Kennis the Menace: Scott Kennedy continues to stir things up and provoke thought in Santa Cruz by bringing attention to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
'Iron Wall' Comes to Santa Cruz
The Resource Center for Nonviolence draws attention to the effects of Israel's controversial security wall
By Laura Mattingly
Whether you call it a wall, a fence, a separation barrier or a security barrier, the boundary that Israel built for the said purpose of security at times dips up to 22 kilometers into Palestinian territory, cutting Arab communities off from their lands, their stores, their hospitals, their wells and each other. In the view of Scott Kennedy (and in line with Jimmy Carter's new book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid), the wall--and the continued settlement of Israeli people outside their country's technical boundaries--may cripple the possibility for a two-state peace solution.
Kennedy, co-founder of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV) in Santa Cruz, continues to initiate discussion about the Israeli Palestinian conflict, most recently with his book group on Carter's highly controversial text, and now with multiple showings of the film The Iron Wall. Kennedy considers himself pro-Israel, but fears that the expansion of Israel's settlements and the building of the wall inside Palestinian territory are not furthering Israel, or its neighbors, on a path to peace and safety.
Rabbi Richard Litvak, of Temple Beth El, maintains that the wall is of "unfortunate necessity" for Israel in order to protect itself from Palestinian assaults. "As a result of the wall, there has been significant decrease in civilian deaths from Palestinian terrorism."
Mohammed Alatar, director of The Iron Wall, admits his film is by no means neutral, but he does feel that it is factually correct. He challenges anybody to dispute any of the facts presented in the film, outlining the specific ways the wall has negatively affected Palestine economically and agriculturally.
Kennedy leads groups to visit Palestine yearly, and says his last visit left him surprised and alarmed at the growth of the wall within the 15 months since his previous trip.
The wall extends across 42 percent of the width of the Palestinian West Bank.
"We visited a town called Jayous, which is in the northwest bank, and it's a just beautiful, incredibly productive village right on the cusp of the hills looking towards the Mediterranean," says Kennedy. "All their lands are stretching towards the Mediterranean. The fence was put right against their village. So they had, I think it was eight wells. Six of them are now on the Israeli side of the barrier, all their green houses, almost all of their orchards. Something like 80 percent of their land is now on the Israeli side.
"You see the progression here. The family becomes unsustainable, because they're severed from their livelihood, and then Jayous will become untenable as a village," says Kennedy. "And by extension, there won't be a viable Palestinian state."
Litvak allows that "there are some areas where certain settlements are being kept that I think have been overly zealous in incursion into Palestinian farmland."
Kennedy and the Resource Center for Nonviolence are working with the Palestinian Fair Trade Organization, supporting their microloan program to increase organic and fair-trade production of goods including olive oil, olive soap and couscous. "The beneficiaries are primarily women, the organization abides by strict fair-trade rules, meaning fair wages, the products are certified organic, and it's all done on a semicommunitarian basis. It's like hitting all four bases in Santa Cruz," says Kennedy. The RCNV has raised several thousand dollars for the program so far.
The Iron Wall screens Wednesday, Jan. 31, 7 and 8:15pm, at Louden Nelson Center, Laurel and Center Streets, Santa Cruz; also Sunday, Feb. 4, 7 and 8:30pm, at Quaker Meeting House, 225 Rooney St., Santa Cruz; $5-$25 sliding-scale donation. Those contributing $25 or more will receive a copy of Jimmy Carter's book 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.' For tickets: Resource Center for Nonviolence, 515 Broadway, Santa Cruz; 831. 423.1626 or www.rcnv.org.
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