Why Dafka?
Who are we?
Start a Dafka Chapter
Where To Get Equipment
Tabling Materials
Speakers And Consultants
Dafka Chapters
Letters to Editor
Arab Front Groups
Middle East History
See Terror's face
Rogues Gallery
Download Flyers
Send Letters
Leftists Speak Out
Arabs Speak Out
Send Letters
Contact Us


The ISM Summer Volunteer Program : The "International Solidarity Movement" With the PLO
First Hand Reportage:
From Northern California and From Jerusalem

David Bedein and Lee Kaplan

Being a neutral observer in a war zone is a difficult one. But when these observers are actually partisans masquerading as objective "monitors" of the treatment of civilians, then the images of the conflict broadcast to the world can be skewed beyond recognition.

Such is the case with the International Solidarity Movement, the ISM, which this week launches its third summer in a row in which it dispatches its members to demonstrate against Israel.

This week, as final deliberations take place in the International Court of Justice in the Hague concerning Israel's construction of a security fence, PLO leader Yassir Arafat met with the ISM and other protest groups to urge them to mount vocal protests against the security fence.

The ISM is often referred to in the media as a "peace movement." Its spokespersons are assumed to provide objective daily updates for foreign consuls and the foreign press based in the Middle East. For this, the group has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Yet there is a flip side to the portrait the ISM presents of itself. In practice, it is nothing less than a revolutionary movement that fights in support of a violent struggle. Indeed, it defines itself as anything but neutral observers of the conflict between Israelis and the Palestinians.

Until very recently, the opening paragraph on its own Web site www.palsolidarity.org, bodly stated the ISM supports the Palestinian "armed struggle" against the "occupation" and in favor of the "relevant U.N. resolutions."

Writing in the Jerusalem Post on August 6, 2003, one of the ISM founders, Huwaida Arraf, wrote that "Palestinians have the right to resist occupation via "legitimate armed struggle," peaceful actions, or a combination of the two".

ISM spokesman Raphael Cohen was asked how his group defines the "occupation." His definition? "The Zionist presence in Palestine" - that is, all of the country including Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

Cohen went on to say that the ISM view of peace would be a "one-state solution," which means no Israel at all. ISM spokesperson Huwaida Araf confirmed that ISM supports the Palestinian "right of return," which is tantamount to calling for the end of the Jewish state.

ISM claims that it uses nonviolent means in support of that struggle. But as in any paramilitary operation, there are combat units and support units. In the ongoing fighting between Palestinian terrorists and Israel's army, the ISM chooses to play the role of a support unit for the Palestinians.

While it invokes the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi in its approach, the ISM rejects the nonviolent vision of both men by working in alliance with those who choose to kill people in order to advance their goals. By definition, a movement that endorses the "armed struggle" of a terrorist organization should itself be considered a terrorist organization.

The group freely admits to:

  • Spotting and reporting IDF troops in military operations and reporting their whereabouts to armed Palestinian units. Since ISM members are not Arabs and unarmed, they can provide reports on troop movements to terrorists that take refuge in population centers.

  • Intervening with IDF troops at checkpoints in order to facilitate movement of Palestinians between cities. Who knows how many terrorists have been able to infiltrate into Israel with the help of this group?

  • Preventing Israel from monitoring and closing off the tunnels that Palestinian terror groups have dug along the border with Egypt. When Rachel Corrie was killed, she was trying to block an IDF tractor that was carving a path in the direction of these underground tunnels. She was not shielding a house.

ISM has now recruited hundreds of volunteers to come to Israel this summer in the guise of unassuming tourists. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is currently in the process of coordinating a new program for the summer of 2004 called "The Freedom Summer Campaign." The program will run for 56 days to symbolize the 56 years of occupation in the territories by Israel. Over 800 volunteers are expected to arrive in the upcoming weeks to participate in this program. Participants represent the international community with 55% of those participating being American citizens. Of the 55% of American participants, incredibly 60% of these participants are of Jewish ancestry.

On the ISM Web site, www.palsolidarity.org, it advises ISM volunteers to "have a really good story about why you are coming and not to mention anything about ISM, or knowing, liking or planning to visit Palestinians. You must play it as though your visit is for other, Israel-based reasons, like tourism, religion, visiting an Israeli friend, etc."

ISM spokespeople announced at their national convention held last November in Columbus, Ohio that it would encourage future ISM participants to apply to the "Birthright" program to come to Israel for free, using Jewish public funds to finance their trip. At the time, Birthright spokespeople issued a statement that they would be careful to avoid such people who might exploit them for the ticket and stay on in Israel to work for the ISM. Yet this summer, at least five of the ISM have identified themselves as coming over on Birthright. The most blatant among them is Jessica Rutter, who has been involved in high level pro-PLO activity on her campus for the past four years. A quick glance on her high profile activities on the web would have revealed that. Rutter says that she was glad that the Birthright interviewers did not bother to check her out on the internet.

ISM Training Session in California

Three days before the actual training session an ISM "Orientation Lecture" was held on June 9th 2004 at the New College at 741 Valencia Street in San Francisco given by an Arab-American "doctor" named Jess Ghannum.

Ghannum began his lecture by stating that "Palestine" was "colonized by White European settlers" in an attempt to drive out the "native indigenous people." He made a comparison to South Africa. Then he accused these "white" invaders of trying to "wipe out Arabic culture." He claimed that 97% of the land that was Palestine was owned by Christian and Muslim Arabs and only 3% by the Jews. He stated it was not a religious conflict at all, and that Muslim Arabs love the Jews.

He maintained that the creation of Israel was an effort of white-skinned people to subjugate a dark-skinned people to create a "deeply racist society." He bemoaned the

"Zionist dream of a purely Jewish state" and demanded how would the audience feel if they lived in a purely Christian state without freedom of religion. He claimed 800,000

Palestinians were "removed" by the Jews in 1948, implying their homes were taken over by Jews. He claimed the British were on the side of the Jews and gave them weapons to conquer the "indigenous people." He bemoaned how the Jews had driven Palestinians

to other Arab countries and "into the sea." He claimed Palestinians were used as "slave labor" by the Jews. He claimed Israelis make $20 an hour while Palestinians only make $2 an hour. He had to acknowledge Israel was a democracy because his audience wasn't totally ignorant, so he claimed that Israel's Arabs are treated like "third class citizens."

He claimed there are Jewish only neighborhoods where Christians and Muslims cannot live, nor can they buy land. Then he claimed such segregation was ten times worse than that practiced in the U.S. South during segregation and of "Jews only hotels" similar to hotels that restricted blacks before the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Finally, he spoke of bands of Jewish terrorists who preyed on innocent Arabs in their villages prior to 1948.

Sounds pretty awful doesn't it? Especially if you are a 19 year-old college kid who wants to be a revolutionary and make the world a better place.

There's just one problem: every word was a lie.

Ghannum concluded his lecture by telling a story about an Israeli soldier who asked him for his ID card at a checkpoint. The soldier noticed that Ghannum was from the San Francisco Bay Area and the young soldier, being friendly, mentioned he'd gone to Mt. Tamalpais High School near Ghannum's home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"Imagine!" Ghannam said about this soldier, a Jew born in the United States, "He had the nerve to ask me for my ID on my land." It apparently escaped the attention of the audience that Ghannum had stated at the beginning of the lecture that he, too, was born in the United States and not in the Holy Land.

On June 12th, 2004, the actual ISM orientation took place at 2263 Mission Street in San Francisco, a small storefront community theater in a rundown area of the city with a folding grid gate barring the entrance.

There were about a dozen people in the first session, counting both "volunteers" and trainers. They were forced to go through a simulated "interrogation by an Israeli border guard" portrayed by Jamie, an overweight woman in her thirties. Jamie is a social worker for the city of San Francisco. She said that she had been on an ISM trip two years earlier as a member of San Francisco's Jews For Free Palestine (JFFP) and would be going again this summer.

Jamie went through the belongings of each participant and, on finding notes from the ISM orientation lecture from three days earlier in the handbag of one of the people there , she asked why the Arabic name of Jess Ghannum, the lecturer, appeared on a piece of paper and acted as if Israeli security guards would not have appreciated seeing notes from an Arab in the hand bag of anybody trying to enter Israel even under legitimate means.

The group was then organized into a circle where they discussed the "border checkpoint" we'd just been through.

Trainees were furnished with ISM training manuals, big thick white notebooks with eight sections. The opening page of the ISM training manual said it all, accusing the Israeli army of oppressing the Palestinian people because of "occasional Palestinian violence". Also in the ISM manual were articles from groups like the War Resisters League, Act Up, Direct Action and a myriad number of other anti-globalist groups along with some internal ISM documents. This manual was to be the guide, a corporate-style guidebook for wannabe revolutionaries, as it also contained valuable information in how to disrupt the Israeli authorities as much as possible.

Jamie began the session by asking the participants to introduce themselves. The first up was Mahera, a Palestinian-American woman in her late twenties who would also be an ISM trainer that day (see photo). Mahera told everyone that she works for the San Francisco office of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). This is significant. Many Americans are unfamiliar with the ADC, and its communications director, the Jabba-the-Hut look-a-like Hussein Ibish, who frequently appears on television in the United States. Ibish always promotes the ADC as strictly a civil rights organization for Muslim-Americans and always claims that in no way is the ADC involved with aiding worldwide terrorism. However, here was a young woman from the ADC office who was training volunteers to go to Israel to break the law and interfere with Israeli army anti-terrorist operations and to attack a security fence designed to keep out suicide bombers. One wonders what Americans would think of a non-profit "civil-rights group" that was encouraging lawbreaking overseas against a U.S. democratic ally?

Meanwhile, Jamie admonished participants , "You see what it might be like when you try to enter Israel. Don't bring your manuals with you!"

ISM trainees were told that the ISM is a Palestinian-led movement and that they were under the leadership of the Palestinians who had professional handlers to oversee what the ISM would be doing. Once in the West Bank, there would be long term ISM leaders there to guide things, but that the Palestinian handlers had ultimate control.

Each participant introduce him or herself within a circle. The first woman identified herself as Barbara Miles, who said that her maiden name was Zakasia and that she was Lebanese-American. Barbara described how she had visited Syria in support of the regime there. She asked if having "Syria" stamped in her passport would prevent her getting into Israel. "Get a new passport," Jamie shot back. "It's easy."

Next came Ian Trenallio from Lake Tahoe, who wore a T-shirt that said "anti-hate, anti-capitalist and anti-Zionist.". A 40 year-old machinist who formerly lived in San Pablo near Berkeley, California, Trenallio told us how he'd been to Tijuana to protest economic globalization and now he wanted to "help the Palestinians."

"Don't say to the border guard you are there to help the Palestinians!" Jamie admonished.

"The goal is to have the Israeli guards think you are a tourist." The Israeli economy was hurting because the war has killed tourism and we wanted to take advantage of that.

Next up was Christina Cruz. Christina, a student in the U.S., and an Argentine national, she was going into debt to spend this summer in the Middle East working for free for the ISM. She expressed concern that she was going into debt to pay for her own trip. She wanted to "help" people and further the cause of human rights. Beyond the rhetoric though, I could never understand how she equated aiding terrorists with human rights.

The next "volunteer,"Scott, provided a real life example of how indoctrination works. Scott, who said that he was Jewish and even has family in Israel, explained that he used to support Israel until he took some classes in Middle East Studies at Stanford. "I used to support Israel until I took some classes with Joel Beinin who set me straight," he volunteered.

Dr. Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer have both written a lot about Beinin whose teachings rail against the "Zionist lobby" in America and how 9/11 was really America's fault. Under Beinin's influence, Scott now wanted to see Israel dismantled like everyone else that day. If anything provided proof of a threat the US educational system when the indoctrination techniques used in totalitarian countries becomes the norm, Scott was that proof.

Next up came Jeff, a tall strapping blonde who said he'd been to Israel in the 1970's but was now going to work with the ISM to stir things up. He'd been involved in activism in the Bay Area before. This was to be a summer vacation of more activism.

After Jeff came Ken, a semi-retired consultant for the food and drug administration who introduced himself as someone who was sick and tired of what the "Zionists" (Jews) had been doing and wasn't afraid to do something about it "even if the CIA is after me."

Nui, a small, Asian-looking girl introduced herself by explaining she was part Lebanese and part Thai-Chinese. She was going to help the Palestinians and "find her roots." I wondered why finding her roots in Thailand or China wasn't preferable to Arafat's Palestine Authority. Even Lebanon might have made sense.

Arlene, a 62 year-old Jewish woman from Oakland, California, told us how she had a lifetime of activism and how during the Vietnam War she "went to visit and support the 'comrades' who told her to go back home and fight the war against America for them." She described how she was estranged from her parents and how she had used the excuse of their funeral to get into Israel last time she was there. Despite her age, and having two grown sons, she was the most supportive of doing things to attack the Israeli soldiers such as throwing tear gas canisters back at them during riots and putting sugar in the gas tanks of their security vehicles. She lamented a loose bladder due to her age but vowed it would not stop her from "helping" the Palestinians with all the other ISM volunteers. "We're going to win," she said, meaning by destroying Israel. "Like Dr.Ghannum said at the lecture the other day, the demographics are on our side."

"Make a reservation in a hotel in Israel even if you don't use it," Jamie advised. "And bring guidebooks for Israel that look dog eared. Give them the name of a hostel if you are young enough, these will fool the border guards."

She continued, "If you use a name of someone in Israel as being the reason for your visit, they will call that person. Make certain you have a story thought out who that person is."

Mary Erwin, another trainer from Oakland, then pointed out how allies from the Israeli anarchist or Israeli communist party would lie to the border guards who called them on the phone in order to get the ISM volunteers into Israel. "If they (the border guards) become suspicious, an Israeli contact will be set up to lie and say you are visiting them," said Mary. The left wing Israeli human rights group B'tselem was mentioned as providing such contact people.

ISM trainees were told that once inside Israel they could then make our ways to the West Bank even though they were also informed that to go there is illegal, which it is not, unless the area is a closed military zone, for whatever reason. Jamie advised us to email ourselves instructions so that we would not need our manuals. They were assured that the "ISM corps" was working on legal proposals to challenge the Israeli government at every turn if as illegal entrants we were found out. They were asking also if people are willing to resist if they are caught and told they will be deported.

A check with Israeli security soruces showed that entry into the west bank is not illegal for a foreign national - only for Israeli citizens

The ISM trainees were also told of alternative ways to get into Israel besides Ben Gurion airport. "You can take a taxi from Amman in Jordan to the Allenby Bridge (Jordan's border entry). Even if you are turned back from that entry, you can go to the other border crossing because they usually don't know you were turned away from another one first," Jamie counseled.

"Rehearse your story," she continued. "They will interrogate you also when you leave. If they interrogate you, you can miss your plane. Don't buy anything because it will give them things to look through."

As for luggage, the trainers advised that the volunteers should do everything possible to look like students, and suggested to use just use a backpack. "A duffel bag on wheels does well at the airport. Remember that Israel needs tourists. Their economy is in a shambles and they are anxious for tourism. And they are not organized."

"Most of all, be patient. If they ask you questions such as 'What are you doing here? Don't you know there's a war?,' you should reply, 'I thought it was better now.' Or say, 'I had my ticket for a long time and my Israeli friends said I should come.' If you are Jewish, know your Hebrew name if they ask you what it is. Know your story. Wear your Star of David especially if you are Jewish."

Jamie advised that she would be in Israel for three weeks during the last half of July. Once the group was there, they were to attend another mandatory two-day training session where we would be assigned to "affinity groups." She then began making a bulletin board of how to function by setting up rules. The first one was "Confidentiality." Volunteers would be assigned to unknown affinity groups where they would function as teams to disrupt the Israel soldiers in military zones. Those are the same Israeli soldiers who are on the lookout for suicide bombers and other terrorists that kill Israelis.

ISM trainees were given rhetoric to memorize and say to the media: "We support the Palestinian right to resist the occupation provided by international law."

No one said what international law they were referring to.

Still more rhetoric: "We call for an immediate end to occupation and immediate compliance and implementation of all relevant UN resolutions."

Constant references to law and legality for the ISM do not apply to demanding the Palestinians arrest suicide bombers and terrorists instead of lauding them in order to create a viable peace plan. The manuals to used the euphemism "legitimate resistance" when referring to such attacks on Israelis.

Asked if ISM volunteers favored a two state solution for peace in the Middle East, Brian Malovany, another senior ISM trainer from Oakland chimed in, "The idea of a two state solution is pretty much dead. There can only be one state called Palestine. And the Right of Return is non-negotiable. If people ask you about a two state solution just tell them it's a human rights issue. Whatever you do though, do not dictate to the Palestinians what they should not do."

In other words, ISM trainees were instructed by word and in our manuals that if the Palestinians shoot at Israeli soldiers, or throw molotov cocktails at cars with children in them, or even blow up buses, to never tell the Palestinians it is wrong to do so.

The question was then asked, "But what if we see kids throwing stones at tanks or putting themselves in danger. Shouldn't we tell them not to and urge them to stay away?"

Brian Malovany shot back by saying that : "We can't tell kids not to throw stones!" He continued, "It's not our place to tell them what to do." Obviously that applies to suicide bombers also as we were advised that they could be placed as human shields inside houses slated for demolition by the Israeli army after being used by terrorists for bpmb making factories.

In the ISM manual itself, under "Methods of Nonviolent Protest and Persuasion" was listed "Destruction of property." And later this quote: "Some pacifists are uncomfortable with property damage". But then the manual went on to describe such destruction as "a useful tool."

Under "Civil Disobedience and Riots," another article in the ISM manual states that civil disobedience allows some to "settle for tactical nonviolence, but given the right historical circumstance, armed struggle would be justified . . . " Perhaps this is a reference to terrorists shooting at Israeli soldiers from behind "non-violent" ISM volunteers? Or why terrorists in the past were allowed to use ISM offices?

Everything in the ISM manual was designed to couch the issues in the Middle East in such a manner as to prevent any peace from occurring short of the destruction of the state of Israel. And lessons in doublespeak were plentiful:


"When TERRORISM is mentioned, emphasize STATE TERRORISM."

"Instead of OCCUPATION say MILITARY OCCUPATION to make people think the occupation is a MILITARY DICTATORSHIP." (The only military dictator in Israel and the West bank is Yasser Arafat). The page this appeared on was supplied by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, yet another Muslim "civil rights group" with offices in California like the ADC.

One obvious obfuscation of the manual is the last chapter by ISM Northern California leader Paul LaRudee which says, "you may well hear Palestinians talking 'about the Jews' when they really mean 'Israelis' or 'the Israeli army' or the 'Israeli government.'

It is useful to remember the context; talk about 'the Jews' is not the indication of bigotry that it would be in the United States or Europe."

LaRudee, also gave advice to "queer" activists who want to go on the Freedom Summer tour: "Palestinian society is as diverse in attitudes about gender and sexuality as is U.S. society," he answered. Homosexuals from the PA often take refuge in Israel for fear of being killed. Apparently the ISM doesn't care, so long as they get anyone over there to make trouble.

Delving even further, under the ISM manual's 14 Points About ISM Strategy by ISM activist Kate Rafael, Point #9 stood out:

"Work we cannot do without being killed is work we cannot do."

In the training session, ISM participants were instructed how to deal with Israeli soldiers. If advised to leave an area designated a closed military zone where the IDF is fighting terrorists, they were told to demand their orders in writing. "The soldiers can only detain you. They have to call the border police to arrest you," advised Jamie. A whole list of instructions were given on how to deal with arrests because we would be doing everything possible to break the law.

"Carry only a photocopy of your passport if they ask to see yours. If they hold it, you have to remain like they tell you. But if it's a photocopy you can escape while they are busy handling other demonstrators." If the soldiers tell you to back up ten feet, back up only five." Anything and everything to interfere with the soldiers trying to do their jobs was to be our goal.

The day concluded as Jamie discussed being prepared to deal with long term trauma once we returned to the Bay Area. "Be ready for lots of violence," she said.

ISM Training in Jerusalem

On June 14th, Hisham Jam Joun, the ISM media coordinator at the Faisel Hostel near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem gathered about 40 ISM volunteers who had already arrived for their first orientation with four of his ISM staffers.

Hisham Jam Joun, said that the first week will entail actions to protest what the ISM considers to be an ongoing war. The second week will focus on the liberation of Jerusalem, the third week on the liberation of Palestinian prisoners, the fourth week on the dismantling of Israeli road blocks, and finally the fifth week will focus on settlements. The entire program will be concluded with a 14 day long march from Jenin to Jerusalem that will be organized by the ISM. All members of the ISM are expected to participate. The ISM will also attempt to rally many Palestinians to join during their march through 46 different Palestinian villages that the march passes through.

Jam Joun introduced himself as someone who had participated in the ISM after he was injured during his participation fightiing with the PFLP, a group even the US State Department has declared an illegal terrorist group in the United States. An active fighter

in Lebanon where he was badly wounded, Hisham walks with a limp and has speech problems due to his injuries. The Israeli government also continues to classify the PFLP as an active terrorist organization.

Hisham Jam Joun discussed the main aims of the ISM as well as some logistics to his "trainees" that the ultimate goal of the ISM since its start is to end the

Israeli occupation of Palestine. He stressed that ISM's main goal is to use international citizens against the Israeli army. Hisham Jam Joun said that all participants are aware of the fact that they could be detained and exiled from Israel. He also said that members of the ISM who are exiled often reenter Israel to rejoin the organization through the use of fraudulent passports and names. Hisham said if a member gets deported and wishes to return, which many long time members do return, it is possible to arrange ways of entry. Hisham stressed that violent action by the Israeli army and militant groups in Palestinian areas is extremely discouraged in the case of internationals and does not occur often.

Hisham said that the safety of ISM members is always a main concern of the organization. Safety for participants is secured by making sure all operations and movements of participants are done in groups of three to four people. When asked of how safety is secured for participants from Palestinian militant members and how these Palestinian militants distinguish ISM participants from other westerners who could be a threat, Hisham responded that the ISM has many contacts throughout the territories and contacts in every village that inform various groups operating or living in those areas of the ISM presence and its members. Hisham continued to explain that the organization does not participate or interfere with the actions of militant groups; however, he did state that occasionally a militant will pass by meetings or outposts of the ISM and ISM members are instructed to be courteous and exchange greetings so as to upkeep a manner of politeness.

Hisham stressed that The ISM only allows Palestinian leadership because its goal is to teach the Palestinian people how to help themselves. All operations of the ISM are only done at the request of the Palestinian civilians that live in the areas and cities that the ISM operates.

Hisham explained briefly what a participant of the ISM does by volunteering. He told me that every week there is at least one large scale demonstration. The ISM has media contacts and makes use of other resources such as civilian contacts in various villages to monitor the territories and be aware of what is happening all the time. By doing so, Hisham told me that the ISM is always prepared to immediately send participants to areas of conflict when they are needed. The decision to go to any area of conflict or any city is always the decision of the volunteer, Hisham said.

Hisham stressed three principles of the ISM:

  • Non-violent, Palestinian-led, and Consensus-based decisions.
    "The local Palestinian community decides what kind of actions are appropriate for them. ISM's role is to assist, not to direct. ISM members work in groups and make decisions that everyone in the group can live with." Hisham went on to say that trainers can refuse ISM membership to anyone who can't go by the three principles or who can't respect the local culture.
  • Hisham and the trainers gave information on local Palestinian culture. For example, indirect confrontation is common here, as are rumors and exaggerations. Don't make any distinctions between Christians and Muslims, never say anything negative about rock throwing (this was emphasized). Wear modest clothing, no drinking, don't point the bottom of your foot at anyone (an insult in the Arab world) and don't vocalize your support for any particular political/military faction over another. If you see a fighter (anyone with a weapon) don't take pictures, just say hi and move on.

Everyone must agree to group decisions (or at least be able to live with the decision if not in support of it). Everyone gets a chance to express his opinions and concerns before a decision is reached. Techniques for consensus decision-making were taught and practiced with a fake scenario: At 11 p.m. you hear the army has come and is planning to blow up the house of a suicide bomber in half an hour. What do you do? One group decides to go, ask the family what they want done, make sure media has been contacted and do their own media work, negotiate with the soldiers, and call human rights groups. Another group decides to do the same thing and to enter the house and stand on the roof to show their presence while others help the family to move out.

The trainers reminded thr ISM to ask the family if they want to move out or to negotiate with the soldiers, since many do neither, in protest.

Trainers advised the group to bring cameras whenever out at night or on an actions, so that if something bad happens, there will be evidence.

ISM trainers stressed that ISM members were asked not to carry any weapon and nothing that can be construed to be a weapon , such as sticks or Swiss army knives. The exception would be to cut the separation fence when they can carry wire cutters.

ISM trainers stressed that the Palestinian right to resist occupation within the lines of the fourth Geneva convention, and that ISM neither approves nor condemns suicide bombings. If Palestinians at a protest choose to throw rocks or tear gas, etc., they can stay but not join in. If they use live fire, ISM policy is to leave, ISMers may not hit soldiers even if the soldiers hit them. If settlers hit them, they may use "some violence" but only in self-defense, and if possible they should leave instead of fighting.

Hisham presented ISM volunteers with the ISM Steering Committee, a core Group made up of representatives from each region, both internationals and Palestinians, along with representatives from other committees. Anyone who stays long term (three months or more) is automatically allowed to attend Core Group meetings. The Core Group meets every three months and reports to the Steering Committee, which has ultimate decision- making power. The Regional Committees each have two local coordinators and one or two international coordinators. The other Committees are: Legal, Media, Training, Financial, and Problem Solving/Evaluation. The RC membership varies, the Core Group is usually 30 or 40 members. Each committee has both men and women, and both internationals and Palestinians.

Huweida Arraf, one of the founders of the ISM, gave a lecture to the ISM volunteers on the "history of non-violence" and stressed that their role is "not to teach non-violence but rather to join existing non-violent resistance." Most of the lecture was focused on techniques used in the first Intifada, such as strikes, burning ID cards, holding classes in prisons and private homes, etc. Huweida emphasized that "the most important work starts when you go back home," i.e., media advocacy. She gave four ways to help: Protective accompaniment, a visible international presence makes the army careful, and we can help Palestinians to move more freely. Media-work to get media coverage of the struggle. Advocacy- do our own media work, spread the word among our family and friends- to provide moral support, and to encourage Palestinians under "occupation."

In Huwaida's view, "The ISM protects Israelis by working against the occupation, which is the root of all violence here. Settlements are considered paramilitary communities, children there should not be targeted but settlers are not considered civilians." In other words, it's all right to kill them.

The next lecture by Huwaida dealt with the media. ISM has media offices and volunteers for international exposure. Volunteers should contact their local/student newspapers

in their home countries and try to get their stories published. Palsolidarity.org (a yahoo group) sends information to activists, for example, stories and action alerts. It has about 3,600 subscribers, and palmediaalert@yahoogroups.com is the list for media. It has about 1,600 subscribers. On this list are press releases, media alerts/advisories, reports, and journals. Media alerts are to tell media about something happening that they should cover, and advisory is to invite the media to a future event. Reports provide reporters who weren't at an event with pictures, information, and contacts. Journals and other personal information is usually put on the regular list but sometimes on the media list. Journals and reports should be sent to info@palsolidarity.org and ism-alert@palsolidarity.org. Huwaida pointed out that journals are important and some of ISM's best publicity came from Rachel Corrie's journals and letters home. Writings should be neutral (for example, say Israeli Army not Israeli Occupying Army as so many do ). Give eyewitness accounts and accurate information, not hearsay. Anything supporting violence or racism won't be published. Take lots of pictures. If soldiers don't want taping, there are ways (ex. covering the red light of the camera, cutting a hole in the camera bag) to keep taping while pretending not to. Make copies of footage at the media office. Sensitive information should be emailed to oneself, not carried through airports. ISMers should learn responses to commonly asked questions. No making statements on behalf of the ISM. Think before an interview about what points you want to make and keep making them no matter what the reporter asks. Ask Palestinians for permission before taking their photos, some are afraid to be targeted by the army.

The next lecture was with a group of Palestinian and Israeli lawyers. They opened their discussion with illustrated instructions as to how to recognize regular soldiers, border police, police, and special forces. Only border police can arrest internationals and Israelis. The usual charge is being in a closed military zone. Always ask to see the paperwork declaring the region a CMZ. If arrested, you won't be strip searched, so it may be possible to sneak in cell phones. In case it isn't, get a phone card. You can ask to have the list of confiscated possessions translated into your native language, this can get you time. So can asking for a translator during interrogation. The stranger the language, the better the chances that they'll just let you go. Be cooperative but say nothing, don't answer questions. Just insist on speaking to your lawyer or embassy first. Usually you won't be deported on a first arrest. If they decide to deport you, you can fight in court for a compromise/reduced punishment. Anyone on a hunger strike can't be deported by plane, also making trouble on the plane can get you kicked off the plane. Even if you are successfully deported you can change your name and come back. You will be deported the way you came, so it's good to fly in through Switzerland, since they don't accept deportees. If you aren't deported usually you have temporary travel restrictions. Don't tell officials that you're with ISM.

The final sessions dealt with effective role-play, with ISM trainers stressing that " Before an action, decide on the message, your goals, who should participate, what media to invite". The group was advised to split up important roles like photographer, media contact, legal observer, negotiator, and medic, and to let people know your emergency contacts and blood type before an action, and to carry a copy of your passport.

The most important piece of advice given to the group was to "decide who can be arrested and who can't be, and to make sure to keep non-arrestables are safe"

Pages were distributed to stress the concept of "arrestables and non-arrestables", with clear instructions that an Arab who throws stones or molotov cocktails is an arrestable who needs to be paired with a non-arrestable.

The ISM volunteers was also introduced to two ISM founders who offered to be at the beck and call of the ISM for any emergency that may crop up - Ghassan Andoni and Netta Golan . While Andoni is a Palestinian Arab who lives in Beit Sachour, Neta Golan is an Israeli woman who has married a Palestinian Arab man who lives in Nablus who now works for the Arab cause.

ISM trainers provided practical information on various army techniques with protests. How to recognize and deal with tear gas, sound bombs, rubber bullets, and live fire. A practice demo was held with trainers who played soldiers who use tear gas on the demonstrators and try to arrest them. Techniques were rehearsed on how to nonviolently resist arrest, and how to hide video footage.

Overall, the emphasis of the ISM training in Jerusalem was definitely on media. The ISM was constantly reminded to have media at every event, to carry cameras, to protect coverage from the army, to contact media abroad, etc. While ISMs policy is nonviolence, there is clearly sympathy with certain violent acts and refusal to condemn even suicide bombings and killing of children. Also, while ISMers can't participate in violence, they can act as human shields for those who do.

On June 15th, the ISM training seminar in Jerusalem dealt with the following subjects:

Getting into the West Bank/Gaza:

Groups of ISMers, if asked, should claim to be Christian tour groups on peace missions or something similar. Participants should travel in small groups (3-4 per service taxi) and they will not be questioned. However, some participants are officially barred from entering the territories, and have more problems with travel. They either: 1. take a private cab together with a driver who knows how to avoid checkpoints (arranged by Hisham, Huwaida, or other coordinators) 2. take a service cab but with another participant traveling ahead to warn of any unexpected roadblocks/ID checks, or 3. take a service cab and walk around the checkpoints, with another one or two ISMers (with permission to travel) going through the checkpoint and coordinating the meeting at the other side.

The third method is easiest, however, the service cab has to go through the checkpoint half-full and then wait on the other side, both of which can arouse suspicion. So the first method is most popular.

ISMers also often travel with members of other groups after meeting at the Faisal Hostel. For example, if Hisham knows that a single ISM member and two European journalists are all going to Jenin, he'll put them in contact so that they can travel together.

A cover for the ISM volunteer to gain access and make trouble.

Leaving Israel:

In order to make the "Christian tourists" line as believable as possible, ISMers will usually break into small groups and spend a day or so actually touring (usually the Muslim and Christian Quarters of Jerusalem's old city), making sure to take lots of pictures and buy lots of cheap souvenirs. In a more devious method, ISMers will share memorabilia, so that one ISMer's trip to Eilat or the Israel Museum will provide several ISMers with postcards, maps, brochures, etc. All this is to make the inevitable questioning at the airport go more smoothly. . Most ISMers aren't questioned directly about what they did or where they went.

Activities of ISM in Jenin:
Roadblock Removal

ISM members will help to dig out piles of rocks and dirt that the IDF uses as roadblocks. Occasionally by hand, but the local coordinators usually try to arrange for a bulldozer when possible. Who decides what roadblocks will be removed was unclear to me. ISM works with local Palestinian or without them. Local participation consists almost entirely of the Shabab, which is the term used for the organized PLO youth gang of rockthrowers.

Watching Checkpoints

On days with no scheduled protest/action, groups of 3-4 ISMers often go to observe a checkpoint of their choosing. They don't do much more than occasionally hassle the soldiers (who are bored enough that they seem glad for the diversion anyway) and try to talk to Palestinians there to see if they have any complaints about the checkpoints or the IDF in general.

During curfews, the checkpoint watch gets more heated as ISMers argue with soldiers in an attempt to get Palestinians through. Since that never works, they usually decide to move on and act as human shields for Palestinians who sneak around the checkpoint.

Human Shields

ISM members will join Palestinians in sneaking around checkpoints, breaking curfew, and protests. The point is that soldiers will be less likely to shoot or use violence when Westerners are present. Usually they also carry a camera or video camera, because filming soldiers often makes them leave.


ISM action is meant to draw or create media coverage. Many group members do independent art or video projects during their stay, and many more are active in spreading anti-Israel propaganda when they reach home. This is highly encouraged and we were given tips on how to write effective letters to the editor or articles for local papers. Some ISM members volunteer at the IMEMC (www.imemc.org) offices in Beit Lechem, or more commonly at the ISM media office in Beit Sahour. Some protests would be staged as photo ops.


This is tied in closely with media. ISMers are encouraged to observe the conflict. This can be anything from arranged meetings with Palestinian families (who have stories of arrested sons, stolen olive trees, etc.) to following the Shebob to taking pictures of the armed conflict. They also collect information for future campaigns; for example, finding out which communities would be interested in ISM coming to protest the wall or do their Olive Harvest campaigns.

In Nablus

Particularly in Nablus ISM members will stay in houses of families of terrorists, or any house scheduled for destruction, as human shields.

Preparing for demonstrations and possible arrest

During Arrest: it's helpful to have discussed in advance whether to go limp/sit or walk with police to the van. ISM trainers gave the following advice: Whatever you do, saying loudly "I am nonviolent" or "I am not resisting arrest" is helpful both for the police to know and for the media to pick up. We have found it useful to hold our hands out from our bodies as we are being arrested to show how nonviolent (yet purposeful) we are. Another helpful phrase during arrest is "I'm going to remain silent. I want my lawyer."

Arrest Support

Those who are arrested can receive emotional and physical support from those who are "outside". People outside can publicize the situation, let loved ones know what's happening, arrange for lawyers, show up at hearings (a good time to pass messages), and try to get care packages into the jail. This is known as Arrest Support. Here are some roles for Arrest Supporters:

Vital Information Support: One non-arrestable member of each affinity group should have a list with the following information on it:

Name Cell/mobile phone number Age Address Medical needs Dietery Needs Jail solidarity emergency contact people-personal and media Passport Language (for court interpretation) Legal information for lawyer (prior arrests in Israel/Palestine?

ISM internal media memo distributed at the training session in Jerusalem:
Date: June 2004


Suggestions for phrases we can use CONSISTENTLY to combat current media stereotypes and false images, and to set new images in the minds of the public:



When there is injustice, there will be resistance. Where injustice is maintained by force, there will be resistance by force. Also emphasize "popular uprising" and "national liberation struggle".

When TERRORISM is mentioned, emphasize STATE TERRORISM


Note that many people no longer know what apartheid means.

Instead of OCCUPATION say MILITARY OCCUPATION to make people realize that the Occupation is a military dictatorship.

Avoid the term ISRAELI ARAB

(This term, coined by the Israeli government, obscures the fact that they are Palestinians.) Instead, use PALESTINIAN LIVING IN ISRAEL or PALESTINIAN ISRAELI or Israeli Palestinian. And we should start saying JEWISH ISRAELI or Israeli Jew, since 20% of Israelis are Palestinian or other, not Jewish.

Say INTERNATIONAL CONSENSUS to remind US audiences that the overwhelming majority of world opinion is at odds with that of the US government on the issues of Palestinians and Palestine.

Instead of INTERNATIONAL LAW (which may have negative connotations to some Americans), say GENEVA CONVENTIONS. The Geneva Conventions were signed in 1949, partially in response to Nazi war crimes, and refer to the illegality of settlements, prolonged occupation, use of poison gas, and other relevant issues. Israel and the US have both signed the Geneva Conventions.

Instead of SETTLEMENTS, say ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS (4th Geneva Convention). Also suggested: "colonial outposts", to indicate their true function and violent nature.

When possible say ETHNIC CLEANSING. This can be used to refer to the expulsion of Palestinians from historic Palestine in 1948 as well as he current situation.

Instead of FASCIST, say POLICE STATE "Fascist" has meanin