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The Only Democracy? » Human Rights Activists in the Crosshairs » Jamal Juma Calls on Obama to Support Palestinian Struggle for “A Life Free From Racial Discrimination”

Jamal Juma Calls on Obama to Support Palestinian Struggle for “A Life Free From Racial Discrimination”

Jamal Juma

Jamal Juma is the coordinator of the Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall) since 2002.  He was arrested in December 2009 by the Israeli military following a series of protests against the construction of the Wall in the West Bank.  He was one of  89 Palestinian  human rights activists arrested in 2009; scores more have been arrested this year.  With the intervention of Amnesty International, and campaigns by peace and justice organizations around the world, including Jewish Voice for Peace, he was released in January.

In an article in the Christian Science Monitor,  Mr. Juma talks about his arrest and that of many other Palestinian human rights activists,  the similarities between the struggle of Palestinians against Israeli domination  and the civil rights struggle in America, and the Obama administration’s failure to deliver on promises of supporting democratic freedoms and the rule of law.

All we Palestinians want is a life free from racial discrimination. We could use a little support from Obama.

The Palestinian elected leadership is weak. And even with Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan this week, the renewed Middle East peace process appears to be little more than a charade.

Israel has taken this opportunity to crack down on Palestinians who advocate nonviolent protests against the Israeli West Bank segregation barrier and charged them based on questionable or false evidence.

I know: I was arrested for talking too much. All we Palestinians want is a life free from racial discrimination.

…The power and importance of nonviolent protest is close to America’s heart. Decades after African-Americans’ historic sit-in at the Woolworth’s counter, Palestinians live under a regime strikingly similar to Jim Crow.

Mr. Juma calls on President Obama to carry through on the words he spoke in Cairo about America’s commitment to protect  the right to  “speak your mind,” and encouraging people  to have “confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice,”  Such aspirations are betrayed with the Obama administration’s “near-total reversal on Israeli settlement activity and  silence in the face of the Israeli onslaught on Palestinian human rights and democratic freedoms.”

By speaking up for communities being ruined by the wall, for protesters being killed or maimed, and for community leaders being hauled away in the middle of the night, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate will not only imbue his Cairo words with meaning, but he will be promoting basic elements of democracy.

What Palestinians want are simple demands: self-determination, the right of our refugees to return, a life free from racial discrimination, an end to the brutal occupation, and the immediate dismantling of the illegal wall.

Just under 50 years ago, the American civil rights movement inspired people worldwide with its many successes in pursuing social change through nonviolent means.

Today, the US vice president doesn’t inspire when he visits Israel and fails to denounce the occupation and clamor in a clear moral voice for Palestinians’ freedom. Instead, America has provided $30 billion over the past 10 years to Israel in military aid. And Obama has fallen silent on the issue of Palestinian nonviolent protests.

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Carol Sanders was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She is a retired legal services attorney and author of legal texts. She lived in Israel from 1963 to 1966, where she worked on a kibbutz, did graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and served as an assistant to the then-mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek. Carol is a long-time activist with Jewish Voice for Peace, and is the JVP representative to the Middle East Advisory Committee and a member of Bay Area Women in Black.

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