Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
The Jordan Valley, which makes up two thirds of the occupied West Bank, is the forgotten land in the Israel-Palestine conflict. The struggles of the Palestinians who live here receive little attention, and it often escapes the notice of international solidarity groups and NGOs.
There is total Israeli control over 95 per cent of the valley, designated ‘Area C’ under the Oslo Accords. Many of the 56,000 inhabitants now live in the other 5 per cent – just five small villages and Jericho. The area had a population of 360,000 before 1967, but with the war came the mass expulsion of people from the land they had farmed for generations. This was then turned over to ‘natural reserves’ (often used as a convenient label for areas Israel seeks to control), military bases and settlements.
The expansion of the settlements continues at a rapid pace – they now cover half of the valley. The contrast of the settlements’ lush greenery with the more barren, desert-like landscape of the Palestinian land shows the occupation at its starkest.
Israel’s determination to capture the valley rests on its huge strategic importance. The area also has vast arable lands and important water reserves (estimated at almost half of total water resources in the West Bank). It would be the only place a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem could expand.
The population remaining in Area C now mainly comprises farmers and Bedouin communities. Daily life under occupation is hard, characterised by repression in the form of home demolitions (in many cases over and over again), destruction of personal property and farming equipment, harassment, violence and the stifling effects of military checkpoints. Denied the necessary permits to build, infrastructure and water pipes are regularly destroyed. In light of all this, one can understand the motto of the valley’s population: to exist is to resist.
Helping people to do this is the Jordan Valley Solidarity campaign. Rashid, a Palestinian in his late twenties who works with the group, describes its work as ‘popular and peaceful resistance – the struggle to stay on the land is the main resistance’.
The campaign is the only grass-roots Palestinian movement in the valley. Based in the Friends Meeting House in the village of Al Jiftlik, it takes its lead from the valley’s communities, mobilising to support those facing repression and documenting abuses by the army and settlers. Ongoing building projects with mud bricks aim to create long-term Palestinian ‘facts on the ground’, including homes, schools and water pipes – even if building contravenes occupation policy. Hundreds of Palestinians from the Jordan Valley are involved in the JVS campaign in various capacities, such as building and teaching, and the loose network of solidarity extends throughout the area.
Despite the relentless Israeli attempts to eradicate Palestinian life from the area, there have been successes. One is the village of Upper Fasayil, which has flourished since the building of a school six years ago. Homes have been built where before people lived in tents, and they have water and electricity.
The work of the Palestinians is supported by people from around the world, who help with the campaign activities and spread the voice of the people in the valley through global links. ‘The most important thing is that people go there, see the situation and then come back home and talk about it because they’ve seen it with their own eyes,’ says Rashid.
Rosa, an activist from Brighton, spent six months last year working in Palestine with the campaign and agreed that being a witness is an important role. ‘People on the ground know people are watching and supporting them. That’s one of the biggest things, that the people there do not feel forgotten.’
The campaign is seen as an evolving network. After initially twinning with a group in Brighton in 2006, there are now also groups in France, Spain, Italy and Japan. Unlike the top-down approach of many NGOs and aid organisations, the emphasis is on listening to what the Palestinian communities want and need, and working in the vein of friendship and solidarity between communities. Rashid asserts that this is the way of the future, the ‘right way’.
While the occupation strengthens its grip on the land, the resolve of Palestinians to support each other, along with growing global civil society links, offer the best chance that the Jordan Valley will not be forgotten.
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase
Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields
Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank
Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded
West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age
Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi