Exhibit A: Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leader of the nonviolent campaign in the West Bank village of Bil’in, who was arrested last year by soldiers who raided his home at the middle of the night. An Israeli military court exonerated him on charges of stone-throwing and arms possession (the “arms” turned out to be empty bullet casings and tear gas canisters that Abu Rahmah had collected to prove IDF violence against demonstrators) but he was eventually convicted of “organizing illegal demonstrations” and “incitement.”
On a pitch black early December night, seven armored Israeli military jeeps pulled into the driveway of a home in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Dozens of soldiers, armed and possibly very scared, came to arrest someone they were probably told was a dangerous, wanted man – Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a high school teacher at the Latin Patriarchate School and a well-known grassroots organizer in the village of Bil’in.
Every Friday, for the past five years, Abdallah Abu Rahmah has led men, women and children from Bil’in, carrying signs and Palestinian flags, along with their Israeli and international supporters, in civil disobedience and protest marches against the seizure of sixty percent of the village’s land for Israel’s construction of its wall and settlements. Bil’in has become a symbol of civilian resistance to Israel’s occupation for Palestinians and international grassroots.
Abu Rahmah was taken from his bed, his hands bound with tight zip tie cuffs whose marks were still visible a week later, and his eyes blindfolded. A few hours later, as President Obama spoke of “the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice” upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Abu Rahmah’s blindfold was removed as he found himself in a military detention center. He was being interrogated about the crime of organizing demonstrations. In occupied Palestinian territories, Abu Rahmah’s case is not unusual – about 8,000 Palestinians currently inhabit Israeli jails on political grounds.
Abu Rahmah’s sentence came down today: one year in prison, a six months suspended sentence for three years, and a fine of 5,000 shekels. The military prosecution is expected to appeal, which means he is likely to remain in jail indefinitely. Another Bil’in activist, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, was also sentenced for twelve months on similar charges but still remains in prison after fifteen months while prosecutors continue to appeal his conviction.
How can we in the Jewish community help promote peace and justice in Israel/Palestine? By standing in solidarity with courageous Palestinian leaders such as Abdallah Abu Rahmah. Click here to learn more about his case and how you can support his cause.