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In this issue of Muste Notes we bring you two new sponsored projects—Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Palestine Israel Journal—and re-introduce you to the International Solidarity Movement, which joined the ranks of our sponsored projects five years ago. You can also read about our exciting new nonviolence training grants in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
For those eager to hear about what’s going on with the Peace Pentagon, we hope to bring you good news in the next issue of Muste Notes. In the meantime, please check the building page of our website for updates: ajmuste.org/bldgupdate.html .
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Palestine Israel Journal (PIJ) is the Muste Institute’s newest sponsored project. This article, about a July 15 march in Jerusalem supporting recognition of independence for Palestine, was originally published in PIJ’s blog on July 20. The author is Robin Bishop, a student at the University of Amsterdam who is visiting Israel and Palestine and working as an intern at PIJ.
On my way to university in Amsterdam I cycle past ‘the dam’, the central square in the city, where they have many protests on all sorts of issues. I always see some sort of media attention so I always assume the protesters are getting their message across.
Here in Israel I have heard of protesters getting arrested, shot at with tear gas and shot at with rubber bullets. This seemed quite an extreme reaction to the “non-violence” way of protesting that everyone here seems to be practicing.
I have never protested before simply because I have never been so exposed to a situation as I am now. Four weeks has shown me what is happening in this country, how the Palestinians are being oppressed and being denied basic human rights. How they are being literally “removed” from their houses. In Sheikh Jarrah, Palestinians are being forcefully removed from their homes with no legitimate reason. They are given no suitable alternative place to live and have to resort to sleeping in tents or with family and neighbors. If that is not bad enough they get to watch settlers happily move into their homes only moments after they were evicted.
This is not only happening in Sheikh Jarrah but all over the Palestinian territories. The demonstration was thus in solidarity with all the Palestinians who are under occupation. I had heard here and there that it was an illegal demonstration or that only Arabs would be arrested. To be honest I wasn’t nervous at all, they were expecting over 3,000 people, which would naturally attract a lot of media, and I expected the protest to be extremely peaceful. And it was.
The meeting place was at Jaffa Gate in West Jerusalem, by 2:15pm there was a huge crowd of people, we were all told to pick up flags and posters all provided by the organization. I must say I felt pretty strong with one of the solidarity flags, everyone could see it. The crowd was very diverse; children, babies, teenagers, old people, handicapped people, Jewish, Muslim and the list continues with all the people I could not identify from a first glance. That was also powerful, that such diverse groups of people had the same ideas and were willing to openly speak up about it.
Everyone marched the three kilometers to Sheikh Jarrah chanting slogans such as “When we say apartheid, you say: fight back, fight back.” There were drums, microphones, everything to make our presence known. Photographers climbed up telephone masts, stood on bridges all trying to catch the action.
I didn’t see any violence from the police or the Israeli Defense Forces. It all seemed so relaxed. I asked someone why they don’t do this every week? Or at least more frequently—apparently you need a permit for a large demonstration.
The protest ended at Sheikh Jarrah with speeches from various influential people regarding the solidarity process. I looked through the media the following two days and there was almost no mention in the international media, I was slightly appalled by this. Does the media only want to report about violent protests where things get out of hand? Does violence provoke international intervention?
Nevertheless I was happy to be a part of the protest. It also gave me reassurance that there are thousands of people actively against the occupation.
July 17-21, 2011: The Training Unit of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) carried out a 20-hour training course in human rights and democracy with 21 participants from the Palestinian Liberal Youth Union (PLYU) in Gaza City. The Muste Institute is a fiscal sponsor for PCHR, facilitating support from U.S.-based donors and foundations for the Gaza-based organization’s work promoting human rights. Photo by PCHR.
In its 10th anniversary year, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) continues to support nonviolent Palestinian organizing in opposition to Israeli repression in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
ISM activists in Gaza worked with the Free Gaza Movement in anticipation of the arrival of the Freedom Flotilla II in June. Although the flotilla was unable to complete its journey, it focused international attention on Israel’s siege of Gaza. ISM volunteers in Gaza also worked with the Civil Peace Service (CPS), which maintains a boat to monitor Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinian fishermen. Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian ISM activist killed earlier this year in Gaza, helped initiate this project. CPS video footage has made headlines around the world, documenting Israeli attacks on unarmed Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza coast.
ISM volunteers in Gaza also support towns like Beit Hanoun where residents regularly organize protests to demand access to their farmland; Israel has declared an off-limits “buffer zone” extending into Gaza, rendering around 20% of Gaza’s land inaccessible. Israeli soldiers sometimes shoot people attempting to access their farmland in the “buffer zone.”
In the West Bank, ISM works closely with the residents of Bil’in village, who over six years have built a nonviolent resistance movement opposing Israel’s “Apartheid Wall” and land confiscations. The village won an historic victory recently when the Israeli army finally moved a section of the wall, liberating some land previously sequestered for settlements. ISM also actively supports protests in the villages of Nil’in, Beit Ommar, Nabi Saleh and Kufr Qaddoum against the wall and the settlements.
As September approaches and the possibility of a vote on Palestinian statehood at the United Nations draws closer, Palestinian civil society has called for mass nonviolent protests against the Occupation. With help from the Muste Institute’s sponsorship, ISM will be there to support these demonstrations and to continue our nonviolent work for Palestinian freedom. For more information: palsolidarity.org/.
The Muste Institute’s International Nonviolence Training Fund (INTF) makes grants for nonviolence trainings outside the U.S. or in indigenous communities within the U.S. The next deadline is December 2, 2011. Guidelines and application forms are on our website at www.ajmuste.org/ guidintf.htm. Between July 2010 and June 2011, the INTF made the following seven grants totaling $17,061:
Amani Communities Africa, Nairobi, Kenya: $2,000 in April 2011 for a training with 20 youth performing artists from the Kibera, Mukuru and Mathare informal settlements in Nairobi County, equipping them with knowledge about and skills in nonviolence and gender issues for the purpose of replicating the training throughout their communities using art as a medium. www.acafrica.org
Arab Educational Institute (AEIOpen Windows), Bethlehem, Palestine: $2,900 in June 2011 for a training with women at the Sumud Story House to help them prepare for an open air art installation (Wall Museum) challenging the Israeli Wall around Rachel’s Tomb in the north of Bethlehem. Sumud means resilience in Arabic. www.aeicenter.org
Frontier Indigenous Network, Wajir, Kenya: $2,500 in April 2011 for an Indigenous/Pastoralist Communities Training, building capacities and skills among women and youth peacebuilders from warring communities to nonviolently engage their communities in resolving resource conflicts. indigenousnetwork.blogspot.com
Minyiri Development Group, Kisumu, Kenya: 2,000 in April 2011 (via sponsor Chemchemi Ya Ukweli) for a four-day training in Basic Active Nonviolence in May 2011 with 30 local community leaders, with the goal of increasing their understanding of the value and effectiveness of nonviolence and encouraging them to initiate alternative dispute methods.
Miramida Centar – Regional Peacebuilding Exchange, Groznjan - Grisignana, Croatia: $3,000 in December 2010 for a nonviolence training involving Croatian war veterans in a campaign to create a nongovernmental voice in a truth and reconciliation process to help document and investigate war crimes. miramida.org
Mladinski Inicijativi (Youth Initiatives), Skopje, Macedonia: $2,000 in April 2011 for “Balkan Youth Peace Actions”, a five-day nonviolence training bringing together young activists from the region and giving them an opportunity to explore the ways and means of mutual regional peace activism.
Mouvement International pour la Réconciliation à Madagascar (FIEFA / MIR-MAD), Toamasina, Madagascar: $2,661 in April 2011 for the “Promotion of youth of peace into the Atsinanana Region of Madagascar” training project, strengthening the capacity of young leaders and peace promoters of Toamasina, Brickville and East Fenerive in peacekeeping and conflict prevention. www.ifor.org/Madagascar.html
Your donations are needed to sustain the International Nonviolence Training Fund, so more people can learn how to collectively apply the theory and practice of nonviolent action to effective campaigns for social justice. The INTF’s grantmaking focuses on building local training capacity throughout the world, especially in areas where funding is scarce. To support this important work, indicate “INTF” on the memo line of your check or when designating your online gift to the Muste Institute. Please donate now!
The Adalys Vázquez Solidarity Travel Fund enables grassroots social movements from Latin America, the Caribbean and indigenous territories throughout the hemisphere to expand their presence at regional gatherings in order to share experiences and coordinate strategies. The next deadlines are October 1 and December 1, 2011. Guidelines are on our website in English at ajmuste.org/novaintro-eng.html and in Spanish at ajmuste.org/novaintro.html. In April and June 2011, the Adalys Fund made the following three grants totaling $2,300:
Asociación Proyecto Caribe, San José, Costa Rica: $550 for Sandra Álvarez Ramírez of "SERES. Identidad y Diversidad en la comunicación social" and "Grupo Reflexión y Solidaridad Oscar A. Romero" to travel from Havana, Cuba to participate in the first World Afrodescendant Youth Summit - WAYS 2011 to be held October 3-7, 2011 in San José, Costa Rica. www.proyectocaribe.org
Observatorio Petrolero Sur (OPSur), Buenos Aires, Argentina: $750 (via sponsor: Centro de Políticas Públicas Por el Socialismo) for Eduardo Bertea of Red Agroforestal Chaco (REDAF) to participate in the "Nuevas hegemonías, viejos problemas" ("New hegemonies, old problems") Conference, the Oilwatch general assembly and a visit to the Yasuní-ITT initiative, held July 21-27 in Quito and the Parque Nacional Yasuní, Ecuador. opsur.wordpress.com
UBUNTU (Formación para la Transformación Social Afrodescendiente), Montevideo, Uruguay: $1,000 for a young person from UBUNTU's Young Afro-Descendent Leadership Course (Curso de Líderes Jóvenes Afrodescendientes) to participate in the World Afrodescendant Youth Summit to be held October 3-7 in Costa Rica. afroubuntu.blogspot.com