Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Let's talk about Sex ba-be, lets talk about you and me...jk...Let's talk about something more controversial

Back home, I live in a bubble. Not just one, but multiple bubbles that insulate me and my fellow bubble-dwellers from much of the critique and happenings of the outside world. The coops are a bubble, the University of Oregon is a bubble, the activist scene is a bubble. I like bubble life.
In BubbleTopia, I have a community that not only approves of a radical/alternative lifestyle, but actually lives it. BubbleWorld residents suspend close friends from a single rope that is connected to a gate which provides access to logging roads, endangering their dear friends life, but protecting the forest. Residents actively eat from the garbage, cheat the government for food stamps and enjoy riverside meals of liberated expensive cheeses from green washed stores. If it’s yellow, we let it mellow.
The topics of conversation in BubbleWorld is vast but very left leaning. You are welcome to join these conversations if your views are also counterculture (if they weren’t, how would you even get into BubbleTopia???!) Sure! Let’s talk about gender, swap riot stories, break down hierarchies, and laugh at the ladder climbers outside the bubble and oh-how- they- will- fall in The Fall. Let’s discuss direct action tactics ranging from protests to sabotage and property damage. Above all, let’s stay up all night, sitting close together, drinking PBR, eating homemade vegan food and talk about creating the world we want to live in.
BubbleTopia sure sounds great, right? I miss it. I miss it a lot. Yet, something that is not right. There is one topic that stands out as still too taboo to discuss in an open, rational, healthy, and fact based manner: the Israel/Palestine conflict. But if we can’t even talk about Israel Palestine issues in the most radical, liberated house I’ve ever been in, where can we? Or must we wait until Israel is pushed into the sea or the Palestinians are all in jail or dead?
For this reason, I came to Israel/Palestine. I needed to see this conflict firsthand, talk to people who live it everyday, see the resistance happening on both sides. I want to know why a love-thy-neighbor person can still live in settlements. I want to understand the emotion that causes young boys to throw stones. I want to articulate my opinion on the conflict not just because of the books I’ve read, research I’ve done, or news I’ve followed. I want to include the world I have witnessed. Actually, I believe that I need to include the my own personal experiences because this issue is such an emotional trigger, that it is very difficult to find the truth (especially if you are looking through religious (Islamic, Jewish or Christian) goggles).
Here is what I see:
Trip and I are working with a group called International Solidarity Movement (ISM). ISM has three guiding principles:
ISM is a Palestinian led organization comprised of well respected, nonviolent activists from both urban and rural areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem
ISM is a nonviolent organization and supports the nonviolent resistance to the occupation (yes, even the UN Gaza and the West Bank an occupation) of Palestine.
ISM operates with consensus.
We have found that many Israelis and Israel supporters feel that ISM is “too radical.” I have thought a lot about why ISM is labeled as such. The first thing that comes to mind is that it is one of the only grassroots, Palestinian led organizations that effectively involves internationals. There are lots of groups working in the West Bank for Palestinian human rights, however, I have not yet encountered another group with the capacity that ISM has. In a world of international bureaucratic NGOs, a grassroots Palestinian led organization can be dangerously effective.
So what does ISM do? Trip and I have been working with them for the past two weeks and we plan on staying with the group for the remainder of our three months here. It is an activists dream, actually. Intelligent people from all over the world come to the West Bank all with a common goal. People are first fueled by passion and then refueled daily with the experience of unjust Occupation in Palestine.
ISM maintains a 27/7 presence in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jerrah in Arabic East Jerusalem. In August, Jewish settlers with the aid of military police, forced two Palestinian extended family households out of their homes leaving over 20 people houseless. It is a well known fact that Israel wants all of Jerusalem for the Jews and the main thing stopping are the Arabs legally residing in East Jerusalem. Both the Al-Gawi and Al-Kurd families have erected tents outside of their former homes. The Al-Gawi tent sits across the street from their home which is now decorated with Israeli flags and protected by multiple locks and gates. Throughout the day, the Al-Gawi family of 6 tries to go about their normal life, eating meals together, playing with neighborhood kids, completing their schoolwork under the streetlights. All the while across the street, Jewish Zionists come and go as they please in the comfort of the Al-Gawi’s home and with the protection of the military police which park outside of the home at night to protect it’s new residents. For the Al-Gawi family, we help by doing night watch so the family can get some much needed rest.
The Al-Kurd family also has a tent but their situation is a bit more bizzare. Settlers were only successful in taking the front portion of the house. The Al-Kurd family now shares their home with the Jewish settlers. The only thing blocking the settlers from accessing the rear portion of the house is a tent that ISM’ers occupy 24/7 to prevent them from entering.
Frequently, there are clashed between settlers, armed and backed by police and the Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. International presence helps document these attacks and ISM volunteers have successfully “unarrested” Palestinian residents. There is a price however, a handful of ISM’ers have been arrested at Sheikh Jarrah, including Ryan Olander (who has been in jail for almost three weeks while $5,000 bail is collected). ISM is providing organizing both his legal team and doing jail support for Ryan.
There are also ISM volunteers in the town of Nabulus and surrounding villages. The Palestinians in this region are frequently targeted during night raids because of their successful non violent resistance to the occupation and the Wall. ISM’ers will stay in the towns under siege, often in the homes of nonviolent organizers, in hopes that an international presence will persuade Israeli military to comply by international laws which classify their raids illegal. Currently, we are seeing an increase in the arrest of nonviolent occupation resisters (remember, the UN calls it an occupation too!). Each night more organizers are taken including the ISM media coordinator who had her apartment surrounded by Israeli military. Eva lived in a town that is out of Israeli jurisdiction so this makes her arrest illegal. Now she has been deported. She is just one example of the repression of Palestinians and their supporters.
So there it is. A small group of Palestinians and international volunteers. That is ISM. Now that you know what we do, I challenge you to ask yourself and others why it is such a “radical” organization. Why is night watch, documentation, nonviolent resistance to illegal occupation too radical to talk about in our own radical community?
I strongly encourage everyone to check out the ISM website, www.palsolidarity.org. The international media picks up stories on Gaza and peace “negotiations” but rarely is the West Bank mentioned. We update the site multiple times a day with interesting news from the West Bank. You should check out their side too and make the comparison.
If anyone wants to talk about Israel, Palestine or their feelings about the SCA benefit party proposal, please contact me. I’d love to hear your opinions and perhaps start removing the taboo of this topic.
From my pumalo sized heart to yours.

Ps, they have pumalo trees here. Have you ever seen an edible something the size of a soccer ball hanging from a tree?? oh! and photos take a really long time to load here so I'll put them up on the rot-yer-face-book. xo


  1. jasmine, you constantly amaze me. I'm glad you posted about your reasons for being there. You have a good heart and a noble cause. I know very little about the issues, but believe people have the right to live in thier home safe and free from the fear of being forced to leave. love you. dad

  2. I love reading this! I thank you for writing. You and Trip are in my thoughts.