Stopping the Wall

‘Through our hands, the wall will fall!’ Under this slogan, the third ‘Week Against the Apartheid Wall’ (held during 9-16 November 2005) saw a fresh upsurge of popular resistance to Israel’s so-called ‘security wall’ in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Wherever Israeli bulldozers are destroying and isolating Palestinian homes, lands and water resources through the wall’s construction, people are standing up against the ghettoisation of their communities and the destruction of their livelihoods. From Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, in Eizarya, Aboud and Anata and throughout Palestine, grassroots campaigners are mobilising in continuous protests against the wall and the occupation.

January 1, 2006
6 min read

This mobilisation started shortly after the ‘re-invasion’ of the West Bank in spring 2002, when the people in Jenin and Qalqiliya district faced the onslaught of scores of bulldozers, backed by the Israeli army, clearing the way for the wall. The Anti Apartheid Wall Campaign (‘Stop the Wall’) was formed to support the popular resistance, and by June 2003 the local communities affected by the wall had established a coordinated structure within the campaign to support their fight and get their voices heard nationally and internationally.

The campaign is a coalition of Palestinian NGOs and popular committees that originated on 2 October 2002 with a call for a coordinated resistance organisation made through the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON). It operates on three levels: acting as the voice of communities locally; mobilising and coordinating nationally; and organising as part of what it describes as ‘the global struggle against colonisation, war and racism’. The campaign presently coordinates the work of 54 popular committees in communities that are being devastated by the wall. It has four principal objectives:

1. Stop the wall;

2. Dismantle parts already built;

3. Return all lands confiscated for the wall; and

4. Compensate for all losses.

Although organised on a national, and even international, level, the campaign is founded on the resources and determination that exists within the communities directly affected by the wall. Here, away from the eyes of the international media and in the face of overwhelming and often brutal force, a steadfastness to defend land and livelihood has swept throughout Palestine. In places, the work of the bulldozers has been blocked for periods lasting up to several weeks and sections of the wall have even been torn down by Palestinians. Gates and control devices have been repeatedly broken or dismantled so that people can reach their land. Farmers have continued planting and harvesting their lands isolated beyond the wall.

The price has been high: eight young men and children have been killed by Israeli fire in demonstrations against the wall. Nonviolent demonstrations have been fired on or met with tear gas, rubber bullets and sound bombs. In Ramallah district, for example, where weekly demonstrations are organised in villages along the line of the wall, dozens of demonstrators were badly injured when the Israeli army broke up a protest by around 700 people at Aboud at the beginning of December. In Bi’lin, in west Ramallah, a ten-year-old girl was among the casualties.

One of those involved in the resistance locally is Aisha, a woman in her seventies, who has been the backbone of her family for many years. She lives with her son and his family, a total of 17 people. Between them they shared a modest plot of land in the west Ramallah village of Budrus. Now that land has been isolated by the construction of the wall and the family has been cut off from its source of living.

With obvious pain, Aisha describes how the land was destroyed for the wall. ‘Seventy trees were uprooted from my land to be replaced by concrete,’ she says. ‘When I was a child I planted these trees. We used to hold water over our heads to reach the plants and water them. These trees are like my children. From these olives we produced oil to cover all our needs. We used to make six or seven boxes of washing soap from this oil, so we didn’t buy from market. We used to plant tomato, eggplant, wheat and zucchini between the olives. We used to produce a lot and sell them. The wall destroyed our land and source of living. Now we live under aid and are at the mercy of the donor sources.’

Altogether, the wall, military bases, Israeli settlements and their roads account for almost half of the land in the West Bank. By the time the wall is finished, the West Bank will be virtually cut off from Jerusalem and divided into three separate bantustans and numerous de facto ghettos. The humiliating ghetto gates designed to control every movement within the West Bank are already operating in Bethlehem and Qalandiya, while mass terminals such as the one south of Nablus are now under construction.

The most fertile land and the main water resources in the occupied territories have been appropriated by the Zionist expansion. Transport of Palestinian produce to markets is near impossible, while subsidised Israeli settlement produce is dumped at low prices. Economic schemes drawn up by the World Bank in effect seek to institutionalise people’s lives within prisons. So-called development plans are based on the construction of industrial zones to be built at the entrances of Palestinian ghettoes. Farmers are being turned into beggars of international aid and the slaves of neoliberal projects that profit on the needs of a dispossessed and ghettoised people.

In the face of all this, campaigners are turning their attention to how best to continue their struggle. Many argue that the forthcoming Palestinian Authority elections are no more than a diversion from the real battles that lie ahead. Left only with bantustans, the two-state solution is nothing more than a dangerous trap, they argue. The question is how to oppose the wall – and the destruction of Palestinians’ means of sustenance – and move towards liberation?

Opposing the ‘normalisation’ of society behind the wall is one strategy that is securing widespread support. Another is that of an international campaign similar to that organised against apartheid South Africa. The outlines of any campaign are still not defined, but the first universities are boycotting Israeli products in their cafeterias, and cultural and other groups have begun to discuss what they can do. Against overwhelming odds, the Palestinian people are moving towards a new stage in their liberation struggle in which the grassroots and their organisations once again lead the direction of the Palestinian intifada.Stop the Wall, the grassroots Palestinian Anti Apartheid Wall Campaign, can be contacted c/o PENGON, PO Box 25220, Beit Hanina, Jerusalem.

Tel: +972-2-2401946; Fax: +972-2-2407517

http://stopthewall.org

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

Jeremy Corbyn is no longer the leader of the opposition – he has become the People’s Prime Minister
While Theresa May hides away, Corbyn stands with the people in our hours of need, writes Tom Walker

In the aftermath of this disaster, we must fight to restore respect and democracy for council tenants
Glyn Robbins says it's time to put residents, not private firms, back at the centre of decision-making over their housing

After Grenfell: ending the murderous war on our protections
Under cover of 'cutting red tape', the government has been slashing safety standards. It's time for it to stop, writes Christine Berry

Why the Grenfell Tower fire means everything must change
The fire was a man-made atrocity, says Faiza Shaheen – we must redesign our economic system so it can never happen again

Forcing MPs to take an oath of allegiance to the monarchy undermines democracy
As long as being an MP means pledging loyalty to an unelected head of state, our parliamentary system will remain undemocratic, writes Kate Flood

7 reasons why Labour can win the next election
From the rise of Grime for Corbyn to the reduced power of the tabloids, Will Murray looks at the reasons to be optimistic for Labour's chances next time

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 25 June
On June 25th, the fourth of Red Pepper Race Section's Open Editorial Meetings will celebrate the launch of our new black writers' issue - Empire Will Eat Itself.

After two years of attacks on Corbyn supporters, where are the apologies?
In the aftermath of this spectacular election result, some issues in the Labour Party need addressing, argues Seema Chandwani

If Corbyn’s Labour wins, it will be Attlee v Churchill all over again
Jack Witek argues that a Labour victory is no longer unthinkable – and it would mean the biggest shake-up since 1945

On the life of Robin Murray, visionary economist
Hilary Wainwright pays tribute to the life and legacy of Robin Murray, one of the key figures of the New Left whose vision of a modern socialism lies at the heart of the Labour manifesto.

Letter from the US: Dear rest of the world, I’m just as confused as you are
Kate Harveston apologises for the rise of Trump, but promises to make it up to us somehow

The myth of ‘stability’ with Theresa May
Settit Beyene looks at the truth behind the prime minister's favourite soundbite

Civic strike paralyses Colombia’s principle pacific port
An alliance of community organisations are fighting ’to live with dignity’ in the face of military repression. Patrick Kane and Seb Ordoñez report.

Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports

On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.

Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns

Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for a political organiser
Closing date for applications: postponed, see below

The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections

In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines

Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.

West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective

How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences

The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou

#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally

Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change

Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself