November 9th, the International Day against the Wall, was declared by communities devastated by the Wall in the northern West Bank during an organizing meeting of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign in June 2002. The goal of the day, which coincided with the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, was to highlight the Palestinian-led struggle for the fall of the Apartheid Wall. An international day of solidarity with this Palestinian led effort was intended to increase international support, advocacy, mobilization and vigilance while ensuring that all actions abroad were focused on the priorities and direction established by the Palestinian popular leadership of Wall resistance. Furthermore, the day reinforced the Campaign and aspiration of the devastated communities and individuals to mobilize in defense of their livelihoods under the grueling reality of the Occupation while activating significant and needed international support.
***image2***Leading Up to National and International Action
The International Day of Action Against the Wall was a natural progression for the Campaign which has focused its energies since October 2002 on building ties with affected communities and supporting various forms of struggle against the Wall. On the intentional level, the Campaign, since its inception, has been building ties with grassroots, solidarity groups and international organizations, especially those groups who are visiting or working in Palestine and have witnessed the Wall first-hand. In addition, the Campaign has exposed the issue of the Wall at the international level, often through the mainstream media.
In Palestine the Campaign has been able to raise awareness and create interest on a variety of levels. On the one hand, affected communities have been strengthened with the existence of a unified voice such as the Campaign. On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Legislative Council, NGOs, and local and Arab media have gradually realized the gravity of the situation and have come to recognize the Campaign as the main address in Palestine resisting the Wall. For the past six months, the Palestinian Authority has begun to include the destruction of the Wall in its list of demands, alongside other inalienable rights of Palestinians such as the Right of Return and Jerusalem.
In preparation for November 9th the Campaign sought additional coalition-building in Palestine around the International Day. The result was a tremendous joining of efforts for the International Day in which the National and Islamic Forces adopted the day and came together with the Campaign to form the ad hoc Popular Committee to Resist the Wall of Confiscation, Theft, and Apartheid.. In addition, the Islamic Waqf agreed to raise the issue of the Wall in Friday prayer. The Committee adopted a General Strike for the West Bank and Gaza Strip for two hours on the Day.
On that Day
November 9th marked the day when the unified call from Palestine to stop the Wall was amplified throughout communities around the world. In the West Bank a great many efforts were made nationally by communities under the Occupationâs stranglehold in order to coordinate activities and events against the Wall. At the global level the day brought together tens of thousands to join in solidarity with the Campaign and to place the call from Palestine at the forefront of demands for the Wallâs destruction.
In Palestine there were six demonstrations in the districts of Ramallah, Salfit, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem and Qalqiliya. The day saw the most uniform and widespread mobilization against the Wall in Palestine to date and was well received by local media, with continuous coverage on local stations and significant coverage on the widely viewed Arab satellite stations. On November 9th alone, approximately 4,000 people demonstrated while in the week of actions, that number doubled.
During the week before and the week after November 9th, television spots and short still and video clips were played in the media and highlighted the Campaignâs slogans for the demonstrations. Various movies on the Wall were also shown on local TV stations throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and interviews with Campaign activists took place repeatedly. Radio interviews also played an important part in getting the word out about the Campaign and November 9th.
The Ramallah demonstration was perhaps the most notable in terms of the number of demonstrators, and the Manaraâthe city centerâwas shut down as activists filled the area with Palestinian and party flags. In Qalqiliya, turnout was the lowest and participation was hoped to have been more significant.
A photo exhibit of the Wall was also displayed at the Baladna Cultural Center in Ramallah during the week of activities; the exhibit included pictures of the Wall and land destruction and a number of fact sheets were made available. The exhibit also included poster maps of the Wallâs path and the Campaignâs quarterly newsletter. An identical exhibit was displayed during the week at Birzeit University and was co-sponsored by various student movements.
Remarkable Success: International Mobilization
The international interest and organizing by various grassroots organizations, NGOs, and Palestine solidarity groups against the Wall was exceptional and provides an important source of strength for the Palestinian movement against the Wall. Over 70 actions in over 25 countries around the globe took place on or around November 9th. The Rome demonstration was particularly noteworthy with some 30,000 people out in the streets calling to bring down the Wall. The organizers of almost all of these activities took their actions to the public and ensured significant media attention to make their voices heard.
An important factor was the coordination from solidarity groups on various levels with the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign such as informing the Campaign of actions, and providing follow-up reports and digital pictures for the Campaignâs website. The various actions and activists also utilized Palestinian resources provided by the Campaign as the basis for their actions and information dissemination.
Arab satellite channels brought media coverage to Palestine of the international actions against the Wall such as the Rome, Sydney, and London demonstrations. Al Jazeera and Al Arabia stations declared the day as the Palestinian-led day of international actions against the Wall.
In addition, a number of international organizations, such as Amnesty International, chose the date to make public statements against the Wall and support the Palestinian grassroots Campaign.
In the European Social Forum, which took place in Paris starting November 12th, the Wall was a major issue and discussions around the November 9th global actions and next steps held a major place in most Palestine solidarity related discussions and planning.
Organizing against the Apartheid Wall in Palestine Post-November 9th
Undoubtedly, the greatest role of November 9th was making the issue of the Wall center stage in Palestine on that day, and strengthening the call for a unified, grassroots mobilization effort. The Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign itself is now a household name and within one week of November 9th, at least four additional local Wall committees were formed as part of the Campaign.
***image5***The participation of students added to the momentum of farmers in the affected communities and has widened the Campaignâs popular base while giving the Campaign greater resources for future mobilization. The involvement of Palestinian political parties âalthough hopes had been greater in terms of party mobilization – could be another step towards a unified Palestinian position.
The Campaign is now producing a November 9th Newsletter detailing the activities and analyzing their implications on a national and international level. Thousands of copies will be distributed throughout Palestine just one week after the end of activities.
The Coming Months
The priority for the Campaign will always be grassroots; the Campaign sees November 9th as the most important step taken by the Campaign in strengthening its role on the community level and opening the door for the building of a popular movement against the Wall. This implies that continuing to build the Campaign and popular support for it, meeting with affected communities and clarifying the Campaign strategy and local demands, will continue to be the focal points of the Campaign.
As a next step, on November 29, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, a number of demonstrations in Palestine and internationally will take place against the Wall. Demonstrations in Palestine will continue on a regular basis to highlight the continued role of the Campaign and the need for momentum in resisting the Wall.
The Campaign is also organizing to make Palestine and the Wall important issues in the January 2004 World Social Forum in Mombai.
Since it is expected that the Campaignâs outreach and media will face the usual backlash by Israel, the Campaign will continue its efforts to make information available and to pressure the media and others to cover the issue regularly and accurately.
The Campaign Website, at www.stopthewall.org, will launch multi-lingual sub-sites, the first of which is expected to be italy.stopthewall.org. The internet is an important tool locally, but especially internationally, as an information and organizing tool for the Campaign and its supporters.
The Campaign is also planning a second day of national and international organizing against the Wall which will be announced in the coming months and is estimated for the middle of 2004.
The Campaign Against the Wall and the Occupation
***image11***The Campaign plays an additionally important role in Palestine and for Palestine solidarity in that it seeks to be an example for current Palestinian organizing. Fundamental to the Campaign is the popular role in decision making and that Palestinian-led efforts, national or global, should be the norm in any successful drive for independence.
November 9th has been declared âThe Beginning of the Wallâs Endâ
Finally, November 9th is seen by the Campaign, by its various organizers, by the affected communities, and by the general public, as the important spark that will allow the Campaign call to stop the Wall to be known on a popular level and encourage mobilization around the issue as a national priority throughout Palestine.
The success of the day has also emphasized for people throughout Palestine that they are supported by many and various groups all around the world, encouraging continued organizing against the Wall with the knowledge that people globally are in solidarity with their struggle and believe in their right to liberation.
November 9th highlighted the need for Palestinians to work and organize together on all levels especially as many communities state the need for political parties to confront fragmentation and start working towards more unified national interests.
The Campaign demands to stop the Wall, dismantle current parts, return stolen lands, and compensate for losses are now well on their way to being a national and international demand and precondition for justice and the realization of Palestinian rights.