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Home arrow Blog arrow March 2008 arrow March 21, 2008

March 21, 2008
WAWA Blog March 21, 2008: GOOD FRIDAY indeed! A NONVIOLENT American Citizen Assaulted, Harassed, Arrested and Deported by USA's Best Friend


[Israel Palestine] Since 2004, in the agricultural West Bank village of Bil’in, every Friday afternoon after prayers at the mosque, Palestinian farmers, workers, mothers, children, in nonviolent solidarity with justice and peace seeking Israeli and International volunteers, have been braving tear gas, beatings, bullets, arrests, and even death to rise up against The Wall [which in Bil'in is an electrified fence] and to resist the well equipped Israeli army with nothing more than their own bodies.

On March 14, 2008, twenty-five year old USA citizen, Blake Murphy, from Boston, Mass. was targeted, assaulted, pepper sprayed in his eyes, hauled off and arrested, by the Israeli Special Undercover Unit/ISUU, because of his nonviolent volunteer work with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in the West Bank.

VIDEO of his capture can be witnessed @: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzIAYQmIDRU 

Translation from the Hebrew being yelled by the ISUU is: "That's him! That's the one!"


The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led non-violent resistance movement committed to ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land and calls for full compliance with all relevant UN resolutions and international law.

Blake Murphy had been working for the last eight and a half months in the Palestinian Occupied Territories with ISM, and for over the last six had been the media coordinator for ISM.

This civilian journalist spoke with Blake via cell phone on March 20, 2008 while Blake was being held at the Security Detention area at Ben Gurion Airport for his deportation flight back to the states.

"I grew up in a Unitarian Universalist family and so was imprinted with social justice values. I came to Israel open minded because I wanted to learn for myself what was going on. You really cannot understand The Occupation until you are here and living under it. When I arrived, I lived with Israeli friends who are nonpolitical. Then I decided to take the ISM training course which teaches about the culture and the history of nonviolent resistance.

"The more I learned, the angrier I got about how my tax dollars, my families tax dollars, all American's tax dollars go to support The Occupation."

During Fiscal Year 2007, the U.S. gave more than $6.8 million per day to Israel and $0.3 million per day to the Palestinians. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/


“Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state…Total direct U.S. aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars. Israel receives about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America's entire foreign aid budget. In per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year. This largesse is especially striking when one realizes that Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain.”- John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy


Blake informed me, "At first I was held at Ma'ale Adumin in a police station. They took my shoelaces and belt, and I still haven't gotten them back. Then they transferred me to the Russian Compound and kept me in solitary confinement for a while. Then they let me into an area where I could make phone calls but I could still hear them beating the Palestinians who were in solitary confinement.

"At the Russian Compound I shared a cell with three others and we would all fluff our pillows; not for comfort, but to drive the roaches out.


"The guards tried to be intimidating; even my social service worker, who is supposedly there to help me, tried to intimidate me.

"Then they transferred me to Masilyahu, which is between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Compared to the Russian Compound, it was pretty nice. It's a detention center for asylum seekers and refugees. We had TV and phone. But, I had to beware of collaborators, which is widespread. It's easy when the police are questioning you to remain silent. But because they use other prisoners to get information, they make you more comfortable.

"I didn't do anything illegal or that I am ashamed of, but I didn't want to get any Palestinian in any more trouble.

"Last Tuesday, they sent me back to court. They put me in a cell with fifteen other people; it was about 3x6 feet and only half of us could sit down all scrunched up. That was the most demoralizing experience of it all. I sat there eight hours and these Palestinians would go and come back in, saying they had been given another thirty months or two more years; sometimes it was for drugs and sometimes it was just for nothing at all.

"The harassment I received was nothing compared to what the Palestinians get. I also knew all the time I had a get out of jail card and they would deport me. But it was possible they could have charged me and given me jail time."

After eight hours of waiting to face the judge, and locked up in a room meant for eight, but filled with fifteen, denied a translator in court, and being held in a cell awaiting to see a judge without his lawyer being informed, Blake's trial was cancelled without him being informed until court had closed for the day.

"It may have been a mistake, but as it happened on a Tuesday, the only day visitors are allowed at Masilyahu, maybe it was just to keep me from seeing my friends.

"I had been arrested before-when I was in Nablus. We stood in the way of the Israeli forces as they replaced a roadblock on the "Fabric of Life Road" which is Orwellian speak, because what the road actually is; is an apartheid road, separate and not equal. Palestinians must drive through tunnels and sewage, but Israelis have contiguous roadways."



I then phoned another former ISM Media Coordinator, and American Jew, whom I call R who told me, "I know Blake and know all about his work in Nablus, which is a very conservative place. He had dreadlocks and the Palestinians-in fact-everyone loved Blake, because he is a conscientious, dedicated worker.


"Blake is one of those people who have no implication to or are connected to Israel Palestine for any reason except because of their strong moral compass. People like Blake just cannot stand the hypocrisy. Neither can I.

"I was raised in a politically Zionist family. My grandfather was a union worker and after the Six Day War he moved to Israel, but my mother stayed in America. My sister made Aliyah and when I was seventeen I traveled to Israel with my synagogue. At nineteen I lived for three months in a kibbutz. I was very pro-Israel and when ever I heard anything against Israel, I was just like a sieve; it just washed over me.

"But in 2003, with the Iraq War, my views become irreconcilable. It was then that I realized Zionism is incompatible with everything I believed in; which is equal human rights, the separation of church and state, not discriminating against any other.

"I wondered how Jewish Americans can be for equal human rights, the separation of church and state, not discriminating against any other and yet be a good Jew and support the state of Israel, where one out of five people are not Jewish and have no human rights.

"I got connected with Jews Against the Occupation and met all these conscientious, intellectuals walking alongside of nonviolent Palestinians and that led me to my work with ISM. I have been to Bil'in, I have breathed tear gas, seen my friends Billy-clubbed, shot at with rubber bullets and live ammo. Americans of all faiths, internationals in solidarity with nonviolent Palestinians is a very beautiful thing and is exactly what the world has been demanding."


JOIN IN:
http://www.palsolidarity.org


Learn More:

http://www.bilin-village.org


November 11, 2006 WAWA Blog;
http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=303&Itemid=126

MEMOIRS of a Nice Irish-American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory, Eileen Fleming

Other Articles I have written on topic:

http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2007/04/nobel-peace-prize-laureate-takes-a-bullet-in-bilin/

http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2007/09/the-power-of-nonviolent-persistent-people/


http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2007/10/free-radicals/


From an email sent by ISM, received the day before I made my phone call to Blake:



Blake Murphy, an American activist working in the West Bank, was beaten and arrested by Israeli army and police forces on Friday 14th March 2008. He has had to face a series of evidently false charges from the Israeli authorities due to his work supporting non-violent resistance to the occupation of Palestine. He is to be deported to the United States in the immediate future. While in custody, Blake has had many of his legal rights abused by the Israeli authorities.

Blake was arrested while attending the weekly demonstration in the village of Bi’lin, where the separation wall annexes much of the Palestinians’ land. Blake was singled out for arrest during the demonstration by the Israeli forces.  He was violently assaulted and pepper sprayed before being taken away and subsequently arrested.

Upon arriving at the detention center, after being beaten and sprayed in the eyes with mace, Blake was interrogated while still recovering from the effects of the mace.  The police only offered him water to rinse the mace from his eyes, which only makes the effects of the mace worse.  There have been days when Blake has been given only bread as a meal.  Also, on one day, Blake told the soldiers he needed to use a bathroom.  They forced him to relieve himself in front of them, and one soldier kicked him over while he was doing this.

Injuries inflicted by Israeli solders on Blake Murphy were severe enough that he was taken to the hospital. He appeared in court on the 15th of March, where the judge prolonged his detention until the 18th March. He was told that he would have to reappear in court on the 18th.  Blake was woken up on the 18th at 5:00am and taken from the detention center to the court.  He was held there for 8 hours, three hours past the time he was told he would appear, locked in a room with only 8 chairs and 15 other people.  At the end of this long day, Blake was informed that a mistake had been made and there had never been an appearance scheduled for him on that day.  While in custody, Blake has been denied a translator in court, been brought before a judge without his lawyer being informed, and also been made to appear for a trial that was cancelled without him being informed.

Blake Murphy had been working for the last 8 and a half months in the Palestinian Occupied Territories with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). For over 6 months he was working as the full-time media coordinator for the ISM and was therefore highly involved in supporting Palestinian non-violent resistance towards the occupation. It is for this reason that he was targeted by the Israeli authorities and has undergone such inhumane treatment.

Blake is expected to be deported to the United States by Tuesday, March 25th but could be held longer.  He is available for phone interviews for the duration of his detention.

For more information

Adam (ISM) – 972598503948 or Lindsay (ISM) - 972598166251



   
 
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