Palestine: the first LGBTQ delegation tour in pictures

Palestine: The First LGBTQ Delegation Tour in Pictures
by
Pauline Park

In January 2012, I participated in the first US LGBTQ delegation tour of Palestine, meeting and speaking with Israelis and Palestinians both in Israel and in the illegally occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem; after the end of the tour, I stayed a few more days in Jerusalem to explore the Old City.

Day 1: Saturday, Jan. 7: Ramallah: political briefing with Leila Farsakh

On the first day of the tour, delegates met with Prof. Leila Farsakh of Boston University; over lunch in Ramallah, Prof. Farsakh explained that the two-state solution was long dead and that invocations of it were simply intended to conceal the reality that one state controls all of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean; Prof. Farsakh explained that the Palestinian Authority — which was supposed to be the kernel of a future Palestinian state — had in fact proved to be nothing more than an arm of Israel’s illegal occupation regime and that the Oslo Accords had proven to be a disaster for the indigenous people of illegally occupied Palestine; not only had the PA not become a Palestinian state, the Oslo Accords had legitimized the occupation in the eyes of the international community.

Day 2: Sunday, Jan. 8: Qalandia checkpoint

On the second day of the tour, we attempted to pass through Qalandia checkpoint, the most notorious of the Israeli checkpoints in illegally occupied Palestine.

Qalandia checkpoint looks like a prison inside and out and clearly was intended to look like a prison and to induce fear in the indigenous Palestinians who are forced to pass through it on a daily basis.

Israeli settlers from illegal settlements are waved through in cars and vans while the indigenous Palestinians of the illegally occupied West Bank are forced to pass through Qalandia checkpoint on foot in long corridors composed of steel bars like in a prison.

Day 2: Sunday, Jan. 8: Qalandia checkpoint

Day 2: Sunday, Jan. 8: East Jerusalem: Sheikh Jarrah

Sheikh Jarrah is a neighborhood in illegally occupied East Jerusalem that is being subjected to ethnic cleansing of its indigenous Palestinian population; we met with a Palestinian family whose house was coveted by Israeli settlers next door; at one point, they were evicted and had to sleep outside in the cold but won a temporary reprieve; note that most Democrats as well as almost all Republicans in Congress support the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of illegally occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Barack Obama continued George W. Bush’s support for the acceleration of ethnic cleansing and Donald Trump followed suit…

Day 2: Sunday, Jan. 8: East Jerusalem: a tower in the ‘separation wall’

Day 2: Sunday, Jan. 8: East Jerusalem:

Day 2: Sunday, Jan. 8: East Jerusalem:

 
 Day 2: Sunday, Jan. 8: Bethlehem: Deheisheh refugee camp

 

Day 2: Sunday, Jan. 8: Bethlehem: Deheisheh refugee camp
 
 
Day 3: Monday, Jan. 9: Hebron (Al Khalil):
 
 
 
Day 3: Monday, Jan. 9: Hebron (Al Khalil): Shuhada Street
 

Day 3: Monday, Jan. 9: Hebron (Al Khalil): market grille

Day 3: Monday, Jan. 9: Hebron (Al Khalil)

Day 3: Monday, Jan. 9: Hebron (Al Khalil): IDS security watchtower

 

Day 3: Monday, Jan. 9: Hebron (Al Khalil): settler ‘revenge’ graffiti

Day 3: Monday, Jan. 9: Al Walejeh: Sherine Araj is a human rights activist who is defending the right of the remaining Palestinian families in the village of Al- Wallajeh near Jerusalem to continue to live there as they have for generations, in the face of a conspiracy by the Israeli government & Israeli settlers to seize their land through an illegal annexation of that land into a ‘Greater Jerusalem’ that would turn those Palestinians into homeless aliens…

Day 3:

Day 3: Monday, Jan. 9: Al Walejeh: Pauline Park at the ‘separation wall’ near Al-Wallajeh. Sherine Al-Araj explained to us that the gap in the wall — which the Israeli authorities have not closed — shows quite clearly that the primary purpose of the wall is not security, as the Israeli government claims, but a tool for annexation of Palestinian land.

Day 3: Monday, Jan. 9: Al Walejeh is a Palestinian village near Jerusalem that was nearly entirely destroyed by the Israeli army; this house is one of the few that was not demolished, but the family living there is now under intense pressure from Israeli settlers & the IDF, who want to clear the area of the remaining Palestinian families…

Day 3: Monday, Jan. 9: the view from the house of Sherine Al-Araj in Al-Wallajeh looking across the valley that the Israeli government is in the process of annexing as part of a project of ethnic cleansing in which Palestinians are illegally & forcibly removed to make way for Israeli settlers…

As Sherine explained it, the Israeli government uses the provision in an Israeli law in the illegally occupied West Bank — where Israeli law has no legitimate application and Israeli courts have no jurisdictional authority — to seize land from indigenous Palestinians; if land lies fallow for three full years, the Israeli government claims the right to seize it. Israel uses the apartheid wall to separate farmers from their farms and prevent them from tilling the land so that the Israeli authorities can claim it is fallow and therefore open to seizure.

I stood in the gap in the apartheid wall at al-Wallejeh, which had remained open for months as part of a scheme by Israeli authorities to claim land in the valley below; the gap proves that the apartheid wall has nothing to do with ‘security’ or defense and everything to do with land confiscation and the dispossession of the indigenous people of illegally occupied Palestine.

While Catholic monks above were willing to cede land to the Israeli authorities, the nuns in the valley were not despite intense pressure from the Israeli authorities.

Day Three (1.9.12): As Sherine Al-Araj explained to members of the delegation, the Israeli government has labeled this small house a security threat to the State of Israel & has labeled the Palestinian family who live there as terrorists. Why? Because they refuse to give up their house to Israeli settlers who covet it or allow the Israeli authorities to bulldoze their house & take over their small plot of land to make way for housing developments for Israeli settlers subsidized by US taxpayer dollars as part of the Israeli government’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian village of Al-Wallajeh & the immediate environs…

Day Three (1.9.12): Sherine Al-Araj (left) with a Palestinian (right) whose family is under siege from Israeli settlers who covet his house & his small plot of land; Sherine explained to members of the delegation how the Israeli authorities are using the wall to enclose his little house under the pretext that it constitutes a security threat; the reality is that this is just one more step the Israeli government is taking to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian village of Al-Wallajeh & the immediate environs to make way for Israeli settlers whose housing developments are subsidized by US taxpayer dollars…

Day Three (1.9.12): The gently rolling hills around the Palestinian village of Al-Wallajeh are just a short distance from Jerusalem. Israeli settlers covet this land & are conspiring with the Israeli government to seize it & dispossess the Palestinians who’ve lived in this area for centuries. Meanwhile, the US government continues to use US taxpayer dollars to subsidize the creeping annexation of the West Bank, esp. this area in close proximity to Jerusalem…

At the bottom of the photo you can see a train line, which the Israeli government deliberately moved in order to establish a toehold on the other side of the Green Line.

Day 4: Tuesday, Jan. 10: Bethlehem: Deheisheh refugee camp

Day 4: Tuesday, Jan. 10: Mas-ha: Pauline Park with Abu Nidal

On the fourth day of the delegation tour of Palestine, I met Abu Nidal, a Palestinian farmer in the West Bank who courageously stood up to the Israeli occupation, objecting when Israeli authorities built an extension of the #apartheid wall between his house & his farm in order to create a legal pretext to seize his land (under Israeli law, which Palestinians are illegally subjected to in the illegally occupied West Bank, if a farmer lets his land lie fallow for at least three years, the Israeli government can seize it); the extension of the apartheid wall through his small plot of land had nothing to do with security & everything to do with land theft by illegal Israeli settlements; the media reported on Abu Nidal’s plight & the Israeli authorities constructed a door that enabled him to walk through the wall to his small acreage & resume cultivation of his tiny plot of land; but the extension of the apartheid wall still stands on his land; Abu Nidal himself painted the phoenix on the wall to symbolize his hope for a #FreePalestine liberated from Israeli occupation…

Day 4: Tuesday, Jan. 10: Mas-ha: Abu Nidal with his son at the gate to their property

Day 4: Tuesday, Jan. 10: Mas-ha: Israeli settler house next to Abu Nidal’s house

 Day 5: Wednesday, Jan. 11: Lyd (Led/Lod) slum

Day 5: Wednesday, Jan. 11: Lyd (Led/Lod) slum

Day 5: Wednesday, Jan. 11: Um al Fahm: Sa’ed Adel Atshan with Abu Hussam

Day 5: Wednesday, Jan. 11:

Day Five (1.11.12): Abu Hussam is a survivor of the Nakba (‘the Catastrophe,’ in Arabic, which refers to the dispossession of Palestinians in the 1948 war that established the State of Israel); a refugee from the destroyed village of Lajun, he led members of the delegation on a tour of the ruins of the village, which was destroyed by Zionist paramilitary groups in the ethnic cleansing of the Nakba.

Day 6: Thursday, Jan. 12: Tel Aviv from Jaffa (Yafa/Yafo)

Day 6: Thursday, Jan. 12: Jaffa: Andromeda Hill complex

Day 6: Thursday, Jan. 12: Tel Aviv

Day 7: Friday, Jan. 13: Nabi Saleh

Day 7: Friday, Jan. 13: Nabi Saleh: Manal Tamimi is the sister of Mustafa Tamimi, a 28-year-old Palestinian, who was shot in the head, and critically injured, with a tear gas canister fired by an Israeli soldier at very close range, on 9 December 2011. Manal explained to delegates the circumstances of Mustafa’s tragic death at the hands of the IDS.

Bilal and Manal Tamimi and the Tamimi family have become the core of the resistance to Apartheid Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh; every Friday, villagers march unarmed down the main street in the tiny village to protest the illegal occupation only to be met with violence from the army of illegal Israeli occupation.

Monday, Jan. 16: the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem: Pauline Park

Monday, Jan. 13: King David Hotel in Jerusalem

 

Tuesday, Jan. 14: Levinsky Park in Tel Aviv

March 3: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) demonstration at the NYC LGBT Community Center in Manhattan

March 3: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) demonstration at the NYC LGBT Community Center in Manhattan

March 3: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) demonstration at the NYC LGBT Community Center in Manhattan

March 3: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) demonstration at the NYC LGBT Community Center in Manhattan

 

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