May 6, 2019: City Commission Meeting
My name is Barbara Hasan. I am one of the contributors to the Resolution to support Human Rights for Israelis and Palestinians by ending U.S. military aid to Israel.
I visited Palestine/Israel in 2015.
I would ask that we begin to re-frame our view of the Palestinians as a deadly threat to the existence of the state of Israel and instead begin to view them as resisters to injustice; and as a people who deserve their human rights, as do all people everywhere. It therefore follows that we do not need to send Israel more aid to buy more weapons because a huge existential and military power imbalance already exists. Let me go back for a minute to the issue of human rights with a few quotes:
In a publication I receive called “The Link,” a Jewish woman, Dorothy Zellner states, “I could not work to make sure that Black people in MS had the right to vote and then turn around and be supportive of Israel, where every citizen does not have equal rights before the law.”
Mark Braverman, a Jewish writer says, “the role of occupier is leading Israel down a road of political disaster….and has produced one of the most systematic and long-standing violations of human rights in the world today.”
Barbara Lubin, a Jewish woman who was tear gassed inside a Palestinian home in the W. bank in 1988 during the First Intifada became an activist for Palestinian children’s rights; and later on, in 2009, founded the Maia Project , a water purification system in Gaza to try and circumvent the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) policy of bombing water treatment plants there.
Another reason for the ineffectiveness of sending more military aid to Israel is because all of the Palestinian leadership we met on our trip there are practitioners of non-violence, a movement that happened here, in the U.S., during the Civil Rights Era.
Palestinian massive resistance, mainly non-violent, started in Dec, 1987.
There was throwing back identity cards, tax resistance, starting underground schools and victory gardens.
We met Emad Burnet, producer of the film “Five Broken Cameras.” He holds weekly demonstrations in his village. His friend, Basem, was killed there, his son was shot, and a lawyer from B’TSelem, an Israeli human rights organization, was shot while demonstrating with him. Emad showed us tear gas weapons stamped Ohio and Jamestown and Pittsburgh, PA. We met up with a Cat, a Caterpillar along the road. They are used to uproot Palestinian olive trees and bulldoze Palestinian homes.
Of course, other U.S. companies profit from the colonization project of Palestine as well.
We also met Daoud Nassar, at his Tent of Nations, who keeps an international presence on his land at all times as he is surrounded by Settlements; His farm is under constant surveillance by the IDF. Daoud lived in Europe for a time but came back in 1991 when Israel declared that his farm was state land and “had no owner.” Daoud, in fact, has the deed to his 100-acre property. He pays taxes, but has no running water and no electricity. All his requests for building permits are denied. They collect tiles from the garbage for building. They have built structures underground. There are seven caves on his property. He installed solar power. They collect rainwater. He said: “We will not be victims or wait for a political hero. We will not hate. We believe in resistance. We believe in justice. We believe in ourselves.”
We met with Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). BDS is a non-violent human rights movement begun in July 2005. It is now seen by the Israeli government as a strategic threat. He said: “We do not want charity. We want people to not be complicit in the oppression. Occupation is wrong under international law. We reject all forms of racism.”
We met with Archbishop Elias Chacour in Ibillin, near Nazareth, in the north of Israel. He went to court 37 times and spent 6 years trying to get a permit to build a gymnasium for youth. He began inviting Jewish children to their summer camp in 1999, and it worked for a time, but now it has reverted back to a Muslim only school.
We met Zoughbi Zoughbi, head of the Wi’am Conflict Resolution Center in Bethlehem. It is also a children’s school and cultural center. He told us: “Israel is now giving only half the water they gave before. We get less than you need as a human. 85% of water goes to the Settlers. 600 physicians have left the W. Bank. 700 children under the age of 16 are arrested each year. They are waterboarded. But we have a summer camp. We treat PTSD. We will be steadfast, not violent, but resistant. Dwelling in victimhood is suicidal. We try to transform the garbage of our anger by planting flowers, doing art, music, and dance. We want to bring the strong to their senses, not to their knees.”