Archive for the ‘Palestine/Israel’ Category


Review of Michael Franti’s “I Know I’m Not Alone”

April 7, 2011

L.A. Weekly called it “…achingly sincere…”, New Nationalist said it contained “…glimpses of stunning truth…a breath of fresh air.” and Hybrid Magazine commented it was “…a hopeful throw-down that preaches the message that all people are one people…”.  It won “Best International Documentary” at the Harlem International Film Festival and Amnesty International deemed it the “Audience Award Winner”.  The film is “I Know I’m Not Alone”, and it is a personal quest from musician Michael Franti to document the untold human cost of the billion dollar wars ravaging our world.  He brings us along on this musical journey, opening eyes and ears to the interconnectedness of all beings and the underlying truth that a wish for peace runs through us all.

The film was produced in 2005, a time when Iraqi citizens had been occupied by American forces for just one year. The film’s voyage begins as Michael and crew circle to the ground in their small hopper-jet in Baghdad, Iraq. Upon arrival, the group is driven around Baghdad by two Iraqi cab drivers who also serve as their translators.  The  two Iraqis warn that if the crew want to take the risk of venturing beyond CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) approved areas, they are in grave danger of being attacked, or even kidnapped by locals.  There is no security outside of the areas patrolled by American and Iraqi forces, and therefore, these American travelers as well as Iraqi citizens are at great risk.  However, Michael is intent on meeting and speaking with locals, so the risk is weighed and they venture into uncharted territory.

What happens in the rest of this portion of the film is almost magical.  Using his guitar, and newly written song, composed of one arabic word, “Habibi” (or “dear friend”), Michael breaks down the imposing proverbial walls locals have put up.  He is invited into homes, to speak, sing and laugh with people. The war for moments at a time melts away, and we are transported into the very lives of those whose meanings are intertwined with war, violence and death, yet manage to carry on living a human existence within an inhumane environment.  The gunfire becomes a part of daily life and the picture is magnified so greatly that it is no longer the war that is spoken of in neighborhoods, but all the minutia of living in a war zone; the lack of electricity, the lack of medicine and the violent roving gangs outside the CPA protected areas. People’s lives are halted and livelihoods demolished by their lack of ability to work due to power outages throughout the day.  They are rushed to hospitals and diagnosed, but cannot be treated due to the lack of medicine within hospitals.  Parents hurry their playing children inside as the sun sets, praying their home goes untouched through the night. These are the human costs of war that touch and mold the daily lives of civilians in a war zone.  These costs are not calculated when the ever increasing dollar amount ticks away through our taxes.  Through all this, however, we discover life goes on.

Still in Baghdad, a group of men bash their drum sets and attack their guitars, as ‘The Black Scorpions’ play heavy metal music in a basement next to an underground tattoo parlor.  Another group of individuals are airing this music on the first free radio station of Iraq.  Amidst the buzzing of generators women are blogging and cutting hair and selling fruit.  People are struggling to live a life set against the backdrop of gunshots, explosions and foreign military presence.  One woman blogger tells Michael Franti and his crew “…your boys and daughters are going to be killed in Iraq, and our boys and daughters are going to be killed in Iraq…and what are we fighting for?”. Here in America, we hear of the boys and girls we went to school with coming home from Iraq in body bags. We mourn them on the high school football field and we curse war and the toll it has on our friends and neighbors.  Across the ocean, other mothers, and other neighbors, and other friends, are mourning their boys and girls in ravaged streets and broken homes.  Franti quotes General Tommy Franks, U.S. Central Command stating “We don’t do body counts”.  Those who do “do body counts” such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies have revealed incredible, sobering and often terrifying findings.  From the beginning of the “engagement” in Iraq, through July of 2006 when this film premiered, according to MIT there have been an estimated 654,965 “excess” deaths (that is, deaths that are not part of “normal” life in the area).  These are the deaths of children playing in the streets, of mothers and fathers buying fruit, selling fruit, playing instruments, playing games.  These are the deaths of Iraqis searching their streets for hope and spreading a wish for peace.

However, the death toll of war is not only about how many innocent people die, but in what ways they die.  According to MIT’s report, from January 2002 (pre-invasion by American forces) to June 2006 (post-invasion phase III), non-violent death went from 98% of total deaths, to 39%.  This is to say, the percentage of individuals who died by violent means (gunshots, carbombs, airstrikes, other explosions etc.) increased by a factor of 30!  Often times, death by violence is construed much differently in one’s after life than a non-violent or natural death.  The way family and friends mourn the death is drastically altered with violence. Those left to survive the victim are often unable to accept and move past the death of their loved one when there has not been and cannot be any means of vindication, or justice brought upon the killers.  Many individuals believe the souls of individuals killed violently are unable to leave this earth, and eternally suffer their brutal killing unless certain measures are taken by those who precede them, measures which in times of war are often impossible to take.  Violence does not only effect our pocket books, and death is not the only consequence of war.  Iraq may never recover from the devastation it has endured, but as Michael Franti shows, lives move on.  People have an incredible ability to remain resilient and forge on through daily battles.  They strive to do normal things; they drive taxies, play ball, go to school, and they strive to do the abnormal as well; they make headway for future generations in their land and secure peace if it is at all possible, through music, radio, and the “blogosphere”.  Life is moving on in Iraq, but it is not nearly the life we in America have any sense of, nor are we aware of the impacts our country is having on this way of life.

After leaving Baghdad, Franti and his team travel to Israel and occupied Palestine.  They travel throughout Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and the West Bank exposing the incredible similarities that exist between these warring groups.  At the same time, he brings to light through the camera, many of the realities on the ground and the inequalities and human rights violations which are occurring in this hotly debated area.  An Israeli musician Franti encounters gets to the roots of their existence eloquently and realistically by saying “…Arab and Jewish, we are so close…eating the same food, speaking the same language, we believe in the same God, we have the same father, we have the same mom.  The problem is only about the political state.”  This could no better exemplify the truth of the matter.  There are innocent people, both Israelis and Palestinians, who want only to live their lives, reside in their homes, go to work without the fear of being harassed or killed, yet their existence is torn apart daily.

Michael speaks with “Bereaved Parents”, a group of Palestinian and Jewish parents together grieving the loss of their children to the fighting, together hoping for an end to the bloodshed.  These people have bridged their differences, we see this is possible, but there are incredible boundaries one must overcome to unite on the side of peace. One such boundary is the illegal partition built around and inside Palestinian territories, cutting citizens off from what little land they legally now own. The partition is a three story wall in places, and in others is three rows of barbed wire fencing. There are countless places where this obstacle separates Palestinians from their work, from their olive groves and from their families. They must convince an Israeli soldier to allow them to tend to their daily work, and if the soldier arbitrarily decides to deny them access, they may loose their job, their olives may go bad, their family members may die without company of families. These, along with many other obstacles, physical, emotional and mental, bar Israelis and Palestinians from seeing the common bonds that tie them and bridging the many gaps that must be bridged in order to secure a peaceful future.

Yet, through Michael Franti’s film, we become privy to the successes that are happening between individuals and the extreme perseverance of those carrying on with their everyday lives in these territories amidst violence, hatred and fear. Individuals are rising above these obstacles and in some cases speak with each other on the same emotional level.  An Israeli guard at a gate of the barrier fence actually listens as a Palestinian speaks, not blaming, not yelling, not accusing, just speaking. The two connect on an emotional level, they are no longer the wolf and the fox, speaking different languages, attacking and turning deaf ears to the other.  They suddenly are both humans, speaking to and listening to each other’s needs for basic human rights and dignity. As Michael and his crew stand beside the two, we see a need for international presence, for someone to facilitate these kinds of interactions.  We also see however, the possibility of people from two vastly different groups to come together, to bridge their differences, to speak to and from their hearts for a common wish for their sons and daughters to finally live in a land of peace.

Through his music and incredible ability to connect with people of all creeds and colors, Michael Franti opens a door for his fans and interested people world wide to be exposed to a side of war rarely touched upon in our everyday lives. The cost of war is often enumerated in tax dollars and body counts, but often the more devastating costs cannot be quantified and must only be lived and told. Franti has done an incredible job showing the minute details of every day life that are vastly affected by acts of war and violence, not initially apparent to the foreign eye. I strongly recommend taking this remarkable journey with Michael Franti as he exposes his audience to life in war through personal conversations, anecdotes and earth-shattering music!

Credit and where to find photographs used:

Sistine Chapel “Hands” reproduction on wall:

Israeli Barrier Map:

Man speaking to soldier:

Pictures of Michael Franti in various locations:

Additional information about the film and ways to get involved available at

-Kellie Brandt-MPT Intern


Jenin’s Freedom Theatre: Leader in the Cultural Intifada

October 1, 2009

by Nicole Rohrkemper, International Team Deployment Coordinator

A short article to complement MPT’s Fall Theme of Arts and Culture, highlighted in our Fall print edition MPT Newsletter.

Many believe the power of culture, the arts, and progressive media can shift attitudes, resist oppression, and combat human rights abuses. Participants in the Freedom Theatre at Jenin Refugee Camp (West Bank) believe that a third intifada is coming—a nonviolent uprising which will create social change through art and culture.

MPT Teams visited the Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp twice this year as the group debuted groundbreaking productions. Located in the city of Jenin, the Camp is a densely populated area (more than 18,000 people in about a half square mile). By rough estimate, this is three times the population density of Chicago, and
ten times the population density of greater Lansing.

In 1988 Arna Mer-Khamis (an Israeli married to a Palestinian) came to Jenin to give acting lessons to Palestinian youth at the Refugee Camp. According to the Freedom Theatre’s website, Arna wanted to give the children a space to work through the trauma they experienced because of the ongoing conflict. She was awarded the Alternative Peace Prize in 1993, and used the money to build a community theatre at the Camp. The original theatre was destroyed during the Second Intifada in 2002, along with half of Jenin Camp’s housing and other buildings. Some of the 65 Camp residents killed during the conflict were former acting students. In 2005 Arna’s son, then-famous Israeli actor Juliano Mer Khamis, returned to Jenin to begin building a second theatre which stands today.

The Freedom complex includes the auditorium, video editing studios, a film darkroom, a library, two classrooms and a computer lab. According to the Theatre, the computer lab was donated by an Israeli man whose daughter received a heart transplant from a Palestinian boy killed by Israeli soldiers in the Camp in 2005.

Last Spring the premiere of Orwell’s Animal Farm at the Theatre was covered by Reuters and Socialist Worker Online, as well as others. According to an article from Reuters (“In Self-Satire, Palestinians See Cultural Intifada,”, April 2, 2009), it was noted that the play held a mirror to Palestinian leaders of previous uprisings, drawing on Orwell’s original message warning against the corruption of a social movement.

The armed revolution is over,” said actor Rabia Turokman, once a fugitive fighter in Jenin. “I had to look for another revolution,” he said after coming off-stage to rowdy applause. “Having a theatre in Jenin refugee camp is the biggest revolution for Palestine.” For many of the young audience members, the play [Animal Farm, which is] based on Stalin’s corruption of Russian revolutionary ideals, reflects the Palestinian reality… “Ghetto mentality” and “dictatorship of tradition” has created a rift amongst Palestinian leaders under the Israeli occupation.”

According to the young people working there, many involved in the Theatre seek to unite Palestinians behind a coming nonviolent Cultural Intifada. They do not pass judgment on the violent struggles of previous movements, but believe that real change can only come through this new, nonviolent movement.

The Freedom Theatre is featured on B-Listed, a blog created by the international human rights organization Breakthrough to recognize under-appreciated so-called “b-list” arts projects with a message. According to their website, Breakthrough encourages harnessing the power of innovative cultural and media projects to educate, and advance equality, justice and dignity., an alternative media outlet, is part of the tapestry of arts, culture and media organizations working to effect social change. In a June 23, 2009 article on EI, Dr. Ian Pappe writes about what he calls a critical factor in creating real change in the region: the cultural boycott. In this case, Pappe is referring to the cultural boycott of Israel, led by Palestinians but taken up around the world.

The Theatre offers programs for participants of all ages, from children’s plays to post-secondary education. There are currently 9 post-secondary students (2 women), all in their second year. The Theatre is the only acting school in the northern West Bank. One of its productions, Fragments of Palestine, is scheduled to tour in Europe in the coming months.

For first-hand accounts of MPT Team visits to the theatre click here:, and



December 12, 2008
Words cannot express the human & economic devastation

Words cannot express the human & economic devastation

Visit Michigan Peace Team’s website ( to learn more about how you can help with BDS:  Boycotting, Divestment, and Sanctions.


Targeting Ideologies

June 16, 2008

Michigan Peace Team

            What significance does this small non-profit really hold in a world filled with such enormous and complex political and social systems?  How can a staff of 5 full time employees with an entourage of dedicated volunteers spread peace in a world where over 4 million are without homes in Palestine, Janjaweed militants are systematically murdering hundreds of thousands, and Zimbabweans are stripped of their right to a free vote by a campaign of violence and intimidation?

            The truth lies in the heart of us all.  The violence that has plagued humanity for centuries will not fall by the hand of UN troops or forceful peace-keeping marshals that physically prevent violence by brute force.  On the contrary we must begin to challenge the ideologies of violence on an individual basis, through interpersonal interactions.

            Violence is a cycle that constantly perpetuates itself and devours everything in sight.  For example, the cycle of violence in the Israel/Palestine conflict is most obvious.  At first the cycle began with the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their home in 1947 with the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel.  The massacre at Deir Yassin by British soldiers in the establishment of Israel was the first overt display of outright terrorism and violence in the Israel Palestine conflict.  Over 100 Palestinian men, women, and children were systematically murdered in the village of Deir Yassin.  This scare tactic crushed any possible Palestinian opposition to the establishment of Israel, but planted the seeds of hate and violence to be harvested for decades to come.

            Over 50 years later this cycle of hate, violence, and hostility remains as strong as ever.  As Israelis and Palestinians are stuck in a fierce cycle of violence, with Israeli government forces and militants constantly imposing life threatening abuse against Palestinians, which is countered by small, independent factions of Palestinian extremists who counter with violence on their own.  The cycle continues, violence perpetuates and grows.

            Yet, there is hope.  On both sides of this battle there are people, individuals, who are advocating for peace and an end to the violent interactions.  Palestinian peace groups like Salam Al ann Palestinians for Peace Now!, the Culture of Peace Initiative, as well as  individuals who everyday express peaceful but determined demonstrations against violence; coupled with a number of Israeli peace groups like Rabbis for Peace and the Refusniks who advocate for human rights and non-violence, are paving the way for progress and challenging the cycle of violence each and everyday.  One should not forget to acknowledge international groups such as Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Nonviolent Taskforce, and the Michigan Peace Team, whose influence has added heavy weight to interventions of peace in the violent conflict.

            The above groups are working together in unison to counter the negative ideologies of violence, ethnic enmity, and revenge that flourish within the cycle of violence.  The fight for peace must be won by recognizing that it is not a group of people we must overcome or defeat, but on the contrary, we must embrace, love, and genuinely care for even those who displace us from our homes or bomb our schools.  Instead of targeting populations we must target ideologies behind violent actions and movements.  Specifically we must target violence itself, and end our constant association of the term with people.  People do violent things, but they do not embody violence, they ARE not violent.

            This is evident in the historical cases that prove to us, as hard as it is to accept, that we are all essentially the same, and would fundamentally act in the same way given the exact circumstances.  How else can we explain how when the Hutu tribe, a Rwandan population that had been marginalized and oppressed by the British for decades, turn and oppress to an even greater and more violent degree the Tutsi tribe?  How else can we explain how when on of the most oppressed populations in world history, the Jewish population, can displace, murder, and imprison millions of Palestinians?  How else can we explain how Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe took office as a man of the people, fighting against poverty, and quickly turned into one of the world’s worst and most gruesome dictator?  It is chilling, but given the right circumstances anyone of us could have turned into an Adolf Hitler.

            This is why it is only an ignorant individual who targets a person.  Ultimately the true cause of violence is the circumstances that breed regular individuals to do bad things.  The soldier who bulldozes your home is in essence no different that you or me, and we must embrace him, we must provide him with a change of circumstances that breed love and solidarity instead of hate and violence.

            It’s not a question of Israeli or Palestinian, Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, but in reality there is no question at all, only the truth that we are all in this together, challenging violence together, and working towards a greater world.  Peace groups like the Michigan Peace Team encourage positive interactions between individuals and groups of people, as well as intervenes in violent interactions, to ultimately create the circumstances that will contribute to greater solidarity and peace through humanity.


Israeli Military Trying to Close Palestinian Orphanages

April 29, 2008

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

April 28, 2008

Contact: Joshua Walsh –

Israel has killed 1,020 Palestinian children since 2000 and Palestinians have killed 124 Israeli children. Too many precious children have suffered and died as a result of politics. Another outrage is about to occur and you can help stop it. On April 23 a program on French TV Channel 5 highlighted a tragedy that may occur at any moment. This news is not even discussed in the United States.

The Israeli military is about to close down schools and orphanages run by the Islamic Charitable Society (ICS) in the West Bank city of Hebron. More than 240 boys and girls, aged 5-18 live at the orphanages, while thousands of other children, many of whom have lost at least one parent, receive schooling, food and clothing from the charity. The Israeli military has already seized $157,000 worth of goods — including rice, oil, sugar, clothing and first aid kits — from the ICS warehouse.

Israeli soldiers entered the Rahma Bakery, owned by the society, on April 14, destroyed the oven, and confiscated more than $43,000 of equipment, including all the display cases, refrigerators, fixtures, and most of the inventory. Upstairs, the soldiers destroyed heating ducts. This bakery provided bread for the orphanages.

MPT took this picture of the destroyed bakery

The charity has appealed to the Israeli High Court of Justice. The Israeli army claims that ICS is supporting the Hamas movement, which started in 1987. The society, founded in 1962, argues that ICS is a Palestinian charitable organization, with no political agenda, which is monitored regularly by the Palestinian Authority.
Israel and its supporters in the United States and Europe have targeted almost every charity that is trying to keep Palestinians fed, clothed, and educated. By closing this charity and others, Israel will complete the economic strangulation and even ethnic cleansing of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel’s wall and checkpoints are already preventing Palestinians’ access to jobs, fields, medical care and schools.
If the Israeli army shuts down the ICS and its projects in the city of Hebron, nearly 300 orphans will have no place other than the street to sleep. Please fax, telephone and e-mail your representatives to ask Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to stop this outrage. Ask him to show Palestinians that he does want peace by stopping this heartless eviction.

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1414

White House Comment Line:
(202) 456-1111
Fax: (202) 456-2461

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20515
Fax: (202) 261-8577

State Department Public Information Line:
(202) 647-6575
Fax: (202) 647-2283

Any Senator
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3121

Any Representative
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3121

E-Mail Congress and the White House:
Congress: visit <>; for President Bush: <>; Vice President Cheney:

Embassy of Israel
Ambassador Sallai Meridor
3514 International Dr., NW,
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 364-5500 Fax: (202)
(202) 364-5560

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, PO Box 53062, Washington DC 20009. Phone: (202) 939-6050, Fax: (202) 265-4574, Toll Free: (800) 368-5788, Published by the American Educational Trust, a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. Material from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs may be printed with out charge with attribution to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.


Israel ‘using psychological torture’, reports BBC

April 14, 2008

BBC News

(BBC News, Jerusalem) Sunday, 13 April 2008 15:07 UK

Since January, he says, he has been arrested four times by the Israeli security services, accused of stone-throwing and vandalising security cameras in the Old City.

Israel ‘using psychological torture’
Martin Asser
BBC News, Jerusalem

Gheith Nasr, 18, of the Burj Luqluq neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, has not had the ideal preparation for his high-school graduation exams in a few weeks time.

He says he has been detained each time for a few days in one of Jerusalem’s interrogation centres, and then sent home under orders not to leave the house for another few days.

The muscular, but shy and inarticulate teenager says he regularly suffered violent treatment as interrogators tried to get him to own up to crimes he says he didn’t commit – but one of his arrests stands out from the others.

“When I saw my mother being brought into the cell with handcuffs, I tell you, I would have told them anything just to save her, anything,” he said.

It happened a day after Gheith was taken off to Qishlik police station. Plainclothes officers and troops returned to the house and searched through the family’s belongings. 

Gheith Nasr\'s parents at the police station

  I was only in the room for a few seconds; we looked at each other but we were both too shocked to say anything
Um Gheith, mother of prisoner

Already in possession of their ID cards, one of the officers told the parents they must now go down to the police station where they would see their son.

‘Too shocked’

The parents were taken into separate rooms at Qishlik station. Um Gheith – the mother – takes up the story.

“There were two men in the room. I sat down and one stood behind me while the other started shouting in my face in a most aggressive and intimidating way.

“I was shocked, it was the first time I had even set foot in a police station and this man was saying horrible things about what they were going to do to Gheith.

“Then the one behind said: ‘Cuff her hands for the night’ and they put handcuffs on me and then took me along to another room, where I was surprised to see Gheith sitting.

“I was only in the room for a few seconds; we looked at each other but we were both too shocked to say anything. Then they took me out and took off the handcuffs.”

After an hour Mrs Nasr was brought back into the cell for another short and wordless encounter. Then she and her husband were given back their IDs and released.

In the meantime, Mr Nasr had also been taken in to see Gheith, minus handcuffs and an initial “softening up”, but with instructions from a secret service man to encourage the boy to confess.

“I did nothing of the kind,” the genial hospital goods supplier told me. “I sat together with my son for about 10 minutes, asking him how he was and how they were treating him, and saying a few things to keep his morale up.

“Then the officer came back and Gheith was then taken away. The officer asked whether my son was going to own up. I said: ‘He has done nothing’ and the officer replied: ‘You are a liar!’ 

Suicide attempts

In a statement, Israel’s domestic security agency, the GSS or Shin Bet, said it never detains suspects’ relatives or gives false information to detainees to obtain confessions.

“Terrorist investigations are conducted by the Shin Bet according to the [1999] Supreme Court ruling [limiting interrogation methods], under the restrictions of the law and the tight supervision of the Justice Ministry and the courts,” the statement said.

Human rights group the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) says a pattern has emerged recently of the security forces using such tactics with Palestinian interrogees. 

It has published detailed evidence of six sample cases from the last year by the GSS.

The parliamentary constitutional and legal committee has taken the unusual step of scheduling a hearing hours after publication. 

  Manipulating innocent family members is morally reprehensible whatever the danger
Eliahu Abram, PCATI

 The cases are all far more serious than that of Gheith Nasr in security terms, involving terrorism charges, but the interrogation tactics appear exactly the same.

When Mahmoud Sweiti, accused of belonging to the Hamas military wing in Hebron, was shown his wife and father, who was dressed in a prison coat, he twice attempted suicide, the report says. 

In another testimony, the mother and brother of another prisoner – Said Diab – say they were both detained and that he was forced to secretly watch them being violently interrogated, as he claimed to have been himself.

“Presenting close family members as suspects or under interrogation puts the real suspect under incredible psychological pressure, which can be as bad – if not worse – than physical torture,” says PCATI legal consultant Eliahu Abram.

“The General Security Service may think that between beating a prisoner and showing him his mother crying in detention, the latter is the more non-abusive way, but it is not,” he told the BBC.

Violent techniques

“The prisoner feels a sense of powerlessness and responsibility for what is happening to their loved-one – there is no telling whether information obtained in this way is reliable,” Mr Abram said.

He agrees the domestic intelligence service has to do all it can to investigate the terrorism threat which Israel faces from resourceful and determined foes.

“But that is no justification; manipulating innocent family members is morally reprehensible whatever the danger.”

The use of violent interrogation techniques is prohibited under Israeli and international anti-torture laws, but Mr Abram says the Supreme Court has allowed the use of “trickery” to obtain information.

PCATI believes the domestic intelligence agency is breaking the rules on physical abuse and is acting in an atmosphere of impunity because it says the legal authorities do not investigate accusations made by human rights groups.

Published: 2008/04/13 14:07:38 GMT



American ISM Volunteer Beaten and Arrested in Israel

April 3, 2008

Per the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (

Blake Murphy, an American activist working with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in the West Bank, was beaten and arrested by Israeli army and police forces on March 14, 2008. He now faces a series of evidently false charges from the Israeli authorities due to his work supporting non-violent resistance to the occupation in Palestine and is due to be deported to the United States in the immediate future. While in custody Blake has had many of his legal rights abused by the Israeli authorities.

Blake was arrested during the weekly demonstration in the village of Bi’lin, where the separation wall annexes much of the Palestinian village’s land. Blake was picked out of the demonstration by the Israeli forces, violently assaulted, with pepper spray put in his eyes before being taken off and subsequently arrested.

Blake Murphy had to be taken to hospital due to his injuries caused by the soldiers. He appeared in court on March 15, and at that time the judge prolonged his detention until March 18. He was then told that he would have to reappear in court on March 18, only to be told that this was not the case, after spending 8 hours of that day locked in a room meant for 8—along with 15 others waiting for his trial. While in custody, Blake has been denied a translator in court, he has been brought before a judge without his lawyer being informed, and he has been made to appear for a trial that was cancelled without him being informed.

Blake Murphy had been working for the last 8 and a half months in the Palestinian Occupied Territories with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). For over 6 months he was working as the media coordinator for the ISM and was therefore highly involved in supporting Palestinian non-violent resistance toward the occupation. It is for this reason that he was targeted by the Israeli authorities.

For a video of Blake Murphy’s arrest see:

For more information or to contact Blake Murphy:
Adam (ISM) 0598503948 or 0548195210

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led non-violent resistance movement committed to ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land. They call for full compliance with all relevant UN resolutions and international law.

For specific media inquires such as interview requests, photo usage, etc. please email the ISM Media Office at or visit their Web site:

Contact the following to voice your concerns:
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1414
White House Comment Line: (202) 456-1111
Fax: (202) 456-2461
E-mail: <>

E-mail Vice President Dick Cheney: <>

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

State Department Public Information Line:
(202) 647-6575

Any Senator
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3121

Any Representative
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3121

E-mail Congress: visit the Web site <> for contact information.

The Israeli Embassy, Washington, DC
(202) 364-5500
The Israeli Embassy, Canada
(613) 567 6450

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, PO Box 53062, Washington DC 20009. Phone: (202) 939-6050, Fax: (202) 265-4574, Toll Free: (800) 368-5788, Published by the American Educational Trust, a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. Material from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs may be printed with out charge with attribution to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

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