Ni’ilin is a small Palestinian village in the West Bank that has been a center of unarmed resistance and civil disobedience against the Israeli separation wall for over two years. The construction of the wall has sliced off the village from hundreds of dunams of its privately owned farmland, effectively annexing the land to an adjacent Israeli settlement. Since Ni’ilin’s popular committee initiated its struggle against the wall in 2008, dozens of villagers have been imprisoned without charges for extended periods of time — three members of the popular committee currently languish in Israel’s Ofer prison — while numerous others have been maimed and killed by teargas canisters, rubber bullets and live .22 caliber ammunition. Among those badly injured by Israeli fire was the American activist Tristan Anderson, who sustained severe brain damage after being shot in the head by a self-propelled teargas grenade (the grenade was designed to pierce concrete walls) and is struggling to regain use of the left side of his body. (After closing its case on the basis of a “lack of wrongdoing,” Israel has been compelled to reopen its investigation of Anderson’s shooting by revelations that it had not even interviewed the Border Police officers accused of firing at him.)
This July 4th, Ni’ilin resident Mohammed Amireh raised an American flag in the village’s ad hoc museum to honor Americans like Anderson and Rachel Corrie (Emily Henochowicz also deserves mention) who were wounded and killed while demonstrating in solidarity with Palestinians. Though America’s Independence Day has been transformed into a vapid national picnic symbolized by barbeque sauce-stained American flag napkins, the holiday was in fact established to celebrate the country’s anti-colonial tradition. Even as the United States consolidates its role as an imperial power, a few Americans are continuing the tradition of their country’s founders in the rocky hills and olive groves of the colonized West Bank.
Amireh, who speaks English as a third language after Arabic and Hebrew, emailed me the following statement yesterday:
A palestinian farmer raises the palestinian flag and the american flag together on the occasion of the 4th of july an independence day close to the aparthied wall which built by the israeli occupation, to prevent him from reaching to his olive trees field,and carrying a message to mr obama and to all the americans, congradulating all of them. and hope for the future to spread the peace on the earht , and hope that the god bless the free americans ,and work together to end the suffering of the palestinians, specially in nileen village, where the american activist mr.tristan anderson got shot by tear gas canester from the israeli soldiers, and we wish and hope that he recover his health again soon. and also mrs ratchel khouri who died in gaza, she came from america to solidarity with the palestinians, and died by an israeli bulldozer in gazza,when the driver who is a soldier tread her several times after he killed her. we will never forget her and we called the streets and the schools with her name. here we are sharing you with your independence day as you are sharing us our struggle and protest to get our own independence and freedom.