert: Support the People of Gaza – Take Action. The alert invites all of us to ask our Congressional representatives to call for a lasting ceasefire between Israel and Gaza and support for the people of Gaza. To read the entire alert, click here.

Israel Detains Jewish Activists Opposing Nation-State Law
In the past month, three Jewish activists have been detained for their opposition to the recently passed Nation-State Law. Each had openly expressed strong disagreement with the law’s definition of Israel as an entirely Jewish state, with no mention of the value of democracy or equal rights for Palestinians.

Peter Beinart, a writer, professor and political commentator, was on vacation, traveling from Greece to attend a family bat mitzvah, when he was detained by the Shin Bet, Israel’s security agency, when he arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Jerusalem. Israeli-born poet, Moriel Rothman-Zecher, also arrived at Ben Gurion airport with his wife and infant daughter, where he was warned that his involvement in nonviolent protests was a “slippery slope.” He wondered how he would explain the incident to his daughter when she was older: “Hey kid, on your first visit to Israel, you father was detained at the border because he thinks Palestinians are human beings deserving of equality.” One week later, Simone Zimmerman, a founder of IfNotNow, an organization of young American Jews fighting Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, was detained at the Taba Border Crossing between Israel and Egypt.

Each of the three recognized that as disturbing as their detentions were, what they experienced was nothing compared to what Palestinians experience daily. After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly apologized for Beinart’s detention, Beinart responded: “Benjamin Netanyahu has half-apologized for my detention yesterday at Ben Gurion airport. I’ll accept when he apologizes to all Palestinians and Palestinian Americans who every day endure far worse.”

Support Palestinian Human Rights and Go HP-Free
Reach out to your pastor, church council and congregation to encourage your church to sign the HP Free Church pledge, committing to not buy HP computers, printers, inks, and other products until HP stops profiting from occupation and human rights violations. For more on the HP-Free Church Campaign go here.

Read More
The Battle for Justice in Palestine, Ali Abunimah, Haymarket Books, 2014
A Palestinian Theology of Liberation, Naim Ateek, Orbis Books, 2017
Why Palestine Matters
No Way to Treat a Child Campaign
The Palestinian Portal Resource
HP-Free Church Campaign

Prayer


Defiantly waving the Palestinian flag highIn the wake of the protest over the Nation-State Law, which took place on the 14th of July in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, the Likud party has proposed a new bill. On Wednesday the 22nd of August, it outlined a bill which would prohibit the Palestinian flag, along with the flags of other “enemy nations,” from being raised in any demonstration where more than three people had gathered. The ban would carry a sentence of one years’ imprisonment for anyone who raised the forbidden flag…Lord, we continue to pray for the safeguarding of freedom of speech and the right of the people to resist injustice in Israel. We pray that those in positions of authority would be mindful of the rights of all their citizens and would work for the benefit of all the people living in Israel. Lord, in your mercy… Sabeel Wave of Prayer

Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network
mennopin@gmail.com | mennopin.org | facebook.com/mennopin | twitter.com/mennopinSteering Committee:
Tom Harder (Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS)
Joy Lapp (Pleasant View Mennonite Church, Mt Pleasant, IA)
Jonathan Kuttab (Palestinian lawyer and human rights activist)
Anita Rediger (Emmaus Road Mennonite Fellowship, Berne, IN)
Joe Roos (Peace Mennonite Fellowship, Claremont, CA)
Rod Stafford (Portland Mennonite Church, OR)

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