The following are selected translated comments from a 7 September speech given by the representative of the Popular Committee of Bil’in, Basel Mansour, to Israelis who participated in the demonstration in the village after the decision by the Israeli High Court to alter the route of the wall in the village.
Lovers of peace, friends of freedom and justice … our partners in the struggle and in the creation of this partial victory — I bless you in the name of our Palestinian people, in the name of the residents of Bil’in, who you came to know, and who came to know you, and whose sides you stood by ever since they began their opposition to the fence and the settlement that squats on a large part of their land. You came to us without considering the consequences — the Zionist occupational government attempts to implant the deceptive and distorted idea that the Palestinians are your enemy and want to kill you. By way of this shared journey, we proved the opposite and together we demonstrated the truth — that Israelis can stand beside Palestinians and live with them in peace and security, and even struggle with them against injustice and occupation, on the fundamental basis that this occupation is an enemy of humanity.
You succeeded in overcoming the army’s roadblocks in order to arrive here through a difficult mountainous path and were vulnerable to its shooting attacks. In this way many of you were wounded by bullets that originated from the unmerciful occupation army — and not from Palestinians, who the occupation attempts to distort and portray as vicious animals that want to devour Israelis or throw them into the sea.
You were braver than your fearful government. You participated in the struggle actively and in every way — morally, physically, in the courts and in the media. In the battlefield, you were on the frontlines, calling with us for freedom, in your belief that only the manifestation of justice will guarantee the creation of peace and security for our two peoples, and not the building of walls and the expanding of weapons warehouses.
You have been real partners — awake with us late at night, in confronting the almost daily invasions of village homes by the army; together with us you opposed many attempts to arrest, and you yourselves were injured and arrested — and you conveyed the true picture to the Israeli society. You disputed the positions of the government and the army in every arena — until the entire world was a witness to this special connection that was created on the land of Bil’in, that united the conversation and the meeting between cultures, creeds and religions. A connection like this must be victorious, history must immortalize it.
Honorable audience, one of the biggest difficulties in this campaign was how to organize and manage the connection with the Israelis in solidarity, after the Palestinian people have always suffered injustice from the Zionist occupation. This was done while Palestinians aspire to lives of freedom, respect, and culture, and the mobilization of the most amount of Israelis possible and international representatives to stand up to the injustice. Once the Israelis in solidarity understood all of this, they became dedicated to the work and became real warriors that earned the trust of all. They contributed much by revealing the true face of the occupation — its tactics, its lies and its organized terror against Palestinians — in opposition to those that attempt to normalize and whitewash the occupation.
These people were always willing to take upon themselves whatever was asked of them by the Popular Committee, and more than this, often taking the initiative, offering ideas and suggestions. In this way, they demonstrated that they were true fighters — not only fans or friends, or cogs in the machine of the occupation. They are heroes in the nonviolent campaign of the brave.
Honorable audience, recently a decision was taken by the body called the Israeli High Court of Justice, to cancel sections of the fence in Bil’in and to return a small amount of the stolen lands. This decision was taken after a long campaign with the participation of peace workers from every land, and the shooting injuries of almost a thousand demonstrators, in addition to tens of arrests and many more assaults.
We went to this occupational court not out of faith in it, but to prove that these courts are nothing but tools of the occupation. They are like a soldier that shoots you in the head and kills you, and then wraps your head in a white cloth, to be portrayed as a first aid worker. In its decision, this court proved to be cowardly and a cause of injustice; we turn your attention to the fact that our campaign was against the existence of the wall in principle, and not only opposition to its route.
Therefore we will continue in our struggle, until the occupational government destroys the wall and the settlements in all of Palestine, and we will build together, with our bodies, real bridges of love and security and peace, in order to conquer the wall. And we will crush all of the machinations of the occupation, until we reach the ocean that knows no border — and on its safe shores, we will sing the song of freedom and peace, together — far from the injustices of the occupation, and its roadblocks and barriers.
Blessings and respect to all of the Israelis, each and every one individually, who believe in peace and in our legitimate rights, and welcome to Bil’in.