+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Most important Jewish anti-occupation group needs your support

Facing mounting legal costs, Anarchists against the Wall have issued an urgent plea for donations. This is why I think we should support them

Activists confront IDF soldiers in a joint protest (photo: activestills)

Anarchists Against The Wall is, at least in my opinion, the most important progressive political group to operate in Israel in the last decade. It’s hard to note in a short post the enormous effect the Anarchists have had on grassroots politics in Israel and Palestine, but I will try to make a few points on their actions.

The name of the group might be misleading. AATW are not like similarly named groups in the West. Their main interest is not capitalism or environment, but the occupation. It is a position that assumes real responsibility for their identity as Israelis, and does not shy away from the difficult political reality in which the group operates, in favor of more abstract ideals.

Unlike other organizations working in the West Bank, AATW is not backed by any fund, political party or institution.

While there were Jewish groups that supported the Palestinian cause in the past, AATW were the first to actually join the unarmed protest in the West Bank villages and towns. They did it with considerable personal risk, and while facing extremely hostile reactions from the Israeli public. For years, Anarchists came every day to demonstrations in Mesha, Budrus, Nilin, Bil’in – to name only a few. They were beat up, shot at, arrested and injured.

Contrary to many of the things that have been said about them, AATW joins protest only at the invitations of local Palestinian committees. They don’t take order from any political group – Israeli or Palestinian – but rather come to help grassroots efforts, and only when asked. They are strictly non-violent people. I never saw any of the anarchists throw a stone or hurt a soldier, yet they stand in the front line of protests even in their most intense moments – as can be seen in the video below.

There is no doubt that the presence of the Anarchists has helped “restrain” the army in those demonstrations. The sad reality is that Jewish-Israelis’ lives are not as cheap as Palestinians’. AATW also drew media attention to demonstrations, which helped the local cause. With their support, the people of Budrus & Bil’in were able to move the security barrier that Israel erected on their lands.

I don’t endorse all of the Anarchists’ views or actions, and I guess the Anarchists have issues with many of my opinions (some of them have told me so on various occasions). But I do recognize their importance. Without them, there would have been no Sheikh Jarrah movement and no joint struggle, which is perhaps the last and best hope of ending the occupation. For many years, the Anarchists were the sole Israeli group to constantly oppose the occupation and the subsequent military actions against the Palestinians under Israeli control.

AATW has recently issued an urgent call for donations. It is meant to cover the legal expenses that piled in a decade of struggle. The sum, I heard, is nearing 100,000 USD – also because the Anarchists assume responsibility for the legal defense of their Palestinian partners in the unarmed protest. As always, it is the genuine practice of solidarity that guides AATW’s actions.

 

If you appreciate the moral positions of Israelis who support the Palestinian struggle for freedom – in action, and not just in words – you need to support the Anarchists.

I add here the personal plea by Matan Cohen, an Israeli activist who was shot injured in the eye by the army during a joint protest. You can also read on the actions of the Anarchists and their effect on both societies, Israeli and Palestinian, in this piece Joseph Dana and I did for The Nation.

To help AATW, click this link. When you are done, you might want to share this call.

First they shot me, now they are charging me

Dear Friends and supporters,

My name is Matan Cohen. Four years ago I attended a demonstration in the Palestinian village of Beit Sira. I joined the residents of the village who were protesting the construction of Israel’s separation wall on their lands. On each occasion that we went out to protest, we were attacked by the Israeli army. Soldiers beat us, arrested us, and shot at us, but the people of the village refused to give up their fight. It was on one such demonstration on Feb 24, 2006, that a border policeman shot a rubber bullet into my left eye. http://bit.ly/a7Ap6c .

My recovery was long and painful and resulted in permanent damage to my vision. Throughout the process I hoped that the soldier who shot me would be held responsible and that the army would be forced to compensate me. Instead, the soldier was not prosecuted. When I sued the Ministry of Defense, the judge decided that not only will I not be compensated, but I that I would be forced to pay for the cost of the trial. The end result is that for the pleasure of being shot by the army, I am required to pay approximately 100,000 shekels — or about $29,000.

I have taken my case to the Israeli Supreme Court with the hope of overturning the lower court’s decision. I am asking for your help in paying the outstanding court expenses and the additional costs of litigating the case. If you can help with the cost of the case, please contribute here: http://www.awalls.org/donations

In thanks and solidarity,
Matan

From AATW: Matan Cohen’s story is one very extreme case of the treatment that demonstrators against the Apartheid Wall face at the hands of Israeli army and police. In recent years, more than twenty Palestinian protestors have been shot dead while participating in the popular struggle, and hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli activists arrested. Anarchists Against the Wall sponsors the massive costs of hundreds of legal proceedings against demonstrators. Once we succeed covering Matan’s debt, donations received will go on serving us for this important cause.

Thank you,
AATW

————————————–

————————————–

As is always the case on this site, this post represents the blogger’s personal opinion and is not an endorsement by the rest of the writers and/or editors of +972.

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • LEAVE A COMMENT

    * Required

    COMMENTS

    1. Noam

      Did you read the verdict in the case of Mr. Matan Cohen? If you did, you (or matan) should at least explain why he isn’t the liar the judges claim he is, before asking for money for his defense:
      http://www.news1.co.il/uploadFiles/986995875835419.doc

      Reply to Comment
    2. @noam. I don’t know who lied in court and who told the truth, but I did update the post with the doubt you raised. This doesn’t change my attitude to the actions of AATW. I advise you watch the embedded video, it tells the story of these demonstrations–as I witnessed them myself many times–more than anything I could write.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Woody

      Anarchists Against the Wall- the “Most Important JEWISH Anti-Occupation Group”?

      Since when are AAWalls JEWISH?

      +972, you have some WEIRD identity issues.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Amitai Sandy

      They’re of Jewish origin, most are probably Kosher Jews (Member mutilated etc).
      Most are probably also atheists of some kind. Didn’t Rabi Moshe Ben Mimon say us atheists should all be killed, or at least left to die?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Shoded Yam

      This comment was deleted for use of foul language

      Reply to Comment
    6. daniel atai

      @noam

      no one is asking you or your likes for money since it is obvious, following your manipulative and “innocent” question regarding matan’s verdict that you are some kind of a voluntary righteous spokesman of the occupier – israel. as if being able to prove legally anything, in face of a regime that ignores any international standard of the legal system and invent her own standards as long as it comes out clean, would make you change your stance.

      Reply to Comment
    7. david

      Anarchists having money problems . I hope we all see the irony here.

      Reply to Comment
    8. daniel atai

      @david

      i think you missed the meaning of irony. i would say that its ironic if bill gates ,donald trump or Israeli tycoons like nohi dankner and tshuva are having money problems

      but i guessed you meant to say something like “those anarchists are hypocrites and me and my national complexity are non guilty”

      Reply to Comment
    9. max

      Daniel, you seem to stay pretty clear off facts and focus on ugly generic accusations, thus avoiding factual discussions.
      Also obviously, you have your own legal system and reject Israel’s.
      That could fit with an anarchist’s view 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    10. daniel atai

      1. facts and proof in the legal sense are a tricky business and too many people who aren’t guilty do life time because of it and too little serve no time at all because of it. you seem on the other hand’ like our friend noam, off of any context that these facts are given and by whom and to who, in other words ignore reality and play the “objective” facts game. it never worked this way. next time youl now someone who is wrongly accused or wrongly get away with somthing youl say somthing different. for you its a matter of convenient.

      2.i dont have my “own” legal system, but israel do have its own, ignoring international law and bending exisiting resolutions whenever it needs to save its skin. and again if you ignore the context within which institutions like the army or the state confront citizens in the legal way and talk only about facts your the one disconnected from reality, for your own righteous convenience.

      3. following theses points, i do reject israel’s legal system and see it as illegitimate like your comments/ laws and especially of an occupying power arent above the life and suffering of people and above our children’s future

      Reply to Comment
    11. max

      Legal systems aren’t beyond mistakes. Israel’s legal system (not the military one) – your view notwithstanding – is considered in the international legal world as excellent. So far the generic facts.
      In this particular case of Matan, the facts are pretty clear and would pass any inspection.

      Reply to Comment