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RAP Part 3: Not So Fast

February 5, 2012

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Dear friends,

After being warmly welcomed by dozens of residents in At-tuwani—which was chosen as the starting point because of its citizens’ nonviolent struggle against illegal Israeli occupation & encroaching settlements on their land—the team began their run feeling energized & excited.

We are excited to share the third episode of The People and the Olive, our daily web series from the Run Across Palestine filmed and edited by Aaron Dennis of Stone Hut Studios and featuring our runners and media team as the explore the lives and truths of farming communities in Palestine. Check it out here:

The People and the Olive - Part 3: Not So Fast

" We might encounter some barriers along the way, but that is what we are here for. We have broken down so many barriers by being here in the first place. We are helping the farmers overcome barriers that have been placed in their lives." - Nasser Abufarha

"Are the runners all ready? Jenin is that way- let's go!" - Timothy Young

Despite a ruling from the International Court of Justice that “Israeli settlements [colonies] in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including [occupied] East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace [and] have been established in breach of international law,” some 500,000 Israelis now live in those settlements. And even though all members of the U.N. Security Council except the U.S. recently came to the same conclusion, Israel continues to approve new financial incentives luring Israelis to the West Bank settlements. What’s more, the Israeli army does all they can to remove Palestinians from certain areas of the West Bank.

Considering all of these things, we knew there’d likely be some sticky situations along the way in Palestine. What we didn’t know was just how soon they’d arise. About 10 km into Day 1 of RAP, the runners were stopped on the road by Israeli officials. Nasser Abufarha, founder of Canaan Fair Trade & the Palestinian Fair Trade Association, was arrested & taken into Israeli custody, along with two French activists who had joined the runners. Read more about the military stopping the run here from Jacob Wheeler.

The run was interrupted for a couple hours, but the team is safe & sound in Beit Omar, gathered with other project organizers. Day 2 of the run will continue as planned. The good news is that everyone is fine and in high spirits. No one was harmed, & Nasser has been released. He was falsely charged with organizing an illegal demonstration. 

We are not running as a demonstration or protest. We are running FOR farmers, FOR trees, FOR peace and truth. We are planting olive trees so they can feed generations to come.

What this encounter illustrates--and what we’ve all been intently aware of from the start of this project—is the harsh reality that Palestinian citizens face every day. They are frequently harassed & detained by Israeli forces. They are sometimes kept from traveling onto their own land, forced to detour miles out of the way in order to reach their destinations.

Regardless of the region’s politics, & regardless of what side of those politics you may fall on, what the RAP team witnessed & experienced today was unjust. Many even view the situation in the West Bank as apartheid. As former U.S. president Jimmy Carter declares in his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, “Palestinians are deprived of basic human rights…[and] Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace.”

On the Ground & Run Across Palestine are working towards that peace: a peace that is for everyone, Israelis & Palestinians, Americans & everyone else around the world. The team is anxious to continue on their journey, printing that message of peace into the ground with every stride.

Day 1 of the run was not a 25 mile day at all, it was a brief run. But spirits are high, and we are excited to keep running in the days to come! Read runner Claire Everhart's blog post about her experience of the day.

"We are going to continue to plant more trees from here until Jenin!" - Nasser


Jennifer & the whole On the Ground crew

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