Friday, April 25, 2014

Bringing their message back

Guest: Adam Roufberg, human rights activist and former radio host at WVKR, talks to us from the West Bank where he just completed the Freedom Bus Ride in support of Jenin's Freedom Theatre. (prerecorded)

It was great talking to Adam, who used to be a DJ right here on WVKR in Poughkeepsie, NY. 

He was his old self, full of confidence and good humor. We talked about his recent trip on the Freedom Bus, which made stops all over the occupied West Bank to do nightly performances of Jenin Freedom Theatre improvisations. Adam had witnessed the oppression of the Palestinian people during the day, and then seen it depicted in a theatrical performance every night. The combination of human rights and the arts is an important part of Adam's masters degree in peace studies he is completing in Switzerland. His Freedom Bus experiences will make up part of the research for his thesis.

I was particularly interested in how Adam got there through the checkpoints. He indicated that several people scheduled to take the ride didn't make it and were deported by Israel. That is always a consideration when doing human rights work in Palestine. 

He also described the rubber bullets that are supposedly shot over the heads of Palestinian protesters. The day before, a Palestinian medic had been hit twice. Adam noticed that some Israeli Defense Force snipers were firing from behind their jeeps, no doubt targeting some of the demonstrators. The ride was not without some dangers.

We also discussed people to people exchanges, something I have always seen as attempts to whitewash the occupation. But Adam thought such exchanges were beneficial, when predicated on a common understanding that the occupation is illegal and that Israel's treatment of Palestinians is a violation of internationally established principals of human rights. 

We ended by talking about the role of Jews in ending the occupation. Many Freedom Bus riders were young American Jews, who plan to bring their message back to the United States. 


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