But the untold story is that of an ongoing peace movement that unites Palestinians as well as Israelis. Two leaders of that movment, Palestinian Ayed Morrar and Israeli Jonathan Pollak, are bringing their story to Traverse City next week as guests of Mideast: Just Peace to show the face of nonviolent struggle.
Morrar and Pollak will speak on the Palestinian/Israeli Nonviolent Movement on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Grace Episcopal Church Hall, 325 Washington Street, TC; and on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 10 a.m. at the Friends Meeting House at Fifth and Oak streets, with the public invited to attend. The event is sponsored by Mideast: Just Peace, Women in Black, and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.
Speaking by phone from Los Angeles, Pollak says the idea is to show Americans that thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis are working together in a grassroots campaign against the construction of Israel‘s wall of separation. He himself has been involved in 200 protests on the West Bank over the past three years and has helped mobilize hundreds of Israelis against the wall.
Ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, construction of the “Apartheid Wall“ continues against the protests of Palestinians who feel it‘s a land grab of their farms, orchards, businesses, property, and access to water.
Is it frustrating to continue protesting when the wall keeps going up?
“Both politics and struggle are always a frustrating process,“ Pollak responds, ‘but we‘ve also had some successes. If I didn‘t believe in what we‘re doing, I wouldn‘t do it.“
Morrar has seen some success. He led 50 nonviolent marches in his town of Budrus where the wall was to have annexed 25% of the community. Because of the protests, the route of the wall was pushed back, taking only 3% of the town.
Even nonviolent protests are dangerous, however. Morrar notes that the rubber bullets fired by Israeli troops are actually steel projectiles covered with rubber that can kill. A number of members of his family have been injured or jailed during the protests and he himself was sentenced to four months once, but released by a judge a few days later.
“Obviously, the protests are dangerous.,“ Pollak says. “Nine demonstrators have died in the past three years from the use of live ammunition, even though all of them were unarmed. I myself was injured; I was shot in the head by a tear gas projectile and had to have 23 stitches and treatment for internal hemorrhaging.“
PIPE DREAM: When Traverse City voters head for the polls on November 8, they‘ll confront medical marijuana initiative Proposal 3, put forth by the Coalition for Compassionate Care.
On Sept. 5, the TC City Commission voted 4-2 to put Proposal 3 on the ballot. If approved, it would create an ordinance stating that the use, delivery, or possession of medical marijuana recommended or supervised by a physician would rank as one of the lowest law enforcement priorities in the city.
The proposal is in response to the 2004 arrest of disabled Gulf War veteran Matthew Barber, who was busted for two ounces of pot during a traffic stop. Barber made the case that he was using marijuana to treat the spasms, pain, imbalance, loss of his legs and occasional blindness of his multiple sclerosis. MS is a debilitating disease which attacked Barber‘s central nervous system and left lesions on his brain. He argued that the use of cannabis allowed him to avoid the unpleasant side effects of approved medications, making it possible for him to care for himself.
Local law enforcement officials said that although they had sympathy for Barber‘s condition, they had no choice but to uphold state law. In response, Barber‘s wife Laura and other local marijuana activists spearheaded the drive to get Proposal 3 on the ballot.
HOCKEY HERO: The new Griffin Ice Arena on M-119 in Harbor Springs has the kind of street cred you seldom find at such venues in terms of a genuine hockey star in charge.
Craig Coxe has been appointed Director of Hockey at the arena. Coxe has extensive experience in the National Hockey League; he was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1982, and played for the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, St Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks.
After retirement Coxe served as a coach in the minor leagues. Coxey or Coach as he is known around the new rink, enjoys helping kids improve their hockey skills.
NO WORRIES: Republican legislators across the nation are reportedly worried about a Democratic Party sweep of the 2006 elections based on the unpopular record of President Bush; but no worries from Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland), who‘s been in virtual lockstep with the president over the past five years.
Reason being that Camp has raised more than $1 million for his coming campaign, while his challengers have diddly to spend.
In a press release last week, Camp said he had $1,025,202 for the 2006 campaign. He noted that challenger John Emerick of Mount Pleasant did not file a campaign finance
report, and that Democrat Mike Huckleberry of Greenville, who ran for the congressional seat in 2004, reported a negative cash balance of $193.
Campaign manager Jason Geer said the war chest would allow the campaign to better inform voters on Camp‘s ideas and policies.
2,000 PROTEST: As the Express went to press, area peace activists were preparing to demonstrate in memory of the 2,000 servicepersons killed in Iraq. On Saturday, Oct. 29, a march and demonstration was set to culminate at the Traverse City Post Office, accompanied by the recitation of those who have died in