‘Dear Americans, break out of your silence and stand as one against tyranny!’
[ Ed. note – the writer of the letter below is Iyad Burnat, one of the leaders of the nonviolent struggle in the West Bank village of Bil’in. The village has been split in two by the Israeli apartheid wall, and for a number of years now villagers, along with activists in solidarity with them, have been holding weekly nonviolent protests.
These protests rather quickly launched the little village to international fame, but this became especially so after 29-year-old Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed by a tear gas canister fired at his chest by Israeli soldiers. This occurred on April 17, 2009, but the family was hit by a second tragedy the following year when Rahmeh’s sister, Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, died from the effects of tear gas inhalation after a protest on December 31, 2010.
In 2012 the film “5 Broken Cameras,” a documentary on the weekly protests in Bil’lin, was released to widespread acclaim. The film won a Sundance Film Festival award, an Emmy, and was nominated for a 2013 Academy award. 5 Broken Cameras was made by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi. Emad Burnat is the brother of Iyad Burnat, the head of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and the author of the open letter below.
Iyad has made several speaking tours of the US, most recently I believe in 2016, and you can visit his Facebook page here.
One week ago, on December 10, Iyad’s 17-year-old son, Abdul-Khalik, was siezed by Israeli soldiers and taken to Ofer Prison near Ramallah. You can read about the details of the arrest in a Facebook posting Iyad put up here. The youth, as you will discover if you follow the link, faces a military court hearing tomorrow.
The letter below was emailed to a woman who helped organize one of Iyad’s speaking events in a US city. The woman recently forwarded it to a friend of mine, who in turn forwarded it to me. ]
Open Letter to the American People from Palestine
I write you this letter while in excruciating pain for the suffering and crimes committed by the Zionist occupiers every moment against my kin and my Palestinian people at large — a methodical terror perpetrated against our people, especially among our youngsters.
I write you because I feel that a part of this suffering emanates from you. In fact, you are part of this Zionist Occupation, this aggression on our Palestinian people.
The Zionists have completely taken control of you while you sleep; they have taken control of your wealth and your politicians so that all the decisions that are taken in your name are purely Zionist dictates that serve no-one but the Zionist terror at the expense of a defenceless people that seeks nothing but its own freedom, just like all other peoples of this world. The most recent of these decrees was the one by your president Trump concerning al-Quds/Jerusalem, a decree that demeans each and every one of you.
Dear Americans, Break out of your silence and stand as one against tyranny! Be not silent, as silence is complicity in the crime! Be not a curse onto History, as other empires before you have been!
Head out to the streets and demand that this corrupt president be replaced! Stop the vast aid to the Zionist Occupier who perpetrates crimes with your wealth and in your name!
We believe that change can never emanate from governments but from you, making your demands known in the streets. Please know that we have never had anything against Jews anywhere in the world, but rather against the Zionist Occupation of our land. We wish to live in freedom, just as all other peoples of the world do. And we hope to see a better future for our children.
Do not aid the Zionists in killing our dreams and the hopes of our children!
In Gratitude and Appreciation,
The Popular Committees for Nonviolent Resistance — Palestine
The following is an unrelated addendum to this post. The three videos below have nothing to do with Iyad Burnat’s open letter–I’m simply posting them because it’s the Christmas season and I’ve been posting carol videos over the past week or so–but they are, of course, connected to the general overall struggle against occupation in Palestine.
The first video is a beautiful song entitled “Birth in Bethlehem” sung by the talented Celtic singer Emma Christian. She sings the lyrics in Gaelic, but immediately below the video I am posting the Gaelic lyrics along with their English translation side by side:
|Birth in Bethlehem (Manx/Gaelic)||Birth in Bethlehem (English Translation)|
|Nish lhisagh shin yn feailley shoh
Y reayll lesh creeaghyn glen
Ayns cooinaghtyn jeh Yeesey Chreest
Oikan ayns BethlehemDaag Eh cooyrtn sollys E Ayr
Goaill er yn dooghys ain
Ruggit jeh Moidyn ghlen gyn chron
Oikan ayns BethlehemEisht ainleyn Niau ren boggey ghoaill
Haink lesh ny naightyn hooin
Ginsh jeh Saualtagh ruggiy jiu
Oikan ayns BethlehemNagh mooar yn insblid as y ghraih
V’ayns Yeesey Chreest yn Eayn
Tra ghow Eh er cummey Harvaant
Oikan ayns BethlehemArd gloyr da Jee ‘syn yrjid heose
Ta reill ayns maynrys beayn
Aigney mie Yee nish soilhit dooin
Oikan ayns Bethlehem
|Now ought we this festival
To keep with pure hearts
In memory of Jesus Christ
An infant in BethlehemHe left the bright Courts of His Father
Taking on our human form
Born of the pure Virgin
An infant in BethlehemThen the angels of Heaven rejoiced
And came to us with the tidings
Telling of the Saviour born today
An infant in BethlehemHow great the humility and the love
Which was in Jesus Christ the Lamb
When He took the form of His Servant
An infant in BethlehemGreat glory to God in the highest
Who rules in eternal happiness
The mind of God is now made clear to us
An infant in Bethlehem
Hat tip to Renee on the second two videos. In the first you will see two Palestinian children singing “The Little Drummer Boy” in Arabic, and the second, very brief video, features a Palestinian choir in a Christmas concert.
Before closing out this post, I’d like to offer one final thought, and again this has nothing to do with Iyad Burnat or his letter. In fact, I have no idea whether Iyad is a Christian or a Muslim, and it really does not matter to me. But what I feel needs to be expressed is the view that Christian Zionists, in bestowing their seeming approval on virtually every atrocity committed by Israel, have utterly betrayed their fellow Christians in Palestine. They have, and I have said this before, succumbed to the “powerful delusion” spoken of by Paul in II Thessalonians–that is to say they have “refused to love the truth,” and “for this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false.”
The establishment of Israel in 1948 was a “powerful delusion” that dispensationalist Christians fell for. But there is no longer any reason to harbor that delusion, for the truth is out there for anyone with eyes to see.