Entering Palestine ... (December 20, 2002)

Tony Tracy tony at tao.ca
Fri Dec 20 11:58:13 MST 2002

Enclosed is another article by Jaggi Singh, written today.

- Tony

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 2002 09:49:26 -0500 (EST)
From: Jaggi Singh <jaggi at tao.ca>
To: jaggi at tao.ca
Subject: Entering Palestine ... (December 20, 2002)

[The article below was submitted to the Globe and Mail in Toronto, but
they decided not to run it. Will send more updates and reports from the
Palestinian territories in the upcoming weeks (as long as I manage to
evade the Israeli army and police). Stay in touch all. -- Jaggi, in Beit
Sahour, occupied Palestine.]

December 20, 2002 -- I write this article from Beit Sahour, a Palestinian
town -- no more than thirty minutes south of Jerusalem -- that has been
enduring 24-hour curfew for almost one-month. Technically, I'm inside the
Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. And technically, I've disobeyed
an Israeli high court ruling that allowed me to stay in Israel for seven
days on the very specific condition that I not visit the Palestinian
territories. All this in spite of the failed attempts of the Israeli
Secret Service and the Interior Ministry here to have me deemed a security
threat, based on "secret evidence" presented in a closed court hearing
that excluded my lawyer and me.

Technically, I'm now open to arrest and expulsion by the Israeli
authorities, not because of any criminal act, or potential act, but
because I've dared to visit Palestine in defiance of their orders.

But, speaking of technicalities, it is worth remembering that Israel's
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is unequivocally illegal, according
to international laws and conventions. And to get even more technical,
East Jerusalem -- where I spent several days "legally" before traveling
past checkpoints and soldiers to Bethlehem and Beit Sahour -- was
illegally annexed to Israel after the 1967 war. All part of a colonization
project -- involving the building of illegal Jewish-only settlements in
the occupied territories, and the continued expropriation of Palestinian
land -- that goes criminally beyond the righteous goal of securing a safe
and sustainable Jewish homeland within Palestine.

It's not just easy-to-dismiss anarchists like me that point to the illegal
Israeli-occupation of Palestine, and the accompanying illegal settlements,
as the principal acts of violence in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. Thousands of dissident Israelis increasingly speak out -- my
US$5000 bail was generously posted by one of these peace activists --
while more and more soldiers are jailed for refusing to serve in the
territories. Even Michel Sabbah, the soft-spoken Latin Patriarch in the
Holy Land (and I don't often find myself agreeing with "patriarchs"), had
no hesitation in telling the Jerusalem Post this past week that "[a]ll the
Palestinian violence is the justified result of the occupation."

To obey the Israeli court ruling on not traveling to Palestine is to be
complicit in the process of normalizing Israel's occupation. It allows the
occupying power to continue to dictate its rule over the occupied, and
it's nothing less than the imposition of a colonial practice and
mentality. It's a mentality mimicked by the Canadian Department of Foreign
Affairs that consistently refuses to strongly object to the occupation and
Israel's policy of inhibiting the presence of what they term "Palestinian
sympathizers" in the occupied territories, even when those sympathizers
hold a Canadian passport.

It's not for an occupying power to decide who can or can't enter
Palestine. Rather, it is those Palestinians who daily resist the
occupation, to determine whether they want to welcome international
solidarity activists.

I received an invitation to come to Palestine by members of the
International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led organization
using non-violent direct-action methods of resistance to confront and
challenge the illegal Israeli Occupation Forces and its policies, while
recognizing the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and
occupation via legitimate armed struggle (again, according to widely
recognized international conventions).

That invitation to visit was emphatically re-extended after the Israeli
court ruling that barred my entry to the territories. I've decided then to
ignore the Israeli security services and listen to the Palestinian
activists. It was an easy choice to make.

The ISM is part of longstanding efforts to cultivate direct solidarity
between Israelis, internationals, and the Palestinian grassroots
resistance that is at the heart of the intifada. It aims to break the
silence about the reality of occupation, about the collective punishment
that the Israeli Occupation Forces impose on Palestinians through land
confiscations, home demolitions, mass arrests, checkpoints, curfews, and
the killing of unarmed civilians by one of the best-equipped armies in the

The ISM, and their many allies -- including the tireless members of
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) in Montreal -- dare to
stand in the way of a colonial occupation, by direct action if necessary.
I feel privileged to be able to observe, support and participate in this
crucial work, and notwithstanding the Israeli Security Service, I intend
to stay.

[Jaggi Singh is a writer, independent journalist and a social justice
activist based in Montreal.]

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