Tax Resistance in Catalonia, Italy, Ireland, England, India, Palestine, and the U.S.

Some bits and pieces from here and there:


A few more glimpses at the Beit Sahour tax resistance campaign from the news of the time:

Israel lifts siege on tax town

Israel lifted a six-week-old siege on the West Bank town of Beit Sahour and both Palestinian residents, who refuse to pay Israeli taxes, and the military authorities claimed victory.

An army bulldozer removed the dirt roadblock at the entrance to the town, sealed off .

, troops and tax collectors have confiscated cars, furniture and goods worth about $1.5m and frozen bank accounts of defiant residents.

As the siege was lifted, hundreds of residents gathered at a central intersection to celebrate and to escort journalists to homes and shops from which troops had seized goods.

About 50 Arab women and children marched down the main street singing “Biladi, biladi” (My country, my country), the outlawed national anthem of Palestinians waging a 22-month-old uprising against Israeli rule of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israeli troops trailed the marchers in a jeep, ordering them in Arabic to return to their homes.

Brigadier-General Shaike Erez, head of the Israeli civil administration that governs the occupied West Bank, told reporters: “We are ending the operation because we have achieved what we wanted to do and more. We receieved a list of 320 (residents who did not pay taxes) and we (eventually) dealt with about 400.”

Troops arrested 40 Beit Sahour merchants and the army fined four of them $3000 dollars or jailed them for six months, military sources said. They said some merchants paid their taxes during the siege.

Hanna al-Atrash, mayor of the town, home to some 12,000 mainly Christian Palestinians, told Reuters: “It is a success for us and failure for the army. The overwhelming majority of the people did not pay.

“I think that everybody here is pleased despite what we have suffered for .”

In the home of Isa Kukali, a 62-year-old retired electrician, family members told reporters that troops seized the living room furniture and also carried away the washing machine and refrigerator, including the food inside it.

Kukali sat on one of a few camp beds brought in to replace confiscated sofas. The family had also borrowed a refrigerator from relatives.

“My father has not worked for 12 years. But the troops saw that we have money and came in here and told us: ‘From this moment you must pay us taxes’,” Kukali’s son Issam said.

The Beit Sahour civil disobedience campaign sparked international protests. The residents adopted the slogan of the American revolution against British colonial rule: “No taxation without representation”.

Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin vowed to break the tax rebels and “teach them a lesson”.

The army is to begin calling tenders for the seized goods, security sources said.

“If they think we will pay taxes by taking our property, they are wrong,” said a 20-year-old woman who identified herself only as Sawsan. “And if they sell it, we’ll never pay taxes again.”

Respected Israeli military commentator Zeev Schiff said the tax siege and collective punishment in Beit Sahour pointed out the traps that the army faced in the occupied areas because the campaign became a rallying point for the Palestinians.

“The need to extend the punishment to a whole community even against those who are prepared to pay taxes and those who co-operated with Israel in the past, is proof of failure,” Schiff wrote in the Haaretz newspaper.

“Beit Sahour became a symbol, a Palestinian flag,” he said.

Schiff quoted officials in the defence establishment as blaming the Shin Bet secret police for failing to arrest Palestinian activists who they said enforced the tax boycott and prevented merchants from compromising with the army.

West Bank tax battle models peace

The tax protest of a mainly Christian village in the Israeli-occupied West Bank might be the model for a non-violent campaign in the occupied territories reminiscent of the U.S. civil rights tactics of the 1960’s, observers said.

The residents of Beit Sahour, a village of approximately 10,000 people near Bethlehem, peacefully withheld their tax payment through a siege by Israeli troops that ended on in what many saw as a draw. The villagers claimed a victory over Israeli authorities. but the Israelis say they got the revenues they wanted through the sale of villagers’ property they had confiscated. “We will not finance the bullets that kill our children,” Beit Sahour residents said in a statement issued during the protest.

The army siezed property such as cars and household goods from tax resisters to auction off in an effort to make up for the lost tax revenues. News reports estimated more than $1.5 million in property had been siezed.

Army officials said many residents would have liked to have paid their taxes, but were afraid of being branded as collaborators.

US bishops back West Bank rebels

The head of the US Bishops foreign policy committe has expressed dismay over what he called Israel’s unjustifiable blockade of a predominantly Christian village in the occupied West Bank. He also expressed the bishops’ support for the Catholic leadership in the area.

Archbishop Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, chairman of the Committee on International Policy, said he was particularly concerned that Christian leaders were barred by Israeli troops from bringing food and other supplies to the village of Belt Sahour (Catholic Herald, ).

“I have noted with dismay the reports of the continuing blockade of the village,” he said “I am particularly concerned that the Christian church leaders, including the Latin Patriarch, were prevented by the Israeli military from exercising their pastoral and charitable obligations.”

The archbishop made his protest to Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Moshe Arad, and to US Assistant Secretary of State for near Eastern Affairs John Kelly.

The residents of Beit Sahour, a village of approximately 10,000 people near Bethlehem, peacefully withheld tax payments to Israeli occupation authorities through a six-week blockade of the village by Israeli troops.

The villagers claimed a victory over Israeli authorities, but the Israelis say they got the revenues they wanted through the sale of villagers’ property they had confiscated.

“We will not finance the bullets that kill our children.” Belt Sahour residents said in a statement issued during the protest.

The army seized property such as cars and household goods from tax resisters to auction off in an effort to make up for the lost tax revenues. News reports estimated more than $1.5 million in property had been seized.

Leading Christian clergy, including heads of Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox churches, attempted to visit Beit Sahour during the siege, but were turned back. At one point, the church leaders, along with several priests, sought to bring three truckloads of food into the village.

“They did not let us do our humanitarian duties,” Latin-rite Catholic Patriarch Michel Sabbah was quoted as saying. The archbishop urged a strong US protest of "this unwarranted Israeli behaviour.”

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