Eliza Bates

Eliza Bates (Democracy and Workers' Rights Center - DWRC): Eliza graduated with honors and a BA in globalization and social movements from UC Berkeley. Eliza is committed to the right to free association and she worked on student-labor solidarity and anti-sweatshop campaigns while at university. Following graduation, Eliza worked in the labor movement in the United States for over five years as a researcher, organizer and lead union contract negotiator. Her interest in social justice and globalization inspired her to conduct an independent field research project in Mexico on the impacts of NAFTA on rural workers. She participated in several labor delegations to Latin America. At the time of her fellowship, Eliza was studying for a Master’s degree in international affairs with a concentration in human rights concentration at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Palestinian Tanks and Qassam Rockets

07 Jun

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Golan and Gaza. Americans do not seem to realize that the Palestinians, who more often than not are depicted as crazed Jew-hating terrorists on TV, are living under military occupation.

Before I left for Palestine, someone warned me: “Don’t do anything crazy like stand in front of Palestinian tanks.”

The concern was sincere. At the time it seemed funny to me. Palestinians with tanks. Those who read the news have heard of Rachel Corrie, but in the American imagination, the Palestinians are always the perpetrators of violence and never the victims.

In the American imagination, the conflict of Israel and Palestine is between two equal parties at best, or between Arab aggressors and peaceful passive Israel at worst.

In the American imagination, it is completely plausible that the Palestinians killed Rachel Corrie with their powerful tanks.

This morning I unfolded the local newspaper and examined the front page photo of military tanks surrounded by Arabic script. I turned to my lovely landlady Om Hilal who was sitting across the table and asked: “Are these Israeli tanks?”

“Yes of course,” she replied. “In Gaza. What did you think—Palestinian tanks? No my dear, we are very poor. They have tanks and we have qassam rockets.”

She mouthed a listless whistle and made a sad hand gesture showing the rockets rising up from Gaza and falling into Israel.

It is true that the qassam rockets kill innocent Israelis, but there is a vast difference between hand-made rockets and a colossal military funded by the most powerful nation in the world.

Palestinians have suffered immensely under Israeli military occupation for the past 40 years. The murder of innocent Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli military is a part of daily life here.

Acknowledging that one party in the conflict is the occupier and the other the occupied is the first step on the path to peace.

Posted By Eliza Bates

Posted Jun 7th, 2007


  • vicki

    June 7, 2007


    thank you, eliza, for your witness. i’ve often tried to imagine what life must be like for palestinian families – your posts help me see it through another american’s eyes.

  • Muhaned

    June 11, 2007


    I never worry about you being among the Palestinians. It is those who terrorize the Palestinians that worry me. You are among decent people who regardless of how the world treated them, they still maintain their humanity and respect to others. Now you understand what is happening there, how can we get the rest of the 250 million Americans to go to Palestine so they would also witness and understand? Your writing will certainly help. Lots of love from all of us.

  • madeline

    June 11, 2007


    Hey, I like your blog. You are such a good writer, obvious that you have experience writing to the public because it is so well done.

    I remembered reading an article in the Economist awhile ago about this website that gives statistics comparing Israeli and Palestinian deaths/destruction/etc and says the American misperception is due to the media bias. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/ You have probably seen statistics like this already, but just in case. . . Stay safe 🙂 Maddie

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