Friday, September 7, 2007

The Israel-Palestinian Victory at Bil'in -- A Sweet New Year

There are some small victories, small points of light in the dark night of occupation. But this will be a big one, if the army and the government obey the High Court of Justice.

For the last several years, Israelis and Palestinians have been protesting about the route of the separation wall in the area of Modi'in. The route was designed primarily to provide Israeli real estate developers more land to sell to Jews, to annex more land by the State of Israel, and to destroy the lives of villagers in Bilin so that there would be more land. Security, as usual, had little, if anything to do with the route of the security fence.

Does the above description sound outrageous? Not to the High Court of Justice that decided this week to direct the government to make a security fence around Modi'in, instead of the planned Lebensraum wall (the Hebrew equivalent of "Lebensraum" -- merhav mihyah -- was used by Nachum Barnea, Israel's most respected and read journalist, in his shabbat column in Yedi'ot to describe the wall. I hope, God willing, to report on what he wrote.

This is a victory for a gallant band of non-violent protesters (the rock-throwing Arabs in their midst were long ago revealed to be General Secret Service provocateurs, but that's another story).

While older Jewish supporters of the good-old-moral-Labor-Zionism have been writing their polemics in the Diaspora, a young group of protesters -- they call themselves "anarchists" mostly as an inside joke; they have no ideology besides fighting for Palestinian rights -- have been risking their lives facing the rubber bullets of the IDF.

Please read the article below, especially if you are a Peace-Now, knee-jerk, opponent of the Occupation -- the sort of person who thinks Tom Friedman knows what he is talking about. The next time you write out a check for the New Israel Fund, try to think of ways also to support the activists who are sanctifying God's name in public. (And keep writing the checks for the New Israel Fund....)

They, and other groups like Children of Abraham, Ta'ayush, Breaking the Silence, ICAHD, etc., are the future of Israel. May God grant them the strength to continue in their struggle.

A victory for the anarchists

By Meron Rapoport

"I remember the moment I marched among a crowd of Palestinians," said one of the Israeli activists who participated in the ongoing demonstrations near the village of Bil'in, this week. Those demonstrations led to a High Court decision a few days ago ordering the rerouting of the separation fence near the village. "I served in the army, and my first instinct was to look for the signal operator and to check if we were marching properly spaced. The Palestinians shouted 'Allahu Akbar,' which is supposed to be the nightmare of every Israeli soldier, but I suddenly realized that I was with them, that they weren't my enemies."

One must understand. Anyone who went to demonstrate in Bil'in knew that he stood more than a small chance of getting hurt somehow by "his" army: by clubs, tear gas, rubber bullets. Undoubtedly, there were a few who sought out this violence, but it also befell those who did not seek it out. It was part of the deal. The violence that the soldiers and Border Police officers employed against the Israeli demonstrators on an average Friday in Bil'in surpassed that used against the settlers during the entire evacuation of Gush Katif. Nevertheless, a few hundred Israelis made this trip every Friday, without fail, for the last two and a half years. Not all of them at once. Sometimes five, sometimes 50, sometimes 100. But they came.

Most of these people were young, sometimes very young, and they gathered under the rubric of "Anarchists Against the Fence." The Zionist left had no presence there. Not Peace Now and not Meretz (some Meretz MKs sometimes assisted the arrestees, but no more than that) - and certainly not Labor. Older organizations from the non-Zionist left were supportive, and provided logistical assistance, but the initiative still came from the anarchists. They led the struggle.

Without question, it was a rather small group. Not everyone, even the most devout leftist and vigorous opponent of the occupation, is prepared to come and take a beating, to run up and down hills, to breathe tear gas, to be arrested. But it wasn't an insignificant number either, this group of people prepared to come to blows with the establishment. In Bil'in their goal was simple and tangible: to restore the lands to the Palestinians.

It will be interesting to see what their next goal is.


Richard said...

"the rock-throwing Arabs in their midst were long ago revealed to be General Secret Service provocateurs, but that's another story"

I have an Israeli American right wing commenter who was up in arms about the Bilin demonstrator calling them terrible names because they were violent thugs, etc.

Can you tell me where you heard about the agents provocateurs? Was this in the Israeli press? Just so I can throw it back in the guy's face next time.

Jerry Haber said...

Correction: Not GSS but IDF units known as the "mista'aravim", those who dress up as Arabs, usually to arrest (or kill) wanted Arabs, a.k.a. suspects fingered by collaborators.

Happy to oblige! But the press reports are in Hebrew. I am sure if you dig around the dates you can get the English ones.

Suspicions were aroused as early as April 28, 2005 as reported in nrg

The the IDF admitted that they were using them several months later (October 14, 2005)

The IDF said later that they would not use these units (the mista'aravim), but who knows?

Stones are sometimes thrown after the demonstrations are over, but the demonstrations have been non-violent, except when the Israeli soldiers, dressed as Arabs, threw stones. I would like to emphasize again that this is not some crazy leftwing conspiracy theory. This was admitted to by the IDF.

The justification they gave? You will love this...if stones are thrown at the IDF soldiers, they can react in an appropriate way to break up the demonstration with a minimum amount of force.

One day, God willing, I will write a post about the how all the liberals who say, "Isn't it a shame that the Palestinians don't use massive non-violence" are doubly wrong: first, because there have been many mass protests that are non-violent, and second, they have usually gotten the Palestinians nowhere fast. The problem is that the violent protests get them in worse trouble.

So damned if they do, damned if they don't.