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.

 

 

 

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail