Expert remarks on Palestinian #FreedomRides

FreedomRides | Topic – Action Alerts – updates | in pictures

IMEU, Nov 15, 2011

Following Tuesday’s Palestinian Freedom Rides, the IMEU offers the following quotes for publication from veterans of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and members of Palestinian civil society.

Clarence B. Jones, close friend and advisor to Martin Luther King Jr., Scholar Writer in Residence and Visiting Professor at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University:

“The Civil Rights Movement in our country has influenced leaders of protests for social and economic opportunity and freedom far outside the United States. Polish workers at the shipyards in Gdansk, students in the ‘Orange Revolution’ in the Ukraine, protests for participatory democracy in Chile, Argentina, Germany, the Netherlands, and South Africa and in Tiananmen Square in China, all sang ‘We Shall Overcome,’ the national anthem of our Civil Rights Movement.

“A new generation in ‘The Arab Spring’ has opted to mobilize peaceful protest for equal justice and economic opportunity based on the nonviolent civil disobedience paradigm of Dr. King’s leadership. Palestinian activists who seek to reenact ‘Freedom Rides’ analogous to those which occurred over 50 years ago in our country, like our Freedom Riders, have the potential to awaken, reclaim and redeem the soul of Israel, just as our Freedom Riders reclaimed the soul of America for freedom and justice. Our Palestinian brothers and sisters are also reminding us of what Dr. King would often say: ‘more powerful than the march of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.’

“This planned form of peaceful protest has apparently precipitated some harsh criticism from friends of Israel. I consider myself a long-standing friend of Israel. Similar to close friends or among family members my comments are offered out of love and respect. Rather than being excoriated, criticized or demeaned, Palestinian ‘Freedom Riders’ should be commended for engaging in this form of peaceful protest. People should be reminded of what President John F. Kennedy said: ‘Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.'”

Omar Barghouti, independent Palestinian commentator and human rights activist, and a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign:

“Palestinian Freedom Riders are evoking the best tradition of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement as well as the South African anti-apartheid movement, but they are asserting a distinctly Palestinian youthful voice that is fed up with Israel’s occupation and apartheid and is willing to commit to peaceful resistance against it, including through boycotts, civil disobedience and other direct action. This is yet another manifestation of the Palestinian Spring for freedom, justice and equality.”

Bill Fletcher, Jr., senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, editorial board member at, past president of TransAfrica Forum, and co-author of Solidarity Divided:

“Contained in this Palestinian Freedom Rides is the question of the violence of the occupation. One aspect of this violence has been the denial of the right of freedom of movement for the Palestinians and, implicitly, the threat to them if and when they challenge the privileges of the settler population. For this reason we should see in the Palestinian Freedom Rides not simply a protest over the denial of rights, but an action taken to raise the consciousness of the world to the violence under which Palestinians live each and every day.

“Just as in the Civil Rights Movement in the USA, the Freedom Rides illustrated the violence of segregation, and not just the reality of lack of rights for African Americans.”

Barbara Ehrenreich, award-winning essayist, author, and political activist:

“The restrictions on the mobility of Palestinians rival — or surpass — those placed on African-Americans in the era of segregation and deserve a similar response. At this moment, when demands for freedom and justice are ricocheting around the world, it gives me a patriotic thrill to see young Palestinians borrow a tactic from the American Civil Rights Movement”

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, leading figure in Palestinian civil society, longtime advocate for the nonviolent Palestinian protest movement, and one of the founders of the Palestinian National Initiative:

“In light of the failure of the UN bid, Palestine is witnessing a rise in popular nonviolent resistance. This week young Palestinians will take action against road and bus segregation. This is part of the new Palestinian nonviolent strategy to make the cost of occupation greater than its benefits.”

Source and more at the IMEU

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  • 23,628 homes have already been approved, 20,263 in East Jerusalem and 3,365 in the west.
  • 13,824 are pending review, 12,819 in East Jerusalem and 1,005 in the west.
  • 23,266 housing units are still in planning stages, 19,281 in the east and 3,985 in the west.

Of these, the municipality plans:

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  • 5,239 homes in southern East Jerusalem, including Gilo settlement and Palestinian district Beit Safafa.
  • 4,886 new units in central eastern Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan and Jerusalem’s Old City.

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