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Thursday, Mar. 10, 2005 at 12:28 AM
I was brought up Roman Catholic, but now consider myself a progressive,
Why I Am a Pro-Palestinian Activist
People always ask me, "How did you get so involved with the Palestinian cause?" After all, I am not Jewish, nor Muslim. I am a 51-year old, petite, green-eyed blonde, whose mother's side is fourth generation American from Sweden, and on my father's side, his mother was off the boat from Ireland and his father was second generation American from England. I was brought up Roman Catholic, but now consider myself a progressive, spiritual Christian rather than religious. I believe that Jesus Christ is one of the prophets of God, and He happens to be my favorite, however I rarely read the Bible or go to church. I consider practicing The Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you) the most important key point to observe in life and believe that Love is the most important aspect of God.
So, to begin to answer the question about how I got so involved with the Palestinian cause, I think I can trace it back to the fact that I dated a Palestinian man about ten years ago. He was a good friend. When I first started dating him, he told me he was Jordanian. Later he told me he was Palestinian, and I asked him why he didn't tell me that in the first place. He replied rather ruefully that most people think of Palestinians as terrorists. Since at the time I wasn't aware of this, I just said that was too bad, thinking that it obviously sounded like bigotry. We didn't talk about politics other than that.
At the time, I was not at all aware of the Palestine- Israel conflict. At any rate, what distinguishes me from many Americans, is that I have known a Palestinian, and now know many Palestinians. So I know that Palestinians are human beings, not the "barbarians" Zionists and the media try to portray them as. I know that our media tends to demonize Palestinians by focussing on suicide bombers, whose actions are taken out of context, leading Americans to think they are just crazy, rather than people who are driven to desperate extremes because of the brutal, long-term Israeli Occupation, which is funded by US taxpayers' dollars. I know now that our government is funding state-sponsored terrorism against essentially defenseless civilians.
About ten years later, the second intifada broke out in September 2000. I was in my car and became riveted to a discussion between Israeli and Palestinian speakers on the progressive Berkeley radio station KPFA. I couldn't get out of my car until the end of the program because it was so compelling and fascinating. All I can remember of it now is my basic impression and gut feeling that the Palestinians have just cause to be resisting the Israeli Occupation. I started to get the desire to learn more about the Palestine- Israel conflict. I had lost contact with my Palestinian friend through the years, however I had Jewish friends and acquaintances so I began asking them simple questions to feel them out about their opinions on the conflict. The answers I got back from them were not at all satisfactory or convincing to say the least. To the basic question "Don't you think Palestinians deserve some land of their own, I mean, after all they have historical ties to the land?", typical responses included, "No, they are barbarians, and nobody wants them" or "You don't know the history and I don't have time to tell you" or "It's not your problem".
These answers indicated to me there was unfair prejudice and that I was being stonewalled. So my suspicions were brewing that there was something going on that most Americans were being kept in the dark about, and that whatever it was, it wouldn't stand the light of day. These suspicions were confirmed after 9/11 when my gut instinct told me that one of the reasons that 9/11 happened was because of the injustices happening in the Middle East, most specifically the Israeli Occupation, funded by US tax dollars. Right after 9/11, I intensively researched the Palestine-Israel conflict and became convinced that finding a just solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict would be the number one top priority in the search for a just peace in the world, and I e-mailed my thoughts to my entire e-mail list.
I am deeply grateful to be living in the Bay Area and next to Berkeley, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, and home to many peace activists who have been very inspiring to me. I went to an incredibly eye-opening and moving slide show about the Occupation by Jewish peace activist Penny Rosenwasser of the Middle East Children's Alliance. After hearing Penny talk and seeing her slideshow of the horrible conditions under which Palestinians are forced to live because of the Israeli Occupation funded by our US tax dollars, I was inspired to become a peace activist dedicated first and foremost to peace and justice for the Palestinians. Not many people leave her shows with dry eyes, and I felt compelled to try to do something to stop the Israeli Occupation which my government was supporting. I had always wanted to make a documentary so I decided to make my first documentary about the Palestine-Israel conflict to dispel the disinformation that Americans are constantly served in the mainstream media, so they might also feel compelled to take action to correct the injustices being committed with our tax dollars.
My documentary is entitled "Truth: Exposing Israeli Apartheid" and it is available through my website www.exposingisraeliapartheid.com. It's a low budget, but high impact documentary. Currently, I am working on another documentary dealing with Zionism and the Palestine-Israel Conflict. Myths such as "Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East" must be debunked once and for all. My documentary proves that Israel is indeed a "racist, anti-democratic, apartheid, regime", and no one has more authority to say it with conviction than the eloquent Israeli Refusenik who is featured in my documentary. A picture says a thousand words, and peace activist Donna Wallach allowed me to include some brutally honest footage she took in Gaza of the apartheid conditions under which Palestinians are forced to live. Other peace activists also share their eye-witness experiences and ideas. Footage of local Bay Area rallies is also included. I narrate the film, provide some historical perspective, as well as offer some personal insight about the situation.
Knowledge is power, and I have been reading as much as I can about my subject including "The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict" written by Jews for Justice in the Middle East, which is exceptional and can be found at www.cactus48.com which I recommend to everyone I can. I also sat in on a couple classes about the creation of Israel taught by Stanford professor of Middle East Studies, Joel Beinin, whom I had met at the Jewish Voice for Peace. Jewish Voice for Peace has an excellent email newserve called Jewish Peace News, however I found their organization not proactive enough and too fuzzy on important issues. In fact, I found it very frustrating that they preferred not to discuss nor take stands on the hardcore issues such as one-state vs. two-state and the "right to return", so I sought out other groups, and found Al-Awda as well as Boycott Israeli Goods.org and others.
I have started my own group called Americans for Justice in Palestine-Israel, and we have already had meetings, met with Congresswoman Barbara Lee's office and sponsored a rally against Zionism and demanding an end to US aid to apartheid Israel. Fortunately, there are many people drawn to this cause, and I am certain that in time, it will become a mainstream cause, just like the anti-war movement against the Viet Nam War and the world-wide boycott of apartheid South Africa became mainstream causes with positive results. Because of the internet, information can be distributed much more widely than ever before. This wiil hasten the end of the Occupation, and hopefully be a catalyst to achieving peace and justice for the Palestinians and the world in general.
At first, I was a firm believer in the two-state solution. However, now, I am convinced that the one-state solution is the most progressive, reasonable and humane solution. After all when South Africa became a true democracy and ended apartheid, it did not break up into one state for blacks and one state for whites. Even the United States remained one country after the Civil War, and segregation was outlawed because of the Civil Rights Movement. I also believe that all four million plus Palestinian refugees must be allowed to return to their ancestral homeland inside Palestine/Israel as is their right according to International Law, UN Resolutions, and world opinion. They must also receive generous reparations from the US and Israel, as well as the UN. The UN, who gave away land that wasn't theirs to give away in the first place to Eastern European Zionist Jews for a racist, Jewish supremacist state, should send in peace-monitoring troops to oversee the transition from the current Israeli government to form a new truly secular, truly democratic government that equally represents all the citizens of the new unified country of Palestine-Israel, otherwise known as The Holy Land, or maybe just renamed Palestine, which is its name to many people, and has been for thousands of years.
The key issue is equal rights for all the citizens regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. There must be no military in the Holy Land of Palestine-Israel, except for the UN peace-monitoring troops, and otherwise all weapons must be strictly banned. Discrimination of any kind must be made illegal. Equal rights for all regardless of religion, ethnicity and gender must be enforced by law. This is the win-win situation. We have seen the injustice and inhumanity of the win-lose situation. If enough people in the world want peace and justice, there will be peace and justice. The more people become educated about the issues and open up their hearts and minds, peace and justice in the Middle East will become more than a dream. It will become reality.
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