Israeli co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, which brings international solidarity activists to the West Bank and Gaza to engage in nonviolence resistance. In 2002, Golan was voluntarily stranded in Yasser Arafat’s compound that was besieged by Israeli forces. She wrote reports to the outside world about what she was experiencing.
Neta Golan was born in Tel Aviv and is a third generation Israeli. She describes her childhood as scary, loaded with fears instilled by her parents and fueled by the media. While she met Palestinian people working in construction and sanitation in Tel Aviv, barriers between the two peoples did not allow her to interact with Palestinian peoples as equals. She first heard of the occupation at the age of 15 during the first Palestinian Intifada.
This was her first venture into learning more about the Palestinian people and Israeli policies toward them. Having been raised with an awareness of oppression and dispossession in Jewish history, Golan’s first instincts were to question how Israel could be maintaining the oppression of another people.
She started to enter the West Bank to facilitate dialogues and meetings between Palestinians and Israelis. Through these trips into and around the West Bank, she came to understand the reality of Palestinian life under the occupation, and her fear transformed into action to help the Palestinian people.
At the start of the second intifada between 2000 and 2001, Golan helped to found the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which brings international solidarity activists to the West Bank and Gaza to engage in nonviolent resistance. The international activists support the Palestinians in staging nonviolent demonstrations, confronting Israeli soldiers who violently suppress the Palestinians, and documenting human rights abuses and making those abuses public.
"What we want to do with the ISM is keep an avenue for popular struggle open," Golan said in an article in the magazine Frontline (Vol. 19, Issue 17) published in 2002. "When we accompany Palestinians, because of the racism of the whole system, the army doesn't treat us as targets the way they treat Palestinians. We want to expose the racist nature of the conflict by doing this, and also simply try to protect people so they can try to resist politically."
In 2002, Golan was voluntarily stranded in Yasser Arafat's presidential compound in Ramallah when it was besieged by Israeli forces. From within the compound, Golan wrote reports to the world outside of the compound about what was happening. She was hoping to reach the international community and move them to action, writing that "In the compound we are left wondering, not without fear, whether the international community will allow the permanent expansion of the already illegal occupation and the exile if not assassination of the Palestinian leader." (Focus on Trade, No. 76, 4/2002)
Some of her other actions include chaining herself to olive trees to stop the Israeli military from uprooting them, and questioning the actions of Israeli soldiers at demonstrations,
While her family remains in Israel, Golan married a Palestinian man and lives with him and their children in the West Bank. She constantly deals with the ironies of her life: a resident of the occupied Palestinian territories, she can travel back and forth to Israel to visit with her family, but neither her husband nor her Palestinian friends can visit with their families if they are outside of the West Bank.
As she traveled to Israel to see her dying father for the last time, she recalled her Palestinian friend Amal, who "will never see her father again. Many thousands of Palestinians share her fate." (Nablus to Tel Aviv, June 24, 2003).
For more information about the International Solidarity Movement see www.palsolidarity.org.
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Kathleen McQuillen on the Federal Budget and Palestine-Israel