Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Palestinian Gandhi

Working with friends at Jewish Voice for Peace, we've invited Isaa Amro to Peace United Church to speak at our Sunday service on October 23.  It's a privilege for us to welcome a young man many are referring to as "a Palestinian Gandhi."

A devout Muslim, Issa has committed his life to peaceful resistance to the Israeli occuption in his native West Bank city of Hebron, one of the West Bank's most divided communities.  He continues in this work despite frequent arrests, attacks by settlers and efforts to sabotage his work.  Obviously, the idea of "a Palestinian Gandhi" in the West Bank is offensive and problematic for the powers that be.

Issa says: "Nonviolence is the best tool because it strengthens civil society and it gives a role to each person: the kids, the women, the elders and the youth. With nonviolent activities you get more international support and you neutralize the violence of the oppressor.”

In Issa's native Hebron, several hundred hostile settlers, many of them armed, live within close quarters of Palestinians under the guard of the Israeli army. Soldiers severely restrict Palestinians’ movement and do little to prevent settler violence against Palestinians and their property.

Issa Amro, 36, founded the direct action group Youth Against Settlements.  “We go to universities," he says, "we go to schools and we organize activities within our community to teach the youth how to resist the occupation using nonviolence."

Today's news--from friends at Jewish Voice for Peace--describes Issa's upcoming military 'trial' for promoting unrest in the West Bank.  It seems his trip to the US in October is up in the air and, more importantly, his safety is at risk.  JVP invites us to use their site (here) to send word to Secretary of State John Kerry, insisting that "the Israeli government...drop the politically-motivated charges against Issa and other human rights activists."