Marie’s Palestine Journal


Marie Campbell is a retired University of Victoria professor who left on December 12, 2002 to spend a month in Palestine doing observational work with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Observers from Europe and North America act not only as witnesses, but also provide a measure of protection and emotional support to Palestinians.
Tel Aviv – January 15, 2003

I got out of Jerusalem by bus and back to the home of my benefactors, Danny and Raquel Tadmorr (who deserve to be mentioned in my dispatches for their wonderful support) in Tel Aviv. I am now going to enjoy a bath and change into the clothes that I left in their house while I was in Palestine.

I still have work to do before I leave here tonight. I forget whether or how much of the story of the “Jayyous woman detained” I have told you. My ISM group decided that we had to try hard to get this event publicized and responded to by Israelis. We felt that we needed to respond to the anguish that the villagers felt about having this young mother taken away from her family and especially from her nursing baby without any sort of “charge” against her.

The villagers saw it as the “raising of the bar”, as far as harassment goes, and they thought that once the army starts to take women, they will continue. So I have been working in Jerusalem to find a feminist or peace group to take up the cause – just a simple request, to circulate my statement about the problem and ask Israelis to call the people’s names we are putting at the bottom the statement, names of government and military leaders.

I have been talking to Bat Shalom, over the past few days, and to several feminist members of the Kenesset, known to be supportive of the cause of peace, and to Betselem, a human rights group. All find that our idea for action on this issue, while not a bad one, is not exactly in their mandate. I still have to contact, Gush Shalom. I hate so much to leave here without ensuring that the thing gets into the hands of someone who will carry it forward. Wish me luck on this.

I am bringing home three newspapers that I picked up in Jerusalem today. It’s interesting to see three different versions of events. I see a new undertaking emerging for Marie, the Sociologist of Knowledge. Who would like to join me in reading Canadian newspapers, and analyzing and responding to the Middle-East stories that appear? In discussion with a Palestinian professor (Rita Giocamen) from Beirzet University in Romallah (Monday of this week), this emerged as one of the possible ways to influence Canadian public opinion, and one that I might be able to carry out with the help of other interested people.

We talked about other avenues of continued support for the cause of Palestinian-Israeli peace, which I will speak about when I come home. I am looking forward to coming home and seeing all my friends.

Marie

Marie Campbell is a retired University of Victoria professor who left on December 12, 2002 to spend a month in Palestine doing observational work with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Observers from Europe and North America act not only as witnesses, but also provide a measure of protection and emotional support to Palestinians.

Jayyous to Jerusalem – January 13, 2003

As I prepared to leave Jayyous, Mike Hornbrook, CBC reporter, called to say he could come (to Jayyous) on Sunday. So I scurried around locating my proposed interviewees and cancelling my taxi to Jerusalem. Mike offered me a ride down in his armoured car. The Radio-Canada reporter, Hughes Poulin, accompanied Mike, as well as a young Palestinian interpreter – a BeirZet University grad who also commented on the Palestinian situation from his Perspective, which was interesting and useful.

Marie at work on cellphone in Jayyous.Mike and Hughes’s reports will be broadcast soon and I asked them to let me know when. Mike seemed to think that he would incorporate some of the Jayyous story with other material he has been collecting from Hebron. They will appear in news broadcasts, I gather. We spent a long afternoon talking to people and then a long return voyage trying to get to an Israeli highway from the West Bank, going through fields, etc. to get past blocked Palestinian roads. And finally made it.

I felt very sad to leave my Palestinian family in Jayyous. I haven’t told you much about THEM, but I have come to feel very close to them, in their difficulties. Today, (Monday) I went back into the West Bank by shared taxi from Jerusalem to Romallah to meet the BeirZet University prof, Rita Giocamen, who runs the Community Health and Policy Institute there. I found her working in the converted garage she has begged from a friend. I took some photos of this little space, which is a beehive of activity for about 10 people (faculty). They are working here because getting out to the campus has become next to impossible.

Rita’s husband is an activist who started an organization (initials are GIPP) that brings internationals to Palestine on study tours, a slightly different concept from ISM’s more hands-on work. Rita’s Institute is very grassroots, existing on donated funds. She is collaborating with a Queen’s University group to study youth issues in Palestine. You can imagine that children suffer from living in the chaos that I have been describing. And unless they are worked with, their potential to become good citizens is doubtful.

Rita says that she works with IDRC (a Canadian research institute) but has given up trying to work with CIDA, because its policy is inflexible and “made-in Canada”, rather than working from a grassroots basis, which she has come to believe is the only way for good work to be done. I could identify with this perspective and want to follow up on it when I get home.

Marie

Jayyous, January 11

Today is Saturday and I am trying to get a statement ready to send to Women’s Groups in Israel to encourage them to help us protest the “detainment”, which means snatching by soldiers and carrying off who knows where, of a 22-year-old mother from our village, the morning before last. Soldiers had invaded her home in the night, herded the extended family into one room and questioned the two men separately. This ordeal went on for 7 hours. Then they took the men away, and later in the day returned and roughly handled the woman as they took her away too. She was released after about 8 hours, but in that time, nobody knew where she was, and her breast-fed baby was left behind in the care of the grandmother, who also lived in the home. This happened while we were right there in the village and nobody knew about it going on till morning. So much for our watching eyes.

Anyway, this campaign to publicize soldiers’ harassment of Palestinian women offers me something concrete to do as I leave the country. We are especially appealing to the women members of the Knesset, one of whom is known to us as a feminist, to go to the military leaders with the concern.

I am arranging an Israeli-plated car to drive me to Jerusalem tomorrow as local cars and Palestinians can’t use the main roads, even in Palestine, except when they are chauffering an Israeli or international, like me. I’ll take a taxi back to Romallah for my Monday meeting with Dr. Rita Giocamen atBirzeit University. Then on Tuesday, I have a “tour guide” available to show me around Jerusalem, and I’ll try to see the feminists that we are going to work with on the above-mentioned campaign.

I am wondering if I should try to see Jaggi in prison. [Jaggi was already back in Toronto when Marie wrote this] I have some experience of Israeli detention centres, military courts, etc., so perhaps I’ll give it a try. I also have met his lawyer, Shami Leibowitz, so maybe I’ll call him first.

I am packaging up my books, papers, CDs of photos, etc. to mail from Jerusalem. To avoid trouble at the airport. I don’t foresee any trouble, actually. I have mixed feelings about home … on the one hand, I’ve been counting the days since I came here, owing to the pervasive anxietyabout what is happening here; on the other, I’ve had a great time, and there remains much to be done. That’s an understatement, if I ever made one.

Marie

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