Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
First Friday of Ramadan:
The 5 Seconds, the Five Minutes
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 19, 2010
On the first Friday of Ramadan, thousands of Palestinians tried to
reach the Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem for prayers in Al-Aqsa mosque.
But only some men above 50 and some women above 45 year old were allowed
to enter through the checkpoints in the apartheid wall. Some of those left
behind participated in demonstrations. Al-Walaja demonstration was
particularly inspiring and faced the might of the apartheid system. The
Apartheid wall here is being built to surround Al-Walaja on all sides.
We marched from the mosque towards the village entrance and along the main
road; here the wall facing Al-Walaja village is ugly concrete and the side
of it facing the illegal colony of Har Gilo is decorated with Jerusalem
We stopped at the village entrance as planned, beat drums and chanted
things like "1234 Occupation no more... 5678 stop the stealing stop the
hate", several military and police vehicles and dozens of heavily armed
apartheid warriers prepared to attack us. Ali chanted in Arabic, I
spoke in English, and then Ali spoke in Hebrew. We addressed the
gathering and the soldiers telling them this was a peaceful demonstration
against land confiscation. We explained that this village lost 80%
of its land in 1948 and is now about to lose the rest.
The officers came and gave us five minutes to disperse but then started
attacking us within five seconds with stun grenades and tear gas. They
arrested Ali Al-Aaraj and then they ran into the nearby house and arrested
his cousin Ma'moun (who was not participating in the demonstration) .
Some colonial racist settlers showed up with an Israeli flag and waved uit
and cheered their storm troops on. They also violently attacked people
injuring several (I personally saw them toss a man down against a concrete
wall injuring him in the leg). Those abducted were released a few hours
later thanks to good legal support.
Photos here (the last
six in the series including showing arrest of Ma'moun which is not shown
on my video).
Video of destruction in Al-Araqib village in the Negev, a
Palestinian village predating the illegal apartheid state of Israel that
now sets laws analogous to Nazi laws to ethnically cleanse what remains of
Palestinian lands <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2bCIspDbHs>
news: A CULTURAL boycott of Israel was launched yesterday, with more than
150 Irish artists announcing that they intend not to perform or exhibit in
Israel, or to accept any funding from institutions linked to the Israeli
The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) said it
was in protest at Israel's "treatment of the Palestinian people".
Human Rights Watch: Israel/Gaza: Wartime Inquiries Fall Short;
Governments and UN Should Press for Justice
Action 1: Attend second Palestinian popular conference in
Chicago, IL <http://popular.palestineconference.org/>
Action 2: Sign
petition from Palestine Civil Rights Campaign-Lebanon for refugee rights
in Lebanon <http://www.petitiononline.com/ssfpcrc/petition.html>
below is an eyewitness account of eth attack of masked racist settlers on
members of the Christian Peacemaking Team in Hebron area.
A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor, Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities Chairman of the Board,
Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People, <http://www.pcr.ps/>
By now some of you may or may not have heard about the settler
attack on Friday, so I wanted to send out an update. This will also
appear on the blog.
On Friday morning, "Koba", a fellow ISMer and
myself were at the village of Al Buyehreh. The village is very close to a
Harsina settlement and outpost and the people living there have been
almost under daily attack. On Thursday evening, settlers tried to set fire
to the farmer's fields, and they requested intervention. CPT and ISM have
been taking turns watching the village, taking day and night shifts.
My partner and I arrived on Friday morning, around 7:00. We sat down under
a fig tree. The tree is between the village and a road connecting the
settlement and outpost. For the first few hours nothing happened. We took
turns napping while the other kept watch, I was reading What's So Amazing
About Grace by Philip Yancey. I can't emphasize how relevant the Biblical
message of forgiveness was about to become to me.
Around 10 in the
morning, a small group of 5 settler boys passed us. Three of them were
small, two were teenagers. The teens made some comments like "if you don't
leave we will kick you". We ignored them and kept sitting under the tree.
Most threats that are made by settlers are not actually carried out. And
we knew that if we left, the Palestinians would be completely at their
mercy. It was not an option either way.
Around noontime, a car
stopped beside us. Inside were two Palestinian women who had been attacked
yesterday evening and were on their way to the hospital. They were too
afraid to travel last night. The older woman told us that settlers began
throwing rocks at the car they were driving. They were blocked and she got
out and threw a rock back at them. A few rocks hit her in the head. The
younger woman in the car witnessed the incident. Sitting in the car the
next day, she looked completely traumatized. I have never seen someone so
afraid. We photographed the car and it had dents in the front and back. We
wrote down their story, took some pictures, and they drove on.
About 20 minutes later, a car full of angry Palestinian men drove by the
outpost. They were neighbours of the women. They spotted a settler on his
way to the outpost and began throwing rocks. Fortunately they all missed,
he ran to the outpost. I wanted to say something but they drove by very
quickly and the incident was over in a matter of seconds.
attack happened maybe 15 minutes later. Three men suddenly appeared in
front of us. They came from the direction of the outpost and managed to
sneak up on us. They were all wearing black clothing and had their faces
covered with black ski masks. They were holding what looked to me like
black rods. I later learned that 2 of them were wooden sticks and one was
a metal pipe. From the moment I saw them it was very clear to me what they
were going to do. One of them walked up to me. He was very muscular and
looking straight at me. None of them said a word.
I said "shalom".
He swung his weapon back and slammed it into my face. It shattered my nose
and I went into shock. I fell down face first and didn't feel the other 2
blows that landed on my back. My friend tried to deflect the third blow
and they hit his foot. Afterwards they took his camera, backpack and
notebook and left. Blood was pouring from my face and on my shirt and
pants and shoes. They are still stained.
A group of Israeli
soldiers and Palestinian farmers appeared at the scene.
were very polite and many of them looked shocked. Others though were
smirking. They offered to take us to Jerusalem for treatment. We politely
refused because it would mean getting arrested and deported. The
Palestinians called an ambulance as well, and we were taken to Al Ahli
hospital in the Palestinian section of Hebron.
I remember crowds
of concerned and angered villagers gathering around us and helping me walk
to the ambulance. I asked people several times to not take revenge against
the settlers for what happened. Firstly I do not believe in revenge as a
Christian. I believe in love for enemies and turning the other cheek, I
would not want anyone to hurt somebody else on my behalf. Also, revenge is
usually carried out against people who had no part in the violence that is
being avenged. Most of the violence in the West Bank is carried out
against innocent Palestinians but the in the fairly rare occasions when
Palestinians avenge attacks against them, innocent Israelis are usually
the ones who suffer. Lastly, this region has seen more than enough of its
share of violence and counterviolence and violence to avenge the
counterviolence. It does not help achieve anything but grieving family
members and additional anger and pain.
The hospital was an
amazing experience. Koba and I were put under an X-ray.
leg was not broken and he was released. My nose was broken and I had to go
for surgery the next day, and that meant staying in the hospital for 2
The doctors and nurses were amazing and looked after my
every need. I did not pay a cent- the Palestinian Authority pays medical
bills of anyone who was hurt by the Israeli army or settlers. I am not
endorsing the PA but I have to say it was a great relief and I am very
grateful for this.
My fellow ISMers came to visit me
constantly. I have to single out "Laura", one of our members from Mexico,
who converted to Islam a few weeks ago. She brought me food and kept me
company for most of the days. She also brought me my Bible and helped put
my cross necklace around my neck after surgery. I will be forever grateful
to her and my fellow ISMers.
Most amazing were the people I do not
know. Over 200 Palestinians came by to see me. They heard about the attack
on the TV and radio and from friends and wanted to express their
sympathies and outrage about the attack. Many of them were very upset and
during some meetings I felt I had to repeat my request for no revenge to
be taken. Most were very grateful for my being there with them and some
said that now I am a Palestinian, one of them. I felt very proud.
Groups of young men came to my bedside to say hello. Whole families came
as well, parents with children and grandparents. I had a delegation of 7
Muslim clerics come in to shake my hand. It was very moving yet I did not
deserve it. I am not a hero or brave person, many people do the work I do
and take the same risks. It could have happened to anyone.
blessed with many oppurtunities to share Jesus with my visitors. I never
initiated the discussions, many of them were curious about my cross and
Bible and wanted to know about what I believe. I focused a lot on love for
enemies and that Jesus died on the cross for all of us- Christians,
Muslims, all people, including the settlers.
The ironic part is
that I meant everything I said. I believe that God worked a miracle in me
that day. I did not feel any anger or resentment at the settlers who beat
me and I still don't . I hate their violence and hatred and I hate what
they do to Palestinians. I don't hate them though or wish any harm to come
to them. I have forgiven them, and it has been remarkably easy. For this I
Some of my visitors tried to convert me to Islam and it
led to very interesting discussions. I cannot emphasize my admiration for
the Palestinian people. They brought not only more food and drinks than I
could physically consume, but they brought their love to me. I didn't cry
when I was attacked or after the incident but I come close to tears when I
remember the outpouring of concern and friendship and love they have shown
me. I have not experienced anything like that anywhere else in my life.
The story made headlines across Palestine, Israel and the wider
world. It has been reported on Al Jazeera and Washington Post. In ISM we
operate under pseudonyms and I go by "Peter", so the press stories talk
about "Peter" who was beaten up. I am OK with this for several reasons. My
activism in the West Bank is not even close to being over, and I want to
come back one day.
I do not want to be blacklisted. I also do not want to be remembered as
a victim. Also, the story should not be about me. What is the important
issue are the continuing attacks against Palestinian farmers and the
terrorism they suffer on an ongoing basis from settlers and the army that
usually turns a blind eye to the abuses or takes part in them. A broken
nose and a few bruises on my back are nothing compared to what they
suffer. The story should be about them, not about a young white guy from
Winnipeg who happened to get caught in the conflict.
am going back to the hospital and hope to have the cast around my nose
Anyways, that was my weekend. As Palestinian Muslims and
Christians say, Allahu Akhbar. That means "God is greatest". I fully
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