Jenny Hartley and Fred Rogers, members of Northfielders for Justice in Palestine/Israel, visited for ten weeks this past spring during an especially intense period of oppression and violence against the Palestinian people under the right-wing government of Israel.
Maps illustrate the loss of Palestinian land from 1947 to 2005. The loss c0ntinues to this day.
Living in Palestine is different than visiting it. Previously, Fred had visited twice for 10 days or more each time in the past four years, and Jenny visited a long time ago. Being there recently for 10 weeks was a decidedly different experience. What we came to feel and understand in a more profound way is how the Occupation is practiced and how it affects the Palestinian populations.
Simply put – it is more than a disagreement or struggles over a particular house or piece of land. The Occupation is pervasive, coloring every aspect of life. It is oppressive and disheartening in a hundred large and small ways. It is brutal and too often lethal. And it is intentional.
To understand Palestinian life as being part of a “conflict” or a struggle is to miss the depth and evil of the Occupation as it has been practiced. As devised and refined, the Occupation is intended to discourage Palestinians from living in Palestine, to erase hope for independence, and to debilitate, humiliate, and degrade individuals at any and every turn.
It is also heavily invested in making it possible for a small but growing (700,000 +) population of Israeli settlers to live and exist deeply embedded into the West Bank geography of Palestinian land. Some of these settlers are racist extremists, others are idealogues wanting to make a statement by their presence, and many are recent immigrants seeking subsidized housing.
The Israeli goal is the eventual occupation and settlement of all of Palestine and the dispossession of its Palestinian inhabitants. Settlement enthusiasts are persistent and growing impatient with progress toward this goal. Israeli military forces deployed in the West Bank protect settlers who burn olive trees,Palestinian homes and cars, and they defend settlers against reprisals or defensive actions taken by the Palestinian people whose livelihood the settlers are attacking.
On our visit we travelled by taxi through Huwara, a Palestinian town of about 8,000 people, approximately four and a half miles from Nablus, located on the main road connecting the city of Nablus to Jerusalem. A settler mob of over 400 persons had recently burned dozens of cars and houses in a violent pogrom in that town.
We visited Nablus after the Israeli army had invaded the city, assassinating Palestinians they had designated as political targets, and killing or injuring a dozen others as collateral damage in a brazen daytime raid of this, the largest city in the north of Palestine. We took buses to Jerusalem, walking through checkpoints with Palestinians who were going to and from work, the markets, or the Mosque in Jerusalem. We rode the Israeli trains to Tel Aviv. We walked the streets of many cities and towns. We visited with colleagues in Gaza and witnessed the confining poverty and felt inspired by the good works being done there. Mostly, we visited with our new friends, had dinners in their homes or at restaurants, were informed by them and their work, and listened and relaxed with them in the moments afforded to do so.
During our time there both Secretary Blinken and Minnesota Senator Klobuchar visited Tel Aviv and Ramallah. They proceeded to assure the Israelis of U.S. support and to advise the Palestinian authority of their responsibility to curb violence against Israelis. They seemed oblivious to what we were witnessing.
We will try to do justice to all of this as we continue our work in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We urge readers to pay attention, speak up, and continue in this work that we share.
Jenny Hartley is a member of the Middle East Committee of Women Against Military Madness, MN-BDS Community, and Northfielders for Justice in Palestine/Israel. Fred is a longtime advocate for the Palestinian people and a member of Northfielders for Justice in Palestine/ Israel.
Vigil to End the Occupation of Palestine. Protest U.S. billions funding Israel. Every Friday at the corner of Summit and Snelling, St. Paul. Sponsored by the Middle East Committee of Women Against Military Madness.
“Take the Apartheid-Free Pledge” (from apartheid-free-org.):
The international human rights community agrees: Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people amounts to apartheid…Join the network of apartheid-free communities around the world by taking the Apartheid-Free Pledge.
WE AFFIRM our commitment to freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people and all people.
WE OPPOSE all forms of racism, bigotry, discrimination, and oppression; and
WE DECLARE ourselves an apartheid-free community and to that end,
WE PLEDGE to join others in working to end all support to Israel’s apartheid regime, settler colonialism, and military occupation.