By Marianne Torres
On January 11 (7:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4340 West Fort George Wright Drive), PJALS will host Iyad Burnat, one of the leaders of the resistance in Bil’in, Palestine (West Bank). Mr. Burnat is in the midst of a speaking tour of the US. He and his wife were our hosts when our May 2012 Interfaith PeaceBuilders delegation to Palestine, that included PJALS member Myrta Ladich and me, stayed in Bil’in. Download a flier here to share!
Spokane will have a rare opportunity to meet a man who is deeply engaged in a life and death struggle to end 45 years of military occupation of his land, his home, and hear first-hand how a town reacts to confiscation of their farmland and crops by force and without compensation.
Burnat is head of the Bil’in Popular Committee and a leader in the village’s non-violent popular resistance movement. Since 2005 citizens of Bil’in have held weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the building of the Israeli separation wall through the community’s agricultural lands, and the steady encroachment of illegal settlements. The demonstrators are joined by Israeli and international peace activists, and have maintained a commitment to non-violent methods of resistance in spite of armed, military opposition that had resulted in many injuries and some deaths.
These demonstrations are the subject of the recent award-winning documentary film “5 Broken Cameras”, which was made by Iyad’s brother, Emad Burnat, who also lives in Bil’in and is also part of the resistance to the military occupation of their land. Many PJALS members attended our showing of “Cameras” in September and saw some of this struggle captured by Emad. It was a compelling and sometimes painful film, gripping, and very real.
Iyad was born in Bil’in in September of 1973, is married and has four children. He became involved in popular resistance as a teenager, and was arrested by the Israeli military for the first time at age 17. He was accused of throwing stones, and imprisoned for two years. Since then he has been arrested and imprisoned by the Israeli military several more times.
During his 2012-2013 American tour, Iyad will tell the stories of Bil’in and life in the occupied West Bank, and talk about strategies for non-violent popular resistance with a goal of peace and prosperity for all people. His presentations are accompanied by photos and videos.