Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

On the Ground in Palestine

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

On the Ground in Palestine

Article excerpt

In addition to these visitors from Palestine, George Rishmawi of Beit Sahour, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), spoke at Portland State University on Nov. 21--the same day a suicide bombing in Jerusalem killed a dozen Israelis and the Israeli army reoccupied Bethlehem in retaliation. In his presentation, entitled "On the Ground in Palestine," Rishmawi noted that "There's a small debate inside Israel right now over what will bring security for Israel." As he then pointed out, "All negotiations now focus on Israeli security, as if Palestinians don't have security needs."

Rishmawi discussed Beit Sahour's reputation as a center of nonviolent resistance, beginning in the first intifada with a tax revolt in which the townspeople refused to pay taxes to Israel. He gave a brief history of U.S. intransigence in the United Nations and its penchant for using its Security Council veto as leverage to forestall condemnations of Israel. "We are proud that the U.S. vetoed Beit Sahour at the U.N.," he stated, referring to Washington's veto of a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli taxation policies. Beit Sahour had initiated a nonviolent tax revolt in 1988, and taken its case to the U.N.

ISM is a Palestinian-led movement of Palestinian and international activists working to end Israeli occupation through nonviolent, direct-action to confront and challenge illegal Israeli occupation forces and policies. Participating in ISM actions and being an eyewitness is "choice number one" for individuals wishing to have a real effect on protecting Palestinian civilians, Rishmawi said. "If we have 10,000 Palestinians marching I don't think the media will pick it up," he explained. "But if a lot of Americans are involved, the media will show up to report it."

Touring with Rishmawi was Hekmat El Sarraj from Gaza, who works with the women's affairs division of the Palestinian Trade Unionists. …

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