Daniel Breslau is a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and
Anthropology at Tel Aviv University.
Week 2120 of occupation
Daniel Breslau firstname.lastname@example.org
24 January 2008 - 30 January 2008
It was a week of blockade of the Gaza Strip, but also a week of protest in Palestine, Israel, and across the globe. These nonviolent actions unite the two meanings of the word 'demonstration': demonstration as protest, and demonstration as showing how it is done. They demonstrate against the occupation and its many cruelties, which add up to the denial of a future to the Palestinian people. But they demonstrate how to coexist in equality and mutual respect. Could the relationships of active cooperation formed in these actions be the nucleus of a new Israeli/Palestinian society?
Here is a partial listing of the week's nonviolent actions within Israel and Palestine:
Thursday, 24 January.
Dozens of Israeli Jews and Palestinians demonstrated in Haifa, condemning the siege on Gaza, and its backing from the Bush regime in Washington.The protesters carried Palestinian flags. A similar protest was held in Jerusalem.
Friday, 25 January.
At least several hundred, and as many as 1000 according to the
International Solidarity Movement, protested the construction of the apartheid wall in the village of Al Khadr, near Bethlehem. As usual, the demonstration included Palestinians from Al Khadr, Israelis, and
Over 100 protested the continued construction of the wall in the West Bank village of Bil'in. The protestors were met with tear gas, shock grenades, and rubber-coated bullets.
Saturday, 26 January.
After setting out from Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Be'er Sheva, relief convoys carrying tons of relief supplies and escorted by over 1000 demonstrators, reached the Erez Crossing into the Gaza Strip. Though the convoy brought needed supplies, it also brought a message of solidarity with the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the Israeli town of Sderot. Both, the demonstration's organizers declared, are victims of Israel's occupation. Twenty-six Israeli and Palestinian peace and human rights groups participated in the action, which was the culmination of a convoy bringing several tons of relief supplies for the Gazans.
The Palestinian town of Um al-Fahm, in Israel, turned off its electricity for one hour on Saturday evening, in solidarity with the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip.
Protests around the world
Egyptian soccer player Mohamed Aboutrika was warned by the Confederation of African Football after protesting during a match with Sudan on
Saturday. After scoring a goal, Aboutrika lifted his jersey to show an undershirt on which was written 'Sympathize with Gaza,' in English and Arabic.
A very partial listing of cities that saw protests this week: Montreal, London, Moscow, Glasgow, Manchester, Amman, Delhi, Chicago, New York, San Diego, Tampa (Florida). Many of these protests were jointly carried out by Arab and Jewish organizations.
The real anti-terror
But for this approach to become more effective, it must capture mass media attention, in Israel and internationally. This week, a search of
mainstream media outlets in the US finds only one mention of the Gaza solidarity caravan. And this mention was in the right-wing daily, the Washington Times, in an article that could only print the word 'siege' enclosed by quotation marks to distance the paper's editors from this term. The Israeli media reported only on the protests within Israel, and in almost every case referred to the participants only as 'left-wing activists.'
The Palestinians living under occupation must resist. When Israel, the U.S., and the international community does not take notice of nonviolent resistance, when only the horrors of violence focus the attention of the world on the horrors of occupation, the outcome should not be a surprise. Condemnation of violent tactics is hollow when not linked with active support and participation in all the available nonviolent methods: protest, civil disobedience, lobbying, boycotts and sanctions.