Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Mother Jones published this melodramatic article by Newsweek Jerusalem bureau chief Joshua Hammer on Rachel Corrie and the ISM.

Though the article has little in the way of new information, the ISM is apparently quite upset about being treated dismissively in a major leftist publication.

Hammer's article claims that driver of "the" bulldozer was interviewed on Israeli TV, which I'm fairly certain is incorrect. Hammer also claims that the security fences bordering Gaza are "electrified" (nonsense - unless he means that there are electric video cameras).

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Alex Fitch sounds much more "normal" than the typical ISMer who has just managed to lie about his travel plans to the immigration people at Ben-Gurion airport. Fitch says positive things about Israelis, and seems to take in his new surroundings with an open mind.

Maybe it's because he's writing a series for the BBC. Expect dramatic whitewashing of the ISM and its activities.

The BBC calls Fitch a "peace activist", but he's a participant in the Welsh Anarchists Association, as are fellow ISMers Susanne Kempe and Ceri Gibbons (who gets nostalgic about Lenin). Here's a nice snippet from the WAA's initial meeting:
III: do we want to pursue direct actions?
we agreed that we want to do forms of direct actions; for example distribution of leaflets and poster actions – concept of subvertisement, participation in these activities is of course voluntary; we agreed that we want to plan the revolution…; we had a heated discussion on the use of violence in our prospective actions - covering aspects of violence against people and property as well as the concept of ‘creative violence’, we didn’t reach any agreement – therefore, everybody is welcome to discuss these issues further in the email discussion group

These people must get a kick out of being here in Israel for events like today's bus stop bombing. It must remind them of Kropotkin or Joseph Conrad.

Update: The new dispatch from skinhead pinhead Fitch consists of brief paragraphs and short declarative sentences - perhaps what Fitch wrote has been heavily edited by the BBC.

It's mostly jejune, but Fitch casually mentions "small towns on a steep hillside, peaceful now but shelled intermittently over past years." Since he's travelling from Bethlehem, that can only be Beit Jala, which was a quiet Christian village (and home of many UN employees) until Fatah members invaded it to fire guns and occasionally mortars into the Jerusalem residential neighborhood of Gilo in 2000.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Funding This ISM fundraiser in Los Angeles was sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (ie. the Quakers) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Morlocks Here are some "protest signs" prepared by an ISM-er and sent to an ISM "alumni" email list.

Someone responded:
I personally try to be a non-self-righteous advocate of nonviolence. Even if you aren't, it undermines our credibility as a solidarity movement if we have signs at our events which endorse actions that harm unarmed and relatively innocent people.
Even the "good-guy" ISM-er thinks that Israeli children are only "relatively innocent".

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

In this article on the ISM from FrontPage Magazine, author Alyssa Lappen writes that ISM associate George Rishawi facilitated the arrival of the Brits who bombed the Mike's Place pub in Tel Aviv (via his Alternative Tourism Group organization). She doesn't provide a source for this claim, and the bombers' itinerary (as detemined by the Israeli gov't) does not have them visiting the Bethlehem area.

Maybe the Israeli Shin-Bet will be able to determine in detail the extent of the bombers' involvement with the ISM. But what's clear is that they bombers were able to appear to ISMers as "fellow travellers", and that the ISM didn't contact Israeli authorities after their "new friends" blew up the Mike's Place pub.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

ISM Training (a blog entry in progress)

ISMers who have managed to enter Israel meet at a hostel near Jerusalem's Damascus Gate and are shuttled to 2 days of training at a hotel in Beit Sahur (near Bethlehem). One-time ISMer Uri Ayalon writes that there are sessions describing "the basic terminology of Palestine", "the history of the region" (in one hour), doctrines of non-violence resistance, the IDF's modes of operation, and dealing with the media.

From an account of a "history" session by Dr. Jad Isaac:
In 1948, the Arabs of the neighboring countries did not come to liberate Palestine, but to divide it. There was no real war. We had some fighting, but we were told to give up our arms, that this problem was for the armies to settle.
In 2000 Clinton made a peace proposal after the failure of Camp David. He said this was his ‘final offer,’ as if it were a deal in a bazaar. Eighty per cent of the settlements were to be preserved as part of Israel, while leaving minimal impact on the Palestinians. This would have rewarded the occupation by legitimizing the settlements.
It seems that the Israeli policy will be to make life for us so unbearable that we will leave, or else they will expel us
What's astonishing about this (admittedly second-hand) account is not just the childishness and misinformation, but also the apparent passivity and lack of any prior awareness on the part of the "trainee". You can picture the guy jotting it all down and nodding. Ditto with how the ISM describes the IDF:
...Soldiers mistreat Palestinians very badly at the checkpoints. Sometimes they beat them, and sometimes they kill them. They make ambulances wait for long periods, regardless of the condition of the patient inside. Sometimes they take out the driver and medic and make them strip and lie on the ground.
In one incident with an ambulance, there was a paramedic and a pregnant woman. The paramedic and driver were made to lie in the street for three hours. After a while the woman began to scream. Fortunately a doctor arrived and helped her give birth.

The ISM really does seem to be run by local Palestinians, which accounts for the extent that its dogma (and "terminology") closely match the views associated with the "Palestinian street". One training session included a very local perspective on Palestinian politics:
Secondly, the final part of today's training was an introduction to Palestinian political groups. The presenter, whose name I'll withhold, really did a wonderful job of giving us an overview of all the different groups. At the end, during question time, he was asked if he favored one group over another. He responded that his family had raised him in the DFLP (the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Maoist group). Although he currently has no particular affiliation, he tends to currently favor the PFLP (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also Marxist, but not as hard-line as the DFLP). Ending the discussion with this, I feel, truly put a human face on the armed struggle movement in Palestine....

DFLP and PFLP are terrorist groups that murder Israeli civilians (if you didn't know) ...

There's a pair of IDF refusers (one named Eshel) who have lectured ISMers on the IDF mindset and procedure:
(note that the ISMer cites the fact that some people do their military service by teaching children as evidence that for the "militant" view that in Israel there is no such thing as a civilian).

ISM London has its own training sessions. Here's a 2002 account from The Independent (scroll down), where a leader says frankly that the ISM aren't peace activists (in his mind they're "justice activists").

If anyone has seen any of these videos, could you please send me a summary?

More Huwaida Arraf A few weeks ago Huwaida Arraf wrote to the Jerusalem Post - apparently to respond to accusations that the International Solidarity Movement has used violence and cooperated with terrorists:
Sir, - Joel Leyden's "IDF disperses violent protest at security fence near Tulkarm," (August 1) is full of inaccuracies and unfounded accusations against the International Solidarity Movement, amounting to slander. With this brief letter I will respond to just two of the more outrageous accusations: that our protests against the Apartheid Wall are violent, and that the ISM is connected to "terrorist organizations."

The ISM, Israeli peace groups and Palestinians have been protesting the building of this dreadful wall since it was begun. The Israeli government slyly calls it a "security fence," but this four-meter fence, topped with razor wire in some areas, an eight-meter concrete monster in other areas, is no security fence. It has been built to steal water and resources from the Palestinians and turn Palestinian ghettos into prisons. If the Israeli government indeed thought that a wall, instead of freedom for the oppressed Palestinian people, will bring Israelis security, then Israel should be building this "security fence" on the Green Line and not on Palestinian land.

Every nation that has ever been occupied has had the right to protest that occupation. The Americans fought against the British, the French resisted the Nazi occupation, to name just two nations who fought for their freedom. Palestinians have the same right to resist occupation via "legitimate armed struggle," peaceful actions, or a combination of the two. The ISM is committed to peaceful actions as part of that equation. The violence in this struggle has been the violence against us, not perpetrated by us.

The second accusation that Mr. Leyden parrots verbatim from discounted Israeli sources is that we are affiliated with terrorist groups. We are not. A tactic of the Israeli government has been to label every Palestinian man, woman and child a "terrorist" in an attempt to justify its brutal actions against an occupied people. Now the tactic is to also try to vilify peace activists from all over the world who are raising their voices against an evil occupation that is the root cause of violence in Israel/Palestine. The terrorism that we have seen has been directed at us: the Israeli Military terrorism against Palestinian civilians and against internationals like Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall, and Brian Avery.

Mr. Leyden can now add another 12 internationals who were wounded this past week by a military which shoots at unarmed men and women of all ages who are protesting an illegal and immoral wall/fence that even the Americans say is a problem.


Arraf doesn't address any of the points in Leyden's original article or course - her central point is that "Palestinians are resistors, so they can't be terrorists. ... the IDF are terrorists". The rest of her self-righteous posturing can't conceal her lack of objection towards what most people would term terrorist groups, or her support for destructive behavior.
Al-Jazeera loves the ISM.

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