Life in Occupied Palestine: Eyewitness Stories and Photos (2005)

By admin - Posted on 31 August 2009

Anna Baltzer's talk highlights impact of "soldiers just following orders"

Anna Baltzer speaking in KC..

On May 4, I had the privilege of hearing more from Anna Baltzer while waiting for carryout food after her talk at Broadway United Methodist Church in Kansas City. This young woman was so moved on her return from the Palestinian territories that she was amazed more people wouldn't quit their jobs and dedicate themselves to telling the truth about the occupation.


Anna Baltzer signing her book after May 4 talk in Kansas City.

Anna has dedicated herself to speaking out. She spent five months in the West Bank working with the International Women's Peace Service documenting human rights violations in 2003 and 2005, wrote a book filled with her journal entries and photographs in 2006 and now has given dozens of talks across the country. Her talk at the church in Kansas City created quite a buzz of excitement, with thirty of the 100 in attendance purchasing her book, "Witness in Palestine: Journal of a Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories." The talk, while attended by a range of people familiar with the Mideast reality, was largely attended by many that were new to the Isreali-Palestinian conflict. One frequent visitor to the talks that CJME has organized commented this was the "best we have had so far!" Over $400 was collected to help with the costs of her speaking tour.

Palestinians wait at Deir Ballut checkpoint after taking an unpaved detour out of their village since their main road is blocked by concrete roadblocks. (photo: Anna Baltzer)

Her report focused on roadblocks, checkpoints, settlements, the Wall and resistance to the suffocating occupation. She recounted one story during her work in December 2003 in Dier Ballut, a Palestinian village about a 45-minute drive northwest of Ramallah. Roadblocks and checkpoints have been set up throughout the Palestinian territories, not to prevent movement from Palestinian cities to Israel, but from one Palestinian town to another. The Palestinians are only allowed through the Deir Ballut checkpoint between 7 am and 7 pm, with no exceptions though the Israeli military is there 24 hours a day.

On the day that Anna was monitoring the checkpoint, Hessa, a woman seven months pregnant with twins experienced contractions at 2 am. Her husband started to drive her to a Ramallah hospital before she went into labor. Despite their pleas, she was held up at the checkpoint for hours. Only after calls made to military superiors were they able to get an ambulance. Anna's journal entry for this day read: "Hessa gave birth to twins in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Both babies were born alive and basically healthy, but because they were premature, they needed immediate hospital attention. One baby died before arriving at the hospital. The second baby died the next day."

Anna recalled that many Israeli soldiers say they "are only following orders" when she questioned them about cases such as Hessa. She held the Israeli government and military responsible for the devastating checkpoint poliies in the Occupied Territories. She challenged audience members to learn more about the realities of the occupation and to share these realities with elected officials and news media.

-- Matt Quinn


Background and news coverage of Anna Baltzer's speaking events

  Information about her May 4, 2006 speaking event in Kansas City | NEWS RELEASE | DOWNLOAD FLYER (full-page, 8.5x11 inches, PDF) | DOWNLOAD FLYER (half-page, 2-up on 8.5x11 inches, PDF)
  Information about her new book "Witness in Palestine: Journal of a Jewish-American Woman in the Occupied Territories" (Paradigm Publishers, 2006) -
  "Anna Baltzer speaks about Palestinians living in the occupied territories," South End, Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan) newspaper, April 12, 2006
  "Israeli critic to speak at USI," Courier & Press (Evansville, Indiana) newspaper
  Informational leaflet about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - (Adobe PDF, 48 KB)