A boy wounded by gunfire from Israeli troops, a bombed Palestinian police station and youths peering over the body of a man assasinated by the Israeli Defense Forces were among the slides presented by Henry Herskovitz yesterday about his mission to the West Bank.
Herskovitz, who is Jewish, traveled in December to the Balata refugee camp in the city of Nablus as an activist for the International Solidarity Movement. The ISM is a Palestinain-led coalition that advocates non-violent resistence to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by sending members to the occupied territories.
“I went to Palestine to find out more information about the occupation, and to actually live with the people suffering from the occupation,” Herskovitz said. “Very few stories are told in this country about the non-violent resistance to occupation.”
Herskovitz stated that under U.N. Resolution 242, Israel is required to withdraw from all the occupied territories.
Speaking to an audience of students and community residents, Hertzgovitz commented on photographs taken during his two-and-a-half-week stay with a Palestinian resident of Nablus. He emphasized the daily frustration of dealing with Israeli troops, check points and tanks.
“The truth is a casualty, it seems, when you travel to Israel and Palestine,” he said. “We try to keep a presence 24 hours in the house so the soldiers don’t come and demolish the home.”
One of Herskovitz’s slides showed him playing with a Palestinian boy at a checkpoint guarded by Israeli tanks. In another photo, long lines of people are guided through checkpoints flanked by troops.
“‘Look into your heart and tell me if this is the correct way to treat people,'” Herskovitz said he asked a soldier. “‘You process them, and you won’t let them get on with their daily lives.'”
Between slides, Herskovitz stressed the peaceful nature of ISM’s protests.
“Ninety-nine percent of resistance is passive,” he said, referring to resistance movements in general, “like helping children get to school.”
But Herskovitz added that while he is against Israeli occuptation, he strives not to point fingers at those who do not agree with his views.
“There are good Jews, there are bad Jews, there are good Palestinians, there are bad Palestinians,” he said. “People who come with peace will be welcome in Palestine.”
Herskovitz is an Ann Arbor resident and a University alum. He serves on the Middle East Taskforce of the city’s Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, and the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace. His lecture and slide show was held at Hutchins Hall in the Law Quad.