Please share the video from the action: Checkpoint Street Theatre
“This is not street theatre – I can see it’s political – you have to stop!”
-Public Safety Officer
(sometimes you need a little bit of repression in order to know that you’re doing something right)
We were shut down after one hour of a checkpoint, in which we funneled hordes of Middlebury students on their way to midnight breakfast. Our ensemble of five soldiers, three detainees, and two ID and flyer distributors put a taste of the disruptive, intimidating, confusing reality of the occupation in the consciousness of the unsuspecting College community.
We got a fascinating myriad of reactions – from people that aggressively rejected the act and stormed through the barricade to people that played along, participated and protested at having to walk at separate paths than their friends of different arbitrary ID’s.
Expect a video of the act to come out soon.
“My husband and his brother drove me to this checkpoint after I felt sharp pains in my stomach. I’m pregnant and the doctor in my village doesn’t have the proper facilities to deliver my baby. The pain is so intense I can’t stand, but the soldiers ahead won’t let me pass because we don’t have a permit to cross the checkpoint by car. I can feel the kicks against the inside of my stomach, and I know that the child will come out any moment. I think he will be born at a checkpoint rather than a hospital…”
This is a tragically true story that happened to Naheel Abu Rideh at the Huwwara checkpoint close to Nablus, in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers refused to allow her through the checkpoint, and she ended up giving birth in the backseat of the car while the soldiers watched. Her mother-in-law delivered the stillborn baby who Naheel had felt kicking just minutes before.
Studies have shown that about 10% of pregnant Palestinian mothers heading to the hospital get delayed at checkpoints, which has resulted in children born at the checkpoints, as well as both maternal and infant deaths.
“I have class today, at least I’m supposed to. Unfortunately, I’m stuck here, and I have been for over an hour, trying to get to a class that’s supposed to start in five minutes. Without checkpoints, I could get to my university in fifteen minutes, but I try to leave extra early and account for these hold-ups by planning ahead. Still, I worry that if I keep missing class, it’s hardly worth my trouble even trying. My parents want me to eventually go to school in America, but at this rate I’ll be happy if I can graduate from a university just a few miles away. “
This is a daily reality that many Palestinian university students undergo, especially when trying to reach the top Palestinian institutions outside of their local areas. For example, some 91% of students at an-Najah University in Nablus report having missed class because of checkpoints, while some students face up to five checkpoints on their daily commute to their university. To make matters worse, the Israeli government often denies international professors visas and places obstacles in the way of Palestinians going to study abroad. One example of this includes trying to cancel SAT that were to be administered in the West Bank, as well as blocking scholarship students from Gaza from leaving the coastal enclave. Certain elementary school teachers have taken to administering classes at the checkpoints because so many students couldn’t make it to their classes at the school building.
Wednesday, May 14, 2013
Justice For Palestine, Middlebury College
Street Theatre—Checkpoint and Apartheid at Middlebury College
The goal of this theatrical demonstration is to raise awareness of the oppression and vast suffering of the Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation. As a culmination to Justice for Palestine’s educational campaign this semester, we are staging a military checkpoint to bring to light part of an oppressive situation in which all Americans are implicated, with over $3 billion given every year to the Israeli government. This action is in solidarity with Palestinians and Israelis who together continue to struggle against the apartheid regime in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, and 1948 Israel.
We believe that all people, including Palestinians and Israelis, should not be the targets of violence and discrimination. Just as we condemn the racism and discrimination underlying the policies and laws of the state of Israel, we reject any form of hatred or discrimination against any religious, racial, or ethnic group. In turn, we recognize that we are here in Middlebury on occupied Abenaki lands; we are settlers working for the decolonization of this land and all lands.
We fully support the Palestinian Civil Societies call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions of Israel as a non-violent tactic to end the occupation, dismantle the wall, and recognize the rights of Palestinians to full equality. Middlebury College has divested from apartheid in the past, now is the time to do it again.
These checkpoints will occur Wednesday night from 11 PM – 1 AM, and Thursday afternoon from 12 PM – 2 PM at Proctor Dining Hall (Hepburn Road, Middlebury College, Middlebury VT 05753). These times are particularly festive, and hundreds of Middlebury students will go through the checkpoints and experience a piece of what it is like to live under occupation.
Please contact Amitai Ben Abba with questions or quotes. firstname.lastname@example.org and 831-535-2261