system of justice, identification, and
Palestine, there is a huge network of
roads built to segregate Palestinians
living under Occupation from Israeli citizens.
The internationally recognized
border between Israel and Palestine (the
"green line") means very little in the
face of hundreds of thousands of Israeli
settlers who live on Palestinian land
and travel freely back and forth between
Israel and their homes in settlements.
That is what makes these roads
'necessary' from the Israel standpoint
– ensuring the security of their
citizens as they move around in 'hostile
territory'. Of course it is just
another way to justify the confiscation
of Palestinian land and property, and
the control of Palestinian movement.
glaring example of this stateside is the
'criminal justice' system, which imposes
different penalties for the same crime
– drug possession. Defendants
convicted of selling 500 grams of powder
cocaine or five grams of crack cocaine
receive the same sentence of five years
This decimates Black Americans
who are more often convicted for crack
cocaine than powder cocaine, and reminds
us of the Black Codes, a system of laws
put into effect to harshly target things
black people did anyway. Of course
it's also clear that we have two separate
systems of justice- one for rich and one
for poor. Wondering if I'm right?
Just check and see how many rich
people are sitting on death row.
Philadelphia, we start to see the first
signs of an apartheid system emerging
with the presence of huge "Penn transit"
buses, for use by Penn-affiliated people
(read – privileged). Last
time I checked, SEPTA is the city's bus
service and is open to use by all.
With Penn rapidly buying up everything
within a ten block radius of its campus,
and influence the development of business
in the area with an eye to moving in as
many of its own as possible, Penn is acting
as a colonizing force in the neighborhood.
systematic physical and psychological
violence to weaken their spirit
Palestine, I saw soldiers taunt young
boys between the ages of 8 and 12, calling
their mothers names, and threatening to
come and kill them and their families.
They did this for the purpose of
instigating these boys to throw stones
at them. Why? Because in
the world of occupation, that gives them
enough reason to shoot. Later,
if called into question, they can always
claim that the boys were throwing Molotov
cocktails, or that they were aiming for
a 'terrorist'. One time when I
confronted a soldier about the practice
of shooting children, he told me that
we have our Fred Hamptons, Leonard Peltiers,
Assata Shakurs. Examples of resistance
fighters who have been brought down, imprisoned,
or exiled by the system. Examples to teach
the rest of us what is the price of resistance.
We also have our Amadou Diallos and our
Erin Forbes – regular people whose
deaths are a means of psychological warfare
to help us feel that at any moment we
could be under attack simply for being
who we are. These killing help
us never to forget who are the masters
and who are the slaves.
market for your products
phenomenon of the occupation is the growing
number of industrial centers controlled
by Israel but opened up within Occupied
Palestine because they can freely pollute
and pay workers as little as they want.
After all, they are in control.
In Palestine I lived right down
the street from one of these industrial
zones. Palestinians living near
the industrial area which was constructed
on land confiscated from nearby villages
suspected these factories for their polluted
water, dying trees, and health problems.
Unfortunately, as the Palestinian
economy is destroyed because of movement
restrictions, land confiscation, property
destruction, and the Wall, Palestinians
become more and more reliant for work
in these factories, and more and more
reliant on Israeli products. If
a Palestinian farmer has to wait at a
checkpoint for seven hours in the heat,
with dozens or cartons of eggs rotting,
because he has a green and white license
plate, he will not be able to compete
with eggs shipped only a couple of miles
from inside Israel in a car with a yellow
license plate which will not be stopped
or searched. Therefore, Palestinians,
having lost the means to their own self-sufficiency,
become a captive market for Israeli products.
we have a similar situation although it
is more complex. Communities of
color and the poor here do not have economic
opportunity to start their own businesses
because of bank policies such as redlining
making it difficult for them to get loans.
Therefore, it is very difficult
for communities to sustain themselves
and keep resources inside them.
Often, when we do have money to spend,
there are not enough avenues to spend
it in a way which benefits our own communities.
Think about it – the money
that we work in mind-numbing and oppressive
situations for, pay taxes on, then flows
right back out of our lives to enrich
large corporations that we buy from because
that is what is most accessible to us.
Palestine there are growing incidences
of crimes which have been unheard of up
to this point. For one thing, there
is a dramatic increase in the number of
people begging. Palestinian society
is one in which families look out for
each other, and assume responsibility
for their ailing, older, or jobless members.
I saw many poor people in Palestine
who nevertheless had a place to live,
and survived by growing some of their
own food and assistance from relatives
and the village council. But the
economic pressure of the occupation has
grown so overwhelming that more and more
people are forced to go to cities and
do whatever it takes to survive –
including begging and stealing.
One incident that occurred when I was
there involved a man who broke into a
house and stole something, but was discovered
by the occupants – and he ended
up killing the woman of the house.
I can imagine that the shame of being
caught doing this would greatly outweigh
the fear – he would have been outcast
from his community and his family.
Stories like these are so rare that they
circulate by word of mouth to astonished
people, village after village.
It is in this way that the fabric of the
society begins to break down under external
on the streets of Philadelphia, we see
the same cycle occurring, though well
advanced. For generations folks
have been born into brutal conditions.
With the police acting as paramilitary
agents in the community, and every single
institution lined up to break the spirit
of the people – from schools to
banks to transportation, we have long
ago internalized something horrible about
ourselves. The entire situation
breeds only anger and frustration, which,
when it reaches boiling point, is almost
always directed at the closest person
who can give us an excuse to vent our
feelings. It has long ago ceased
to be strange how we lash out at each
other so much. It has become our
way of life.
a couple of generations, no one will ever
remember they were a great people, including
feel like this point speaks for itself.
US people, no matter what our status,
it is our responsibility to change the
relations of power in our own country,
which will automatically have a ripple
effect all over the world, which the government,
corporate, and military elite are oppressing
just as hard as they are oppressing their
own people here. Only through fundamental
change of this economic and political
system will we ever back the rights of
people all over the world to be free,
including the Palestinian people.
Only that way can we assure that our tax
dollars don't contribute to the $3 billion
dollar aid package that Israel gets every
year from our government, using our hard
earned money to oppress people who have
a lot in common with us. Change
comes from the bottom, and it comes from
within. The first thing we have
to do is change our minds.
plague of multinational corporate capitalism,
militarism, neoliberalism, colonialism
and white supremacy stands on our feelings
of helplessness, hopelessness, stupidity,
and weakness. Our insecurities,
self-doubt, and nagging sense that we
are not good enough and we will never
be big enough to defeat it. It
also thrives on our fear, greed, desire
for fame, power over others, and desire
for revenge. It is defeated by
our commitment to the belief that every
one of us is fundamentally good, and our
commitment to unleashing each other's
capacities for greatness. If there
is one thing I learned in Palestine, it
is that the way to defeat the monster
came from the mouths and deeds of ordinary
people, in villages that city folks would
consider backward and foolish, getting
together, understanding what faced them,
and that they had a pivotal role to play
in securing their own freedom.
They began to walk the path of resistance
together, as a collective, realizing that
there was no worldly thing that could
get in the way of their own aspirations
to live the lives they were meant to live.
Dzurinko, May 2004
Part 1 of the Series