Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Rewriting History

Hello from Palestine.

Sorry for the delay in writing this first post, but it's been a hectic first week. I've only just been released out of police custody after being illegally arrested. I will do my best to relay everything that's happened in the last ten days, but it is very difficult to know where to begin. I suppose the first thing that I should let you all know is this...
The 'conflict' that you have read about does not exist. There are not two sides to this occupation, let alone two equally weighted sides. What's happening here is a full blown attempt to write the Palestinians out of history, through lies, censorship and murder. The only choice one has to make is whether to be silent about the injustice and killings, or to speak the truth.

What I have experienced in Israel and the West Bank in just a few days has confirmed for me that you can believe nothing you read in the news. For those who think that we in Britain live in a democratic state that respects human rights, I ask you to come here and see what your tax money is funding, and what your government supports. I believe that this is one of the biggest cover-ups in human history.
I suppose I should begin with my arrest - I guess it didn't take long for that one to happen. But to contextualise it for those who have not been to a demonstration in Palestine, let me just explain how demos work here.

Demonstrations in the West Bank are a prime example of the Israeli military's disregard for both the law (Israeli and international) and human rights. My first demonstration was in Ni'lin, a town that has lost 41 000 of its 57 000 acres to five illegal colonies and to the Apartheid Wall since its occupation began in 1967. There were about forty people at the demo, which was against the Wall. The demo was non-violent and the military response was volleys of tear gas. At another protest I attended that day, one volunteer was shot in the leg with a tear gas canister, as the army tends ot ignore the law which states that canisters must be fired into the air, instead choosing to aim directly at protestors' heads.

On the same day at another demo, one of our volunteers was pepper-sprayed in the face by a soldier - having done nothing but stand on the front line to provoke this. As he lost his footing (pepper spray temporarily blinds you) he fell down and the soldiers proceeded to fire sound bombs around his head, meaning that not only did he temporarily lose his hearing, no-one could get to him to help. This is not uncommon; the soldiers often target medics and ambulances as well, to ensure that the injured cannot get help.

The demo I was arrested at was on Sunday afternoon. We were demonstrating against ongoing construction work in the illegal settlement of Nili, next to the Palestinian village of Deir Qaddis. The demo was again non-violent (a few shebab threw stones at armoured jeeps, which is more symbolic than anything - I can assure you that, having spent seven hours in a jeep, a stone wouldn't even scratch the paintwork). The army again responded with volleys of tear gas, aimed directly at protestors. The tear gas set alight the grass around the canisters and caused a fire which spread through hundreds of metres throughout the hill.

It was after the demo that myself and five other international activists were arrested. We thought everything had subsided, but some kids ran into a house where we were drinking juice and shouted that the army had invaded the village. As we went out to see what was happening, hoping the presence of internationals and cameras may prevent an all-out invasion, the general ran down the hill, backed up by about fifteen soldiers, pointed his gun straight at us and shouted, "If you move, I will shoot." 

They illegally arrested us for "attending an illegal demonstration" - a trick they like to use. A demo is not illegal unless it is in a closed military zone, for which they would have to have produced the correct legal documentation hours previously.

Our detention lasted fifteen hours in total. Seven in an armoured jeep, where we were blinfolded for an hour and accused by one soldier of starting the fire. They forced us to stay awake throughout the night, giving us only one piece of bread to eat before we were finally interrogated. I think the crux of the whole experience was that our arresting officer, who had threatened to kill us fifteen hours previously, and had testified against us two hours previously, became the translator for our individual interrogations. He talked over us, accused us of lying and disallowed one activist to finish her testimony. The entire experience was completely illegal under both Israeli and international law, but you can bet they'll get away with it - they have been for decades.

Unfortunately, this means I am now blacklisted and won't be allowed to return to Israel or occupied Palestine after I leave. They blacklist every international now after just one arrest at a demo, as we are such a pain in their arse (something to be proud of!) It's a new tactic, hence why they don't care if the arrest is illegal, as long as they get our details (and fingerprints).

So that's what's going on in the West Bank, whilst in Jerusalem tourists and Israelis get free tours of the Old City. I decided to go on one, so that no-one could accuse me of not seeing the 'other side'. The tour lasted three hours. I lasted forty minutes. The guide was a Zionist living in the Syrian Golan Heights (that Israel is occupying). He made racist jokes about Arabs; had little to no knowledge of Islam; denied the existence of the West Bank and occupation and referred to Palestinians as 'Jordanians'. 

Almost everyone on the Israeli side of the Apartheid Wall sees this - at best - as a 'conflict' in which Israelis feel they cannot negotiate with 'terrorist' Hamas. If they'd been to just one demo, or spoken to one villager who had suffered a settler attack (the illegal settlements in the West Bank are now occupying 43% of the land, and the settlers - who are complete ideologues - often violently attack Palestinian villages. I have video footage that I will post in the next entry) then perhaps they could understand the truth. This is a full blown attempt of the West and Israel to write Palestine and the Palestinians off the map and out of history.

I will leave you with this: as I walked away from my free Zionist tour, feeling angry and disgusted, I met a Palestinian street seller. He invited me for a cup of mint tea and we sat on a side street in East Jerusalem. He said to me:

"Do you know why they give the tours for free?"
I said, "To brainwash tourists into believing Zionist bullshit."
He said, "No. It is to put Palestinian tour guides out of business. They don't want anyone to talk to us. They don't want anyone to hear our story."


  1. Woow! This is amazing...first hand experience on what really happens there! I hope you are safe now and I rate you for going to Palestine during these hard times. I am loving your blog, keep us posted. xx

  2. This is a real insight of the truth, the part that is missing from the media, the part no one is to know about. It is absolutely crazy how the happenings in Palestine are just disregarded by the world. But thankyou for telling us the truth and showing the reality of it, keep us updated. x