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Journey Through Palestine:
Colonialism at Home and Abroad
Part 2

By Nijime Dzurinko

Alternative system of justice, identification, and transportation   

In 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.

One 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.

In 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.


Commit systematic physical and psychological violence to weaken their spirit


In 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 'shit happens'.  

Here 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.


Captive market for your products


One 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.  

Here 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.  


Annihilate each other


In 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 pressure.

Here 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.


In a couple of generations, no one will ever remember they were a great people, including themselves.

I feel like this point speaks for itself.

The way home  

For 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.

This 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.

Nijmie Dzurinko, May 2004

More helpful resources:

Read Part 1 of the Series


More Reports
- Journey through Palestine
- Sacrafice

- Colonialism at Home Part 1




Israeli solders check the idetification of a Palestinian cab driver, Deir Ballut, WB



Elderly man looks through fence.  Many farmers can no longer get thier goods to market because of the movement restrictions. Mas'ha, WB


Ddemostration in Tel Aviv at the US embassy.




Detained palestinian men make a banner to show to passing israeli cars.

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