Friday, September 17, 2010

Line in the Sand: Israeli activists defy law with Tel Aviv beach parties for Palestinians

The soothing sound of the Mediterranean might do more for Israeli-Palestinian relations than endless waves of US-backed peace talks. But it takes a certain grit for Israeli women activists to spirit West Bank families across checkpoints to reach the sea and sand. Israeli and West Bank women both risk jail for organizing a fun day at the beach. Civil disobedience is rarely tolerated by the IDF, who are supposed to be attuned to any potential security breach. But the profiling they use routinely during enforcement means that settlers at checkpoints get waved through - as well as women who look a bit like settlers
These illegal trips challenge laws governing the movement of Palestinians, reports the Guardian's Rachel Shabi, who follows up a group of activists inspired by a May 7 article by Ilana Hammerman, of Haaretz.

"It's like we are using the tools of the occupation," said Irit, one of the [Israeli] drivers. "It just wouldn't occur to the soldiers at the checkpoints that Israeli women would want to do this."

As Tel Aviv nears, the Palestinian passengers silently survey the tall buildings and outdoor cafes and seem especially taken with the ubiquitous motorcycles and mopeds that speed around the city...But all the Palestinian women have just one request: to go to the sea. For most, it's their first trip to the seaside, even though it is a short drive from home.

The passengers join another carload and head to the promenade in Jaffa, the mixed Arab-Israeli city stuck to the tail-end of Tel Aviv, where the Palestinian women race to greet the waves crashing against the bright rocks. "It is so much more beautiful than I thought," said Nawal, watching her gleeful seven-year-old daughter skipping backwards to avoid being sprayed by the waves.

Hat tip to Juliette for this link. Photo from The Guardian