I’m writing to ask for your help in getting two Palestinians out of jail. Their only crime is organizing unarmed protests against the occupation. They need your help.
This past December I took a trip to Israel/Palestine with twenty members of my congregation. Among our many stops was a morning visit to a coffee house in Ramallah where we had arranged to meet with Ayed Morrar, a grassroots nonviolent organizer from the West Bank village of Budrus (whose struggle was recently featured in the documentary film of the same name.) When we arrived to meet Ayed, we found that he had brought along a fellow leader in the Palestinian nonviolence movement, Bassem Tamimi, who comes from the village of Nabi Saleh.
With integrity, humor and sense of quiet resolve, Bassem told us the story of his village’s struggle for justice. Since 1977, Nabi Saleh has been besieged by a nearby Jewish settlement which was constructed on land privately owned by Nabi Saleh’s residents. Although an Israeli court awarded some land in Nabi Saleh back to its residents, settlers have been routinely uprooting hundreds of the village’s olive trees and attacking farmers to prevent them from working their land.
In response, Bassem and other villagers organized weekly nonviolent demonstrations, which have been systematically and brutally suppressed by the IDF. The Israeli army has raided the village of 500 residents by day and by night, causing hundreds of injuries and carrying out 75 protest-related arrests. Currently, more than 10% of the village has been arrested, including women and many children.
When we spoke with Bassem last December, he explained that the military was targeting the movement’s leadership. Since demonstrations began, Bassem’s house has been raided and ransacked numerous times, his wife was arrested twice and two of his sons were injured. Wa’ed, 14, was hospitalized for five days after a rubber-coated bullet penetrated his leg and Mohammed, 8, was injured by a tear-gas projectile that was shot directly at him and hit him in the shoulder. It seemed clear to us that his arrest was quite likely, if not imminent.
Last March, we learned the news: three weeks after the arrest of his cousin Naji Tamimi (a fellow member of the Nabi Saleh Popular Committee) Bassem himself was arrested. The arrests of both men were based on confessions from teenagers who were themselves seized in midnight raids, denied legal counsel, and beaten. Help us get them out of prison.
Now that Bassem’s case is coming to trial, I am asking you to stand together with me and thousands of people around the world, to say that no one should be jailed for organizing peaceful protests against the theft of their land. If you believe in grassroots, unarmed organizing against the Israeli occupation, please stand by Bassem and Naji Tamimi. Please send an email to the U.S. State Department to ask them to call for the Tamimi’s release.
Rabbi Brant Rosen
Co-Chair, Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council