Press Release 2 March 2004

The Antonine Connection – a Link between Walls
Public Meeting
Falkirk Old and St Modan’s Parish Church Hall
Monday 8th March 8pm – 10pm


Ahmad Sorany from the Gaza Strip,an activist with the International Solidarity Movement. Ahmad was present when Tom Hurndall, a young English volunteer, was shot through the head and murdered by an Israeli sniper while he was trying to shepherd young children out of harms way.

Wael Shawish, Chair of Scottish Friends of Palestine. Wael was born and initially educated in East Jerusalem. On completing his education in Britain, Wael – in common with many of his fellow Palestinians – was refused the right to return to the city and land of his birth by the occupation authorities.

Rev Alistair McGregor a former advocate, now a minister of the Church of Scotland. Recently he worked as a volunteer helping Palestinian villagers pick their olive crops, hoping that his presence ( and others) would help deter settler violence against the villagers.

The purpose of the meeting is to take a first step in establishing a Friendship Link between Falkirk and a Palestinian community devastated by Israel’s apartheid Wall – now awaiting legal condemnation from the International Court in the Hague.

Falkirk was once occupied by the Romans under the rule of the Emperor Antoninus Pius and lay in the shadow of The Antonine Wall for a period of 25 years. Two thousand years later, under the Israeli variant of democracy,with ex-general Ariel Sharon at the helm, the state of Israel is further entrenching itself on illegally occupied Palestinian land by the erection of a concrete wall. In doing so, Israel is impoverishing the Palestinian people, creating more bitterness and resentment, creating more insecurity rather than security.

Jayyous, a small village on the West Bank, was once a Roman garrison town. It is one of many towns and villages where life has halted due to The Wall which carves its way through the village and its land. The children of Jayyous are effectively caged into the village, away from their families’ lands, watching their future being taken away. Sometimes they cut the razor wire on the fence, a cat-and-mouse game with the soldiers. They feel they have little to lose. This concerns the mayor, Faiz Selim. “Parents have no money to give their children to go to university, and can’t go to their land to work. How can they care for their children?” Mayor Selim keeps the blinds on his window drawn shut, because he can’t stand looking at the fruit rotting on his trees on his fields, which are beyond the wall

Under Roman occupation, Jayyous thrived. Under Israeli occupation it is dying, with slow ethnic cleansing a possibility as the people seek a new life outside their village.

Whereas walls usually separate one from another, it is hoped that Falkirk’s Antonine Wall and Jayyous’ Apartheid Wall will bring people together, united by a common bond of humanity. The Friendship Link will emphasise humanitarian concerns. With the realisation that it has not been forgotten by the world, the Link will give one Palestinian community hope.

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