Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dalit Baum tells only half the story

By Becky Johnson

Originally published March 17, 2005

found at:

Santa Cruz, Ca. --- I attended Dalit Baum's presentation by the ladies of the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) held at the Friends Hall in Santa Cruz. This is the 2nd time I have heard her speak. She struck two themes. That the occupation is the obstacle to peace, and that Israeli women and Palestinian women coming together will bring about peace.

This is a very appealing thought, especially to women, since it seems to be that men are responsible for most of the war we see.

Dalit doesn't explain the "illegality" of Israel's presence in Gaza and the West Bank. She just flatly states "they are illegal under international law." She complains that "3 million people do not vote for the government that controls their lives." Both are incorrect.

Of course the Palestinians just held an election on Jan 15, 2005 and elected a new leader. For Dalit, the entire Palestinian Authority doesn't exist. There are only oppressed Palestinians and big, bad Israel. And UN resolution 242 legalized Israel’s control of the West Bank until a peace settlement "with all parties" could be reached. So far Israel has made peace with Jordan and Egypt. However , making peace with the Palestinians has been fraught with setbacks.

She showed many slides of demonstrations against what she calls "the apartheid wall". She called Israel's security barrier "the Wall" so often, that when she showed a photo of a fence which had been pushed over by Palestinian youths, she had to amend her previous statements admitting that "the wall takes many different shapes." She certainly didn't share with her audience that 95% of the length of the barrier is a fence. A fence that could be moved or taken down some day if a political resolution to the conflict can be achieved. No for Dalit "the whole idea of the wall is to separate us."

She implies this is for racist reasons. But she doesn't tell the whole story. She didn't mention even one of the 120 suicide bombs which have reached inside Israel. The latest one, in Tel Aviv, well inside the Green Line, killed 5 and injured 65. Countless more suicide bombers have been thwarted by Israel's heightened security.

But for Dalit, Israel has no legitimate concerns. For her, the entire experience with the state of Israel is "lots of violence from the army, tear gas......severe tear gas, a baby died from it and an old man with a heart condition."

She reports on Machson Watch, an organization of mostly women, who go to many of the "500 Israeli checkpoints" and report any abuses of Palestinians by the IDF soldiers. "Every day these women go there." She admitted she doesn't have the temperament to do that kind of work. But she really admired what they were doing. She said that the members themselves have discussions about their own effectiveness. "They worry that maybe they are making the checkpoints more humane." She questions whether the routine acceptance she sees by many Palestinians to these checkpoints is a good thing.

Apparently they aren't seeing all that much IDF "abuse" for the many hours they are spending there and have the audacity to take credit for that lack of abuse.

As she shows slides of "The Wall", the audience gasps. They begin to see the horror of it. Dalit says the IDF do it to "make the villages starve." The Wall is between Palestinian homes and schools. Its between the farmers and their crops. Its between pregnant women and the hospitals.

Just an aside about pregnant Palestinian women and hospitals. Why aren't they going to Palestinian hospitals? Could it be that the Israeli hospitals are much, much better and they are free? Is that the real reason so many Palestinian women have give birth at checkpoints?

Dalit shows a slide of the highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with a wall on both sides. The audience clucks in disbelief. Later that day, they will drive down a highway flanked by soundwalls and think nothing of it.

It's not the same, of course, because when the Israelis build a wall instead of a fence, its an anti-sniper wall. That way ,they can solve the problem of Palestinian terrorists shooting randomly at innocent people in cars. Dalit makes no mention of any problem with snipers.

Why her audience would be upset at a wall that isn't even in areas claimed by the Palestinians is not questioned. Why they would blame Israel for building a wall on its own land to stop PALESTINIAN snipers shows the convoluted logic Dalit takes her audience through.

For Dalit's world is simple. Walls are bad. Israel builds walls. Israel is bad. She doesn't want to clutter her audiences minds with details like 120 suicide bombers or that her "wall" is 95% fence. She certainly doesn't share the fact that some Palestinian villages were asked which side of the barrier they wanted to be on, and they chose Israel. For Dalit, this is a "land confiscation."

She shares with us one of their successes "In the town of Biddu .... one of the places where the supreme court stopped construction." She claims it was because of three things. The sustained effort on the part of the protesters, the decision by the International Court in the Hague in Belgium which condemned Israel’s barrier, and because of an Israeli Supreme Court decision.

In actuality, it was entirely the Israeli Supreme Court decision that changed the route of the barrier. A complaint filed against the barrier construction by Palestinians in its path, was heard by the court, and they ruled that A. the barrier is legal under Israeli law under eminent domain because of the acute necessity of protecting the Israeli people from the unremitting terror attacks and B. the course had to be rerouted and shortened by 40 miles to prevent undue hardships that route would cause to the Palestinian people in its path. But Dalit's mission was not to point out that the Palestinians got justice from an Israeli court.

She described the massive demonstrations (some as many as 5000 people marching) as being "mostly women. Very few men participate in these demonstrations." Her demonstrations are "always peaceful." She says "the young boys always want to throw stones, but they are always stopped from doing that by the organizers."

She said that in Mas'ha on Dec 26, 2003 Anarchists Against the Wall managed to open a gate "and (one of them) was shot in both legs." She claims the IDF "opened fire" on a completely legal non-violent demonstration," killing two. But after showing us slide after slide after slide of women marching in demonstrations, when she lists the names of the five people who the IDF has killed so far, they are all men.

How is it, that the IDF can open fire on a completely non-violent demonstration of mostly women and kill only men?

A woman in the audience asked who the workers are who are building the wall. "Its mostly Palestinian workers who are building the apartheid wall." The audience looks shocked. "But you have to realize that 80% of Palestinian society is unemployed."

Actually Palestinian unemployment is 35.5%. In 1994, when Israel handed over the keys to the Palestinian Authority, it was only 5%. For Dalit's audience, 80% are unemployed and its Israel's fault. And of the 20% who ARE employed, that’s Israel's fault again.

She showed a demonstration in August of 2004 where the grandson of Mahatma Ghandi, Arun Ghandi, came to the demonstration. She showed demonstrators who were climbing the wall and even sitting on top of it. The audience braces itself for the anticipated carnage. But Dalit surprises them. " No one was shot."

"You have a whole group of marchers, and they can only march to a certain point, and if they go over that, they shoot you. The audience gasps at the inhumanity of it. Then she announced that no one was shot "because there were so many internationals there." The audience buys it. Yes, if it weren’t for those brave peace activists, those evil Israelis would mow down everyone in sight.

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