In this episode, we are joined by Adam Shapiro of the organization Front Line Defenders to discuss the situation of human rights defenders at risk. We ask “What kind of challenges do human rights defenders face?” ‘What kinds of tactics are used to suppress their human rights activities?” And finally, “What can we do to help them?”
Heather Roberson Gaston
In this episode, Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis joins us once again, this time to discuss why the situation in Israel/Palestine matters. We ask, “How does militarism in Israel/Palestine impact the rest of the Middle East and the rest of the world?” For American listeners we ask, “Does violence and injustice in Israel/Palestine provoke violence and injustice here in America (and vis versa)?” Finally, “What kind of positive impact can someone have on this situation, even from far away?”
In this episode, we call upon Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis to answer our most persistent audience questions stemming from our recent series set in the occupied West Bank. We ask, and she answers, questions like “Why do you call what is happening in this part of the world an occupation? What makes it an occupation and not something else?”
In our final episode of the series, we go deeper into Issa’s trial before a Palestinian Authority court, where he stands charged with violating a controversial and highly restrictive “Electronic Crimes” law for no more than a Facebook post criticizing the Palestinian Authority for its treatment of a journalist.
This episode takes us deeper into questions of what it means to live under military occupation, and what it means when a local caretaker government — in this case the Palestinian Authority — is required to collaborate and cooperate with the occupying military, rather than look after the millions of people it nominally represents. We discuss the strict limitations on the power of the Palestinian Authority; the many ways its cooperation is expected and enforced from the outside; and the demoralizing effects this has on the Palestinian people.
Join us as we go deeper into the case of Issa Amro before an Israeli military court, and deeper into the two very different sets of laws at work in the West Bank. We will discuss Israeli civil law, to which Israeli settlers are party as citizens of Israel; and we will discuss Israeli military law, to which Palestinians are subjected, as non-citizens living under military occupation. According to this military law, it is illegal to organize more than ten people in a political meeting of any kind without first obtaining permission from the occupying military (an impossible task). It is illegal to publish political materials, or to seek to influence one’s people, without first gaining the approval of the military. In fact, this system of military law is so restrictive that it could, in the blink of an eye, become illegal to stand on the street where you live.
Palestinians have called the presence of two legal systems for two peoples who occupy the same geographic space (and in the case of Hebron, occupy the same city) an “apartheid system.” In this episode, we explore why, and discuss the incredible injustice and cruelty that results when one group of people is given heightened access to law, and to law enforcement; and another group experiences law only as a system of oppression.
In this episode, we explore Issa Amro’s development as a non-violent activist, from his childhood spent living under intense military occupation in the West Bank city of Hebron; to his first actions as a university student during the second intifada; to the intense targeting he faces today on account of his activism.
Over the past 15 years, Issa has worked to establish a culture of non-violence in Hebron and beyond — training his fellow Palestinians to document human rights violations, to reclaim Palestinian space for community use, and to demonstrate non-violently in the face of overwhelming violence and oppression.
Beginning in 2010, Issa has been identified as a “targeted activist” — targeted with arrests, detentions, beatings, and intimidation. This targeting continues today in the form of two ongoing trials — one before an Israeli military court, and the other before a Palestinian Authority court. In this episode, Issa speaks on the impacts of this targeting on himself, on his fellow activists, and on the movement for justice in Palestine.
By the time you hear this episode, Palestinian activist Issa Amro, who as of September 2019 faces trial before an Israeli military court and a Palestinian Authority court, may be behind bars. Or perhaps he will be exonerated, or his case continually postponed, as he is, after all, on trial in both cases for exercising his basic freedoms of assembly and speech.
We will follow Issa’s cases closely in this series, but before we do that, we must explore the overarching context of these cases — a context that will remain the same regardless of the status of his cases. We must explore the context of military occupation of the West Bank…