Beit Ummar Womens Conference

Fred Schlomka

On Saturday 11th March,  over 300 women, Israeli and Palestinian came together in a demonstration of solidarity and support, to say a resounding 'NO', to the ongoing Occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The Theme was 'Practicing Civil Disobedience'.

Over 120 Israeli women from Tel Aviv and beyond attended the event, many of them from the new civil disobedience movement, Lo Metsaytot Group (We Will Not Obey). One of the founders of the movement, Ilana Hammerman spoke passionately about the work of bringing (illegally) Palestinian children and women through the checkpoints for a day of relative freedom in Israel.

Other speakers for the day included Member of the Israeli Knesset (Balad), Haneen Zoabi, and Mrs. Ebtesam Zidan - Chair of the Palestinian Women's Struggle Committee Union.

Embroidery by village women.
In addition to speeches and panel discussions there was some truly fine inspirational music by Rona Kenan, singing solo with guitar. You can check out her music at this link.

In addition to the formal presentations, there was ample opportunity at the event for networking and catching up with old friends. Three guests from Green Olive Tours booked a multi-day program in the village of Beit Ummar, and were able to attend the conference in addition to doing tours each day and learning about the political situation on the ground in the Southern West Bank.

The host community, Beit Ummar, is situated in the middle of the Gush Etzion block of settlements and has a 25-meter (75 feet) high concrete military fortress/tower at the entrance to the village. The village is under constant harassment by the settlers of Bat Ayn and Karme Tzur, and the Israeli military (IDF) often closes the village completely to traffic. The IDF arrested 7 teenagers last week, taking them in the middle of the night from their homes. Beit Ummar is the home of the Palestine Solidarity Project and the Center for Freedom and Justice.

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3 comments:

  1. Fred and Mousa, this is really exciting! And timely, as I'm beginning to update my presentation on Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent resistance for my UK/Ireland book tour in May. If either of you can tell me how to get in touch with Ilana Hammerman or other nashim lo mitsaytot, please let me know, since I'd love to talk with some of them and hear more about their actions and aspirations while I'm in the region (March 28 - April 24, mostly in or around Ramallah, but I'm sure with some free days). Thanks and all the best, Maxine in Canada

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  2. Is there really "ethnic cleansing in Palestine"? Please give me some examples. Obviously, Palestinians are not being "cleansed," as their population is growing by leaps and bounds. The only "cleansing" I can think of will be in the future, when every single Jew living in the West Bank will be expelled, as the PLO leadership has called for.

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  3. Doug - Perhaps the best and most recent example is the Israeli government's announcement to evict the Bedouin in the Jordan Valley and Judean desert. See http://www.btselem.org/settlements/20111010_forced_eviction_of_bedouins

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