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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Three remarkable women...

The last few months have seen three remarkable women from the FWBO taking their practice way off the cushion and out into the world. FWBO News hopes to do short reports on each over the next couple of weeks.

First is Zee-Zee Heine, a mitra (and long-time peace activist) from the North London Buddhist Centre. She was active in the North London centre's 'ESA'(Environmental and Social Action) group and before that in the FWBO's 'P.S... ecopractice network'. For the past two months she's been in Palestine working with EAPPI, the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. Her work has been a varied mixture of personal training, checkpoint watches, accompanying children to school past violent Israeli settlers, interviewing victims of military or settler violence, and sending news of what is happening to friends and contacts in the West.

Here is an excerpt from her latest report -

"...we went to a two-day conference on Popular Resistance in a village called Bil'in. On the third day was to be a peaceful demo, however it is a village which has a demonstrations every week about the fact that the wall goes through the land of the village and denies them access. The organisers said the demo was always peaceful but sometimes youths of the village when they saw Israeli soldiers on their families land would feel they had a right to throw stones at them, and the soldiers would respond violently.

Part of the conference included what in Britain is called pre action training. For example we were told that if the youths were seen to be collecting stones one could go over and talk to them, if the soldiers started firing rubber bullets the safest thing to do is to sit down, allow things to calm down and then slowly get up and drift forward whereas if they fire tear gas it is better to disperse up-wind and then regroup. But because of the big conference there would be many extra people including many internationals, so the organisers thought it unlikely that the demo would become violent the next day.

In the event we gathered in the centre of the village and walked down the road towards the separation barrier. Just as we reached the outskirts of the village, when we were still about half a mile from the barrier and still all on the public highway, the Israeli solders started firing tear gas without any provocation. I was amazed. Some of the other EAPPI volunteers and I went back to the house where we had gathered and watched from the roof. Two others ran over the pastures and got up wind of the tear gas and stayed much closer and took lots of photos. The solders followed the tear gas with plastic coated metal bullets and water cannon. Very different from any British demo I have been on."

She will be back in early July and concludes her report by saying "When I return I want to do speaking engagements to let people know about the conditions in Palestine." If you can help arrange any in the UK (or beyond!) please let her know directly on zeezeeh [at]

Next in this series - Loren Treisman from Cambridge/Buddhafield. Suggestions for other entries welcome...

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