Monday 18 October 2010

Non violent resistance in Palestine

The times they are a changing.  Alas, all too slowly, but things are changing in Israel/Palestine.  In the face of incessant and growing Israeli violence, the resistance movement in Palestine is growing day by day.  And this resistance is overwhelmingly non-violent.
Whether it is in occupied East Jerusalem or the occupied West Bank, Palestinians on a weekly or daily basis meet to protest against the continuing illegal Israeli occupation.  Places such as Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, or Bil’in, Nil’in, Budrus or Hebron in the West Bank see peaceful protests against Israeli theft of Palestinian land.  In most of these protest, it is not just Palestinians who peacefully protest, but a growing number of Israelis have begun to join them.  International activists are also there to provide witness to the violence with which Israeli forces meet these peaceful protests.  For up to date information on examples of non-violent resistance, see here, here, here and here.
What is unfortunately all too common about these and other peaceful protests is that they are uniformly ignored by the mainstream media in the West.  Our supposedly independent and investigative media is conspicuous by its absence when it comes to Palestine.  There it is almost always the Israeli narrative that gets published.  And the Israelis and their friends in the media are only too keen to highlight the relatively few instances of violent Palestinian resistance.  Thus most people are unaware that more than 10 times as many Palestinians have been killed as Israelis in this decade alone.  And in almost all cases Palestinian violence has come in response to Israeli aggression.
The Israelis are also very fond of imprisoning Palestinians.  At any one time over 10,000 Palestinians, including women and teenagers are kept in prison.  The vast majority are in what is known as administrative detention.  In other words they have usually not been charged with anything or found guilty of anything.  The Israelis just don’t like any kind of opposition to their ongoing illegal occupation.  Many of those in prison are leaders or participants in the these non violent campaigns.  For a fuller glimpse into this non violent protest try to see the recently released film Budrus.  This is a documentary about the unarmed struggle of a Palestinian village, Budrus, against the confiscation of its land for the construction of Israel’s security barrier.  Here are some comments on the importance of the film by Israeli blogger Noam Sheizaf, who  blogs at Promised Land.  “I watched Budrus twice, a few months ago in Israel and last night in NY, in a special screening attended by Queen Noor of Jordan. I found the film as inspiring and compelling as it was on the first time I saw it.
In 2003-2004, Budrus played a key role in what became, in my opinion, the most important grassroots effort of the decade: the emergence of a widespread unarmed campaign against the occupation, involving Palestinians, Israelis and international activists.
What started as local protests in a handful of Palestinian villages, became a new strategy for challenging the entire mechanism and political rational of the Israeli control over the West Bank. One might say that the unarmed struggle is bringing this conflict back to its basics: not a diplomatic issue, but rather a human rights one; not a question of peace and war, but one relating to the denial of personal or political rights for decades from million of people.”
The film promises to offer us all an insight into the daily struggles of Palestinians against Israeli aggression.  Letters from Palestine is a newly published book which gives us another perspective into the daily lives of Palestinian people.  In the book, Palestinians write about what it is like to live in the occupied territories of the West Bank or Gaza, or to grow up as a Palestinian in the USA.
It is of course Palestinians, with the brave support of some courageous Israelis who bear the brunt of opposing Israeli aggression.  We who live outside of Palestine can not just recognize their bravery, but we too can actively participate in the non violent resistance to Israeli aggression.  We can do this through supporting the Global Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement - BDS.  This campaign asks people to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel, similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era, until Israel meets its obligations to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law.  For most people this can simply involve not buying Israeli goods, whether this is fruit or vegetables or cosmetic products.  You can also become more active by joining your local group.  Here in Dundee our group is called Tayside for Justice in Palestine.  It is important to note that our campaign is for justice for all who live in Palestine - Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheists.  
It is hard to see why Israel can be so opposed to abiding by international law and UN resolutions.  It is even harder to see why the West in general and the UK and the USA in particular continue to support Israeli intransigence and aggression.  Join the BDS movement and oppose Israeli aggression!

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