Israel/Palestine: Women's groups: "We shall not obey illegal and immoral laws"


WE DO NOT OBEY: More women follow Ilana Hammerman`s footsteps: we shall not obey illegal and immoral laws. On Friday, July 23, we went on a trip - a dozen Jewish-Israeli women with a dozen West-Bank Palestinian women and four of their children, one of them a baby. We drove through the interior hill country (`Shfela`) and toured Tel Aviv and Yaffa together. We ate at a restaurant, bathed in the sea and had a great time on the beach. We returned via Jerusalem and watched its Old City from afar. 

Most of our Palestinian guests had never seen the sea [located less than 60 km from their homes - AO]. Most of them have never had the chance to pray in their holy places in Jerusalem/Al-Quds, and watched them longingly from Mount Scopus. None of our guests had an entry permit into Israel. We drove them through the checkpoints in our cars, knowingly breaking the `Law of Entry into Israel.` We hereby announce this out in the open.

This joint trip was organized in response to the complaint lodged with the police by the state against one of us, Ilana Hammerman, for a similar trip she took with three young Palestinian women. We have decided to act in the spirit of Martin Luther King and symbolically show that we do not recognize illegal and immoral laws.

We do not recognize the legality of the `Law of Entry into Israel`, a law allowing any Israeli and any Jew to travel freely in all parts of the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river, but denying the same right to Palestinians - despite the fact that this is their country too. This law robs them of the right to visit towns and villages across the Green Line - places with which they have deeply rooted family, heritage and national connections. Therefore, we obeyed the voice of our conscience and took the liberty of bringing these women to a few of these places. They and us have taken the risk together, with clear minds and strong conviction. 

Thus, we Israelis have earned another great privilege: to experience in our nation, a nation living on its sword, one of the most beautiful and emotional days of our life; to get to know brave Palestinian women, full of the joy of life, to spend time with them and to be free with them - even if only for a single day. 

We did not drive `terrorists` nor `enemies`, but fellow human beings. The authorities separate us with fences and checkpoints, rules and regulations. Not in order to safeguard our security, but to enshrine the hostility and perpetuate the control of land illegally robbed from its rightful owners. This massive robbery has been undertaken in contravention to all international laws and conventions; it violates universal values of human rights, justice and humanism. It is not us who break the law - the State of Israel has been the chief lawbreaker for decades. It is not us, women with a civic and democratic awareness, who have gone too far. The State of Israel has gone too far and is driving us all off a precipice, perhaps even into self-destruction.

We call upon the citizens of Israel to heed the words of Henry David Thoreau, a 19th-Century American thinker, who in his famous treatise `Civil Disobedience` wrote:

`When a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.` 

Listen to these words, see how well they apply to the situation into which our nation has brought itself - and do as we have done.

Ilana Hammerman, Jerusalem
Annelien Kisch, Ramat Hasharon
Esti Tsal, Tel Aviv
Daphne Banai, Tel Aviv
Klil Zisapel, Tel Aviv
Michal Pundak Sagie, Herzlia
Nitza Aminov, Jerusalem
Irit Gal, Jerusalem
Ofra Yeshua-Lyth, Tel Aviv
Ronni Eilat, Kfar Saba
Ronit Marian-Kadishai, Ramat Hasharon
Ruti Kantor, Tel Aviv

(posted as a paid advertisement in Hebrew on Haaretz, August 6)

(translated by Assaf Oron)