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Tear Down the Wall!

//Interview //German original in REVO #7

Yossi Bartal is 18 and lives on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He is an activist in "Anarchists Against the Wall" and did lectures about the apartheid wall with REVOLUTION Germany in Berlin and Bernau.

* Why do you fight against the wall?

I have always been an activist against the occupation of Palestine. The apartheid wall is being built around the occupied territories and annexing about 10% of the Palestinians' land.

I think the most emotional thing for me is that the wall was planned to be built just one kilometer away from my house and separate me from my Palestinian neighbors.

* What kind of actions has your group done?

The first action we did was the peace camp in Mas'ha. That was a camp for Israelis, Palestinians, and international activists in a village that was going to be divided by the wall

The first goal of the camp was to inform all of the people in Israel and Palestine about how the route of the wall would annex so much farming land - it was a great success, at least until we were dispersed by the army when we tried to occupy a house that was set to be demolished.

After this camp we began with direct actions against the wall and control points in the occupied territories. In August 2003 we tried to cut down part of the fence in a village called Anin that was going to be completely enclosed by the wall. We didn't succeed in breaking the gate and four of our members got injured.

A month later we were able to cut 70 meters of the fence at a village in the north of the occupied territories. The army tried to disperse us with tear gas, but there was strong wind the gas was blown back at the soldiers!

* What is the most serious repression you've faced?

At an action in Mas'ha in December 2003 we tried to cut open a gate in the wall that had been closed for three full months. 50 young Israelis went to the gate and started cutting it; the soldiers responded by throwing rocks and shooting with live ammunition above our heads. Since we weren't intimidated by this they shot at our legs and one of the activists was seriously injured and almost lost his life because the army refused to call an ambulance.

This was the first time that an Israeli Jew got shot at a demonstration. It caused such a scandal that the chief of staff of the IDF went to visit him in the hospital to promise an investigation. But the army claimed that the soldiers didn't know we were Israelis - even though we were shouting at them in Hebrew the whole time! - and no solider was ever accused of anything.

* What is your perspective to struggle?

The battle should be fought on several fronts.

The international front is very helpful for the struggle by pressurizing the Israeli government to build the wall over the green line [i.e. without annexing any Palestinian Lands]. The ruling of International Court of Den Haag, campaigns by NGOs, worldwide boycotts on Israeli goods - these are all important for the struggle. But the most important thing is demonstrations against Israeli policy all over the world.

Inside the occupied territories it is important that Palestinian villagers, Israeli activists and "internationals" from the International Solidarity Movement fight together against the wall. The army has a very hard time dealing with massive, nonviolent demonstrations when Jews or internationals are inside of them.

* What is the social situation in Israel like right now?

There is a lot of unemployment and poverty, and as a result there are always strikes. The current government is trying to destroy the social welfare system that existed in Israel and they are facing opposition from the unions. Unfortunately, the unions are losing this battle, the workers in most places are losing their rights, the state-owned factories are being privatised. Unless Israeli workers begin an all-out struggle against the Israeli state - naturally together with the Palestinians - then we will see a further erosion of living standards and the "Dämmerung" of the workers' power.

* What kind of experiences have you had in Germany?

I've done 5 lectures about the wall in Berlin. Most people who attended were very curious and seemed to be misinformed about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A lot of people thought the wall was going to liberate Palestine - that the wall would create a sovereign Palestinian territory - or that Palestinian struggle is antisemetic, that kind of thing. So I hope people learned a lot.

I was happy to meet with activists from the International Solidarity Movement in Germany. They are currently doing training sessions for activists who want to go to Palestine during the olive harvests.

* What have your experiences been with the anti-germans [reactionary "antifascists" who call for "solidarity with israel"] ?

I was at an antifascist demo in Klein-Machnow against Horst Mahler [a Nazi theoretician, who used to support the leftist terrorist group RAF] and lots of people were waving Israeli and American flags, or even chanting that Palestine should be bombed. How racist!

I've met a lot of leftists who are sick or outright afraid of anti-germans. It seems that they are terrorizing the radical left with accusations of antisemitism and physical attacks. In my opinion the anti-germans are the real antisemites on the radical left, since they want Jewish people to fulfill a special stereotype, they think all Jews are Zionists and support the occupation.

There is definitely a problem with antisemitism on the left - for example judging the Israeli occupation of Palestine different than the Turkish occupation of Kurdistan - and it is important to oppose antisemitism while fighting for a free Palestine. Israel is just another part of the imperialist world order and should be fought as part of the struggle against capitalism and racism.

* Anything you'd like to say to them?

My main problem the thinking of the anti-germans is that they don't try to see the broader picture. Fighting nationalism and capitalism is not only a battle inside Germany, it is a battle all over the world. Fighting the state of Germany is important, but Germany is only a small part of the imperialist world order that is being led by the USA. Thinking that the USA and it's 52nd state in the middle east is an enemy of Germany is a very shallow and stupid way of seeing the reality, The USA and the EU might be competing with each other about who will lead the globalization process, but they are still working together to control the world and to assure the control of global capitalism.

Waving flags of the US and Israel in demonstrations because you are against nationalism and racism is as stupid as waving Burger King signs in an anti-McDonalds demo. Fighting your own nationality doesn't mean you need the support some one else's nationality.

And as for people like Bahamas, they use their philo-semetism to justify their racism against Arabs and Islamophobia. I still don't understand why racists thugs like go to anti-nazi demos - i know they used to be on the left, but then again so did Horst Mahler!

* So what advice do you have for activists in Germany?

Every fight against oppression is a step towards a better world.

And to force the Israeli government to stop its brutalizing of Palestine, the important thing is mass demonstrations all throughout the world against the Israeli Apartheid State.

more stuff in English from REVOLUTION germany

RIO • Revolutionäre Internationalistische Organisation • www.revolution.de.com • info[ät]revolution.de.com • (c)opyleft   

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