Monday, March 15, 2010

Stamping Out (Mostly) Non-Violent Protests at Ni’lin and Bil’in.

Haaretz is reporting that the IDF has declared the West Bank villages of Bil'in and Ni'lin closed military areas for the next six months – on Fridays from 8 am to 8 pm. The purpose – to stop once and for all the protests against the expropriation of village land for the construction of the Security Barrier (a.k.a. the Land Grab Wall). The closure applies to the area between the Security Barrier and the villages.

As everybody knows, these two villages have been the scene of mass protests, mostly non-violent, occasionally rock throwing (sometimes by IDF provocateurs). The IDF has arrested the leaders, harassed the Israelis who come there, sprayed stink juice on demonstrators, shot and killed protesters – and have not been able to stop the protests.

Of course, the IDF is only carrying out the government's policy, and so ultimate responsibility lies with those rapacious government ministers who covet the expropriated lands for Jewish real estate development, etc. If Israel was really interested in security, they would build the fence within the green line, not on it or outside of it. Yet how much Jewish land has been expropriated for the Wall?

The weekly protests have also been the symbol of Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Palestinian-Foreign Human Rights activism. It made the Anarchists Against the Wall famous. And it has shown a new sort of struggle, where the Israelis are willing to play junior, subordinate roles, to the Palestinians.

By the way, the English translation of Amira Hass's piece (or, more accurately, abridged adaptation, does not yet have the official reaction of the IDF. You can read that here. But note why the villages are being declared off-limits. It has nothing to do with the villagers themselves, but rather

To prevent outside agitators from arriving at the scenes of the disturbances…the military order applies to Israeli citizens, foreigners, and Palestinians who are not residents of these villages on Fridays between 8am to 8 pm….It is to be emphasized that this does not apply to the villagers who will be allowed free movement.

It sure reminds me of when the US federal government, during the Civil Rights movement, declared the South off-limits to those outside agitators from the North who came down to protest segregation.

Or am I misremembering?


pabelmont said...

The cat has caught the tongue of most of the people and governments of Europe on all this ("all this" broadly construed) to the point that the EU (while it will and does offer trade advantages to Israel) will not offer them to products produced in occupied territories.

This is odd, because it seems to recognize the illegality of the settlements but stops far, far short of demanding that an illegality be terminated.

My country, the USA, of course would not (even now, I fear) remotely contemplate demanding that all these illegalities be terminated. Indeed, President Obama has not even demanded (tho he did ask) that no NEW settlements be built.

The demonstrators at Bil'in and Ni'lin are braver than the US and EU governments combined.

Unknown said...

I don't know if you are misremembering about the American South, but I remember clearly when I grew up in South Africa during the height of Apartheid, "we" had a terrible problem with "outside agitators." In fact if we had only been able to get rid of them all the blacks would have been quite content!

I don't know if this has any relevance to the situation in Israel, but I wonder.

Thanks for your post. The anti-democratic forces in Israel are getting stronger day by day.

Y. Ben-David said...

What evidence do you have that the violence at these protests has, at least on occassion, been started by provocateurs? If this is indeed the case, would you admit that violence attributed to the Judea/Samaria settlers might, on occassion, also be started by provocateurs, in order to discredit the settlers in the eyes of the media?

Jerry Haber said...

Y. Ben David,

As reported by Haaretz,

Military sources charged that Barakeh and the commander of the forces at the scene had not exchanged words; the sources added that the undercover forces had only started throwing stones after Palestinian youths had adopted such tactics. "Stone-throwing by the undercover forces is part of the way in which they operate in such instances," the sources said

As for your second question, sure, I see no reason why the IDF wouldn't use the same tactics in rightwing settler demonstrations;.

fiddler said...

Brian, would you have accepted the government/police of apartheid SA as arbiter of who was a problematic "outside agitator" and who wasn't?

Tamar Orvell said...

Surreal zone. Today, I visited my haredi cousins that live in Kiryat Sefer. They imagined (correctly) that I had been following reports on what was in plain view... the wall in progress, Bil'In, the "tent" where "the left" from Israel and abroad keep watch 24/6 to report to the media on cranes and other construction machinery... in building mode. My cousins regularly buy plumbing supplies and other goods in these Arab towns/villages, and some employ Arabs from there to do construction work in their homes. Surreal zone.