Joining the March Toward Freedom By JIM HARRIS and PAUL LARUDEE

Tuesday September 20, 2005

In the year 2001, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) was created in response to the lack of international presence in Palestine. ISM aims to support and strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance by providing the Palestinian people with two resources: international protection and a voice with which to nonviolently resist an overwhelming and brutal military occupation force—a military occupation fully funded by U.S. tax dollars.  

From the very beginning, ISM has been attacked by those who support the continuing military policies of the Israeli government. This includes a few readers of the Daily Planet, and even a few members of the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission. They seek to mislead people about ISM and the Palestinian struggle for dignity and justice. ISM does not support any attacks against civilians, Palestinian or Israeli. Yet our opponents continue these false accusations, and even stoop to dishonoring a young woman, Rachel Corrie, who was killed while protecting the home of Gaza residents.  

We must be clear: Rachel Corrie was killed by the Israeli military while she was protecting a home threatened with destruction by that same military. Rachel was concerned that the home of her friends, the Nasrallah family, would meet the same fate as hundreds of other homes in Gaza. Instead of bulldozing the home on that day, the Israeli military driver of the Caterpillar bulldozer ran over Rachel Corrie. The destruction of the Nasrallah family home was carried out months later, when no internationals were present.  

The ISM, the Corrie family, Amnesty International and even the U.S. State Department all agree that the investigation carried out by the Israel military with regard to Corrie’s death has been inadequate. What we sought by the City Council speaking out was nothing more than what is supposed to be done for any other citizen killed under suspicious circumstances in a foreign country, an independent investigation. Instead, the U.S. government has failed to do an investigation of its own, independent of the Israeli military, which may be complicit through negligence or intention in Corrie’s death. You can be sure that the Israeli government and the U.S. government worked together to thoroughly investigate each death of those U.S. citizens thought to be killed by Palestinians. Why was Rachel Corrie’s death an exception?  

The International Solidarity Movement continues to do the work it set out to do from the beginning. In the West Bank village of Bil’in, villagers have waged an astonishing and creative campaign for months to stop Israel’s Wall of Shame that will effectively destroy that village if completed. The villagers have welcomed Israelis who have come as guests and work for peace for both peoples. ISM volunteers from around the world, including some from the Bay Area, have also been there to witness and support what is really one of the most remarkable nonviolent struggles of our time. 

We anticipate hosting two leaders of this campaign in late October. Ayed Morrar, known as a “Palestinian Gandhi,” and an Israeli coworker, Jonathan Pollak, will speak to Bay Area audiences. Please see www.norcalism.org for details.  

We will not back down, despite the barrage of falsehoods spread by a few. We will continue to be part of this march toward freedom, standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine who have suffered so much. We will not be silent as U.S. politicians continue to loot the treasury to fund the despicable Israeli occupation of Palestine, sending bombs, bullets, and bulldozers to dispossess Palestinians from their homes. This represents a theft from poor Americans who are being denied funds so they can build homes and strengthen their communities here. Therefore, this is both a global issue and a local issue, and more than anything, a human issue.  


Jim Harris and Paul Larudee are members of the NorCal International Solidarity Movement.