FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Jailing of Jamal Juma

by NADIA HIJAB

I remember the day I first met Jamal Juma. He was speaking at a United Nations conference in 2003 about the damage being done by Israel’s Wall. The audience was shocked: Many had heard that Israel had started carving a Wall in the West Bank in 2002, but they had no idea it could already be seen from outer space.

Yet this articulate, handsome Palestinian used facts and visual evidence to show how the Wall was expropriating yet more Palestinian land and separating Palestinian communities from each other.

One picture Jamal showed us still breaks my heart: A middle-aged Palestinian farmer with a tear trickling down his cheek. The olive grove he had inherited from his father had just been bulldozed to make way for the Wall. He had not only lost his livelihood; he had also been unable to protect his family’s trust, the symbol of everything that had gone into making them Palestinian.

Now Jamal is in jail. Israel’s occupation army detained him on December 16. After interrogating him, they brought him back home, handcuffed, and searched his house while his wife and three children watched. Then they took him off to prison.

Jamal has always combined strategic thinking with practical non-violent action to defend Palestinian rights. He founded the Stop the Wall Campaign, which tirelessly fought the Wall’s encroachment alongside village-based movements like Bil’in and Ni’ilin. The Campaign has mobilized activists for justice within Palestine and across the world.

Jamal is the third anti-Wall activist to be arrested in the last few months. Their arrest is an Israeli acknowledgement of their success, at great personal cost.

Civil resistance has spread widely throughout the occupied territories, in spite of Israel’s attempts to crush it. On November 9, the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, protestors managed for the first time to topple a few of the Wall’s massive concrete panels. The movement has also imposed itself on the Palestinian Authority, which recently held a conference bringing together all the village civil resistance committees.

Moreover, the Stop the Wall Campaign made a strategic decision to link to the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The first Stop the Wall activist to be arrested was Mohammad Othman on his return from Norway, where his advocacy efforts contributed significantly to the Norwegian Pension Fund decision to divest from the Israeli military giant Elbit Systems.

Omar Barghouti, a founder of the academic boycott movement, says that Israeli analysis of the impact of BDS has changed after “academic and commercial organizations started feeling the heat and demanding action.”

He sees Israel’s latest arrests as a test. “Either we meet this challenge and the world supports our right to civil resistance, or they will intensify their repression of all human rights defenders. If they can get away with arresting civil society leaders that are clearly committed to non-violence, then everyone’s at risk.”

The world appears to be responding. Mohammad Othman’s arrest sparked a flurry of protests by European officials and diplomats, including a letter from a British minister demanding that Othman be given the right to due process or released.

In the United States, Jewish Voice for Peace took up Othman’s case. Its members sent some 10,000 letters to Barack Obama asking him to live up to his Cairo speech, which called on Palestinians to use non-violence.

JVP had already been supporting the Shministim, the young Israeli Jewish conscripts refusing to serve in the army of occupation. They took up Othman’s case because “We wanted to show the Palestinian side,” JVP campaigns director Sydney Levy explained. Of course it’s much harder — U.S. audiences assume that if a Palestinian is arrested they must have done something wrong. With Mohammad, you have a young man with a friendly smile, a Palestinian partner for peace committed to non-violence.”

Israel has one prisoner in Palestinian hands, and everyone knows his name. Few know the names of between 9,000 and 11,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Until now. Along with dozens of JVP activists, Levy called Hillary Clinton’s office. He had just started speaking when the State Department official sighed and said, “Is this about Mohammad Othman?”

And now Jamal is imprisoned too. I once asked Jamal about the dangers of his work but he brushed the question aside: “People are being killed like flies. I’m no better than the next person.”

Israel still believes it can act with impunity. It will only stop if there is a cost to its human rights violations. Appeals to the Israeli authorities to respect due process are not enough, as Omar Barghouti put it in a call to redouble efforts for BDS. Israel will only change if it “gets the message that its arrest of civil resistance leaders will only intensify the already massive BDS campaigns against it.”

NADIA HIJAB is an independent analyst and a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.

 

 

 

More articles by:
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail