On the morning of Tuesday, April 12, we, the Wesleyan Students for Justice in Palestine, erected a protest piece outside of the Usdan University Center. The piece was a mock apartheid wall, a visual reminder of the continued injustice in which Americans are complicit. Comprised of four separate three-foot panels of wood painted a stormy sky grey, the wall was decorated with our own protest art and facts about the realities of life under occupation. It was a tribute to Palestinian perseverance in the face of continued Israeli denial of fundamental rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination. Through their colonization, ethnic cleansing, and military occupation, the Israeli state has sought and continues to seek the erasure of Palestinians from historical and cultural narratives. This assertion cannot be cast into doubt, nor subjected to claims of bias. While one has a right to claim opinion, no one has the right to obscure fact: According to the Institute for Middle Eastern Understanding, there are 2.7 million Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank, and 2 million living under an inhumane siege in Gaza. At any given time, there are approximately 500 Israeli army checkpoints, roadblocks, and other obstacles to Palestinian movement within the occupied West Bank. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are denied dignity and civil liberties, and forced to become prisoners in their own land.

Our erection of the wall was a statement of presence and a reminder of the continued struggle of a people. Palestinian artist and filmmaker Annemarie Jacir writes, “colours, symbols, and images [are] invested with dangerous and emancipatory powers.” This is unshakably true for the Israeli colonial project, the success of which depends on making invisible to the outside world—and even to the citizens of Israel—the suffering of the Palestinian people. The continued construction of settlements, which directly contravene international law, are a manifestation of this erasure. A Haaretz article by Israeli journalist Amira Hass, published on January 22, 2003, is titled “You Can Drive Along and Never See an Arab.” Haas describes the road system in the West Bank and Gaza, which contains 150 to 160 settlement blocks. Haas writes, “These are roads on which Arabs and Palestinians cannot travel; if you are an Israeli citizen and settler, you can drive on them and not see any Arabs.”

Our wall was designed to evoke images of the apartheid wall in Israel. The real wall currently stretches 325 miles and has cost $2.6 billion thus far. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has deemed the wall illegal, though construction has yet to slow down on a wall which will eventually be between 420 and 440 miles long (according to the Israeli Ministry of Defense and human rights group B’Tselem, respectively). This is more than twice the length of Israel’s internationally recognized border with the West Bank. Eighty-five percent of the wall will be built not along Israel’s internationally recognized pre-1967 border, but on Palestinian land inside the occupied West Bank. The wall is designed to envelop as much Palestinian land as possible on the western (Israeli) side, while isolating Palestinians on the eastern side. By completion, the wall, along with the settlements, military zones, and Israeli-only roads and highways, is projected to cover 46 percent of the West Bank, effectively annexing it to Israel

The wall is a crystallization of the injustice of the colonial project, one in which we are all complicit. According to the June 10, 2015 Congressional Research Service report “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel” written by Jeremy M. Sharp, the Obama Administration gave Israel $3.1 billion in military aid, and $619.8 million for “joint” U.S.-Israel missile defense programs in 2015, totaling more than $3.7 billion that year. To put it in more direct terms, American taxpayers give Israel $10.2 million of military aid per day.

In our erection of the wall, we sought to remind our fellow students, faculty, and peers of the role we all play in perpetuating this injustice. We write as Palestinians, Israeli and American Jews, and students of differing identities from the world over. If the mock wall created offense, it may have been from the shock of recognition that some are in solidarity with the efforts to resist the civil and cultural erasure of the Palestinian people, a process with a long and bloody history.

The Israeli government, from the ’70s onward, has engaged in a mass campaign to eliminate Palestine’s greatest intellectuals, artists, and leaders. To quote Jacir’s extensive list, the extended operation of assassinations has included novelist Ghassan Kanafani in Beirut (along with his 16-year-old niece who was in the car with him at the time); writer Wael Zuaiter in Rome; intellectual Mahmoud al-Hamshari in Paris; poet Kamal Nasser; Kamal Idwan; Ali Salameh; feminist leader Nada Yashruti in Beirut, and many—a despairing many—more. With the erection of the wall, we try to call attention to the forced erasure of Palestinian livelihood and identity and show fellowship with those suffering due to our unwitting contributions. Our protest gesture is small, but the idea significant: We will not stand idly by and watch the destruction of a people. We leave you with a poem by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. We reiterate his call to oppose injustice no matter where it may be, and by whom it is perpetrated. As a wise Palestinian refugee utters in Michel Khleifi’s documentary “Ma’loul Celebrates its Destruction,” “Rights do not disappear as long as someone claims them.” Help us spread the call, now and tomorrow, in trying to claim for the beleaguered Palestinians the dignity and humanity we owe them.

 

Here, on the slopes before sunset and

At the gun-mouth of time

Near orchards deprived of their shadows

We do what prisoners do:

We nurture hope.

– Mahmoud Darwish

This piece was contributed by Wesleyan Students for Justice in Palestine. 

  • Zev_disqus

    “the apartheid wall in Israel”

    If you would have been reading Israeli newspapers 15 years ago, you would have known something about the frustration and anger at deaths at the hands of Palestinian terrorists, enabled by a procrastinating government, when there was a fence around Gaza but not around the West Bank.
    Now that there is a fence around the West Bank also,
    terrorist attacks have drastically declined.
    The fence saves lives, and removes public pressure on the government to retaliate, because there’s nothing to retaliate for.
    Somebody should have told Israel that all those lives aren’t worth $2.6 billion.
    It would have saved them all that money.

  • Zev_disqus

    “The Israeli government, from the ’70s onward, has engaged in a mass campaign to eliminate Palestine’s greatest intellectuals, artists, and leaders.”

    Your examples include:
    Ghassan Kanafani, a leading member of the PFLP
    Mahmoud al-Hamshari, the head of Black September in France
    Kamal Nasser, a member of the PLO executive committee
    Ali Salameh, chief of operations for Black September
    Nada Yashruti, a leading member of the PLO.

    What did this have to do with “a mass campaign to eliminate Palestine’s greatest intellectuals, artists, and leaders.”
    Assassinations were carried out in response to the murder of 11 Israeli sportsmen.
    Why doesn’t your article doesn’t mention that?

    • Arafat

      While Israelis laud their scientists, their artists, their doctors and multiple Nobel Prize nominees and recipients, Palestinians have a long and ignominious tradition of extolling the virtues of those who commit mass murder, slaughter innocents on buses and hijack commercial airliners. Public squares and streets are named after them and their children are taught to emulate them. The contrast between Israeli and Palestinian society could not be starker. One society celebrates and encourages progress and life while the other has morphed itself into a death cult, steeped in perverted traits that are an anathema to Western civilization.

  • Arafat

    As Nikolai Sennels said, a Muslim (Palestinians) never sees himself as the cause of his own actions. It is all external reality and everything is the will of Allah or the fault of the Big Bad Infidel. Hence the eternal victimhood status, the rage, the search for external culprits, hence the jihad. You can’t expect anything else from people who are incapable of taking a long hard look at themselves and who have been told since the cradle that this look is only reserved for the infidels.

    • Arafat

      And Sennels is, of course, describing the Palestinians to a “T” here.

      During the Second Intifada Palestinian homicide bombers killed more than 1,000 Israelis and just under 80% of those killed were civilians. Israel built the fence in self-defense, and it worked. It all but stopped the never-ending wave of Palestinians blowing up buses, cafes, markets, etc. But the Palestinians instead of taking responsibility for Israel’s need to build a separation barrier, blame Israel and only Israel.

      Palestinians: Always the victims, just as Sennels describes.

    • garyfouse

      My entire adult life I have been watching Palestinians resort to terrorism, from the skyjackings of the late 60s to the Munich Olympics in 1972, the Achille Lauro, intifadas etc. It never ends. Suffice to say they don’t earn my support.

      This article uses a lot of flowery language, but it is like putting lipstick on a pig. SJP is a brown shirt organization co-founded by a man who called for an intifada in the US (Hatem Bazian). They use tactics of disruption and intimidation on our campuses.

      Walid Shoebat, an apostate from Islam who once fought for the Palestinians, once spoke of asking his relatives what would happen if suddenly every Israeli converted to Islam.

      “Then all the problems would be solved,” was their response. That says it all. This conflict is not over who owned some piece of land. It is about religion. The Muslims will never accept a Jewish (or any other non-Muslim) state in their midst.

  • Arafat

    The wall is referred to as a “fence,” or “barrier,” because 95% of it is a fence.

    The only instance I know of, where the fence separated Palestinians from their land was Bil’in. The Israeli Supreme Court ordered the fence re-routed and that was resolved.

    As Palestinian shahids massacred dozens of Israeli men, women and children in the early 2000s—at times almost daily, in discos, pizzerias, hotels, and on buses—the Israeli public cried out for a solution.

    The famed Israeli intelligence and military were rendered useless; despite all their efforts, they could not stop the carnage. People would shudder as they got on a bus, not knowing whether they would make it alive to the end of their ride. Daily life became a nightmare.

    The right-wing Sharon government, which did not want to put any barrier between “Judea and Samaria” and the rest of Israel, was finally forced to erect the separation fence and the onerous checkpoints.

    The bombings stopped cold.

    The attempts at murdering Israelis—“amaliyats,” which received the blessings of the vast majority of Palestinians—have never ceased. There are dozens of attempts every single month and the only things that stop them are the barrier, the checkpoints, and the intelligence-driven arrests.

    The barrier placed 80% of settlers and 3% of the West Bank land on the Israeli side—land that under all negotiations and agreements was to fall under the Israeli state anyway. But for pro-Palestinian propagandists, this has been enough to call it an “apartheid wall,” a “land grab,” etc.

    If you were an Israeli, would you rather be labeled a “racist” and stay alive, or would you rather have a good reputation but have your life turned into a living hell until one day you yourself get blown up into shreds?

  • Arafat

    Why is it Muslims are free to violently conquer lands anywhere and everywhere without a word of protest from you?

    But if Jews have a legally established homeland Muslims and Liberals and their ilk will never stop protesting against it? Why is this do you suppose? What explanation can be given other than as the Qur’an states repeatedly that Islam’s goal is to establish a worldwide caliphate in which all non-Muslims are subjugated.

    For instance, Mohammed was born around 571 AD thousands and thousands of years after Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism existed. But within a few centuries of Mohammed’s birth Islam had violently conquered vast sections
    of Asia, all of North Africa and smaller sections of Southern Europe. This is Islam’s way, not the Jew’s way. Jews control next o no land despite their being around for thousands of years before the imperialistic religion of Islam began.

    Now Muslims tell us that all this land belongs to them even though, for instance, in Afghanistan they killed every last Buddhist who once lived there. According to Muslim logic per Israel shouldn’t this land belong to the Buddhists? How do you explain the difference, SJP? Are there special rules for Israel? Is that what you’re really telling us?

    Or in North Africa all the Berbers have been forcibly converted to Islam or have been killed and now we’re told all this vast landmass belongs to Islam. That’s interesting, if not completely hypocritical.

    And what about Southern Thailand. Did anyone know that in the last several years something like 5,000 Buddhists have been killed by Muslims because, or so we’re told, the land the Buddhists are on belongs to Islam. Why isn’t there an end the Occupation of Thailand movement? Or might that hurt the oh-so sensitive Muslim’s feelings? Would we be accused of being Islamophobes if we brought this fact to light?

    And Southern Russia? Muslims are relentlessly waging a slow reign of terror in Russia because, you guessed it, Russians are treating Muslims poorly and the Russians should give up the Southern section of that country to Muslims since Islam deserves all lands.

    Or, let’s take Sudan as another example. How many millions have been killed, displaced and gang-raped in Sudan? How many babies and children have starved in Sudan while Islamists steal the food from aid compounds? How many women have Muslims gang-raped in Sudan all because that land belongs to Muslims and only Muslims.

    All other people can go somewhere else to live, I guess. They can go to South Sudan, but wait a minute, now Muslims are killing the people of South Sudan too. And so it goes…

    And Kashmir? More of the the same. Despite Hindus having lived there for more than 3,000 years – something like 2,000+ years before Mohammed was born – Muslims tell us Kashmir belongs to them. Amazing logic isn’t it? Muslim logic, I guess. SJP’s logic, I guess.

    And that brings us to Israel. Israel also belongs to Islam too. Did you know that? It’s true. Just ask a Muslim or a liberal if you prefer. Even though it’s no bigger than a small pimple on the caliphate’s ass it is still their land and they will fight to the death to prove their point. Even though Jews have lived there for more than a thousand years before Mohammed invented Islam this land – like all lands – belongs to Islam.

    Doesn’t the logic here make a lot of sense. Isn’t it as clear as day? Of course it does. The world belongs to Islam and we’re mere players on their stage. And thanks to institutions like SJP this is happening before our very eyes.

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