April 2010 Postcard

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The U.N. recently announced that it had received a $10.5 million compensation package from Israel for damages inflicted on U.N. buildings, warehouses, schools and vehicles during Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza, from December 2008 to January 2009.While this is a necessary step that will help the U.N. resume providing vital services to Palestinian refugees, it is a paltry sum relative to the catastrophic destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure.

The people of Gaza continue to go without basic necessities and the necessary materials that might allow them to rebuild their lives. I call on you and all those in the halls of power to take a stand on human rights by demanding an end to the vicious siege on Gaza and its inhabitants. I urge you in the strongest terms possible, as a leader in a nation grounded in the “worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women,” to lead by example and restore dignity to the Gaza Strip.

altA protester in Bil’in on Feb. 19, 2010, the fifth anniversary of the weekly demonstrations against Israel’s wall. (AFP Photo Abbas Momani)ON FRIDAY FEB. 19 roughly 1,000 demonstrators gathered at the separation fence which divides theWest Bank village of Bil’in to protest Israel’s illegal wall and unrelenting occupation and to mark the fifth anniversary of weekly, nonviolent protests at the site. The milestone and the continued relevance of the nonviolent movement were confirmed by the presence of high-profile supporters, including Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

While the Bil’in protests have been promoted as a model of nonviolence and a symbolic development in the Palestinian struggle, the participants—Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals alike—are routinely attacked by Israel Defense Forces and border police. The violence and mistreatment perpetuated against nonviolent civilians is a clear reminder of the unreasonable and counterintuitive nature of Israel’s military occupation.