Huwaida Araf is a young American of Palestinian descent and a founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Here is a video of what it means to have the courage of your convictions

In 2003 I was in Rafah, Gaza on the day Rachel Corrie, another brave woman, another member of the ISM, was crushed under an Israeli bulldozer while trying to stop it from destroying the house of a Palestinian doctor along the Rafah/Egypt border.

She, and her ISM colleagues, showed me then too what it means to have the courage of your convictions. I had known her briefly – we would often run in to each other in Rafah, and even shared a lunch one afternoon as we discussed how control of water sources in the West Bank may be determining where settlements and Israeli presence is focused.

Then, as today, the Palestinian protesters were engaged in non-violent resistance to a brutal, maiming, dehumanizing and murderous occupation force.

Members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) block Israeli tanks accompanying armoured bulldozers used for destroying Palestinians homes along the Gaza-Egypt border - September 2003
Members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) block Israeli tanks accompanying armoured bulldozers used for destroying Palestinians homes along the Gaza-Egypt border – September 2003 Photo By Asim Rafiqui

I had never met a young woman like her – passionate, committed, sharply intelligent and determined.  She was only 24 years old.

At 24 I was still trying to figure out how to date women!

And they were all young and from many different countries around the world.  And some paid with their lives while fighting for something they believed in, something that gave them a reason to live before it killed them.

Rachel Corrie died that year, and so did Tom Hurndall just a few months later.  Shot by an Israeli sniper he too was 24, young, and committed.  His killer was a Bedouin in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) who was singled out for prosecution despite his statement that there was a policy of shooting at unarmed civilians in effect.

I suspect that there still is.

It is conventionally believed, and the truly ignorant and arrogant will lecture the Palestinians on this, that the Palestinians have not engaged in non-violent resistance to the occupation.

The facts are that that is all that they mostly day.  Every day and all the time.

The construction of the separation Wall has been resisted peacefully each and every day of its existence and these peaceful protests have been met with live bullets, tear gas and beatings.  I know, I have been there.  And yet they continue, despite the threats to their lives.  The Palestinians even went to the highest court that would hear them – the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and presented their case.

The ICJ found that the construction of the wall and its associated regime were in breach of international human rights and humanitarian law.  It also said that Israel was under an obligation to cease construction of the wall, dismantle the structure and make reparation for all damage caused by that project.

That was back in the summer of 2004.

Many deaths ago.

Many disppossessed acres go.

Many lost olive groves ago.

Many lost school days ago.

Many humiliations ago.

Many summary arrests go.

Many settlements go.

Many beatings ago.

Many imprisonments ago.