Dorothy Naor picks up Michael Riordon, author of Our Way to Fight: Peace-Work Under Siege in Israel-Palestine, in her green Volkswagen Passat. From Tel Aviv they head to the occupied West Bank. “Now pay attention.… We’ve just crossed the so-called Green Line,” she warns Riordon, a Canadian investigative journalist who is neither a Jew nor a Palestinian. Naor, however, is Jewish and an American-born peace activist in Israel where she has lived for 60 years. She has a doctorate in literature and is a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. Naor is 80 years old and a peace activist. She and hundreds like her resist Israel’s 45-year illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine.
So begins Riordon’s excellent book that explores the dangerous lives and politics of Jews and Palestinians who are working for peace in Israel and Palestine. In 1949, just after the founding of the Jewish state, the Green Line was drawn to divide the land between the Jews and the Arabs. The Green Line also divided Jerusalem – West Jerusalem belonged to Israel and East Jerusalem to Jordan. However in 1967, Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria. For the last 45 years, Palestinians have lived under Israeli military control. To add insult to injury, since the early 1970s, successive Israeli governments have either tolerated or encouraged the growth of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, especially near East Jerusalem. Today the West Bank is home to more than 500,000 Jewish settlers in scores of Jewish communities that are really settlements, with homes, schools, swimming pools, medical clinics, playgrounds, and workplaces in the occupied West Bank. More than 300,000 of the settlers live in settlements surrounding East Jerusalem – on land that does not belong to them. These settlements are illegal according to international law.
Dorothy Naor drives author Riordon across the Green Line to visit several Palestinians, including a farmer Hani Amer, and a journalist, Issa Souf. Amer’s house had been demolished to make way for another illegal Israeli settlement. After bulldozing his house, the Israeli Defence Forces (idf) destroyed his plant nursery, chicken coop, and goat shed – crushing his ability to earn a livelihood. Israel’s “security wall” snakes through Amer’s farmland, which (due to idf checkpoints) takes him nearly two hours to get to rather than the 20-minute drive it took before the wall. A constant worry for Amer is the shortage of water: as Riordon notes, “According to a 2009 study by the World Bank, Israel controls all the water sources but allocates to Palestinians only [End Page 300] 20 per cent of the water. It is forbidden for Palestinians to drill new wells.” (12)
Issa Souf is 40 years old and sits in a wheelchair. In 2001, the idf entered his West Bank village, Kifl Hares. The idf lobbed tear gas and fired rounds of live ammunition. Souf was a target because over the years he and his brother had led non-violent protests against nearby Israeli settlers who raided the village. The settlers cut down more than 30,000 olive trees, killed 7, and injured more than 50 Palestinians. In 2001, Souf heard the gunfire and tried to rescue children in the street. He was shot with dum-dum bullets, which lodged in his spine. Under international law, the use of dum-dum bullets is illegal; Souf sued the Israeli military and won. Quietly, they supplied Souf with an adapted vehicle and some money to make his house accessible. However they will not give him a permit or travel pass to go Nablus for rehabilitation treatment.
Another chapter is about Machsom Watch – or checkpoint watch – a group of Israeli women who visit checkpoints to chronicle Israeli transgressions against the Palestinians who need to enter Israel or go to other Palestinian towns. The group monitors the behaviour of the military at checkpoints and later at military...