On November 3rd Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) brought Gal Lugasi, a member of the Israeli organization Anarchists Against the Wall, to campus. Gal spoke about her organization and its activities, which consist mainly of participating in protests and direct action against the separation wall being constructed by Israel in the West Bank. Anarchists Against the Wall does not organize any of these demonstrations, nor does it set the agenda for them. As Gal emphasized repeatedly, they only participate in actions that are organized and led by Palestinians, and then only when they have been invited by the Palestinian organizers. AATW supports Palestinian resistance against the construction of the wall and the military occupation of the West Bank by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This resistance can take many forms, such as protest marches in towns where the wall is being built, blocking the path of armored bulldozers attempting to demolish Palestinian homes, and cutting the fence which makes up the majority of the separation barrier. The presence of Israelis at these events can be beneficial for the Palestinian demonstrators as the IDF is less likely to use lethal force against a crowd that contains Israeli citizens, although deaths and serious injuries at demonstrations where Israelis and other internationals are present are not infrequent.
Anarchists Against the Wall began its activities in 2003, soon after construction began on the wall’s first segments. Israel claims that the purpose of the wall is to protect its citizens from violent action taken by some Palestinians to resist the occupation of the West Bank. As Gal pointed out, this justification is absurd as the easiest and most effective way to eliminate attacks on Israelis would be to end the occupation and the brutal violence used by Israel in the repression of Palestinians. And this is not the only function the wall performs. As it deviates significantly from the 1949 Armistice border (“Green Line”), the wall takes a large portion of the West Bank and effectively annexes it to Israel. About 12% of the area of the West Bank is surrounded by the wall in this way, cut off from other Palestinian territory. In addition to further complicating the already difficult task of moving around the West Bank as a Palestinian, the wall in several cases stands between towns and fields, making farming impossible. Farming is an important part of the Palestinian economy and in this respect the wall contributes to the further impoverishment of the Palestinian people.
As soon as the Israel began to build the wall, Palestinians and their allies started fighting back against it in the form of direct actions and protests. Many towns along the wall’s route hold weekly demonstrations to attempt to stop its construction and bring its unjust character to the world’s attention. Although Anarchists Against the Wall is one of the better-known organizations working against the wall, it is only one of many groups participating in the Palestinian movement against the wall, against the occupation, and against the Israeli apartheid system.
By Jack Hagen