Peaceful Palestinian resistance is paying off
Forget rock-throwing teens. Growing peaceful Palestinian resistance could tip the conflict.
Bethlehem, West Bank —
For many, the idea of Palestinian resistance is synonymous with terrorism, conjuring up images of suicide bombings and rockets. This is a distortion shaped by the media and our politicians.
Beyond the headlines, Palestinian resistance has always included nonviolent tactics.
Today, in rural villages from Bilin and Jayyous to Nilin and Beit Ommar, this kind of Palestinian persistence against
Palestinians have been using classic nonviolent strategies such as strikes, demonstrations, and civil disobedience since before the modern state of
This newfound attention, however, comes with a danger of double standards, and a distortion of the root causes of the conflict.
For example, Western media and politicians cheer the rise of nonviolent Palestinian resistance, but why do they not urge
The core of the conflict is not
But that’s not stopping the protesters from challenging the occupation.
Mr. Othman, who was snatched by Israeli troops and kept in prison for 106 days without charges, says that the strength of the popular resistance – “an initiative from every farmer, every Palestinian who can’t access their land, and not belonging to any political party” – has shaken the Israeli military into launching this wave of raids and abductions.
Israel, which markets itself as the region’s only democracy, has also snatched dozens of villagers in night raids over the past 18 months. Since 2005, 18 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,500 have been injured in antiwall protests.
These popular protests have also begun to draw attention from senior Fatah and Palestinian Authority (PA) figures. Some of these leaders speak highly of peaceful resistance but have directed only limited funds to support it. Indeed, during
It is important that this resistance avoid being co-opted for political purposes, especially since it’s the antithesis of the PA: non-elitist, democratically accountable, and challenging the occupation’s control – as opposed to be being part of it.
Perhaps the main challenge of this movement, however, is in becoming genuinely popular. Weekly demonstrations by committed activists are one thing; the need is for organized, mass actions involving Palestinians from diverse backgrounds.
The need for “collective political action on a sustained level” was highlighted recently by
Sami Awad, head of the Bethlehem-based
While Israel does its best to quash the struggle against its antidemocratic regime, the movement’s potential hinges on key choices and strategies from Palestinians themselves – as well as the international response to a 21st-century anti-colonial fight for equality and basic rights against a thus-far unaccountable international law-breaker.
• Ben White, a freelance journalist, is the author of "Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide."-
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