Nonviolent Resistance to Israeli Occupation
Posted on 06/28/2011 @ 08:00 PM
Over the course of our travels and following our return from the Middle East, Diane and I have engaged in conversation with friends of FCNL about the importance of the growing nonviolent movement to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. I’ve been inspired by the recent news reports from the West Bank Palestinian village of Bil’in and want to take this opportunity to lift up a range of important related nonviolent initiatives.
Palestinian residents of Bil’in, joined by Israelis and supporters from around the world, have shown remarkable dedication and perseverance through years of weekly protests against the construction of the separation wall that runs directly through Bil’in village. The International Court of Justice based in The Hague ruled in 2004 that the 700-plus kilometer long separation barrier is illegal and that sections that do not follow the internationally-recognized border between Israel and the West Bank (often referred to as the “Green Line”) should be dismantled. In 2007, the Israeli High Court ruled in favor of Bil’in village and ordered the Israeli government to re-route the barrier so that it would not render unusable some 50% of the farmland belonging to Bi’ilin.
Weekend news reports indicated that Israeli troops have begun dismantling sections of the wall and re-routing it so that 140 acres of Bil’in’s land would again be accessible to village residents. Even though some 50 acres would remain inaccessible even after the re-routing, this new development can be viewed as a positive, if long overdue, result of persistent nonviolent resistance.
Bil’in’s story echoes that of Budrus, another West Bank village directly affected by the separation barrier and about which an inspiring documentary film has been produced by Just Vision. To learn more about film, visit the Just Vision website.
For a fuller understanding of nonviolent resistance in Palestine, I recommend Jean Zaru’s book Occupied with Nonviolence: A Palestinian Woman Speaks, available from Quakerbooks and other booksellers. Jean Zaru is the clerk of Ramallah Monthly Meeting.
Another important resource on the Palestinian response to Israeli occupation is the recently-released book by Mazin Qumsiyeh, Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment (Pluto Press, 2011).
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a nonviolent grassroots initiative that is gaining increasing attention around the world. Read an analysis of recent legislative action by the Israeli Knesset to delegitimize and stop the boycott of products produced in West Bank settlements.
Over the past several years, activists have drawn attention to the devastating effects of the economic blockade on the people of Gaza by organizing the delivery of humanitarian aid by boat. A small shipment reached Gaza in October 2008, but in May 2010 the larger and more publicized effort involving the MV Mavi Marmara was stopped by the Israeli navy and nine activists on board the ship were killed. Another effort to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza is currently underway. The governments of Israel and the U.S. are ramping up the pressure on organizers and participants to cancel the effort, with Israeli authorities claiming that some of the activists intend to use violence and warning journalists who accompany the ships that they could be banned from working in Israel for ten years (that threat has now reportedly been withdrawn)
The flotilla organizers have responded that all participants have signed a declaration of nonviolence.
For all of us who strive to be the change we want to see in the world, now is the time to raise awareness in support of the growing nonviolent movement to end the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. The movement is gaining momentum. If you remain doubtful, I encourage you to read "Israel and Palestine: Here comes your nonviolent resistance" published recently in -- of all places -- The Economist.