Bil’in village, West Bank: Former US president Jimmy Carter, Mrs. Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa visited the site of the Apartheid Wall on the land of the village of Bil’in.
The Carters and Archbishop Tutu came to Bil’in together with their colleagues from The “Elders” delegation, former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Norwegian prime minister Gro Brundtland, former Irish president and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Indian human rights activist Ela Bhatt, and renowned businessmen Richard Branson and Jeff Skoll.
Former president Carter pointed to the land on the other side of the wall where the settlement of Modi’in Illit is being built: “This is not Israel; this is Palestine and settlements must be removed from Palestinian land so that justice will be restored in the area.”
Desmond Tutu encouraged the Palestinian activists: “ Just as a simple man named Ghandi led the successful non-violent struggle in India and simple people such as Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela led the struggle for civil rights in the United States, simple people here in Bil’in are leading a non-violent struggle that will bring them their freedom. The South Africa experience proves that injustice can be dismantled.”
The “Elders” placed symbolic stones on the monument commemorating Bassem Abu Rahme, a non-violent activist who was shot dead on the 17th April 2009 while attempting to speak with Israeli soldiers during a non-violent demonstration.
The Bil’in popular committee and their friends including Luisa Morgantini, the former vice president of the European Parliament, and Israeli activists welcomed the delegation and invited them to participate in Bil’in’s annual conference for non-violent popular resistance. The delegation met Raja Abu Rahme, the daughter of Adib Abu Rahme, a leading non-violent activist from Bil’in. Adib was arrested on 10th July during a non-violent demonstration and is being held in Ofer military prison. Raja told them about her father’s arrest and about the night raid arrests that the Israeli military began in Bil’in on 23rd June 2009.
Bil’in will be holding its weekly demonstration tomorrow, on Friday, the 28th August at 1:00 PM. The Palestinian village of Bil’in has become an international symbol of the Palestinian popular struggle. For almost 5 years, its residents have been continuously struggling against the de facto annexation of more then 50% of their farmlands and the construction of the apartheid wall on it. In a celebrated decision, the Israeli Supreme court ruled on the 4 September 2007 that the current route of the wall in Bil’in was illegal and needs to be dismantled; the ruling however has not been implemented.
For more information call: Abdullah Abu Rahme (972) 599-107-069
Mohammad Khatib: (972) 59- 891-4541
Archbishop Tutu to Haaretz: Arabs paying for Germany's crimes
Source : Ha’aretz
by Akiva Eldar
"The lesson that Israel must learn from the Holocaust is that it can never get security through fences, walls and guns," Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa told Haaretz Thursday.
Commenting on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement in Germany Thursday that the lesson of the Holocaust is that Israel should always defend itself, Tutu noted that "in South Africa, they tried to get security from the barrel of a gun. They never got it. They got security when the human rights of all were recognized and respected."
The Nobel Prize laureate spoke to Haaretz in Jerusalem as the organization The Elders concluded its tour of Israel and the West Bank. He said the West was consumed with guilt and regret toward Israel because of the Holocaust, "as it should be."
"But who pays the penance? The penance is being paid by the Arabs, by the Palestinians. I once met a German ambassador who said Germany is guilty of two wrongs. One was what they did to the Jews. And now the suffering of the Palestinians."
He also slammed Jewish organizations in the United States, saying they intimidate anyone who criticizes the occupation and rush to accuse these critics of anti-Semitism. Tutu recalled how such organizations pressured U.S. universities to cancel his appearances on their campuses.
"That is unfortunate, because my own positions are actually derived from the Torah. You know God created you in God’s image. And we have a God who is always biased in favor of the oppressed."
Tutu also commented on the call by Ben-Gurion University professor Neve Gordon to apply selective sanctions on Israel.
"I always say to people that sanctions were important in the South African case for several reasons. We had a sports boycott, and since we are a sports-mad country, it hit ordinary people. It was one of the most psychologically powerful instruments.
"Secondly, it actually did hit the pocket of the South African government. I mean, when we had the arms embargo and the economic boycott."
He said that when F.W. de Klerk became president he telephoned congratulations. "The very first thing he said to me was ‘well now will you call off sanctions?’ Although they kept saying, oh well, these things don’t affect us at all. That was not true.
"And another important reason was that it gave hope to our people that the world cared. You know. That this was a form of identification."
Earlier in the day, Tutu and the rest of the delegation visited the village of Bil’in, where protests against the separation fence, built in part on the village’s land, take place every week.
"We used to take our children in Swaziland and had to go through border checkpoints in South Africa and face almost the same conduct, where you’re at the mercy of a police officer. They can decide when they’re going to process you and they can turn you back for something inconsequential. But on the other hand, we didn’t have collective punishment. We didn’t have the demolition of homes because of the suspicion that one of the members of the household might or might not be a terrorist."
He said the activists in Bil’in reminded him of Ghandi, who managed to overthrow British rule in India by nonviolent means, and Martin Luther King, Jr., who took up the struggle of a black woman who was too tired to go to the back of a segregated bus.
He stressed his belief that no situation was hopeless, praising the success of the Northern Irish peace process. The process was mediated by Senator George Mitchell, who now serves as the special U.S. envoy to the Middle East.
Asked about the controversy in Petah Tikva, where several elementary schools have refused to receive Ethiopian school children, Tutu said that "I hope that your society will evolve."