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Maia Ramnath speaks about her recent travels to the West Bank with the ISM

George Cadman of Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.1 fm interviews Maia Ramnath about her recent travels to the West Bank with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Maia is a UCSC grad student and activist in the global justice and antiwar movements. She has travelled to the West Bank twice, first in the spring of 2002 during the major Israeli army invasions of Palestinians towns and most recently in Dec 04 and Jan 05. (1:02:39 / 57.3 MB)

Audio: Listen to the Stream or Download the mp3

The ISM was founded in late 2000 by Palestinian and Israeli peace activists, who came together with the intent to end Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which they say is the main obstacle to peace. Civilians from all over the world travel to the Occupied Territories to provide protective accompaniment for Palestinian civilians, as well as to engage in acts of nonviolent direct action.

Resources: Electronic Intifada | ISM | Palestinian Centre for Human Rights | Palestine Monitor | Palestine Diaries | B'Tselem | The Alternative Information Center
Some of the work of the ISM internationals includes walking children to school, acting as observers, attempting to protect Palestinian homes, crops and water wells from destruction or appropriation, assisting farmers in accessing and harvesting crops and carrying food and medicine into closed neighborhoods. They also get news reports out. Approximately 20% of ISM members are Jewish, including many Israelis.

Some ISM activists have been killed or seriously injured by Israeli forces while engaged in this work. An Australian volunteer sustained severe internal injuries after being hit by shrapnel from rounds fired by Israeli forces during an April 2002 protest in Beit Jala. On March 16th, 2003, ISM volunteer Rachel Corrie was killed in Rafah after being run down by an Israeli army bulldozer that was set to destroy the home of a Palestinian pharmacist. Three weeks later on April 5th, 2003, ISM volunteer Brian Avery suffered extreme facial injuries after being shot by machine gunfire from an Israeli armoured personnel carrier. Six days later, British ISM volunteer Thomas Hurndall was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper while trying to protect Palestinian children from the Israeli army gunfire. He was left braindead for months and eventually died on January 13th, 2004.

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Ramnath is both uniformed and biased

Maia Ramnath never talked to an Israeli who supports Israel. Her entire time on the West Bank, she spent with anti-Israel activists who fed her nothing but anti-Israel propaganda. Here are her own words: “The people who I did talk to were the people who were involved in this kind of action.? So much for her getting any kind of balanced view while she worked for the ISM!

She appears to be unaware of reality too.

Maia Ramnath: "The statement, the majority of Palestinians support suicide bombings, its just not correct. Go there and talk to as many people as you can, in many cases the family you hear they raise their children this way, you hear about mothers who want their children to die, its ridiculous, they are horrified and they grieve –speak to as many Palestinians as you want to –I cant think of anyone who I’ve talked to who supports that tactic."

George Cadman: But are they opposed?

Maia Ramnath: "Are you going to stop someone? I don’t know if you can stop someone. You hear about it after it happens."

So Maia doesn't think any Palestinian supports the 120 suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians? And for proof, she asks reader to "go there and talk to the people."

Skipping the complete illogic of her suggestion, I invite Ms. Ramnath to read the opinion polls among the Palestinian people which have consistently shown that the majority of Palestinians support the suicide bombers.

Here is an example:

"Public opinion polls indicate that Yussra and Walla represent an overwhelming majority of Palestinian children who embrace this belief. According to three different polls, 70 to 80 percent of Palestinian children aspire to shahada."

"The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah released a poll this week showing that support for suicide bombings had dropped from 58 percent in December to 52 percent."

Ms. Ramnath protests the olive trees "destroyed" in building Israel's security barrier. She fails to mention (or simply may not know) that Israel has replanted 65,000 olive trees and 3,500 fruit trees. See below:

One of the main accusations Israel faces about the building of the security fence is that the project disregards the land rights of Palestinians. The following report, which appeared in the UK-based Jewish Chronicle newspaper on 12 December 2003 , shows this accusation to be a myth:

Israel has spent hundred of thousands of shekels replanting 65,000 Palestinian-owned olive trees and 3,500 fruit trees uprooted to make way for its West Bank security fence.

Defence Ministry Spokeswoman Rachel Ashkenazi told the Jewish Chronicle this week: “We are building the fence to provide protection for the citizens of Israel . But at the same time we are trying to minimise the damage to the Palestinian population. Wherever there is no option but to seize land where there are olive trees or fruit trees, we find it humane to replant them outside the course of the fence so that the owners can benefit from them.

George suggests that Maia is picking on Israel rather than any other country because "Our government is funding Israel." She suggests that anyone involved in nonviolent direct action ends up being accused of being anti-semitic. "You are singling Israel out—why this issue?"

Maia Ramnath: "I would say that does a grave disservice to all the people I am describing. I am not critizing a people or a religion. We are critizing a state---- but the reason I would get involved is because of the US involvement."

Note: she didn't answer the question at all! Her single focus of being critical against Israel and no other country OR the Palestinian Authority, is explained away by saying she is only criticizing "a state".

Never mind that is is the people of Israel who are getting blown up by suicide bombers (that NO ONE SUPPORTS ACCORDING TO MAIA RAMNATH). Never mind that Israel is the ONLY national refuge for Jews the world over---but she is not attacking a religion--though she has NO CRITICISM WHATSOEVER for the 22 Arab/Muslim countries or the 34 other countries which have a predominantly Islamic population that in many cases (such as Sudan and East Timoor) are waging wars against the non-Islamic populations.

The USA supports many countries such as Jordan, Egypt, and the PA.

NO, only Israel is picked out by the ISM and Ramnath. But hey, its okay because " is a state."

Re: Maia Ramnath speaks about her recent travels to the West Bank with the ISM

the whole "why are singling out israel?" is unfounded and illogical. EVERYONE i know who is involved in anti-occupation activism is also involved in activism against US funding/invovlement in other places around the world. the reason it seems like israel is singled out is because the palestinian/israeli conflict is such a horrible, urgent crisis that makes top priority for many people.

i think it is ridiculous for you to question maia's exeriences. the fact is, there are not two sides to this conflict and there are not two solutions. anyone who refuses to acknowledge the complex histories and complex realities of current situations (no matter what your political stance or opinion on the conflict is) does not do justice to anyone actually involved.

Israel is both singled out and held to a different standard

So how many articles have been posted here about the genocide that is going on in Sudan?

There have been 100,000 killed in the past two years and over 2 million people are homeless in Sudan.

In Israel, about 4,000 have been killed in the past FOUR YEARS and we keep arguing about 650,000 refugees from 1948. These refugees are NOT HOMELESS and the camps they live in have buildings with electricity and running water.

Look at how many articles are posted here which villify Israel and the Israelis.

Where ELSE has the ISM gone to protest human rights violations?

I don't discount Maia's experiences, as far as they went, but you have to admit, she only spoke to the converted when she was there and has admitted as much.

Re: Maia Ramnath speaks about her recent travels to the West Bank with the ISM

Becky Johnson is not consistent with the principles of unity of Indymedia and should be banned.

Re: Maia Ramnath speaks about her recent travels to the West Bank with the ISM

Our government is funding Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. We give the Israeli government at least 3 billion dollars a year. Israel is the top recipient of US foreign aid $. That $ is used to further their seizure of Palestinian land, the building of illegal settlements, the Israeli army's attacks and invasions of Palestinian towns and villages, home demolitions and the building of the wall. A wall which is not being built on the green line, but on Palestinian land, dissecting up towns and destroying shops, farms, homes and dividing families. In addition, our tax dollars help pay for Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers which are used to demolish houses and in the case of Rachel Corrie, people. Our tax dollars have been given to the Israeli government for this purpose. This is why many Americans care so deeply about the issue, they feel personally responsible. In addition, they care about Israelis and Palestinians and want to see peace for the sake of both peoples. They do not believe that the current strategy of our govt. foreign policy, supporting illegal land seizure by Israel through settlement building and military force, is promoting peace. They believe that it is furthering bloodshed.

Re: Maia Ramnath speaks about her recent travels to the West Bank with the ISM

Another reason why people here speak out strongly against the foreign policy of our govt towards Israel (in addition to caring about our tax $ being used to support human rights abuses and illegal land seizure) is that the US media is very biased in favor of the US govt position on Israel and of the actions of the Israeli govt and military. People here are fed up with being fed a steady diet of propaganda from our school years forward. Propaganda which is designed to present only the Israeli side of the story and to demonize Palestinians and deny their rights.


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