Marie’s Palestine Journal


Below is a brief story about Mustafa written in November by Barbara Thiel of the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Program. Ironically, as Mustafa noted in the story below in commenting about his brother in November, it appears that Mustafa is being detained “because he is a Palestinian.”

We hope that tomorrow Mustafa will be released.

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A Young Man’s Life: Barbara Thiel

I met Mustafa on his field, where he and his brother started to replant their olive trees. The field is now divided into one part in the West of the Israeli Security Fence and one in the East; the place for the fence itself has already eaten the place for 77 Olive trees. Mustafa and his brother rented a bulldozer to open new holes in the Olive field, to transport the trees and to bring them into the new holes. The work is hard; most of the trees are old and heavy, so, that at least for every tree 3 to 4 people are necessary to manage the replanting. Good that they have friends here to help. The bulldozer is on his way to bring the next trees. Mustafa now has time to tell me:

Trees were uprooted to make way for security fence.“It is very hard for me. I am not a farmer. I studied psychology at the University in Nablus and got my B.A. But in this time there is no way to continue, the way to reach Nablus – only 25 km far away from Jayyous – is very difficult because of different road blocks and checkpoints and long term closures and curfews in Nablus itself, and beside this it is too expensive. So I opened a small shop in Jayyous, but, of course, if most people don’t have money, you can’t sell so much. By the way, we are able to replant 55 Olive trees. We miss 22 trees. We believe, that the Israeli contractor took them to sell inside of Israel.”

Some days later we visited Mustafa again on his field. It was the time, when he started to water the replanted trees. On the field he has a water reservoir, where he can collect the rainwater. We can see, how Mustafa starts his work. First he has to chop the soil. Then he takes his bottle and goes to his water reservoir, the bottle goes down on a long rope, and he gets the bottle back, full of water. He turns to the tree, waters it, and goes again to the reservoir. Ten or twelve times. It is a hard job. After he finished one tree he needs a rest. “Please excuse me. You know, I am not a farmer”, he says. The volume of the reservoir of 200 m3 is normally enough for the needs of one year. Now, short term before the raining period, it is nearly empty. But he needs in the next 3 or 4 years every year per tree approximately 3 times 100 l water. Then, after this time, he will know if his replanting was successful.

Mustafa is 23 years old. He has 3 brothers and 5 sisters, but nobody has a job. His father worked as a teacher in Jayyous for many years, later he was the manager of a charity for disabled in Qalqylia, now he lost this job and stays at home because of the circumstances, the closures, curfews, troubles of the checkpoints. One brother studied sociology, the other one and one of the sisters religion. One sister studied English, two married early, the last one is studying teaching. One of the brothers studied sports. He recently came back from the prison, a prisoner’s camp in the desert, where he had to stay for 16 months. I asked why. The answer was a laughing: “Because he is a Palestinian. Maybe, because he is religious. There was no court, no law, no right. This is our life.”

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A letter from Marie to Jeff Weaver, CBC Radio in Victoria

Did you hear my message from the battle zone last Sunday with the percussion bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets, not to mention people yelling? All this happened when a peaceful protest against what is now being called the “apartheid wall” turned nasty, here in Jayyous, West Bank, Occupied Territories, as the border police and army combined to stop the protesters from leaving the village. The pictures that I sent Susan tell some of the story: the protest was a grassroots organized event, moving from 12 villages to a central point in Jayyous for speeches and the plan was to go out of the village to stand where we could see the land that is being confiscated and torn up by earthmoving equipment for the wall. The concrete wall is 8 metres high, buttressed by 50 metres of trench, with an electric fence and a military road, being built along side of it.

Here in Jayyous where I am staying for the next week, the distress is significant. The wall is surrounding the village and cutting off the farmers from their land and from their traditional means of earning their living. I have been assigned to this region near Qalquilya, near Nablus, which is unusually fertile and has important aquifers that make farming possible in this dry land. Of course such resources are appreciated by the Israeli settlements that have protruded into the Occupied Territories further and further, increasingly during the so-called Oslo Peace Process. These settlements are, of course, the hidden basis for the Second Intifada. (Hidden from the world, that is, but so very visible to anybody’s eyes here.)

The settlement movement escalated throughout the 90s. Looking west from where I have been living for the past 10 days, what you see is pervasive urban sprawl. It is especially obvious at night when lights burn all around my village. I feel as if I am looking at Toronto and environs – an encirclement of lights.

Well, that is what is on my mind this morning. But the story has many parts. “The occupation” itself is a story that is overwhelming to someone like me – how people can live in a place where an occupying army has control over one’s movements and can exercise that control violently, almost at will. Curfew means that people are supposed to stay home when it is called (Qalqiliya was under curfew constantly for the first five days I was here) and if caught outside, they are subject to detainment, or actual arrest, if not beating.

In my area, about ten people have been killed in the past two weeks, including an 8-year-old boy. Arrest is arbitrary – someone can be snatched, taken away, with apparently no need to follow legal procedures for arraignment, charges, etc. We lost a member of the local press in just this manner last Sunday. He is being held in prison although his charge sheet is clear. I have spent some time at road checkpoints, watching and talking to soldiers, reminding them that they have responsibilities as occupiers. It appears that they believe their job is to make Palestinians as miserable as possible, waiting in the rain, humiliated. The notion of “apartheid” is a big topic.

So, I am here at Jayyous till about January 13. I am spending the week accompanying farmers to their fields across the construction of the wall. Soldiers and private security officers harass them. Many, especially women, have found it so hard that they have given up going. They have to walk, as I did yesterday, and their harvested produce is hard to get to market anyway, owing to permanently blocked roads. The roads are another topic.

Bulldozer begins destruction of a tilled field where the security fence will be built.The people are so worried about their future, their economy, their families, their land held in some cases for centuries, and many with papers from the British Mandate. It is obvious that the wall, rather than the solution to Israeli security, is, in contrast, a new sort of trouble that is not going to end soon or easily. These farmers are going to fight for their land. And Jayyous, what was till now a peaceful agricultural community, is being turned into a very angry one. Even so, they are using nonviolent means to struggle. For instance, 1,000 fruit trees were delivered to Jayyous yesterday to be planted outside the wall to support their claim that this land is theirs, and they are not willing to relinquish it.

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.

I called Marie on New year’s Eve to check out her cell phone number, as the CBC wants to do a live interview with her. I found her in a hayloft with a group of activists (and possibly farmers as well). It was evening and they were having tea. She seemed very relaxed and said that the Palestinians certainly know how to have a good time. That’s very heartening to hear, as a counterbalance to the despair over the loss of their farms.

She wishes you all a Happy New Year.

Susan Clarke

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.

Azun – December 31, 2002

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.

Azun, West Bank, night patrols

We have moved to Azun, West Bank to work with farmers and villagers as the wall construction approaches and they are being prevented from going to fields. We do night patrols in villages where the army and border police are active. We try to watch to see how they treat people. They come, kick down doors and haul people out. In response to the protest against the Wall, there is much harrassement, intimidation, identifying and arresting leaders.

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.

Quick note

I’ve come quickly to the Internet cafe in Qalqilia today, before we return to Jeyyous immediately to try to interfere with the military taking revenge on the villagers. We kept up patrols all night there last night, but fortunately no soldiers came. We had to come back to Qalqilia today to get our “stuff” (toothbrushes, etc.) as we meant to be away only one night, not a week.

A competent photographer has arrived and promises me pictures and help with sending mine! Internet access is limited while we are in the villages.

Marie

News Release
December 29, 2002

Israeli Army Tear Gases Farmers Resisting the Apartheid Wall In Jeyyus

Marie Campbell, retired UVic professor acting as a volunteer observer in the Occupied Territories, was part of a protest at Jeyyus, Palestine. Marie and a group of international observers walked at the front of a peaceful march organized by area farmers until they were stopped by the Israeli army and police forces. “We just sat down”, said Marie, “Then they tear gassed us. Small boys began throwing stones and the army returned fire”.

“This is a very peaceful group of farmers. We met last night and it was agreed that we show our resistance to the Wall in a nonviolent protest.” People from 12 villages surrounding Qalqilya gathered to hear speeches when the army tried to provoke them to react. “It’s really important for these people to resist peacefully, but the media seems only interested in reporting violence”.

These people have had title to their land since the British Mandate. The land is very fertile and there are aquifers. Settlements are encroaching on their farmland and now the “security wall” is taking a tremendous amount of land and cutting up the communities.

Marie Campbell who left Victoria on December 12 to be an international observer with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), went through a training in nonviolence before being assigned to Qalqilya. International observers document and report back to their home communities what is actually happening in Palestine

Susan Clarke, Victoria Peace Coalition

From Marie's Palestine Journal 2002


Tel Aviv – December 27, 2002

Today, I am in Tel Aviv for a Women in Black demonstration and to take a break.

My group was being called to an emergency in a village called Es Bet Salman, just as I was leaving to go to the Qalqilya checkpoint to meet up with other internationals going to Tel Aviv. In the village, it was said, soldiers were massed and attacking property, busting up things. It is not clear exactly what is going on but the remaining seven of my group headed off there. There is a demonstration being planned for Sunday, I mentioned before. It is coming from the villages and is protesting the “security fence”. Perhaps this attack has something to do with that or just with the resistance the villagers and farmers are making to having the fence constructed across their property. The land is fertile here, many greenhouses, too, and their business of these farmers is being undermined.

I must go now.

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.

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