Times are hard, and we haven’t updated our reports on the total activity of Looking the Occupation in the Eye – and there’s a lot to write about, so take a good breath…
Our involvement in the protest movement
‣ We are at the heart of the protest with our own policy - taking part in the general protest while making present our own message. As “The Anti-Occupation Bloc” we collaborate with bodies that share this message – there is no democracy with occupation, and protest that deals with democracy per se cannot avoid it.
‣ We are present in most protest actions throughout the country – from Gomeh Junction in the north to Beer Sheva in the south. We have already distributed 20,000 banners and about 100,000 stickers.
‣ We have distributed about 4500 shirts and many buttons, and ask people to donate money in return. Thus, we are both gaining presence of our message and money to continue our activity. Martin coordinates our activity and logistics.
Thanks to this activity and our logo, our message is present throughout the protest movement.
‣ Among protesters a slow move has been taking place from their initial position – that was the objection to “mix” messages. More and more people understand that this is the essence. Change is expressed both in the banners, stickers and shirts, and in the physical presence of protesters who identify with us as well as on the social media. Still, many are against us, and among them some of the general protest leaders, especially in Tel Aviv. During recent weeks, the argument has surfaced on two occasions – in opposition to the “Bloc’s” march on Kaplan Street marking 56 years of occupation, and in the attempt to curb an Arab woman’s speech on the central stage to make her mention only violence in the Arab population and not the Israeli occupation.
We responded to these two occasions, published a condemnation on social media and received several mentions in the general news media. At the same time, we have made contact but failed to communicate with the Kaplan protest leaders.
At the Sarona Compound
We continued to hold it every Thursday on the corner of Kaplan and Da Vinci streets. We have resumed our talks and lectures once in a while. So far, we have held one lecture, and another is planned to be held soon.
We stand on these bridges consistently every week. However, because the protest competes over the Saturday evening “time frame”, the number of bridges has been reduced. Shmulik and Sigal coordinate this activity.
A quiet protest demonstration at Za’atara Junction (in the West Bank)
This activity takes places every week. We have continued from there several times to demonstrate vis-à-vis settler-colonists, once at the Palestinian Jordan Valley Junction, and once in Qedumim (colony). The settler-colonists were amazed to meet our people inside their safe, quiet space. Martin coordinates this activity.
Activity in the Palestinian Jordan Valley
‣ This activity continues as usual at Ma’arajat and Nu’eimah. At this point we have managed to enable Palestinian shepherds to continue grazing their flocks. Lately we have managed to accompany there at afternoon hours as well on some days. This activity is coordinated by Oded Paporisch.
However, in other areas the situation is dire. Following the eviction of Ein Samiyah village, the settler-colonists have decided to continue pressuring Palestinian communities east of the southern part of Allon Road. In order to prevent another expulsion, we shall help more communities in this region – especially Kaboun (with whom we are in contact since our supplying them water last year) and Wad A-Siq. Our help will consist of presence, activating “whips” and other means.
‣ In the northern region, too, the situation is worsening, especially around Hamra, where colonist Moshe Sharvit has been running rampant. We help there trying to apply another means – motorized “patrols” on an ATV that is present in the area, documents and often summons the security forces. Amir Pansky coordinates this activity. Thus, we have renewed contact with the “northern” accompaniers and act in coordination with them.
‣ The “whips” are a Whatsapp group that relays requests to summon the police and army, and acts effectively. There as well as in other activities we need more activists.
‣ Alongside all of this, the “center” we have dreamt of is gradually shaping up. We are glad to report that two young, energetic activists have joined us – Avishai and Eran, Arabic speakers and experienced activists on the ground – who come for long days several times a week, often bringing with them other young people, combining shepherd-accompaniment and acquaintance visits with people of the local communities. Hagar Gefen, too, is very involved in this activity as well as in other activities in the Palestinian Jordan Valley.
To this end we have purchased an ATV that is available for the young people on days they go down to the Valley, and for other activists the rest of the time.
At the same time, we continue to try to realize our physical center in spite of all the difficulties, helped by our friends Ayman and Issa. Various ideas are being examined and we are sure it will finally take shape!
Bourin and Huwara
‣ Following the Huwara pogrom, together with the Standing Together organization we led a large, impressive demonstration on the outskirts of Huwara. At the same time, we collected donations to aid the hurt parties.
‣ Following the numerous donations of other organizations to Huwara, we decided us to use the money collected in order to help the outer houses of the nearby village of Bourin, that has also been attacked consistently by the settler-colonists. With this money, and the villagers’, walls and fences are being erected around the houses. This welcome activity is also helped and led by Issa Souf.
‣ Miryam has helped connect the Huwara mental victims to Palestinian psychologists.
Media and mass communication
‣ We continue to be intensively present on social media, led by Dalia, Anat, Miryam, Roy and Talma.
‣ We have built a website through which we shall distribute broader and deeper material about our activity and the situation on the ground. The website regularly publishes Adi Argov’s “Daily Brief” and testimonies of activists on the ground. The website is bilingual – Hebrew and English – and will also contain Arabic. Shaul and Dalia have been promoting the website. We need more helpers!
‣ We continue to publicize a monthly newsletter, led by Miriam.
Tours and Encounters
‣ In April we led a tour in the southern part of the Palestinian Jordan Valley, during which we encountered thuggish settler-colonists who tried to block us. We finished by demonstrating our protest at the Auja amusement park slide and for the second time spoiled the nice time had by colonists who were there – after also having done so during Hanukka.
‣ In May we got together for an activists meeting at Issa’s home in Hares village, where we saw the center Issa has been building, supported by us. We received a legal survey of activist actions, brought everyone up to day and received feedback from activists.
‣ Activist support – we have begun actions of mental support of activists. This will include group and personal meetings for all interested. This activity is coordinated by Adi Argov.
‣ Budget – we have “regulated” our organizational expenses from the time we began our activity until the present. We are helped by Mario – of our mother association “Center for Peace Initiatives” – and Meir Bleich, who will be our treasurer after we finish. We shall soon publicize our budgetary summary.
‣ Organizational structure – in this too we are trying to get a semblance of order and institutionalize the organization, helped by Avishai Cohen.
‣ Absorbing new activists – Zoriya and Anat are coordinating this important aspect of our activity.
‣ Archive – Neta and Eran are working to make up an archive of videos from the ground, so that they can serve every purpose.
‣ “Vision” – we are at the last stages of formulating a document that would summarily answer the question who we are and what we are doing. This will soon be distributed.
So far so good. Right? In addition to the activists who are responsible for various domains and mentioned by name, we naturally welcome the many activists who have shown up at our encampment and protest demonstrations, give out stickers, try to persuade others, absorb the curses and slurs at Za’atara, accompany shepherds, whip up people, promote social media posts, and much more.
Everything happens thanks to your participation and depends on it, on taking part in our activity and running our organization - Take responsibility!