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Sunday, December 13, 2009

From Iowa to Palestine

A friend of Blog for Iowa, David Goodner, is taking three weeks of vacation from normal day-to-day life in Des Moines, Iowa to travel to Israel and the Occupied Territories of Palestine to volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, "a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles."

David arrived in Tel Aviv Friday, December 11 and will be blogging his experience in the region on his blog, which you can follow here: From Pork to Palestine: Protective Accompaniment in the Holy Land.

Reprinted with the author's permission is his initial post titled, Jesus Journalism and the International Solidarity Movement.

International Solidarity Movement (ISM) was "founded by a small group of activists in August, 2001. ISM aims to support and strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance by providing the Palestinian people with two resources, international protection and a voice with which to nonviolently resist an overwhelming military occupation force."

This won't be my first experience in an armed conflict zone. In the last year I've traveled to Colombia twice for a total of 15 weeks to volunteer with Justice and Peace, a human rights accompaniment organization that works with internally displaced subsistence farmers threatened with continued violence by paramilitary and state security forces. The Christian Peacemaker Teams calls protective accompaniment "nonviolent third-party intervention", or "reducing violence by getting in the way."

Peace Brigades International uses the following tactical map to visually describe the protective accompaniment model:

I'm not in the Holy Land on a fact-finding mission. Nor do I intend for this blog to demonstrate even a pretense of impartiality or objectivity. Although I respect the Israeli Jewish right to national self-determination, I believe that both Zionism and the birth of the nation-state of Israel are marked by the original sin of the ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians from their native land, a colonial-settler project of territorial expansion and apartheid that continues to this day in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

I call my proposed method of reporting "jesus journalism", because I intend for this blog to give preferential treatment to the perspectives of the poor and the oppressed. Jesus was born to the lowest-class of his time, a poor refugee in an occupied country, and was persecuted by the powers-that-be from his birth until his death. The biblical Slaughter of the Holy Innocents continued last year during the Israeli shelling of Gaza, and nonviolent resistors are "crucified" on a regular basis in the West Bank, particularly in places like East Jerusalem, Ni'lin, Bi'lin, Nablus, Bethlehem, and Hebron. If Jesus is to be found in the modern-day Holy Land, he will be found among the Palestinians.

Finally, I am here as an American to bear witness to the social injustice of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the continued U.S. financial and military support of this colonial-settler project. I believe that support, measured in billions of dollars of military aid a year, is given because it serves U.S. national security interests to have a proxy army in the oil-rich region of the Middle East. As an American citizen and taxpayer, the blood of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples is on my hands.

I invite all of you to join me through this blog as I attempt to both narrative my experiences here during the next three weeks and to amplify the voices of the sometimes voiceless. Bookmark this blog, set up an RSS feed, join it as a follower, and check it daily.

Peace, love, rage, and solidarity,

David Goodner


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