JVP Statement on Seattle Event
On Sunday January 13, Jewish Voice for Peace Seattle co-hosted a talk by Iyad Burnat. Burnat is the head of the Bil’in Popular Committee and a leader in the village’s non-violent popular resistance movement.
Since 2005, citizens of the Palestinian village of Bil’in have held weekly unarmed demonstrations against the building of the Israeli separation wall through the community’s agricultural lands and the 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 has resulted in many injuries and some deaths. These demonstrations are the subject of the recent documentary 5 Broken Cameras, the Oscar-nominated film directed by Iyad’s brother Emad Burnat.
After a moving presentation by Burnat, two attendees, both unknown to the organizers, initiated a fight. The two men showed blatant disregard for the speaker and his message of non-violent protest, aggressively yelling at each other and ultimately escalating to physical confrontation. Their actions were extremely upsetting to the crowd, who had come to learn from Burnat and the longstanding commitment to unarmed resistance shown by the people of Bil'in.
JVP strongly condemns all violence, including the verbal and physical assault that occured at the event. The organizers of the event took immediate action to de-escalate the situation and to ensure the safety of all attendees. the disruption only underscored the vital important of Burnat's message. As the presentation so compellingly showed, we believe that steadfast non-violent resistance in the face of the daily violence of the Israeli Occupation will ultimately pave the way for justice. We call on all who attend our events to conduct themselves with the same integrity.