Too often, Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation is portrayed in the media as violent. It is said that the Palestinian cause would be well served through nonviolence, if only some "Palestinian Gandhi" would emerge. Indeed, according to Joe Klein of Time Magazine, "Ever since Israel won control of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, the Palestinian national movement has been defined by terrorism, intransigence and, until recently in the West Bank, corruption. It has never been known for dramatic acts of nonviolence." Meanwhile, the daily nonviolent resistance of Palestinians and their allies from around the globe is commonly all but ignored.
One recent and striking example of this non-violence occurred in the West Bank city of Hebron. This traditional hub of Palestinian life and commerce, which currently plays host to a growing population of over 500 Jewish Israeli settlers, has experienced significant segregation in recent years. One glaring example is Shuhada Street, from which Palestinian pedestrians have been banned since 2001.
In an effort to resist this racist prohibition, a group of Palestinian, Israeli, and international women on Wednesday organized a march on Shahuda street in direct challenge to occupation policy. Dressed in traditional Palestinian garb, they were met with harsh resistance as they peacefully walked the street. Assaulted by settlers who attempted to block their path, Israeli activists were cursed as "Traitors... worse than those Arabs." Such attacks were soon followed by the arrival of heavily armed Israeli soldiers who "pushed a few of the women to the ground and started hitting them," then proceeded to arrest seven Israeli and international activists as punishment for their peaceful challenge to segregation.
Nonviolent protests such as these as well as the violence with which they are met should serve as a wake up call to the international community. Where is the "Palestinian Gandhi"? There are in fact many of them, tirelessly resisting the Israeli occupation and standing up for justice. Their peaceful struggle can no longer be ignored.
Friday, June 15 2012