Bill Christison

Defending Palestinian homes: Tears amid the rubble

As we watched helplessly, the two Caterpillars, with pneumatic drills on their long dinosaur arms, systematically punched holes in the front of the house, then in the roof. Billows of dust began to rise as pieces fell off the house, then more as the roof began to fall in. The water tank on the roof was first dented, then punctured, sending out a large spray of water that was visible even from our distant perch. It all took only a few minutes. In fact, only an hour passed between the arrival and the departure of the Caterpillars, probably only 20 minutes from start to finish of the actual demolition. Kathy and Bill Christison write about just one day spent defending Palestinian homes. 

Building the Beit Arabia peace center

We spent three weeks in Jerusalem and the West Bank in August, working on a project to rebuild a Palestinian house demolished by Israeli bulldozers. What we were actually building — under the sponsorship of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) led by Jeff Halper — was a memorial and museum dedicated to the entire house-demolition/house-rebuilding phenomenon in Palestine-Israel. Although this building was not intended as a family home, it was constructed on the site of a home that the Israelis have demolished four times in the last five years, most recently in April 2003. Kathy and Bill Christison report from the occupied West Bank. 

Final thoughts from Palestine

“As we left East Jerusalem for Amman last week, on our way back home, we were struck by the cynicism of what appeared to be a concerted effort by the Israeli press and others in the media to justify, retrospectively, Israel’s siege and destruction of Jenin a year ago because it is now clear that U.S. and British forces are doing the same thing in Iraq.” Kathleen and Bill Christison reflect on their trip from Occupied East Jerusalem. 

Israel's contradiction: victimhood with power

Jeff Halper Jeff Halper is an Israeli anthropologist, until his retirement a year ago a professor at Ben Gurion University, a transplant 30 years ago from Minnesota, a harsh critic of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and, as founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), perhaps the leading peace and anti-occupation activist in Israel. Kathleen and Bill Christison interview the Israeli activist. 

A new Sykes-Picot Agreement: Yasser Arafat discusses the future

Our arrival at Yasser Arafat’s headquarters was fairly dramatic, or at least it gave us, accustomed as we are to nothing more exciting than quietly writing at a computer in our comfortable home, a keen sense of the drama of the occasion. The meeting had been arranged from Amman, without our asking, by the friend of friends of ours, a Palestinian in Amman who had known Arafat for years and set up the meeting through one of Arafat’s advisers. Kathleen and Bill Christison write from Ramallah. 

Palestinians: long-term hopefulness still dominates

Hanan Ashrawi tells us bluntly that the principal aim of Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and his right-wing, Zionist fundamentalist government is to make sure that no Palestinian state ever exists as a viable entity. Their goal, she says, “is not just dismantling the infrastructure, the structures of Palestinian statehood, but dismantling an identity: not just preventing formation of a viable Palestinian state but eliminating a nation and a people.” The message that Ashrawi sees is clear wherever you go in the occupied West Bank. Bill and Kathleen Christison write from Ramallah. 

War in a very small place

We sit in a Jerusalem hotel on Friday night — the third night of the war — watching what looks like the beginning of Operation Shock and Awe, or some variation of it, in Baghdad, wondering how our former colleagues on the Iraq Peace Team are faring under this massive bombardment, wondering how frightened they must be, wondering how we would be responding ourselves if we were there. We are not there, but we have another war to report on, another civilian population under attack and siege. We went to Jenin in Palestine on Thursday. Bill and Kathy Christison report on what they are finding on their tour around Palestine. 

Heading for Jerusalem

We have a picture taped above a computer at home, sent to us a month ago on the email circuit, of a naked Palestinian man who has just been strip-searched by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Ramallah and relieved of his clothes altogether, now surrounded by other Palestinian men trying to cover him.