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Dispatches from occupied Palestine: Sabry Wazwaz speaks out

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
February 9, 2015
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 Sabry Wazwaz speaking on Israeli apartheid in occupied Palestine.
Sabry Wazwaz speaking on Israeli apartheid in occupied Palestine. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - Sabry Wazwaz reported back to over 100 people, Feb. 7, at Karmel West from his month long trip to Palestine this winter, where he did interviews for his upcoming documentary. Wazwaz is an outspoken leader in both the Palestinian American community and the Anti-War Committee. He is an advocate for a free Palestine and against U.S.-backed Israeli apartheid. Wazwaz explained his motivation for his trip as a desire to “wake people up about what’s really going on” in Palestine and to counter the lies of U.S. mainstream media.

Sabry Wazwaz’s presentation was a passionate explanation of the role of Israeli apartheid in the daily lives of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. He detailed the role of the 25-foot high apartheid wall which is “480 miles long – the distance between Minneapolis and Gary, Indiana even though ‘Israel’ is smaller than New Jersey. It zigzags throughout Palestinian land on the West Bank.” He continued to explain that the wall, with its numerous military checkpoints, is used not only to steal land but to “treat Palestinians like they’re animals and to try to provoke fights with Palestinians so they can hit them. Between Ramallah and Bethlehem there is a checkpoint that takes two to four hours to get through even though the distance is only 10 miles! They make it as hard as possible to get through.”

Wazwaz continued “How would you feel if everyone going from Brooklyn Park had to go on a separate road to Minneapolis every day? They use the wall and this discriminatory treatment to try to push Palestinians to leave. New Jewish Israeli immigrants have more rights than Palestinians whose families have lived there for generations. Can you imagine how you would feel if a Canadian moved to Minnesota and had more rights than you did in your own country?”

Wazwaz highlighted interviews and conversations he had with Palestinian families about experiencing settler violence and with Israeli soldiers about their cooperation with settlers in committing these acts of violence. “Elementary girls are attacked by settlers with stones every day on their way to school while the soldiers stand by and don’t protect Palestinian children. But yet they shoot live ammunition at Palestinian children for throwing rocks! It’s hypocrisy!”

Wazwaz has started the process of putting his footage together for a documentary which he wants to use to educate Americans about the reality of life under occupation, “Many years ago the Anti-War Committee had a protest on University Avenue to protest Senator Coleman and we shut down the whole street. One truck driver went ballistic because we were in his way. Americans cannot handle five minutes of a street occupation. Imagine 66 years of occupation. All we want is justice!”

Maher Alrai, a representative from the newly formed Twin Cities chapter of U.S. Palestinian Communities Network spoke about the organization’s national #BoycottCoke campaign, noting Coca Cola’s bottling plants are on stolen land in the West Bank.

The event was organized by the Minnesota Anti-War Committee and was endorsed by Minnesota Break the Bonds, Students for a Democratic Society at UMN, Mayday Bookstore, Middle East Peace Now and Women Against Military Madness.

The next event the Anti-War Committee is organizing is a benefit for Rasmea Odeh’s legal defense called Rock for Rasmea on Feb. 21, from 6:30 p.m. to midnight at Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Avenue S in Minneapolis.