Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 08.08.2008:
The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign –
The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall) came into existence in 2002, the same year that the construction of the Wall began. The initial phases of construction and dispossession saw the spontaneous mobilisation of popular resistance throughout the affected areas. The campaign was formed by a large network of Palestinian NGOs to bring together these efforts and quickly grew to become a cornerstone for coordinating and mobilising resistance against the Wall. It now consists of some 50 popular committees and a large network of youth volunteers.
To best understand the scope of the campaign’s work, it is crucial to understand the main challenges that face the Palestinian liberation struggle. First and foremost we confront the Israeli state, which is synonymous with the historical Zionist project of expulsion and colonisation. We reject a myopic understanding of the Wall; rather we conceive of its concrete manifestation as an integral aspect of a larger system of control and ethnic cleansing that ranges from military orders and building restrictions, to the Wall and the complex of checkpoints and movement restrictions, and finally to an economic system that is being built in order to sustain these policies. These varied modes of aggression aim to expand Jewish colonisation in strategic areas while confining Palestinian communities to controllable ghettos. Our activities, if they are to be successful, must be as multifaceted as the occupation we are fighting. Secondly, the campaign believes that the people on the ground who struggle daily against Israeli aggressions are at the forefront in leading our people out of the current factional political strife and towards a renewal of the strategies and visions uniting the struggle. These principles underlie all our different lines of action, which consist of research, mobilisation, action, and outreach.
respect and recognition among the Palestinian people through its capacity for the district mobilisation of its Popular Committees. These committees consist of residents of varying political stripes who decide on the direction that resistance will take in their communities. Currently every Friday in several villages across the West Bank, people are out in the fields to protest the Wall, often halting its construction. Our role in this process is dependent on local decisions. Through the campaign, the Popular Committees have created a space to assert the people’s will. This was evident during the Annapolis Conference, when the committees supported the popular mobilisation against the forfeiture of fundamental Palestinian rights. For large-scale demonstrations, we often coordinate with national parties as well as the Popular Committees. As part of the National Committee for the Commemoration of the Nakba, we have been a core partner in planning mobilisation throughout the West Bank for Nakba Week. The latest coordinated protests for the fourth anniversary of the decision of the International Court of Justice on the illegality of the Wall have seen three days of protests, led by the courageous resistance staged by Ni’lin in defiance of siege and curfew.
The campaign is very active in mobilising an ever-increasing array of groups from Palestinian society. We do not aim to manage the activities of these groups but rather support them in their action. The campaign’s youth work, for example, aims to unite students against the occupation by offering seminars on the history of Zionism and our struggle, and to support them in their initiatives, such as encouraging the boycott of Israeli products on the campuses. Only recently have we started to focus on stronger involvement of women within the struggle against the Wall.
National coordination is an important part of the campaign’s efforts. In this regard, we have recently helped in forming the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), a wide coalition of the largest Palestinian parties, mass organisations, trade unions, and networks to serve as a national and international coordination body for the implementation of the Palestinian unified call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions issued in July 2005.
Other networking efforts are reflected in our membership in the Jerusalem Coalition (CCDPRJ). Here we are active partners in a housing and residency rights campaign in an effort to fight the Judaization of the city. In protest against the plans for a new settlers-only ring road that is to create the de facto annexation of Jerusalem, we have assisted in coordinating the submission of 97 legal appeals which have been directed at the occupation’s courts.
Research is crucial for the growth of the campaign as it serves to identify spheres that are affected by the Wall and help us better focus our action. The campaign has embarked on an economic study of the so-called development plans that are in the works for the West Bank. The research takes up international development objectives and how they interact with settlements’ industrial production, joint development projects, and the occupation’s economic domination of the Palestinian economy. This is important in formulating resistance to economic plans that are concocted not only to maintain the Wall project but also to impose a regime of normalisation on the Palestinian people. The end result, it seems, is to create a Palestinian economy that is entirely dependent on, and peripheral to, the Israeli state.
These developments towards a ghetto economy, and indeed the continuation of the Israeli apartheid regime as a whole, would not be sustainable without continuous international support. Only if we unveil that the so-called “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” is in reality a struggle by an indigenous people to resist apartheid and expulsion will we be able to develop the arguments and action plans for a strong and effective solidarity movement.
Every year in some 25 countries around the world, activists organise protests and events during the Week against the Apartheid Wall (9 to 16 November). Building on and often re-building ties with people around the world, the campaign has focused on popular solidarity campaigns and movements. We have been actively involved in strengthening the Palestinian position within the World Social Forum and spreading the calls from Palestine for global solidarity based on the unified call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions. We are actively linking our struggle to the anti-globalisation and other social justice movements, highlighting Israel’s agenda of economic colonisation of Palestine and exploitation of our people.
During the last years we have focused increasingly on the creation of ties with the global south, once considered the stronghold of Palestine support. Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, ties have been neglected, and in many countries that are now becoming regional and global powers the Israel lobby has increasingly made inroads, whereas the genuine supporters of the Palestinian cause are left without guidance. The cancellation of a $3.2 billion arms deal between Israel and India for “political reasons” earlier this year and the powerful campaign in Brazil to stop the ratification of the free trade agreement between Israel and the Mercosur, South America’s economic alliance, are only a few examples of the large potential in regions such as Latin America and Asia. It is only when we can forge strong alliances with these true supporters that we can target the occupation and its allies effectively.
Courtesy of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, which can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Week in Palestine