Podcast: “Israel’s drunk with power,” says Stop the Wall’s Jamal Juma’

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Palestinians continue to resist Israel’s expanding policies of land confiscation and control in the West Bank.

Mamoun Wazwaz APA images

This week on The Electronic Intifada podcast:

Rush transcript - Jamal Juma’ of the Stop the Wall Campaign

The Electronic Intifada: Let’s start off with the arrest and interrogation and detention of Hassan Karajah. He’s a youth coordinator with Stop the Wall, the activism group whose members have been repeatedly targeted by Israeli forces, including yourself, you were arrested in 2009. As we reported, last year the army raided Stop The Wall’s offices, stealing computers and hard drives. And a previous youth coordinator, Mohammed Othman, was also arrested in 2009, he was interrogated for more than 60 days and held for 113 days without charge or trial. Talk about the expansion of attacks on human rights defenders, is this part of a concentrated effort by Israel to undermine grassroots Palestinian civil society movements?

Jamal Juma’: Yeah, that’s true. We need also to understand that the Israeli government is a right wing fascist government, with all that they are doing in the West Bank, from destroying the houses to evacuating the people. Just a week ago, they evacuated a whole village in the north of the Jordan Valley, and destroyed around 90 houses since the beginning of this month.

This is part of the policies of ethnic cleansing and part of the policies that are changing the de facto situation on the ground, changing the geopolitical map of the West Bank, in order to be able to control it 100 percent. Control everything, every aspect of the Palestinian peoples’ life, their movement, their work, their future, their food, their everything. Part of this is to annex the vast majority of the West Bank. Which is undergoing now, by intensifying the settlements in what’s called Area C, and evacuating the areas I was talking about for the benefit of the settlers and the expansion of the colonies and the settlements that they are building in the West Bank.

On the other hand, Palestinian resistance is continuing. The steadfastness of the people in this areas, and resisting this expulsion, resisting the moving out of these areas, is part of the Palestinian resistance against these fascist policies. So the reaction of the military and the reaction of Israel is also to target strongly this resistance, and any Palestinians who are willing to resist.

And the campaign is an example of popular resistance that started in 2000 as a reaction of this colonial project which is the apartheid wall, which has been framing the whole colonial racist project in the West Bank, which has ended up with an apartheid system which we are witnessing now. So, part of it is targeting the resistance campaign and the popular committees around in the West Bank since long ago. Particularly it intensified in June 2009 when they started arresting the coordinators of the committees in different areas, and dealing with aggressive violence against the demonstrators and peaceful demonstrations around, then moving to the coordinators of the youth and the campaign, trying to destroy all our … particularly the office and the the tools that we have, our networks, our materials that we are using … aiming at a certain point to break us, and to break the resistance of the people against the occupation.

But what we have been witnessing is that Israel is drunk with their power, like any other occupier who has had all this support from the world, particularly from the United States government, they think that by using the immense power against the people and trying to destroy them, that they will win against them. But they didn’t learn the lesson: that the more that you deal violently with the people and the more that you kill the people, that you try to destroy them, the more that the resistance will be grown up and grown up, more and more. That was proved by the first intifada — when they used to use the policy of breaking the bones, that was initiated by [former Israeli prime minister] Yitzhak Rabin.

The result of breaking the bones was that the intifada became much more stronger and powerful, and became much more expanding all over. The same with the second intifada. When it started peacefully in the first three months until six months, there were very peaceful demonstrations like the first intifada, but in the first three months, they killed 300 Palestinians in these demonstrations. So the result was this intifada changing to violence, and in a way, it became an armed resistance that ended up with Israel committing massacres, like the Jenin massacre and massacres that have been committed in different Palestinian cities in 2002, mainly.

Then lately, we weren’t surprised that they arrested someone like Hassan. Hassan is a young activist, and in the latest development of the popular resistance, like in Bab al-Shams and Bab al-Karame and different other initiatives, where our people are challenging the occupation in very sensitive areas like E-1 and the settlements where they confiscate the land, and they came for the first time as Palestinians building villages and tents to stay in — not because they are escaping from the occupation, but we call it the return back camps, to go back to the land that they are trying to take out and confiscate from the people.

So we expected that they are going to deal with us much more violently, and they are going to arrest us, and we don’t know who will be after Hassan.

EI: Jamal, talk a little bit more about the efforts of the Stop the Wall campaign right now, as these colonization efforts are ramping up, as the settlements are expanding, as you said…

JJ: You know, we expect that this year is going to be a very difficult year, especially since we have now a real right-wing fascist government after this Israeli election, and because in the last month of 2012 was really very difficult. With all that they are doing from the level of the confiscation of the land, level of the destruction of houses, and the pressure on the people, arresting the people, killing the people — it’s clear that they’re going to drive the situation to an explosion.

We can’t as Palestinians stand watching while they are doing all what they are doing to our people. That’s why we expect the situation will explode and we will have another intifada. Now, for example, what they are doing — many of the areas, especially in what they call Area C in the Jordan Valley, and near Nablus and in the mountains north and south of Hebron, there are now villages and neighborhoods targeted for expulsion. And they’re destroying their houses and their properties. And every day, we have people coming and showing us orders from the military to destroy houses and giving them a little bit of time, a week, to complain about it and it ends up with the bulldozers coming in the early morning and destroying their houses.

So our reaction to this as a popular movement is to go to stand up with the people, to go to sleep with them in their houses, to try and bring much more solidarity from people towards these villages. Also, trying to make it a big issue in the media. And trying also to pressure within the Palestinian Authority to move. And political parties became much more involved now in the actions that are going on the ground. So how we see the situation is now it’s escalating, and it’s coming toward more and more villages that have joined the popular resistance.

If I want to talk about many things that would take a long time, in every aspect of the life there are serious attacks. Like the prisoners, for example. The prisoners are a big issue. More than 4,500 prisoners now in jails. Some of them are under hunger strike since now over 100 days, four of them have moved to the hospital a few days ago. Now we have a village tent in Jenin, it’s to support the prisoners in their strike.

They attacked these tents, and many people have been injured, and they tried to move it by force, but the people stay there. And in villages close to the wall, or isolated by the wall, in the Jenin area in the north.

EI: If you could talk for one minute about your reaction to the killings of six young Palestinians in the course of one month by Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza.

JJ: You get so angry and so frustrated when you see such young people have been killed, shot dead for nothing. They just go either to the schools or go to their homes and suddenly there is a soldier or a settler who point a gun and shoot them, with no reason for that. They are not holding guns, they are not confronting them.

And this is, I would say, happening because Israel used to do this. Settlers used to do that without anyone holding them accountable for what they are doing. The settlers can shoot, and the soldiers can shoot and could kill people. And they don’t even go to the interrogation or to the court. This is internal.

But the bigger picture I would say is that Israel must be taken to the court. Israel must be sanctioned. Sanctioned for this. They must be boycotted and isolated as a criminal power that did this to the civilians, to the people who are innocent people. And particularly many of them are children. Like what happened to this girl from the refugee camp al-Arroub. She did nothing whatsoever anything that was done to be deserved to be killed.

Who’s asking about these crimes? Who’s holding these people accountable for these crimes? Why don’t the soldiers who killed her don’t kill tomorrow another two or three? Because he went home, and he slept very deeply in his home. And he knew very well that he can justify his crime. And this crime, he can every day even laugh at his face when he does that.

So the whole system is corrupted. The whole system has no morals whatsoever. This is why it can’t continue like this. It can’t continue like this. We will not accept it as a people. In the end, the people drive us, as we say in Arabic, drive us back to the wall. They left us powerless, without any means but to defend ourselves in the end. And to explode in the end. There is nothing to lose in the end.

We don’t want it to lead to the point. That’s why we always call that this needs international interference. This needs for people to wake up. This shouldn’t be accepted. We are human beings. We have rights like any other people around the world to live peacefully. To go in the morning to our schools and our homes and to go back in the evening to our homes. Not to send our children to school and we don’t know if they are coming back or not.




The answer is to intensify the struggle on every level and in every place and be ready to support in every way the coming intifada!

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).