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Thursday, September 22, 2005

 

'We Will Lose Our Land If We Stay Quiet'

Laila El-Haddad's interview with Abdullah Abu Rahme of the Bil'in chapter of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements. Excerpts:

We depend on farming olives. It is our main source of income and living. Sixty per cent of villagers are farmers that depend on selling olive oil and olives. Their future is in peril.
Five to 10% depend on herding, and since part of the land that was taken by the wall was for cattle grazing, there is no chance for them to do this anymore, so they are being forced to sell their animals. The wall is destroying our village and our livelihoods. It is destroying an entire community.

Where will the coming generations go to? They will be forced to migrate to Ram Allah or outside of Palestine. And both migrations are considered a modern and civilised form of transfer and expulsion. It is done in a discreet, seemingly unintentional way.

It's not a matter of security but of stealing land, taking as much land as possible from the West Bank and eliminating any possibility of creating a Palestinian state in the future. It is a cancer that kills any dream in Palestine.

The idea [for the demonstrations] was to send the message to Palestine, to the Israeli army and to the entire world that there is a small village called Bil'in whose very existence is at stake and who will not stay quiet about it.

Don't you ever feel you are fighting a losing battle?

We will lose much more if we stay quiet. We will lose our land, our livelihood, and our community. And history will not be merciful to us. Our children will blame us, and ask us, Where were you and what did you do to try and stop this? We cannot lose more than what we as a Palestinian people have already lost.

I see a glimmer of hope that drives me to persist and it is planted in all my colleagues and villagers and supporters.

As long as you continue to demand you rights, you will never lose them. Even if the wall is built around Bil'in, we have plans to continue our demonstrations, in the same way and same spirit.
Even though it has taken us this long, and the year is almost over and construction on the wall is almost complete, we will persevere, we will cling to this hope, and continue on the same path of non-violent resistance. Because it will be a huge accomplishment for us if the wall is removed or at least moved back.

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