(Note 2: If you are interested to attend a workshop in the Bethlehem area this weekend that is organizing for the one democratic state, please email firstname.lastname@example.org )
On Sunday Israeli occupation forces denied entry to the occupied Palestinian territories for 100 visitors in the third Welcome to Palestine Campaign (WTP3). Media was present on both sides of the crossing from Jordan. Jordanian and Palestinian officials were involved and we appreciate their effort to facilitate this visit. But as in previous campaigns, Israeli authorities showed the world that they have something sinister to hide. They were simple peaceful internationals ranging in age from 8-80 year old simply wanting to visit Palestinians under occupation. Gush Shalom said in response to our campaign: "The country's border crossings are wide open to the international friends of the violent settlers.[while] When the Palestinians living under Israel's rule try to invite guests to come and visit them, the government of Israel instructs the army and police to block their way."
Israel’s policy is routine deportation of internationals who come to visit us under occupation. Thus internationals are forced to not disclose the purpose of their visit. We in the civil society organizations who invited these visitors and organized the schedule for them are rather disappointed at the Israeli government behavior but not totally surprised. We are not surprised that Israel proves with its actions that it is an apartheid state. Civil society organizations which called for boyco0tt, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) analogous to those implemented against apartheid South Africa are encouraged by the response of civil society around the world. When governments fail to act people must and do act. We are encouraged by the growth of je BDS movement. Steps taken like those by the United Church of Canada to begin BDS against settlement products must be widened to BDS actions against all Israeli products. Steps taken by South Africa and that irked the Zionist lobbies in that country must be expanded to all countries. If we genuinely want peace then we must work for justice.
Meanwhile life goes on. Tuesday 28 August we will finally get to hear a verdict in the trial for the killing of our friend Rachel Corrie. Our friend Rachel was murdered nearly 10 years ago by Israeli soldiers driving a US funded and US made killing machine. The company (Caterpillar) still continues to supply these specialized armored bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian lives and livelihoods ling machine. There are many ways to participate and get involved. Seehttp://rachelcorriefoundation.
The fall semester is starting. I have students at Bethlehem University and at Birzeit University and they are energetic and motivated. A workshop in Jordan that I am attending is about learning to distinguish bat species via their echolocation sounds. I an one of my students are hosted in two nature reserves in Jordan. It is obvious that at the level of the people here they do not accept the artificial divisions created by Western countries that divided the Arab world into these artificial countries. Arab unity was shown to us for example by the outpouring of support from Jordanians and Palestinians living here to the plight of the Syrian refugees who flooded into Jordan as the Syrian tragedy unfolded. I am always inspired and energized when I say good people doing good people for fellow human beings. And now for a few days of science as we conservation activists (Egyptians, Lebanese, Jordanian other) learn about bat conservation and echolocation at two wildlife parks in Jordan. Here in Jordan with the WTP3 campaign, with fellow human rights activists from Europe, and with fellow Arabs, I only see a bright future despite the challenges ahead of us.
Israel prevented some 100 pro-Palestinian activists from entering the West Bank on Tuesday evening from Jordan at the Allenby Bridge crossing. The demonstrators, from France, Belgium and other European countries, bore an official invitation from the governor of Bethlehem, a senior Fatah official named Abdel-Fattah Hamaiel. The activists were carrying gifts including writing implements for the children of Bethlehem in honor of the beginning of the school year on Monday.
The demonstrators arrived at the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River in two buses, but when they reached the Israeli side they were not allowed to disembark.
At the crossing, an Israeli official in civilian clothes collected all the passports from the passengers on the first bus and returned them after 10 minutes - all with a "denied entry" stamp.
The second bus was not even allowed to approach the Israeli side of the crossing, and the passports of its passengers were not even collected. The passengers got off the bus and demanded that Israeli officials explain why they were being denied entry, but they were ordered back on the bus; the driver was told to turn around.
Many of the activists had previously participated in such events as the annual Welcome to Palestine "flytilla." Their goal is to stress the Palestinian people's right to host visitors from other countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel as they see fit - the same right accorded to Israeli citizens.
The Jordanian official in charge of the Allenby crossing met with the activists in his office before they attempted to enter Israel, and said he knew of their arrival and of the invitation. But he advised them that Israel might prevent their entry, noting that Jordan played no part in that refusal whatsoever.
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD