My name is Ayed Morrar. I am from Budrus, a small village near Ramallah. In 2003, I co-founded the Popular Committee Against the Wall, which opposes the racist Israeli Separation Wall. The Popular Resistance Committee against the Wall was first established in the village of Budrus. It was created after the Wall had already stretched for nearly 170 kilometers starting in Jenin in the northern West Bank, and finally reached our village. When the work on the Wall began, the Palestinians were shocked and were uncertain about how to resist this Israeli action. In 2002, when Israel re-occupied the Palestinian cities and began building the Wall, there was no effective working model for resisting. When the route of the Wall reached us, through a private and small initiative, we decided to resist it differently. During the first meeting we didn't have a specific name in mind, we were searching for a means of resisting the Wall and tried to come up with a framework that would lead and guide our system.
The first meeting was attended by 70 representatives from nine villages of Budrus, Deir Qiddis, Kharbatha, Ni'lin, Midiya, Qibya, Shibtin, and Bil'in. I invited heads of local councils, local politicians from different parties, such as Fatah and Hamas,leaders of youth organizations and directors of local NGOs. We discussed the issue of the Wall and agreed that sooner or later it would reach us, due to our location as border villages [on the Green Line]. We discussed the development of an effective means of resisting it and agreed to form a small committee, called the Popular Committee. It included representatives of the different local NGOs and organizations. We also agreed that every village should have a local committee in addition to an umbrella organization for every group of villages.
The Popular Committee Against the Wall involves representatives of organizations in every village who believe in the same method of nonviolent resistance against the Occupation, especially given the grave danger the Wall poses. In Budrus, as in other villages, the local council, schools, youth organizations and political organizations are all represented in the Popular Committee. All of them have the desire and ability to commit to nonviolent resistance against the Occupation and they all believe in this path.
Since then we have been involved in peaceful popular resistance against the Wall. We managed to salvage thousands of acres of our land that was slated for confiscation for building it. Near the village of Budrus alone we saved 400 acres planted with 3,000 olive trees. Budrus is a small village, its population doesn't exceed 1,500, but with 55 popular marches we managed to save our land. These marches had a price: one man was killed and nearly 300 were injured, in addition to the 36 who were imprisoned with sentences ranging from 4 - 8 months. We should be prepared to pay the price for freedom and also maintain faith in our nonviolent way.
Through nonviolent resistance against the Wall, we have established relationships with international sympathizers, some of whom became members in our committee. We appreciate these relationships and are very proud of them and the positive role they play in supporting us and our peaceful struggle against the Occupation. We have many Israeli sympathizers who play a major and important role in the nonviolent struggle as well. Their role has different aspects, the first is cultural. The Palestinians have been accustomed to viewing Israelis as soldiers and settlers. As open-minded people, we have always been aware that there are certain Israelis who want and believe in peace. For the first time we were able to see the other side of the Israelis who wish to establish relations with the Palestinian people based on equality; who object to occupation and the oppression Israel practices against the Palestinian people.
In addition, Israeli and international solidarity activists are better equipped than Palestinians to face the media public opinion in their home countries. They can discuss the issue of the Wall with their own people and pressure their governments to take an influential stand against it. We are very proud of these relations with our Israeli counterparts, which are completely different from normalization, which we both oppose. Normalization can't be achieved under occupation.
Normalization as we understand it relates to the Israeli Occupation. Israeli activists who come to resist the Occupation reject it, and so they are our supporters. We want to recruit all the free people of the world, including Israelis, to side with us against the Occupation. We are proud of these relationships. Because the Popular Committee included affiliates of Fatah, Hamas, and all Palestinian factions, we didn't leave room for criticism.