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 The Other Israel Issue No. 100 October 2001

 Stonewalling, an editorial overview
A deliberate strategy
And then came September 11
Sharon's outburst

The Durban Challenge

For an International Protection Force
600 Palestinian & Israeli intellectuals & activists
sign an ad in Ha'aretz, Sept. 21

 An Israeli in Palestine, by Jeff Halper
Destroying "illegal" Palestinian homes in Shuafat Refugee Camp

Struggle in Jerusalem
Sharon seizes the Orient House

 Gush Shalom Draft of a Peace Agreement
Ad in Ha'aretz August 10

Alternative Nobel Prize to Gush Shalom and Uri and Rachel Avnery

Uri Avnery in the US

Adam Keller in the UK

Ten Thousand
August 4 peace rally in Tel Aviv
 Speech of Nurit Elhanan-Peled on behalf of Bereaved Parents

Back to the Caves
Attacks on Palestinian shepherds near Yatta, Ta'ayush support

Supreme Court Investigates police conduct in the Galilee
(on Oct. 13, 2000)

Thirty Activists go to Hares in West Bank

Appeal for Aid for Issa Souf

Teens Against Occupation

 Twin Towers, by Uri Avnery

The Other Israel

Issue 100 October 2001


[from the editor]

The elaborate cease-fire arrangements worked out by CIA chief George Tenet, back in June, collapsed under the weight of a huge built-in flaw: There was no objective verification of any kind, instead of which none other than Ariel Sharon was entrusted by Washington to rule on whether or not the Palestinians were keeping their part.

This was not reciprocal: the Palestinians were not asked for their opinion on Israeli cease-fire violations, though they had a lot to say about the subject, much of it backed by the findings of Israeli and international human rights organizations.

True, there were still State Department condemnations for the most blatant of Sharon's acts, such as closing down of Orient House and other Palestinian institutions, or the widely-televised destruction of fourteen Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem followed on the next day by twenty houses at Rafah. The State Department even used sharp words, such as "provocative act."

But gradually it became clear that President Bush spoke quite a different language, never condemning any of Sharon's acts and instead repeating a demand on Arafat "to do more against terrorism." Moreover, whenever a concrete step was on the agenda -- such as the sending of international observers to the Occupied Territories, or even a simple condemnation by the UN Security Council, Washington continued to exert its full diplomatic might to prevent any such action from being taken.

It is hardly surprising that the PM considered himself effectively licensed to intensify his offensive against the Palestinians. The bombing of Palestinian cities by helicopters and F-16 fighter planes -- once causing world-wide headlines and diplomatic repercussions -- had become a normal daily routine.

So were the incursions of Israeli forces into Palestinian-controlled territory: the invading armored columns penetrating deeper and deeper into Palestinian towns and the main cities, every raid leaving more death and destruction than its predecessor, every incursion lasting longer and tending more in the direction of de-facto piecemeal reconquest of the territories given up under the Oslo agreement.

Meanwhile, there was no longer any attempt to deny the government's responsibility for the assassination of Palestinians suspected of terrorism ("targeted killings" as the latest euphemism has it) by a variety of means -- from missiles shot out of helicopters to cunningly hidden explosives. The number and frequency of such "targeted killings" steadily increased, as Sharon openly boasted in Likud Party meetings.

While such spectacular raids caught the headlines, the most heavy damage wrought upon the Palestinian population resulted from the closure and siege of the Palestinian communities. Military bulldozers tore up the roads and erected earthen barriers at the entrance to each and every village and town; soldiers at checkpoints refused passage even to people in need of urgent medical help, sometimes with fatal consequences; several highways were declared altogether "off limits" to Palestinian traffic; East Jerusalem was surrounded by an ever more elaborate system of trenches and ditches, to prevent West Bank Palestinians from entering; the Palestinian economy, already severely damaged by the exclusion of Palestinians from workplaces in Israel, neared total collapse with this disruption of communications, and more than half the Palestinian population sunk below the poverty line.

A deliberate strategy

All these were not acts of random cruelty, either. As a series of articles in the weekend supplements of Yediot Aharonot and Ma'ariv made clear, they constituted part of a coherent strategy adopted by the IDF General Staff, the brain-child of Deputy Chief-Of-Staff Moshe Ya'alon. The Stonewalling Strategy called for steadily increasing the pressure on the Palestinians on all possible fronts, with the aim of eventually forcing them to stop fighting and get back to the negotiating table without any political gain, since any such gain would constitute "a reward to terrorism."

Not content with the purely military arena, Ya'alon and other generals sought to extend this strategy into the political and diplomatic spheres as well. That led to their frowning at Foreign Minister Peres desire to hold a meeting with Arafat, which in General Ya'alon's view "created cracks in the stonewall around the Palestinians"; for the same reason, the

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generals expressed themselves less than happy with the August 4 Peace March and rally in Tel-Aviv, in which an estimated 10,000 people took part. The generals have made their attitude clear, by direct channels to the government as well as via their many good contacts in the media. This made other commentators in the media doubt openly -- for the first time in Israeli history -- whether the Supreme Command of the Israeli Defence Forces was aware of the role which armed forces should play in a democratic regime.

For their part, the Palestinians -- though feeling increasingly pressed by the "stonewall" -- didn't break. Under dire economic straights, and with very inadequate international relief works, Palestinians could still rely for support and mutual help on the family network which is a basic feature of Palestinian society.

Besieged in their villages and towns, they again and again filled in the ditches and removed the piles of earth which the army erected -- sometimes demonstratively, with the help of Israeli and international peace activists, more often just by themselves as a practical matter of keeping a road open for hours or days until the army comes again to block it. Banned from highways which became more and more the preserve of army and settlers, Palestinians found (or sometimes created) alternative back roads, rutted and meandering, in which traveling was long and difficult but still got them where they wanted to go.

Our articles may be reprinted, provided they include the address The Other Israel POB 2542, Holon 58125, Israel.

Faced by Israeli invasion forces entering their towns with the enormous fire-power of tanks and helicopter gunships, lightly-armed Palestinian militias mostly preferred not to try a hopeless head-on confrontation, but rather continued staging deadly ambushes to soldiers and settlers along the roads of the West Bank. And with every month of increasing Israeli pressure, opinion polls conducted among Palestinians indicated an increasing support for suicide bombing attacks inside Israel; a girl student from Nablus put it simply: "They are making us suffer. Let them suffer, too." A year ago, Palestinian support for suicide bombings stood at 25%. Now it is about 70% (which is, incidentally, the same percentage as that of Israelis supporting the aggressive measures against the Palestinians).

And then came September 11

Israelis were sincerely shocked by the news of what happened in America on September 11. The acts of solidarity on the grassroots level, such as the Israelis who stood in line to donate blood, were genuine enough.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of all politicians. While making such gestures as renaming the main street in Jerusalem "New York Street" (for one month), many of them were meanwhile engaged in cynical efforts to make use of America's disaster.

The game was inadvertently given away by former PM Binyamin Netanyahu, on a self-appointed propaganda tour of the US at the time the attack on the Twin Towers occurred. Asked by the New York Times what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Netanyahu replied: 'It's very good' -- then hastily editing himself: 'Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy' (New York Times, Sept. 12).

Politicians and generals, as well as many columnists -- including some supposed "liberals" -- initially considered the attack on the US as creating "a unique window of opportunity." For days on end, the world's media was carrying no news except from the stricken spots in New York and Washington D.C., and showed virtually no interest in the doings of Israeli military units at obscure West Bank. Moreover, it was expected that once having suffered large-scale terrorism on their own soil, the Americans would accept without reservations Israel's getting tough with "Our Bin Laden", as PM Sharon dubbed Arafat.

For several days, this calculation seemed to work. In the Jenin area of the West Bank the army rampaged at will, killing and destroying, as was reported with frank brutality by the mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot: "At about 2.00 PM IDF forces reached the building in Arabeh Village where three Islamic Jihad activists had barricaded themselves. The three refused to surrender, and were liquidated by missiles and shells. A 12-year old girl was also killed in the shooting on the inhabited building. Later, another wanted Palestinian was liquidated as well. In the three hours' exchange of fire, four Palestinian civilians were killed by mistake and about fifty wounded" (Yediot, 13.9). Altogether, at least eighteen Palestinians were killed within twenty-four hours, with hardly a word reaching the international press. (At the time we made an effort to fill in and send to the worldwide Gush Shalom email list a Report of the unreported days.)

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[Short Article Insert]

The Durban challenge

The September 11 shock has somewhat obscured an event which, just a week before, got the Israeli public opinion greatly worked out: the UN conference against racism at Durban, South Africa. During a whole week, there were editorials and political speeches day after day denouncing the conference and all its works as a foul anti-Semitic plot. The rabble-rousing was facilitated by "over-enthusiasm" of whoever formulated the resolutions of the NGO Forum at Durban. Beside many sharp denunciations of the Israeli occupation which quite a few Israelis could have agreed with, the resolutions also leveled such charges as "genocide." Use of that term is counterproductive and inappropriate -- bad as the situation surely is.

Still, the very intensity of the attacks in the Israeli media showed that Israelis did care quite a lot about what was said and done at Durban. In the Israeli society there is a strongly-entrenched perception that the past suffering and persecution of Jews gives Israel a moral license to whatever form of aggressive "self-defence" it sees fit. At Durban, that perception was challenged; moreover, it was challenged by a people -- the South African blacks -- who have an undoubted right to speak as victims of racism, quite as much as Jews do.

Another perception which most Israelis share is that as long as the US stands by Israel, the rest of the world is negligible. At Durban, also that perception was challenged. True, the US did stand by Israel, even to the point of dramatically walking out together. (To be sure, Bush had his own agenda -- the uncomfortable issue of slavery and its legacies.) Still, this time Israelis found themselves unable to ignore what "the rest of the world" was saying.

[end insert]


[Stonewalling- continued]

During the days after Sept. 11, there seemed no holds barred: at the Ramle Neve Tirza Prison, guards brutally assaulted the thirteen Palestinian women prisoners; in East Jerusalem, police suddenly detained Sheikh Akrama Sabri, Mufti of Jerusalem and the highest ranking Muslim cleric in the country; at the Allenby Bridge, the Palestinian human rights lawyer Daoud Darawi -- returning with his wife from a family visit to Jordan -- was arrested and taken off by the Israeli Security Service, with no explanations and no charges; in the Yatta area, the army expelled dozens of cave-dwelling Palestinians from their modest homes... Still, the extreme right -- not satisfied with such piecemeal brutalities -- poured scorn on Sharon for having "missed the opportunity to get rid of Arafat, once and for all." Several generals on the IDF General Staff concurred, and made it known through leaks to the media.

Within a few days of the attacks in the US, however, these warmongering Israelis suffered a painful wake-up call. As soon as the Bush Administration started pulling itself together and preparing for its "war on terrorism", the US decision makers became aware of an acute need to include Arab and Muslim participants in their international coalition, so as to avoid the appearance that they were waging war on Islam. Far from Israel being given a free hand to dispose of "The second Bin Laden", Palestinian leader Arafat was actively courted as a potential participant in the US-led coalition. So were, for that matter, many other Arab and Muslim leaders -- not only the traditional Arab allies of the US, but also countries like Syria and even Iran, of whom either active support or a benevolent neutrality was sought.

And, much to the chagrin of Sharon, the inclusion of Israel in the coalition was out of the question: its participation would only be an embarrassment, actually lending weight to Bin Laden's claim to be the champion of the Palestinians. Bush asked of Sharon only to calm down the conflict with the Palestinians, and make sure that its flames do not burn high during the planned US attack on Afghanistan. To achieve that, Sharon was firmly requested to let Foreign Minister Peres meet with Arafat and discuss the implementation of a cease-fire.

Sharon was reluctant to authorize such a meeting, which would constitute a breach in the "stonewall." The right wing inside and outside the cabinet came up in arms against the planned meeting, as were the generals. On the other hand, a firm request from the President of The United States is a difficult thing to turn down. An editorial in the Washington Post left no doubt: refusal would saddle Sharon with the blame for sabotaging the anti-terrorist coalition.

Peres himself was struggling hard to get the meeting approved, even to the point of threatening to break up his partnership with Sharon (though on that he got less than full cooperation from the other Labor ministers, far from enthusiastic about the possibility of losing their portfolios).


The Peres-Arafat meeting was for weeks the subject of debate in the Israeli media and political system before it finally took place -- so much so that it seemed to acquire the status of a purpose in itself. With all that, its whole aim was to establish a cease-fire on the basis which Tenet tried in June, except that since September 11 the US had become really and urgently interested in the success of the undertaking.

As against that, powerful forces had no interest in a cease-fire and were in a position to do something to disrupt it. The right-wing ministers in the Sharon Cabinet, including to at least some degree the PM itself; the generals of the IDF Supreme command, as well as many middle-ranking and junior officers, commanding the units on the ground; the settlers with their own militias...For several days after September 11, all of these lived with the heady illusion of having the Palestinians at their mercy, after which the idea of compromising and making concessions rankled all the more.

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On the Palestinian side, too, the fighters on the ground -- not only the Islamic militants, but also many members of Arafat's own Fatah -- proved less than enthusiastic about a cease-fire being declared, after a year of fighting and extreme suffering, with little more to show than vague American promises. They may be willing under certain conditions to stop attacks on civilians inside Israel -- but a cessation also of shooting on soldiers and settlers in the Occupied Territories, while the occupation and settlement construction go on, they would consider tantamount to surrender.

When Peres and Arafat met on the morning of September 27, at the Palestinian International Airport in the Gaza Strip where no planes had landed in the past year, they could hear continuous shooting from the town of Rafah, a few kilometers away. The fighting was concentrated on the Israeli military position which separates Palestinian Rafah from Egyptian Rafah -- sundering from each other the two halves of the same town, often the two parts of the same family, and incidentally keeping the whole Gaza Strip cut off from the outside world. Not surprisingly, the place had been the focus of constant fighting throughout the past year.

On the morning of the Peres-Arafat meeting, Palestinians dug a tunnel under the outpost, blew up part of it and wounded three soldiers; the army insisted upon rebuilding the outpost as well as destroying some dozen nearby Palestinian homes, so as to provide "a wider defence perimeter." In the process of achieving that objective six Palestinians got shot to death, one of them a 12-year old boy. Thus the cease-fire got off to an inauspicious start. Foreign Minister Peres put at least part of the blame on the conduct of the Israeli army -- an unprecedented accusation which got banner headlines in the press.

Then came September 29, anniversary of the Intifada outbreak, a day which saw -- as may have been expected -- an upsurge of Palestinian mass demonstrations all over the territories. It saw also a violent reaction by Israeli soldiers, with the result that 13 additional Palestinians were killed.

It was four days later, with the "body count" standing at twenty five killed Palestinians, that three Hamas members penetrated into an Israeli settlement in the northern Gaza Strip, killed a girl soldier and her boyfriend and wounded several settlers before being killed themselves. In retaliation the army took over a kilometer-wide strip of Palestinian territory all around the settlement, establishing military outposts and destroying all vegetation and houses.

Two days later, an incident in which settlers in Hebron were shot and wounded led to the army reconquering two neighborhoods which were handed over to Palestinian rule in 1997, placing them under curfew and evicting several dozen people from their homes, which were turned into military outposts -- once again, all in the name of establishing a defence perimeter to defend the settlers...

In the meantime, the death toll continues to mount. The Israeli media, as was its custom since the killing started, emphasizes the Israeli casualties and de-emphasizes the (far more numerous) Palestinian ones. In the Palestinian media, it is the other way around. And the effect of proclaiming all this a cease-fire is to increase still further the mutual distrust, and make common Israelis suspect "Palestinian perfidy" and vice versa.

Sharon's outburst

While completing the military preparations for the onslaught in Afghanistan, President Bush was hard-pressed by the Arab countries -- especially Saudi Arabia, whose rulers have a long-standing tie with the Bush family -- to make some mollifying gesture towards the Palestinians. He did make a statement referring to the idea of an independent Palestinian state as "part of the vision." At the same time, well-calculated leaks to the Washington Post and New York Times told of a comprehensive Middle East plan due to be unveiled in speech by Secretary of State Powell, which would refer to all the outstanding issues between Israelis and Palestinians: borders, refugees, Jerusalem... The sketchy details published gave the impression that Bush was contemplating taking up not so far from where Clinton left off.

This was enough for Sharon to launch a head-on attack on President Bush. In an extraordinary speech which he wrote himself he furiously attacked the Western democracies, headed by the United States." Sharon compared their attitude towards Israel today to that towards Czechoslovakia in 1938.

As Uri Avnery remarked in Ma'ariv: "Pedantic historians could point to some faults in this comparison. At that time, Germany was a mighty military power facing little Czechoslovakia. While in today's Middle East the situation is the opposite: Israel is the mighty military power and the Palestinians are a small and weak people. Furthermore, Germany was not living under Czech occupation. Bush is not waving an umbrella (like Chamberlain), but building a coalition for starting a war. But Sharon does not pretend to be a historian. Like his companions and partners, he lives in the world of his own images, cut off from international reality."

President Bush was not amused, and the White House made an exceptionally sharp retort. But the time for the air strike on Afghanistan drew near, and the public row was patched up. For the time being.


This article is going into print the third day of the US air strike. Upon hearing that it started, thousands of Israelis headed to the Gas Mask Distribution Centers -- a conditioned reflex which 1991 left in this country. It seems, however, that until and unless the US chooses to attack Iraq as well, Israel is not going to be directly involved in this war, nor will the Palestinians. But indirect effects there are in plenty.

In Gaza, demonstrations by Hamas supporters carrying Bin Laden photos degenerated into serious clashes with the Palestinian police, in which three demonstrators were killed. Tensions had been brewing ever since Arafat proclaimed the cease-fire and sought to impose it on defiant organizations and

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militias. The lethal clashes seem to have alarmed both sides, and at the time of writing efforts are made at reconciliation -- since obviously the Palestinians can't afford a civil war, or anything resembling one.

Sharon, for his part, is faced with the results of an opinion poll published in Newsweek, according to which 58% of the American public see a connection between the US support of Israel and the terrorist attacks launched upon the US. The publication caused an alarmed emergency meeting at Israel's Foreign Ministry, at which a special Propaganda Team was appointed "to block the erosion of Israel's position in the American public opinion."

The editors


For an International Protection Force

Under the above headline appeared a whole-page add in Ha'aretz (Sept.21). As the initiators explained, they had come to the decision to support international intervention because there is needed a form of protection for the Palestinians. Their struggle for freedom encounters increasingly unbearable repression and aggression from the occupation forces, a situation which can only make things worse and drive the Palestinians to acts of despair.

The appeal ends with "An international force, we believe, would greatly facilitate the resumption of serious and meaningful negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders and the settlement of the conflict on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions and a two states solution."

Among the 600 hundred Palestinian and Israeli intellectuals and activists who signed were the Israelis Shulamit Aloni, Uri Avnery, Meron Benvenisti, Yehuda Shenhav, Joseph Agassi and Adi Ofir; and the Palestinians Haider Abdel Shafi, Hanan Ashrawi, Edward W.Said, Rashid I.Khalidi, Elia Zureik, Camille Mansour and Khalil Hindi.
Contact: Lev Grinberg,


An Israeli in Palestine

Jeff Halper

July 10, 2001

At 7:30 this morning, I was about to travel with other members of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions to the besieged town of Beit Umar near Hebron -- where tons of produce cannot be transported to market and are rotting while the inhabitants face severe hunger. Then came a call that six bulldozers accompanied by hundreds of soldiers were entering the Shuafat Refugee Camp in north Jerusalem, with the intention of destroying "illegal" Palestinian homes.

While the other ICAHD members proceeded to Beit Umar, Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights, Liat Taub, a student and ICHAD staff member, Gadi Wolf, a conscientious objector who just served time in jail, and I headed for Shuafat, On the way I had that sinking feeling of powerlessness mixed with outrage that always accompanied me to events like this -- an equal mixture of responsibility, anger at the injustice, the fundamental unfairness of it all, and helplessness in the face of an unmoving, uncaring, cruel and supremely self-righteous system of oppression.

On the way we all worked our cell phones, Arik calling the press, me calling the embassies and consulates (both the American and European consulates are very responsive and forthcoming), Liat and Gadi calling our lists of activists to join us, keeping in touch with our Palestinian partners as well. Meir Margalit, a Jerusalem City Council from the Meretz party who has been a steadfast ally, and Salim Shawamreh, our Palestinian partner who lived in Shuafat before building a home of his own in nearby Anata which was demolished three times, waited for us.

We passed through the familiar and profoundly banal streets of West Jerusalem, with people all around going about their "normal" lives. We also drove by the thousands of apartments built for Israelis in East Jerusalem, neat stone-faced apartment blocks framed with trees, shrubbery and lawns, served by wide streets and sidewalks.

Once past the neighborhood/settlement of French Hill, however, the landscape changes, though we remain within the city of Jerusalem as defined by the annexation to Israel in 1967. The hillsides become barren, strewn with shells of old cars and garbage. The houses are small, scattered and made of unattractive cement blocks. No trees, no lawns, no sidewalks, certainly no parks -- just narrow, dusty, pot-holed streets with no street lights. People, kids walking on the shoulders, competing for space with mini-vans and old cars. The Third World just a hundred meters down the road, and in the same city.

And then the soldiers. As we approached the main entrance to the camp, we saw hundreds of soldiers, Borders Police and regular police, some mounted on horseback, others in the dozens of military jeeps that blocked all the entrances to the camp and patrolled its maze of alleyways. We parked and walked in -- careful to stay in touch with Salim, who sent some people to escort us, uncertain how Israelis would be received at such a time.

We were received well. Walking with our hosts I was struck by how "normal" life was continuing. Kids played in the street, men worked in the garages along the roads, women went about their business, even though the whole camp was overrun by soldiers who came to make sure that the demolitions would take place unimpeded. These people had developed a way to continue their lives no matter what. Sumud, steadfastness, is the Arabic name for it. We walked through the crowded camp of some 25,000 people, finally coming out on the top of a hill overlooking the periphery of the camp and, across the wadi, the narrow valley, the Jerusalem neighborhood/settlement of Pisgat Ze'ev looming over Shuafat from the opposite hill.

Juxtaposed in this way, the injustice virtually hit you in the face. Here was a crowded camp, layers of jerrybuilt concrete homes separated by the narrowest of alleyways, leading down a slope where the raw sewage

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of the camp flowed to the houses where the bulldozers had already started their demolition work (you could hear the hack-hack-hack of the pneumatic drills collapsing the concrete roofs), and then, just a couple hundred meters away, the massive modern housing project of Pisgat Ze'ev ("Ze'ev's Summit", named after the Likud's founding father Ze'ev Jabotinsky) with its manicured lawns and trees. And separating these two worlds: the stream of sewage down below (Pisgat Ze'ev has its own closed sewage system, thank you), and the "security road" where the army patrols at night, guarding the residents of Pisgat Ze'ev from their neighbors

In order to avoid the soldiers and police, we walked through the alleyways and down the slope, sloshing through the sewage to come up to the scene of the demolitions. The army and police had their backs turned to us as they guarded the bulldozers and drills from the angry Palestinian crowd -- including the frantic home-owners who were about to see their life savings go up in dust. We quickly ran to the bulldozers and lay down in front of them. A symbolic action, to be sure, but one which created a scene and gave news photographers something to "shoot." (Because we are Israelis, we have the privilege of being shot only by cameras.)

For the soldiers our actions are simply stupid and incomprehensible, and they cart us away unceremoniously. We don't bother to argue with them or explain to them; it is enough that we act as vehicles for getting the images of demolitions out to the world. Later, when the reporters talk to us, we can explain what is happening and why it is unjust and oppressive. Our comments will find their way into official reports (this evening the US State Department officially deplored the demolitions, and we know that European and other governments take note). That is our role. Helplessness in the face of overwhelming force and callousness, yet faith that all of you, once you know, will help generate the international pressures necessary to end the occupation once and for all.


+++ Immediately after the demolition of the Shuafat houses, ICAHD started preparations for helping the families rebuild them. Several times, however, the action had to be delayed due to clashes or terrorist attacks which made the atmosphere too tense. Just as we go to print, Oct. 10, we got the news that this morning about 35 Israeli activists had arrived at the site in Shuafat where the Muhammad Ali family is rebuilding. Together with family members and neighbors, the Israelis prepared wooden and iron moulds into which concrete is going to be poured. Arriving police informed Rabbi Arik Ascherman that the rebuilding was illegal -- but did not intervene.
ICAHD c/o Halper, 37 Tveria St. J'lem, ph 972-2-6248252

Struggle in Jerusalem

Orient House. A beautiful Nineteenth Century mansion in East Jerusalem, a place where successive generations of the Husseini family lived and worked. And with the Husseinis being prominent in Palestinian history, important events tended to happen there, ever since Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm was lodged at the place during his visit to the Holy Land in 1898.

In the past decade, Feisal Husseini has made it the main Palestinian headquarters in Jerusalem. A cosmopolitan hive of political and diplomatic activity frequently visited by foreign dignitaries, it became also a place where the poorer Arab Jerusalemites could apply for the kind of help they need and couldn't expect from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality in spite of the decades-long talking about "United Jerusalem."

And, Husseini being a leading proponent of dialogue with the Israeli peace movement, Orient House became also a center of meetings and discussions between Israelis and Palestinians, a place where common documents were drafted and joint actions planned -- a place where Israeli peace seekers were warmly welcomed and made to feel at home.

Since the time of the Madrid Conference in 1991, Orient House enjoyed a kind of de-facto extra territorial status, which the Israeli authorities never officially acknowledged but which was respected by successive governments. Israeli police did not enter the compound, surrounded by an ornate iron fence and guarded by its own security force and with the Palestinian flag flying proudly at the flag staff.

Netanyahu's attempt to close it down in 1999 was foiled by international protests and the mobilization of Israeli peace activists. But the threat was only deferred; the place remained on the "target list" of the right-wing, and contingency plans for occupying it remained on the police and security service files, even at the time when Israeli-Palestinian seemed to be proceeding well.


In May this year Feisal Husseini suddenly passed away, a grave loss which was mourned by tens of thousands of Palestinians of all political factions walking in procession through the streets of East Jerusalem, attended also by quite a few Israelis (see previous issue, p. 11).

The Sharon government, committed to "restoring Israeli sovereignty throughout United Jerusalem", did not like at all to see this rallying. On July 17 was scheduled, again at Orient House, the memorial service for Husseini -- forty days after his death, as Muslim custom decrees. Palestinian dignitaries were invited to speak, as were members of the Israeli peace movement who had known Husseini in life. And then, a peremptory banning order came out of the bureau of Uzi Landau, Minister of Public Safety (i.e. Police), one of the government's notorious hardliners.

The defiant Palestinians declared the memorial will go ahead anyway -- and invited Israelis, too, were not about to comply passively. The police were, however, well-prepared. There was a police barrier at the beginning of the street leading up to the Orient House. Those who knew the area tried all kinds of back passages (it is a sizeable compound) but all possible entrances had police cordons cutting them off.

Several dozen activists of Gush Shalom and Peace Now held an improvised vigil in front of the police barrier, shouting 'Peace Yes -- Occupation No!' and

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Jerusalem -- Capital of two states! Former KM Mordechai Bar-On talked to the many journalists present: 'Feisal Husseini was my personal friend, as well as an important partner in dialogue. I held him in high regard. Much higher than I regard that minister who prevents me from going to mourn my friend.'

Since journalists were allowed to cross the police barrier, several activists -- those possessing a press card, like Uri Avnery and Haim Hanegbi of Gush Shalom -- were able to get inside the Orient House. They were greeted warmly by a few hundred Palestinians who had gotten there already in the morning, before police barriers went up. It may be a long time before Israelis and Palestinians meet again as friends and partners at the Orient House.


On August 9, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at the Sbarro Pizza Parlor in downtown Jerusalem, taking with him fifteen Israelis including five members of a single family. In the atmosphere of public anger and outrage, government speakers called for an unspecified dire retaliation. Rumors in the media spoke of an impending major invasion of Palestinian cities. Virtually nobody expected a crackdown on Orient House, for the simple reason that Orient House had nothing to do with the bombing.

The government did not even claim such connection. The horrors of the bombing were simply used as a convenient pretext for implementing long-prepared plans. Late at night, swarms of police flooded into the Orient House, overpowering the seven security guards on duty. They systematically tore off the walls the posters of Feisal Husseini, and carted off to Security Service Headquarters the archive, including land deeds and geographical data which the Palestinian Negotiating Team had been compiling for the eventuality of "Final Status" talks with Israel. The conquerors then raised an Israeli national flag on top of the captured building. (A few hours later, sight of that flag was captured by CNN and BBC and broadcast worldwide, turning out to be very bad public relations for the Sharon Government -- and somebody ordered it removed).

At the same time, nine other Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Palestinian Higher Council of Tourism, were also closed down -- and Israeli military forces reoccupied parts of Abu Dis, the Jerusalem suburb which some Israeli politicians once considered making into a "surrogate Palestinian Capital", closing down the complex of Palestinian government buildings there.

A few activists, listening anxiously through the night, heard of what happened at Orient House almost on real time. But when the morning came and the first attempt at an organized protest was made, it turned out that the occupied Orient House and all the streets around it had become a kind of fortress bristling with police. Their orders -- as soon became evident -- were to stamp down hard on any protest, however peaceable and whoever made it: Palestinians, Israeli peace activists or internationals.

On the day the Orient House was closed there had just arrived in the country a large number of American and European activists, who had planned a series of solidarity activities with Palestinians at different locations, such as El-Khader (see previous issue, p16). Their Palestinian hosts, the Rapprochement Center based at Beit Sahur, changed the program and all concentrated on the struggle around Orient House.

For four consecutive days, the detention cells at Jerusalem's Russian Compound Police Station became a cosmopolitan place housing Palestinians, Israelis, Italians, Americans, French, Canadians, British, and Danes, all picked up at the Orient House protests. On one occasion, a group of protesters was pounced upon as soon as they spread their signs, chased right into the ornate lobby of the nearby American Colony Hotel and there detained.

Being freed the next morning, they were in time to join a procession of Palestinian VIP's headed by Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, well-known parliamentarian and recently appointed spokesperson for the Arab League; Ashrawi's confrontation with the police got an especially prominent coverage on international TV. For their part, members of Peace Now at the same time picketed the Prime Minister's office under the slogan 'There are no military solutions!'

+++ The following is excerpted from the account written by Charles Lenchner, an Israeli-American peace activist involved in getting Jews from different countries take part in anti-occupation actions.

"On Friday morning [August 10], a group of 30 or so peace activists made their way to the American Colony Hotel, right next to the closed off-street where the Orient House is located. We joined a small number of Palestinians, and a large number of journalists. The protesters moved against the police barricade that sealed off the street. Occasionally they were able to push aside or pull a metal barrier, forcing the police to link arms and push the demonstrators back. Occasionally, police on horseback rode around menacingly, forcing the demonstrators to lie down in order to avoid being kicked by the horses.

One of the participants (Angie Zelter with her long history in the British anti-nuclear movement), insisted on entering the street. She finally succeeded, and was immediately detained. A bit later, as I was standing near the barricade, I saw that the police had opened it up and were massed along the breach to prevent the crowd from breaking through.

I turned around to see what they were up to, and saw two policemen with an elderly Palestinian man being half carried, half dragged between them, coming towards me quickly. Stunned a bit by the escalation in mood and police tactics, I was motionless until the three had passed me and were crossing the barriers, some of which had been overturned and were lying on the ground.

The Palestinian man had tripped, or was shoved down, and was lying face down getting beaten, as the police tried to get a better grip on him to drag him ________________________ (Continued on page 10.)

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[On Friday, August 10, in the middle of escalating bloodshed and hatred, Gush Shalom decided that the public needed to see a concrete alternative -- not as a pious, naive hope but as a concrete workable plan. The draft of a Peace Agreement -- on which a team had been working for some months -- was published as a full-page ad in Ha'aretz.]

Now, more than at any other time, the struggle for peace must not stop.

The following declaration of principles is a proposal for joint Israeli-Palestinian discussion. It should not be considered a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.

We went into details in order to express our conviction that all the issues at stake -- the components of the conflict -- can be resolved. Not by diktats, not by an overbearing master-and-servant attitude, but by negotiations between equals.

The government and the army leadership are leading us into a hell of blood and fire. We call upon all peace-seekers in Israel to unite for the future of the two peoples of this country, Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.

The country has given birth to us as twins.

Draft Peace Agreement [Gush Shalom]

Between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Representative of the Palestinian People.

Whereas both parties wish to end the historical conflict between them, establish peace and bring about a historical conciliation between the two nations,

And whereas both parties wish to base the peace on the principles of self-determination, mutual respect, justice and equality,

And whereas both parties acknowledge the principle of "two states for two nations",

And whereas both parties accept UN resolutions 242, 338 and 194 as the basis for a solution and regard the implementation of the agreement below as the full realization of these resolutions,

It is agreed by both parties:

Section 1: The End of the Occupation.

Within one year, the Israeli occupation, in all its manifestations and functions, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including Arab East Jerusalem, will come to an end.
Section 2: The State of Palestine.

Within one year, the independent and sovereign State of Palestine will be established on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including Arab East Jerusalem, the part of the Dead Sea that borders the Palestinian shore and the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip.
Section 3: Borders

The border between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine will be the cease-fire lines as they existed on June 4th 1967 (hereinafter: the Green Line), unless stipulated otherwise in this agreement.

The State of Palestine will have full sovereign control of all its border crossings on land, sea and air.

Both parties wish that the border between them should be open, with unrestricted passage of people and goods, within the framework of the economic and border-passing arrangements to be agreed upon by the parties.
Section 4: Jerusalem.

Both parties acknowledge the uniqueness of the City of Jerusalem and declare their intention to preserve it as a single urban unit, open to all.

The Arab neighborhoods of the city will be an integral part of the State of Palestine and will serve as its capital. These areas of the city will be connected to each other and to the State of Palestine as a single, continuous, territorial entity.

The Jewish neighborhoods of the city will be an integral part of the State of Israel and will serve as its capital. These areas of the city will be connected to each other and to the State of Israel as a single, continuous, territorial entity.

The Jewish quarter of the Old City will be part of the State of Israel.

The Muslim, Christian and Armenian quarters of the Old City will be part of the State of Palestine.

There will be no barriers or obstacles preventing unrestricted passage between the two parts of the City. Both parties will establish border checkpoints, if they so decide, at the entrances/exits of the City.

The municipality of the Palestinian Jerusalem and the municipality of the Israeli Jerusalem will establish a joint council, based on the principle of equality, to manage the shared municipal services. The council will be headed by the chairman of the council and his/her deputy, one of whom will be Israeli and the other Palestinian. They will rotate their positions after two years. The first assignment will be determined by lot.
Section 5: Holy Sites.

Both parties acknowledge the uniqueness of the Holy Sites and their importance to the believers of the three monotheistic religions.

The area of the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) will be part of the State of Palestine.

The Western Wall (the part also called "the Wailing Wall") will be part of the State of Israel.

All archeological or other excavations in the area of the Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount), the Western Wall or in their immediate vicinity shall be undertaken by mutual consent.
Section 6: Exchange of Territory.

Exchange of territories can be effected by agreement between both parties.
Section 7: Extra-territorial Roads.

A highway will be constructed between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and it will belong to the State of Palestine. The highway will not be connected to the Israeli road network at any point and will pass either above or below it.
Section 8: Security.

Both parties have the right to national and personal security.

Both parties renounce the use of force and the

Page 9
threat of force against each other.

Both parties undertake to combat terrorism and terrorist initiatives organized in one state against the other, its residents and institutions.

Both parties undertake to prevent the entry of any foreign military force into their territories. Any contravention of this section by either state will grant the other state the right to take any measures required for self-defense.

The State of Palestine undertakes to refrain from arming itself with heavy offensive weapons for 25 years. This obligation will become void if peace treaties are signed between Israel and the Arab states.

Both parties will come to an agreement regarding the usage of each other's air space.
Section 9: The Settlements.

Residents of the settlements located in territory that is to become part of the State of Palestine will be evacuated from the territory before the end of the Israeli occupation.

The settlements will be transferred intact to the Palestinian authorities, without any damage inflicted on buildings or other immovable property. The property evacuated by the settlers will be considered part of Israel's contribution to the rehabilitation of the Palestinian refugees (as specified heretofore in section 11.)
Section 10: Water.

The water resources of the entire land between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean belong to both parties.

A Supreme Israeli-Palestinian Committee will be appointed and will be responsible for water resources and distribution. Water will be allocated justly and equally, on the basis of the numerical proportion of residents in both states.

Both parties will cooperate in projects for the development of additional water resources, such as desalination of seawater.
Section 11: Refugees.

Both parties agree that the human tragedy of the Palestinians must be resolved by a moral, just, practicable and agreed-upon solution that takes into consideration the character and essential needs of the two states.

Israel acknowledges its central responsibility for the creation of this tragedy during the course of the wars of 1948 and 1967. Both parties will establish a "truth commission" of historians -- Israeli, Palestinian and international -- that will examine the precise causes that lead to the creation of the problem in all its aspects, and will issue an objective, conclusive report within three years. This report will be incorporated into the schoolbooks of both states.

Israel acknowledges the principle of the Right of Return as a basic human right.

According to this right, every refugee will be accorded the choice between compensation and permanent settlement in another country, return to the State of Palestine or return to Israeli territory, according to the following principles:

(1) In order to heal the historical wound and as an act of justice, Israel will allow the return into its territory of a certain number of refugees, which will be decided by agreement. The returnees will be allowed back under a reasonable annual quota within a time limit not exceeding 10 years.

(2) A generous level of compensation will be determined for each refugee for property that remained in Israel, loss of opportunities, etc. The compensation will be paid by an international fund. Israel will contribute an appropriate portion to this fund, taking into account the value of Palestinian property that remained in Israel.

(3) Israel will use its influence with the international fund so that the state of Palestine will be enabled to absorb refugees who choose to return to it, as well as refugees currently residing in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, by providing suitable housing and employment opportunities.

Section 12: Implementation of UN Resolutions.

Upon full implementation of sections 1 to 9, both parties will present a formal joint statement to the UN Security Council, declaring that both parties consider resolutions 242 and 338 fully realized. Upon full implementation of section 11, both parties will present a declaration to the UN that resolution 194 has been realized
Section 13: Differences of Opinion.

An agreed-upon international committee will monitor the implementation of this agreement and act as arbitrator in the case of differences of opinion.
Section 14: End of the Conflict.

Full implementation of this agreement will constitute the end of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Letters of support, remarks and contributions to pay for this ad to: Gush Shalom, P.O.Box 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033, Israel /

Alternative Nobel Prize
to Gush Shalom and Uri & Rachel Avnery

On October 4, the jury of The Right Livelihood Award, better known as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize', announced that among this year's award recipients are "Gush Shalom and Uri & Rachel Avnery." The ceremony will take place at the Swedish parliament in Stockholm on December 7, the same venue where a day later the official Nobel Prize will be awarded.

In its decision the jury says that the award was given to "Gush Shalom and its co-founders Uri and Rachel Avnery, who have shown the way to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and worked for several decades with courage and dedication to promote its acceptance and implementation."

Further, the jury "honors the Avnerys and all Gush Shalom activists for their unwavering conviction in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances that peace and an end to terrorism can only be achieved through justice and reconciliation."

The annual Alternative Noble Prize, existing since 1980, honors and supports "those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today." Jacob von Uexkull, a Swedish-

Page 10
German aristocrat, sold his valuable postage stamps to provide the original endowment. Von Uexkull felt that today's institutionalized Nobel Prize ignores much work and knowledge vital to the future of humankind.

As every year, the award was divided between four. The three other laureates are the British anti-nuclear organization Trident Ploughshares; Leonardo Boff, Brazil, one of the initiators of Liberation Theology in Latin America; and Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of Venezuela's system of children's orchestras.

Uri Avnery in the US

Data and contact addresses for the speaking tour:
Boston: October 10 -- 14;
Contact: Hilda B. Silverman; ph 617-661-7490

Chicago: October 14 -- 17;
Contact: Steven Feuerstein; ph 773-454-8397; fx 773-262-8138;

Philadelphia: October 17 - 19;
Contact: Kathy Bergen, American Friends Service Committee; ph 215-241-7019;
New York City: October 19 - 22;
Contact: Scott Kennedy, Resource Center for Nonviolence; ph (831) 457 - 8003
or: Allan Solomonow, American Friends Service Committee; ph (415) 565 - 0201 x 26
or: Ben Remple, Middle East Program, Fellowship of Reconciliation; ph (845) 358 4775
or: Jewish Peace Fellowship (Joyce); ph (845) 358 -4601

Washington, D.C.: October 22 - 27;
Contact: Josh Ruebner, Executive Director, Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (JPPI); office ph: 202-423-7666; home ph/fx: 703-685-7666;
For Uri Avnery's Europe trip in Dec. no data available, yet.


Adam Keller in the UK

Manchester & Durham: Oct. 19-22;
Contact: Clem Herman ph 07876 205637

London: Oct. 27-29;
Contact: Tirza Waisel ph 07957-486379


(Continuation of 'Orient House', page 7)
away. Instinctively and perhaps foolishly, I jumped down to protect the lower part of his body from the blows.

Seconds later I was dragged by my belt into the sealed-off street. "What shall we do with him?" asked an officer. "Just take him in with the others" said his superior. I was not given the chance to stand up, but carried by my belt and arms for the fifty meters or so to the police van.

I remained silent and in a fetal position. All the time, at least five police were beating me with batons, punches, and kicks. I was also dropped and kicked along the way. Also upon reaching the police van, the police took care to shove me in awkwardly, taking advantage of the metal doorway as leverage for more beating and punching. The most active participant was a plainclothes officer in a white t-shirt and earring, the same one whom I earlier saw hitting the Palestinian man I had tried to protect.

I saw that same officer enter the van, whereupon he started shouting and pushing another Palestinian man, as well as a Frenchman. At one point, the officer simply slapped the Palestinian hard, unprovoked, and when the man started shouting and trying to push the officer's hands away from his face, three other police joined in the beating. At this point, I was carried outside the police car -- apparently to leave the police inside more space for beating up the Palestinian.

As soon as I got outside, I turned and spoke in Hebrew to the police, informing them that I was an Israeli, and that I had the intention to write down all that I saw and submit an official complaint of police brutality. The violence ended shortly thereafter, and did not continue. (...) At the moment, my back is covered with large bruises, up to a foot long. Most of them are from police batons, although some could be kicks. I'm getting a perverse pleasure out of showing my back to unsuspecting friends.

+++ While all this was going on for four consecutive days, intensive negotiations were being conducted on with the police for a permit to hold a demonstration which would have a reasonable chance of proceeding peacefully. On the morning of August 12, Ha'aretz carried a joint ad by Gush Shalom and the Women's Coalition for Peace, calling upon the public to join a protest near the Orient House two days later.Within hours, senior police officers started phoning the organizers with blanket prohibitions and dire threats -- and encountering a firm determination to demonstrate, with or without a permit.

Thereupon, the police started to haggle on terms. They wanted the demonstration to take place as far from the Orient House as possible; the peace groups, of course, wanted it as near as they could get. Contacts with the police were entrusted to Jerusalem City Councillor Meir Margalit of Meretz. Meanwhile, the Israelis were coordinating everything with the Orient House people themselves -- who seemed to have kept much of their organizational structure intact, even with their premises occupied. The Palestinians made clear their strong wish to have respectable demonstration and avoid repetition of the scenes of violence.

A major issue was the police insistence that no Palestinian flags be raised. The Palestinian national flag ("PLO flag" in police parlance, though in fact it had been in existence some fifty years before the Palestinian Liberation Organization was founded) had been more or less tolerated by the Jerusalem police since Oslo; now, they have gotten clear instructions to confiscate any such flag they see. For their part, the organizers rejected out of hand the police demand to ban Palestinian flags from the action: 'We are no auxiliary police. We will not prevent Palestinians from raising their own flag in their own city.'

The issue of the flags was not definitely resolved. Also, the exact venue was not yet agreed upon, even while the two Tel-Avivian buses were on their way. The police refused the organizers' preferred site for the demo -- on the main road in front of the famous American Colony Hotel -- and wanted to herd them

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into a side street, overshadowed by two Israeli-owned hotels, far out of anybody's sight.

The more or less satisfactory compromise, reached on the last moment, settled upon the stretch of the Nablus Road in front of St. George's Cathedral, about as far northwards of Orient House as the American Colony is to its south. But to get there the participants had to pass though the unsavory site which the police originally intended for them, which made many activists suspicious and uncomfortable.

Indeed, they suddenly found a police barrier blocking them from entering the main road, keeping the marchers hemmed in near the said Israeli hotels (built on confiscated Palestinian land, as they were reminded by one of the local inhabitants who joined in). With the threat of a violent confrontation hovering in the air, there was a further hasty round of negotiations with the police -- ending with the barrier being removed out of the way.

Chanting 'Peace Yes -- Occupation No!' and 'Hands off the Orient House!' the demonstrators surged into the Nablus Road -- a forest of banners borne by Israelis of the Women's Coalition and Gush Shalom and a whole spectrum of smaller contingents; Palestinians of various political affiliations and social classes, from dignitaries in neat clothes to rather naughty young boys; and the internationals who had borne much of the brunt of protests in the previous days. At the head marched Knesset Members Issam Mahul of Hadash, Taleb A-Sana of the United Arab List and the dissident Laborite KM Yossi Katz, together with such religious dignitaries as Akrama Sabri, the Mufti of Jerusalem, and the Anglican Bishop Riah Abu-El-Asal. Not far behind them, a colorful group of Israeli youngsters proclaimed their determination not to join the army, banging drums and chanting: 'We don't cry, we don't shoot! To be murderers, we refuse!'

It was not very much of a march (though it looked quite impressive in some of the footage we later saw on CNN); a short distance into the Nablus Road there was another police barrier, firmly held. Behind the backs of the grim "Border Guards" those in front ranks could just discern the corner of the street leading to the forbidden compound of Orient House.

There were some moments of chaos. Different groups started different chants. The big posters which many carried, with the photo Feisal Husseini, were hanged on the walls of nearby buildings. And despite their original threats, the police studiously ignored the plastic Palestinian flags carried by many of the boys. Gradually, the crowd was growing bigger. A stream of East Jerusalem Palestinians, feeling more secure than on the previous days, were coming singly or in small groups up the Nablus Road and joining the crowd.

Meanwhile, a very precarious podium was improvised on a fence to one side, for speeches delivered with the aid of a small megaphone. First to address the crowd was the young Abd-El-Kader Husseini who spoke movingly of peace and coexistence and of Jerusalem as the capital of two states and vowed to continue on the way of his father. Then the Knesset Members spoke, and Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom, and Gila Svirsky of the Women's Coalition.

Dispersal, too, was far from a straightforward issue. There was a very real apprehension that after the Israelis' departure, the police would violently assault the Palestinian participants. To avert that danger, it was arranged that the departing Israelis would screen the Palestinians from the police and allow them to disperse unscathed. This manoeuvre was successfully carried out. (Perhaps, anyway, somebody higher up had had enough of the violent scenes daily broadcast from Jerusalem).

The action was well-covered by the media. It was on both TV channels and in all the papers. Best was Yediot Aharonot, which featured an attractive photo of three young people -- two Israelis, one Palestinian -- holding a giant 'Down With the Occupation' sign, under the caption 'Demonstrating together'. (Yediot, Israel's biggest mass-circulation paper, is the one read by most of the soldiers on duty at the confrontation lines all over the Occupied Territories; what did they make of this photo when they saw it during the following day's noon break?)

In the following days and weeks, very many things happened in rapid succession -- killings, invasions, sieges, provocations of all kinds -- drawing the attention of both the Palestinians and the Israeli peace movement, and pushing the Orient House issue to the background. Still, Peace Now did manage to organize a highly publicized and very cordial meeting between Orient House officials and the Knesset Members of Meretz; also the Laborite KM and parliamentary whip Ophir Pines was there. A week later, the Monitoring Committee of Israel's Arab citizens organized a protest rally.

It seems that for the time being Sharon had gotten away with seizing the Orient House, as he got away with quite a few other things. But despite intensive police harassment against Palestinian activists and officials, the specter of the Orient House still hangs over East Jerusalem. The latest entry in the well-updated Orient House website tells of the meeting of a Palestinian delegation with Hubert Vedrine, Foreign Minister of France. On that occasion French-Palestinian cooperation succeeded in preventing Israeli security men from joining them into the American Colony Hotel, where the meeting took place -- much to the chagrin of the Israeli government.
Gush Shalom, pb 3322, Tel-Aviv;
Women's Coalition, pb 8083, J'lem;


Ten Thousand

On the evening of Saturday, August 4, the Rabin Square in Tel-Aviv saw the largest number of peace demonstrators to gather there in in a long time -- though small in comparison with events of the past. Police estimated that some 10,000 people took part in this, the first effort to "reconquer the streets" made by Peace Now and its partners in "The Peace Coalition" -- the Meretz Party, the remaining Labor doves headed by Yossi Beilin, and the Kibbutz Movement. Ten thousand people would not have

Page 12
looked very impressive on the Rabin Square, which has room for hundreds of thousands -- which is why the square was not made the venue for tonight's rally, but only the jumping-off point for a torchlight march in the direction of the Ministry of Defence, a kilometer to the south.

As the march set out along the wide Ibn Gvirol Street, activists of the smaller groups which had been constantly active since the beginning of the Intifada felt elated to be, once again, among a crowd where one does not recognize each face. It was an impressive sight, the torches and the ubiquitous Meretz signs 'The Occupation is killing us!' and posters showing Palestinian and Israeli flags drawn as jigsaw puzzle pieces fitting together and the forest of hand-painted signs, 'Having settlements means having no future'/ 'No to an unnecessary war!' / 'We want to live in peace!' and the red flags of Hadash and 'Neither kill nor die for the settlements' / 'Negotiations Now' and the photos of Rabin and 'Dismantle settlements Now' / 'We have had enough of the territories' / 'Bring the settlers home!'

The police seemed very nervous, looking around and picking people out of the crowd and searching bags. Even more police were perching on the roofs of nearby buildings. But they did not know what to make of Liad Kantorowicz, who wore a gas mask like a hat and pounded a small tin can with drum stick, at the head of the Anarchist Anti-Occupation Orchestra. Finally, the march turned left into the Kaplan Street and the crowd poured into the Defence Ministry parking lot, where a rostrum had already been erected.

While waiting for the speeches to begin, leaflet distributors of numerous groups set to work, Ibna El-Balad with 'Topple the government of war criminals' and the Meretz Youths stating that 'Without an end to violence and to settlements, our future will be red with blood and black with smoke' and Ta'ayush informing of a Jewish-Arab work camp scheduled at the "unrecognized" village Dar el-Hanun. The Gush Shalom maps showing 'The truth about Barak's Generous Offers' were an instant success, many people asking a second one for a friend or a colleague, and in the course of the evening the Gush two-flags sticker was displayed on more and more t-shirts.

For their part, the Peace Now organisers circulated the notice that 'This demonstration is aimed at telling the government not to lead us into an unnecessary war, and to demand immediate negotiations and an internationally-monitored cease-fire' and asked "those who do not share these aims" to demonstrate elsewhere -- a reference mainly to the small group with the signs 'No peace without the full right of return.'

Meanwhile, the megaphones coughed and Meretz leader Yossi Sarid was on. He made quite a radical and militant speech -- certainly much more so than in the first months of the Intifada -- calling for an end to the occupation and dismantling of the settlements; sniping at Shimon Peres for his role as "Sharon's fig leaf"; declaring "I have stopped believing the IDF spokesman and his ingenious explanations of how so many Palestinians, with so many children among them, came to be killed by our soldiers."

Yossi Beilin's speech was continuously interrupted by hecklers, shouting 'Leave Labor! What are you still doing in that rotten party?' to which Beilin responded by a call to "Recapture the Labor Party on behalf of Rabin's vision."

What turned into the undoubted keynote speech -- perhaps unintended by the organizers -- was that of Nurit Elhanan-Peled, daughter of the late general, scholar and MK Matti Peled who until his death headed our ICIPP and the TOI editorial board. She spoke on behalf of the Bereaved Parents -- her daughter was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in the Ben-Yehuda Street blast, Jerusalem 1997.

On the way here, I passed the grave of my girl, to tell her that she this week got two new brothers, the two Mona'em brothers, eight years old and ten years old, killed in Nablus by what calls itself 'The most moral army in the world.' Like her, victims of racism and of the occupation. Under the earth, under the land of the occupation with its destruction and corruption, our children dwell in peace and amity, with nobody to ask which God they believe in or what would have been written in their I.D. cards had the occupation allowed them to reach the age of sixteen. All these distinctions have been buried together with their small bones. I belong to an exclusive club, the club of the parents whose children are now the brothers and sisters of my Smadari. The majority of them are Palestinians. It is a pity that none of them is on this rostrum tonight, in this gathering for peace. They are my brothers and sisters, they who are at this moment starved and locked into ghettos.

I am, as I said, member of an exclusive club. This club does not include members of the most moral army in the world who execute unarmed suspects without trial. It does not include parents who take their children to live on stolen land, to be killed or to grow up as occupiers and murderers. It does not include generals who demand 'proofs of insanity' from a boy who does not want to kill others nor get killed himself. I belong to the club of those who think that the death of a child, any child, is the death of the whole world. Therefore, my club extends open arms to all the Conscientious Objectors, and regards them as the bravest fighters of this time and place.

Peace Now, pob 29828, Tel-Aviv,


Back to the caves

As reported in our previous issue (p.9), in the beginning of July the army mounted an attack on the Palestinian shepherds living in the semi-arid region near Yatta, on the extreme southern edge of the West Bank. Huts, cave-dwellings and water holes were systematically destroyed and agricultural infrastructure severely damaged.

The army apparently expected them to go away by themselves after their dwellings and sources of sustenance were gone, and leave the area free for the expansion of nearby Israeli settlements, according to plans which were approved years ago. But the Palestinian inhabitants proved steadfast, remaining on the land even with the army staging repeat raids,

Page 13
confiscating the tents which they got from humanitarian organizations and the meager belongings they were able to save in the earlier raids.

Israeli activists of ICAHD had been coming regularly to provide what help they could. In September, the issue was taken up by the young and energetic activists of Ta'ayush (Arab-Jewish partnership) which started as the organizer of food convoys and is gradually expanding its humanitarian repertoire.

On September 15 they got together a solidarity convoy of some sixty cars. They brought food and water to the shepherds, cleaned and repaired one of the destroyed water holes and filled it to the brim from the water tanker which they brought. The army did not intervene, and the action even got some media coverage -- not an easy achievement just a few days after the New York bombing. It seemed a nice success -- except that twenty-four hours later the military, more brutal than ever, forcibly removed 118 Palestinians and pushed them over into the nearby enclave held by the Palestinian Authority.

As resolved at an emergency meeting, a second Ta'ayush convoy set out on September 24. The Israelis helped the expelled Palestinians come back to their land, which was achieved with no interference from the army. But having learned from the earlier experience, a group of Israelis stayed on the spot during the night. Sure enough, the soldiers arrived in the morning. The confrontation was described by Ta'ayush organizer Gadi Elgazi:

'Hawiya!' shouts the soldier, the Arabic word for an I.D. card. 'Everybody with an orange I.D. must go immediately back to Yatta!' 'Return to Yatta' he said. Return from their own land to the place to which they had been deported. We get up. This is a war crime, we say. Don't interfere with us doing our job, they say. This is an illegal order. You have no respect for the soldiers of the IDF. Get up, they say to the people who sit among us, silently drinking tea.

You are not only soldiers, you are human beings. Get up, everybody! You will have to take us, too, because we are staying with them. These are Israeli soldiers, both arrogant and sensitive, and they like to talk. Don't make this kind of comparisons. Then don't you do this kind of actions. We will do what we have been told to do. To deport a local population is a war crime. How can you say such things?

Muhammad and Yasser look at us and remain silent. Nasser Najua, the very talented and active child, has suddenly disappeared and we don't see him anywhere. (In the previous deportation the soldiers took him ten kilometers away by car, and he had to walk back all the way.) Some of us use the cellular phones, trying to pass on the news, to wake up people in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem and tell them what is happening here. The soldiers, for their part, also make repeated calls on their radios. The debate continues. The Palestinians are not party to it. And then the soldiers turn back. We look at each other: is that it?

(Excerpted from an article published in the literary section of Ha'aretz, 5.10.2001.)

The stand-off continued throughout the day. Meanwhile, Adv. Shlomo Leker, a lawyer with considerable experience in such cases, went to the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. Several hours later, a temporary injunction was issued, ordering the army not to interfere with the status quo on the ground. Now, the Israelis felt they could go home with an easy conscience. In the evening, First Channel TV ran a big and very friendly news item. In the following morning's Ha'aretz, the army seemed embarrassed and confused, pinning the blame for the whole affair on "a local officer who acted without authorization."

And still, it was too early to rest on the laurels. At noon on Sept. 26, the army came yet again and expelled the harassed shepherds once more, informing them that the whole area had been declared a "closed military zone" for a period of three months. Two hours after a broken-voiced Palestinian conveyed these news to the Israelis, Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement started, with its complete media blackout. Still, the news spread fast in the peace community, via phone and email, arousing shock and outrage.

For the third convoy, hastily organized for Sept. 29, Ta'ayush was joined by a whole range of groups: Gush Shalom, Women's Coalition, ICAHD, New Profile... Altogether, about 300 participants took the by now familiar road. Upon arrival they held together with the indefatigable Palestinians a protest demonstration -- taken up by several TV cameras -- with signs 'NO TO ETHNIC CLEANSING!!!'. Then they wended their way on foot and on tractor wagons, with the military and police present but not interfering; divided into several groups, each led by one of the hosts, and visited the sites of the destructions, learning the history of the area, or rather the history of the persecutions that these people suffered by the settlers and military.

In the evening, the news came of a specific personal order by Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer, instructing the army to leave these cave-dwelling shepherds alone. Distrusting such promises, Ta'ayush continues to organize small groups to stay in the area, monitor the situation and intervene if necessary. For the time being, however, the army seems to lie low -- if only because the whole affair has gotten so much public attention (news items and debates on TV, an editorial in Ha'aretz).
Ta'ayush, pb 59380, Tel-Aviv;


[Supreme Court Inquiry]

+++ On the morning of September 3, two groups were confronting each other outside the Supreme Court building in Jerusalem -- which is also the seat of the Commission of Inquiry headed by Supreme Court Judge Theodore Orr, investigating the conduct of the police last October when 13 Arab citizens of Israel were shot to death during a week of mass demonstrations and riots.

Earlier meetings of the Orr Commission had been the occasion of emotional and sometimes violent scenes, when bereaved parents from the Galilee found themselves face to face with the policemen who had killed their loved ones. The policemen's own

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testimonies had been sometimes embarrassing enough: 'No, sir, we didn't question Arab witnesses. They always lie, anyway.'

Now came the long-awaited testimony of Alik Ron -- the man who commanded the Galilee Police, who already before the killings distinguished himself in a long series of inflammatory anti-Arab remarks, and who since then never uttered a single word of regret or apology for the killings which happened under his direct command, on the contrary claiming that he had acted properly "to preserve law and order."

Ron, now on leave of absence and rumored to be seeking a political career, came to the hearing attended by a group of retainers holding aloft Israeli national flags and "Long live the police" signs.

Some hundred and fifty demonstrators, Jews and Arabs standing together, were facing them across the heavy police cordon. Peace activists from Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem -- of Gush Shalom, Ta'ayush and the Women's Coalition for Peace -- anybody who could make it on the morning of a working day. Arab protesters had come from as far as Arabeh in the Galilee, having traveled since 5.00 AM. (Both channels of Israeli TV, reporting on the demonstration, concentrated exclusively on the Arab demonstrators, creating the impression of 'Jews demonstrating for Alik Ron, Arabs demonstrating against him').

While Ron's supporters were allowed to stand in a loose line, the protesters were quickly herded into an enclosure surrounded on all sides by police. The fences were immediately decorated with signs in Hebrew and Arabic: Alik Ron, Man Of Blood! Put Him On Trial! Stop Police Racism! Bereaved families were carrying photos of their young ones killed in October. Many protesters pinned target signs to their chests. Over all fluttered a banner bearing the face of Che Guevara, brought along by young anarchists.

Soon, an exchange of calls and taunts begun. 'Show some loyalty, raise a national flag on your side!' 'Show loyalty yourself, loyalty to democracy and human rights!' If you don't like it here, go to Arafat! Here is my home. Nobody will drive me away from it! Alik Ron's fans begun to play the regimental song of the special commando unit where their hero served before joining the police, answered by Arab students singing the Palestinian anthem.

Suddenly, a police officer (the commander of the Jerusalem police in person, it later turned out) strode up to the police racism sign and tore it across.

'You tear it because it is true! Racist bastard, go to hell! This is a police state! and thence the improvised chant War Criminals, To The Hague / Alik Ron, Hague is waiting!. 'Look at me, look at me' called a voice not loud but still penetrating. Do you know who I am? The father of the boy you police MURDERED!

[ Thirty Activists ]

+++ On the afternoon of July 22, some thirty activists of different groups -- Women for Peace, Gush Shalom, Ta'ayush, Rabbis for Human Rights - set out for the West Bank village of Hares. On the phone, villagers had told of the army tightening the siege of Hares and its neighbors Kif al-Hares and Dir Istya, imprisoning the Palestinians inside their villages.

The army got wind of the peace activists' coming, and had placed roadblocks. But the activists were guided by Palestinians who knew the area well. Taking unexpected roads and then climbing up the terraces on the side of a hill and hiking through olive groves, the Israelis were able to arrive at Khares unimpeded.

At the top of the hill, a crowd of Palestinians was waiting. There was an improvised ceremony, with handshakes, smiles and some short speeches. Villagers told of the tightening closure: "First they blocked the road to our cars, but did not object to people going on foot; now, that is forbidden, too. Until now, they did not stop us from going to Kif-El-Hares and Dir Istiya, our close neighbors. Now they made also barriers between each of the villages and the other two."

The three villages are in effect a single community, relying in case of medical emergencies on a single clinic and a single ambulance both located at Hares. The present tightening of the closure happened after a settler claimed that shots were fired at his car from the direction of Hares. "We don't know of any shooting that night, and that man was not hurt. And even if somebody did shoot, is that a reason to punish ten thousand people? Do they put a closure and siege around Ariel and the other settlements when they come over here and attack us?"

The Israeli group was given a kind of guided tour over the village, being shown the sites of various recent incidents. "Here the settles broke in and started to beat up people. The soldiers stood over there and did nothing to stop them. Here is where they cut the water pipes and electricity lines. It took more than a week to get them repaired."

At the edge of Dir Istiya, a group of young Palestinians were busily dismantling the earthen barrier which the army erected between the two villages. The Israelis joined in, taking up spades, hoes and pick-axes, or just removing big stones with their bare hands.

With sunset near, the Palestinians insisted that their Israeli guests stay no longer. "Better if you use the last of the light, and not travel at night."


Appeal for aid for Issa Souf

Help provide treatment for Palestinian peace activist Issa Souf, shot by Israeli soldiers on the 15th of May, while standing unarmed at the entrance to his parents' home at Hares.

Issa hosted and helped coordinate joint Israeli-Palestinian non-violent protest activities against the occupation in the village of Hares and the surrounding region of Salfit. His activities drew international attention to violations of human rights in the region, and this was why Hares became a symbol of the effects of the ongoing closure.

On the 15th of May 2001, at about 9am, two Israeli soldiers entered the village of Hares from the back entrance, where the Souf family lives.

'I heard shooting. I didn't know where it was coming from. It was automatic fire, not single gunshots. I ducked - I bent my head down, and felt a blow on my shoulder, from the back. I fell. I could hardly breathe and I couldn't move. My legs felt dead. Two soldiers came. I couldn't talk because the bullet had entered my lung, but I managed to whisper, (...) they understood they had

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injured me badly. [One] soldier changed colors. He became flushed and then pale again. He tried to give me water. He said 'I thought he was throwing stones.'

The bullet that had entered Issa's shoulder pierced his lung and lodged in his spine, cutting his spinal cord. Issa Souf, thirty years old, newly married and father to an eight-month-old baby boy, is paraplegic, and may never walk again. He will need the best medical rehabilitation possible. He hopes to be able to go to Stoke Mandeville hospital in England for this purpose, but he is still in need of $55,000 to cover the costs of hospitalization and the flight.

Please send your cheque to 'Ta'ayush', adding a note saying 'for Issa', pob 59380, Tel Aviv 61593, Israel. For details, Miri Weingarten, 972 3 5240166.


Teens against occupation.

On Sept. 3, a letter signed by 62 Israeli high school pupils was sent to Prime Minister Sharon.

We the undersigned are about to be called to serve in the IDF. We would like to lodge to you our protest at the aggressive and racist policy pursued by the government of Israel and the armed forces under its command, and to inform you that we do not intend to take part in the implementation of this policy. We are firmly opposed to the violation of human rights, expropriation of land, detentions, executions without trial, house demolitions, closures, tortures, and the denial of health care - which are but some of the crimes the state of Israel carries out in blunt violation of international conventions it has ratified. Such acts are not legitimate, nor do they achieve their stated goal - increasing the citizens' personal safety. Such safety will be achieved only through a just peace agreement between the government of Israel and the Palestinian people. Therefore we will obey our conscience and REFUSE to take part in acts of oppression against the Palestinian people, acts that should properly be called terrorist.
We call upon everybody serving or liable to serve in the IDF - our fellow youths, conscripts, reservists and the soldiers and officers of the regular army - to do the same.

The youngsters, who also organized a press conference, got considerable media attention -- time on both TV channels and a double-page spread, quite sympathetically written, in Yediot Aharonot, the country's largest mass-circulation paper. The publicity helped create new contacts, with additional dozens of youths adding their signatures. Members of the group, now numbering more than a hundred, have different plans for conscription day. Some intend to refuse service in the Occupied Territories or in combat units, while others plan to reject enlistment altogether; of the latter, some are going to insist on getting a CO status, even when such insistence could lead to prolonged imprisonment, while others would accept 'discharge on psychiatric grounds' which is the army's normal way of getting rid of 'undesirables.' They are all pledged to respect each other's choices and offer solidarity to whoever will need it.

On Sept. 8, some of the youths were among the 150 people who climbed on the high hill overlooking Military Prison 6 at Athlit, to hold there a vigil in support of two reserve officers incarcerated at the prison below -- Captain Dan Tamir who refused service in the Occupied Territories and Captain Sefi Sendik, who refused military service altogether.

Activists chanted slogans and greetings to the two refusers, who were seen waving back from the prison yard, and later even managed a short phone call to one of the participants' cell phone. A message of support was read out on behalf of the PAJU group of Montreal, which has adopted Tamir and held a vigil of their own at the local Israeli consulate just hours before.

Also present on the hill was Yehuda -- father of Avia Atai, the first woman soldier jailed for refusal. (She was being held at Military Prison 400, which is reserved for women, and where she was singled out for a particularly harsh treatment - body searches, censorship of reading materials, and offensive appellations by officers). The action was organized jointly by Yesh Gvul, which sponsors selective refusal of military service, and New Profile which favours total refusal. Both organizations report a steady increase in the number of new refusers approaching them for support. For their part, members of the Highschool Group accept inspiration and logistical help from both groups, but insist on independently formulating their own documents, press releases and action plans.

Highschool Group c/o Haggai Matar, 33 Bernstein Cohen St., Ramat Hasharon, 972-53-881213
Yesh Gvul, pb 4620, J'lem 91046,
New Profile, pb 48005, T.A. 61480, 972-3-5494544


On the morning of Oct.7, scores of Peace Now activists staged a sit-down near the settlement of Kedumim, after being blocked by the army on their way to protest the ceremony in which a new settlement was inaugurated.

The 'Har Hemed' settlement was created on Palestinian land illegally seized by settlers. The army which totally failed to prevent the land theft, did arrest four Peace Nowers, among them Gabri Bargil, head of the Kibbutz Movement. 'Har Hemed' was one of three new government-approved settlements created that day.

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Twin Towers
by Uri Avnery

After the smoke has cleared, the dust has settled down and the initial fury blown over, humankind will wake up and realize a new fact: there is no safe place on earth.

A handful of suicide-bombers has brought the United States to a standstill, caused the President to hide in a bunker under a far-away mountain, dealt a terrible blow to the economy, grounded all aircraft, and emptied government offices throughout the country. This can happen in every country. The Twin Towers are everywhere.

Not only Israel, but the whole world is now full of gibberish about "fighting terrorism.." Politicians, "experts on terrorism" and their likes propose to hit, destroy, annihilate etc., as well as to allocate more billions to the "intelligence community." They make brilliant suggestions. But nothing of this kind will help the threatened nations, much as nothing of this kind has helped Israel.

There is no patent remedy for terrorism. The only remedy is to remove its causes. One can kill a million mosquitoes, and millions more will take their place. In order to get rid of them, one has to dry the swamp that breeds them. And the swamp is always political.

A person does not wake up one morning and tell himself: Today I shall hijack a plane and kill myself. Nor does a person wake up one morning and tell himself: Today I shall blow myself up in a Tel-Aviv discotheque. Such a decision grows in a person's mind through a slow process, taking years. The background to the decision is either national or religious, social and spiritual.

No fighting underground can operate without popular roots and a supportive environment that is ready to supply new recruits, assistance, hiding places, money and means of propaganda. An underground organization wants to gain popularity, not lose it. Therefore it commits attacks when it thinks that this is what its public wants. Terror attacks always testify to the public mood.

That is true in this case, too. The initiators of the attacks decided to implement their plan after America has provoked immense hatred throughout the world. Not because of its might, but because of the way it uses its might. It is hated by the enemies of globalization, who blame it for the terrible gap between rich and poor in the world. It is hated by millions of Arabs, because of its support for the Israeli occupation and the suffering of the Palestinian people. It is hated by multitudes of Muslims, because of what looks like its support for the Jewish domination of the Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem. And there are many more angry peoples who believe that America supports their tormentors.

Until September 11, 2001 -- a date to remember -- Americans could entertain the illusion that all this concerns only others, in far-away places beyond the seas, that it does not touch their sheltered lives at home. No more.

That is the other side of globalization: all the world's problems concern everyone in the world. Every case of injustice, every case of oppression. Terrorism, the weapon of the weak, can easily reach every spot on earth. Every society can easily be targeted, and the more developed a society is, the more it is in danger. Fewer and fewer people are needed to inflict pain on more and more people. Soon one single person will be enough to carry a suitcase with a tiny atomic bomb and destroy a megalopolis of tens of millions.

This is the reality of the 21st Century that started this week in earnest. It must lead to the globalization of all problems and the globalization of their solutions. Not in the abstract, by fatuous declarations in the UN, but by a global endeavor to resolve conflicts and establish peace, with the participation of all nations, with the US playing a central role.

Since the US has become a world power, it has deviated from the path outlined by its founders. It was Thomas Jefferson who said: No nation can behave without a decent respect for the opinion of mankind. (I quote from memory).

If it is confirmed that the attack on New York and Washington was perpetrated by Arabs -- and even if not! -- the world must at long last treat the festering wound of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is poisoning the whole body of humanity.

The distance from Jerusalem to New York is small, and so is the distance from New York to Paris, London and Berlin. Not only multi-national corporations embrace the globe, but terror organizations do so, too. In the same way, the instruments for the solution of conflicts must be global.

Instead of the destroyed New York edifices, the twin towers of Peace and Justice must be built.


+++ From an email, sent out by TOI Friday, Sept. 21.

This morning, some fifty of us have picketed the US embassy in downtown Tel-Aviv -- at the call of Women's Coalition for Peace through an anti-war ad in Ha'aretz. The police barrier, erected across the street to prevent cars from passing directly in front of the embassy, incidentally facilitated the action. Activists spread out behind it, and the long row of motorists forced to take slowly the bend had long minutes to see and read our signs: No military solutions / War does not eliminate terror -- it feeds it / Mourn the dead -- Don't add to them / Bombing civilians is terrorism!, mixed in with the normal Women in Black signs against the occupation.

Most reactions, it must be admitted, were hostile; but there were also touching manifestations of support, like the smiling and waving young woman in the ramshackle yellow car.

We were a quite heterogeneous crowd: women and men, Jews and Arabs, who came there with different motives. The position of a considerable part of the women was expressed beautifully by a slogan based on the well-known words of Gandhi: An eye for an eye -- until we are all blind! Some, like the Marxist ODA, would oppose any military action by the United States, regardless of the circumstances. Other participants may have been able to stomach a US retaliation directly at those responsible (if clearly identified!) for such terrible damage at the heart of their country. What made them come was a feeling of disgust and alarm at the unbridled campaign against whoever the US chose to designate 'terrorist' under the Orwellian claim of Infinite Justice....

The strident militarism broadcast by the hour on CNN did the rest.