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Farming Gates

The Meta Peace Team Report for Saturday, November 11, 2017

This morning our team prepared with a Centering Practice of Yoga at the home where we are staying. We were invited to witness and record disruption of Settlers burning and chopping down olive trees at a Palestinian Family Farm.
Palestinian farmers working

On our way we needed to cross through a checkpoint used by the farmers to reach their farmland. When we arrived, the gates were closed, but the people working the checkpoint were present. At this Checkpoint, the Israeli Soldiers noticed that we were Americans and opened the checkpoint.
As a practice, our Team will use our judgment and we chose to stand in line behind Palestinian people, so we are able to witness how they are treated. In front of us, a Palestinian woman had her papers taken. Mother Bear asked the soldier questions and what was the process. Asking the Palestinian woman to leave without her papers puts her at great risk. Mother Bear then asked the soldier, how the woman would receive new papers. She asked several questions of the soldier. After several minutes, the soldier returned the papers to the woman, did not let her through to work with her family farm, and the crossing gates was closed.

Farming Gate just outside of Hebron

We were not able to proceed to the farm field to help the other farmer today as we were not able to get through the gate that leads to the farm land of the Palestinians.

I felt frustrated that so much precious time was lost and I wish that I had thought to videotape the behavior of the soldiers. The woman that was turned away has to make this trek to the gate and she reported that she is often turned away. I was hopeful that with the American's present, the Israeli’s would allow the farmers to get to their fields.

Our peace team


summer time view of pipe being installed

The compound they are setting up for drilling under the lake

We (the Meta Peace Team International Exploratory Team), are privileged to be here as part of this marvelous campaign of nonviolent resistance at Standing Rock Oceti Sakowin Camp in North Dakota. The nonviolent campaign is resisting the final leg of construction of the Dakota Access pipeline near the Reservation that would threaten their water.

In a time of much darkness, with fossil fuel corporations ravishing the land in their greed to grow richer, and the Trump presidency about to begin, it is a story of effective resistance against a mountain of odds working against them. The astounding news came on December 4 that the Obama administration denied the permit necessary for the Dakota Access Pipeline to be completed.

We're talking about holding up billions of dollars of profit. The pipeline, costing $3.8 billion to build, would transport 470,000 barrels of oil a day across four states extending 1,172 miles.

Over the past months, local and state police have viciously attacked the nonviolent Water Protectors with water cannons in freezing weather, with attack dogs, clubs, rubber bullets, tear gas, mace, and threats. Temperatures in the camp have reached below zero at times. More than 500 were arrested over the past few months. A few hundred have been injured.

Then the Army Corps of Engineers gave a December 5 deadline for the Water Protectors to leave their camp site that is on Corp-managed land. North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple issued an emergency evacuation order following on the Army Corp of Engineers order. Even with this threat, they have not been able to make the Water Protector community back down or withdraw. December 5 was looking like a horrible assault about to happen.

Then came the stunning Army Corps of Engineers announcement on December 4 that the permit to drill and lay the pipe under the riverbed is denied. The pipeline construction was at a halt. Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners, the corporations behind the pipeline are expressing anger at this affront to their power.

How did the Standing Rock Sioux Nation do it? Not armed with guns, knives, violent weapons of any kind in the Oceti Sakowin Camp near the pipeline construction.

They built the resistance camp community with prayer, Sacred Fire ceremonies, and their spirit of reverence for all people and the earth. They displayed courage and nonviolent discipline in the face of great violent force. They welcomed all who come in support and oriented them to this spirit of respect and mutual taking care of one another.

The campaign used the media effectively. The many facets of media displayed pictures of the brutal attacks, and the courage of the people, and this inspired many across the country and beyond to respond.

They put out the call for support from Native people across the country, and they came. They called all people of good will to come join them. May of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation are U. S. military war veterans. They put out the call to veterans of America to come. And thousands came. To top it off, a contingent of 5,000 vets organized by Wesley Clark Jr. was on its way to be there December 4 -7, when the forced evacuation was to take place.

The local enforcement leaders acknowledged that they didn't have the resources to forcibly remove so many thousands from the camp.

This is a great victory, in the ongoing struggle. Energy Transfer Partners insists the pipeline will be completed. Maybe the route will be altered, far away from Reservation land. But if they pursue the present site, we know they have an ongoing battle with the great nonviolent force of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and thousands who stand with them. They have inspired people throughout the world today.

Elliott Adams and Peter Dougherty

Walking With the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in Their 


Tribal council

sun shining in camp 

over view of camp

In response to an invitation by the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, we are here as a Meta Peace Team (MPT) International Exploratory Team.

We say “International” because the Sioux Nation by treaty is a sovereign nation, locked in a complicated web of U.S. federal-state-local laws and tribal laws, through centuries of struggle, occupation and oppression.

We are here as part of the astounding Oceti Sakowin Camp of Water Protectors at Standing Rock, obstructing the completion of the Dakota Access Pipe Line construction that would be a threat to their water.

We are also here by invitation to explore how we may be a resource of nonviolence training for the Standing Rock people.

We come as white people, born and bred in the white U.S. culture, truly uninformed (ignorant) of their ways of thinking, feeling, relating to others and the earth. We know also that we still have ingrained biases we have not yet flushed out of our psyches toward others that are “different” from us. We come as learners, as well as companions in the struggle, with some things to share.

Years ago we did a nonviolence training in Michigan. One of our trainers was half Native American, half white. He shared a list of values and traits of Native Americans. One African-American making the training jumped up excitedly and exclaimed: “Those are the values and traits we have as African-Americans! The lesson for me was, that people of color share values in common that are different than those of European Americans.

We are struck by the general accent on the sacred. People and the earth are sacred. There is sacred ritual fire. Relationships are sacred. Land is sacred. Water is sacred. Burial grounds are sacred. Menstruation is sacred. (“It is our honoring,” said one woman). Being an elder is sacred.

We entered one tent in the camp referred to as the Michigan tent. Mostly there were Native Americans. At one point, an elder asked for our attention, then asked one Native American woman there to come forward, to her surprise. He told us of her bravery during the confrontations with police as they violently tried to force the Water Protectors back. He then reverently took out a strikingly beautiful large eagle feather, reverently handed it to her as a token of the community's gratitude. It was a sacred moment.

The seven Lakota (one of the Sioux bands) values are Fortitude, Respect, Compassion, Honesty, Generosity, Bravery, Wisdom. Some things we heard in the camp “Come with a clean heart.” “If an elder tells you something, that is a blessing.” “Listen.” White relations tend to be transactional, vs the Native American way of first building relationships.

Culture of Colonization
Peter Dougherty and Elliott Adams are in Standing Rock, North Dakota
as an MPT International Exploratory Team.

 a veiw in camp
Camp entrance is left edge of photo

Everyone wants to know about the camp, about pipeline resistance. But on a personal level working with the indigenous nations people I am aware of the crossing of cultures. I think many of us either view their culture as quaint or mythologizes it. But I need to see and accept them for what they. That includes seeing myself for what I am. I grew up in a colonizing culture, my culture has figured out a million ways to justify and live off colonization. Our three major religions are the Abrahamic religions which say “let them [people] have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” Genesis 1:26. By contrast what I hear here is a culture (and I am consciously distinguish from religion) in which people are literally a part of the land and the animals, we are all connected and interwoven. They frequently refer to the elements of the world around them as relatives – it seems they feel that their relative a deer for example has to give its life so that they can live. This is in harsh contrast to our culture where for example our Secretary of State (Madeleine Albright) could say 500,000 children dying was worth it. Our Secretary of Defense and many people on the street feel it is rational to say better to kill them over there than over here. Our capitalist economy is not about surviving it is about growing. Our foreign policy is about changing the government structures and the economies of other countries to serve us better. Our history has included a religious interpretation that promoted converting and domination.

I need to come to terms with being part of a colonizing culture. I will never be able to change that. But by knowing that is the basis of how I have grown up and lived I can better accept and respect non-colonizing cultures as equals and different.


Peter Dougherty and Elliott Adams are in Standing Rock, North Dakota

 as an MPT International Exploratory Team.

Our first day on the ground at Standing Rock. Following the blizzard there is snow on the ground, but traveling in fine. Today was 28 degrees all day with a fine rain. Spirits at the camp are high and despite the orders to evacuate preparation for winter at the camp is moving ahead.

We have been asked why we treat this MPT team as an International Exploratory Team. In the geopolitical sense the Sioux people living in Standing Rock view themselves as a separate sovereign nation. It is self evident that they were a nation before the Europeans (us) moved in. The US negotiated and signed nation to nation treaties with them. Legally the US views them as a “domestic dependent nation” (a legal creation of the Supreme Court to justify what we had done and were doing) but still a nation.

It is informative, if ancillary, to look at the creation of the legal idea “domestic dependent nation.” The US Supreme Court under Justice John Marshall (1808-1835) was faced with cases involving the conundrum of this nation being built on the lands of the indigenous people. To say those lands belonged to the indigenous people would be to say the Supreme Court and even the young nation of USA did not exist. But facts on the ground meant the court could not say the indigenous people didn't exist or weren't a nation. With no legal basis to use in what are now called the “Marshall Trilogy” the court resorted to old European religious doctrines like the Doctrine of Discovery (which says any land discovered by European Christians which is occupied by non-Christians may be taken and the inhabitants who will not convert to Christianity may be killed or enslaved). The Marshall Trilogy dressed up religious principles as US law.

And this team is also like other international teams because we are working across a cultural divide. We all think of the cultural differences between the US and Spain or France or even England, yet our culture is a direct derivative of those cultures and only varies in small ways. With the Native Americans the differences of culture are much greater. While they have all learned our language, the words and ideas have different meanings because their culture is different. The culture we have grown up in is a deeply colonization culture. Through the brightly colored glasses of our colonization culture it is hard to see the indigenous culture clearly. I do not pretend to understand their culture and it is possible that I never could, but even on a casual level one sees a difference in importance they put on people, the role of elders, the way they their religion is part of everything around them, their understanding of time, their relationships with their ancestors. All of these things change what simple words or casual acts meant.

This is an international team in every sense except that we - the U.S.culture - have internalized the idea that they are the “domestic dependent nation.”


Today I waited for a taxi to Ramalla where the Burin Road meets the main road. There was a man in his 30s who also wanted a taxi to Ramalla. But he was standing way back up the side road. I could not figure out what he was doing. I asked my hosts, who said he was afraid. 

The road to Ramalla is to the left. The man down by the telephone pole on the road to the right is waiting for the taxi to Ramalla

He was afraid of being run over by a settler's car. Once again, just last week a 15 year old boy was run over, only 50 meters from where I was waiting for the taxi.

Looking the other way the boy was run over near the telephone pole.

Unrelated to this incident in the first photo you can see the red sign.  This is one version of the signs which are on every road that enters an Area A.

These signs are part of spreading fear. Maybe it is not deliberate, but if you drove by one of these signs a dozen times each day it is bound to effect your thinking. These also help keep the Israelis from meeting Palestinians.


Taking Land

24 Dec 2015/ Meta Peace Team, Scott/ Burin

Colonial assault is visible in Burin.  Since last year I can see 3 new houses expanding the "out posts" which are illegal (under Israeli law) expansions of illegal (under international law) colonial settlements.  It is a process where a few radicals squat on land they do not own, build a house knowing that if they call the occupying army and say they are being threatened the army will arrest any Palestinian who dares to say it is their land.
on the hill in the middle of the picture you can see an outpost. The hill on the right has the highest house in Burin
 A closer view of the house on the right.  It is empty.  The settlers came down and attacked it so much the family abandoned it.

In this picture you can see the last house going out the road of Burin.  It too is empty, the settlers came down with torches and the family was afraid they would get burned up some time so the left their house.

The new houses on the hill impacted a friend of mine.  She has olives high in the hill. This year when she went up there were new houses next to her olives. The soldiers would let here in for 2 days to pick olives, but she is not well and even if she was she could not pick all her olives in 2 days.  Internationals who went up with her were forced by the occupying army to sit down by the gate into the olive orchard and watch.  They were not even allowed to accompany while she worked.  Mean while the woman and children from the new illegal houses yelled "bad things" at her.

Not Knowing What To Expect

24 Dec 2015/ Meta Peace Team, Scott/ Farun

People build a house on their land and then are notified by Israel that it will be demolished.  In some cases they just show up in the middle of the night and demolish it.  Or Israel builds a wall near the town (cutting hundreds of families off from their farms) and then decides that some houses are too close to the wall they built and destroys them.

A few demolished homes

map of home demolition in Farun

I tried to collect the data in the village if Farun, I picked Farun not because the situation us especially bad, but because it was small and easy for me to get to.  It is just an example of life in the West Bank. I thought the village offices would have a complete list.  But I found that the Israeli occupiers do not bother with the legal government, they just go to a home and hand them a demolition order.  The legal government only finds out if the landowner happens ti tell them.

To the best if my knowledge none of these demolitions are collective punishment, some are deemed a security risk (too close t the wall Israel put where they wanted to), some seem to have needed a permit, some don't comply with rules Israel created.  As best I could find out there is no way to tell ahead of time if the house you are building will be demolished. Frequently it seems Israel waits until the house is finished before issuing a demolition order. 

Add caption
It is hard to imagine demolishing homes like these

The map has several layer each with a given color pin and a given category of misuse.  All layers may be turned on or off depending on what you want to look at.  In case you can't find the layer side panel:
          red - demolished
          light reddish - demolition orders which have not been carried out yet
          yellow - is denial of use, some times Israel tells a land owner if the stop using a buiding, and don't finish building it or repair it Israel will not demolish it. This saves Israel the bad press of demolitions.
          green - are events like people getting shot which have become part of the culture
          gray - are and marks, these are to help people orientate themselves if they choose to do a self guided tour of Farun.

link to map of house demolitions


Keep The Gate Open

18 Dec 2015/ Meta Peace Team, Scott/ Deir al Ghusun

Farmers gather and demand their right to travel to their fields. The early morning sun rays fell farmers huddled around fires to stay warm as they waited for the Israeli army to arrive at the gate. This was a portion of the usual 200 farmers who pass through the Deir al Ghusun agricultural gate each morning to get to their fields which are on the Palestinian side of the Green line (1949 Armistice) but cut off from Palestine by the apartheid wall.

Yesterday word was sent out that Israel would shut this gate permanently requiring the farmers to go to another gate, adding another hour and a half each way to their daily travel. In addition it would require them to cross the green line and walk along an Israeli road next to a settlement.

farmers and tractors waite

Many gathered at the gate; farmers, officials including the Mayor, and internationals to protest this ruthless and needless action. After consultations and discussions the military agreed first to only allow old men through, but eventually to open the gate as usual.

This was a huge victory, a tribute to the farmers who refused to give in, the officials who added weight to the words if the farmers, and to the internationals who came to watch as the eyes of the world. This will not stop the humiliating searches, the unpredictable timing of daily gate openings, or the whim of individual guards to deny access randomly or tear up a permits. But it does allow the farmers to keep farming their land.

Palestinians "negotiate" with military commander  through the locked gate

In an unintended tribute to the international presence the military commander told the officials to tell the observers that everything had been solved and that there were no more problems. It is a reminder about the importance of people supporting or joining the international presence in Palestine.  


Making it harder to farm their land

We arrived at the Agricultural Gate about 6:50 AM there were several farms waiting with their donkeys. The gate is supposed to open at 8:00AM, but it can be opened any time after 6:30AM. When it is opened the occupying soldiers process the farmers that are there then close gate and leave. One woman had arrived at 6 AM and got frustrated and left before they opened the gate.

A lonely farmer heads from the old gate to the new gate in the early morning

This gate, which is only for tractors and donkeys, is connected to the Ephraim check point. The Farun Ag Gate was closed 1 Dec 2015. With that gate it was 15 meters to one farmer's fields, now it is 3 kilometers. The apartheid wall cut Farun farmers off from 4000 dunnum of their farms.

Farmers gather in the early morning waiting for the gate to be opened

About 7:15AM four soldiers arrived to unlock the gate. At 7:28, after 2 people and one donkey had been processed the soldiers stopped the next person and donkey. They spent ½ hour on the radio and consulting among themselves before letting the second donkey through. They rejected one donkey and driver and about 6 workers were rejected (they may have been sent through the Ephraim gate). Five donkeys and 6 people were allowed to go to work.  Some days the soldiers don't even come.

7:36 the occupying soldiers locked the gate, checked it for security and walked back to the base.

The workers return to the gate in the afternoon. The gates is supposed to be opened to let them back through the wall at 4PM  

A donkey waiting at the gate
Curiously closing the Ag Gate and making the farmers go much farther to get to their fields also takes more time for the soldiers. The gate is now much farther from the base suggesting that the only reason for doing it is ti harass the farmers.