Non-violent Palestinian protesters brutalised – a turning point in the struggle?

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Could the crisis at Bab al-Shams be the turning-point in the Palestinian struggle for justice?

Despite international opposition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that he will push ahead with more colonialist expansion into the West Bank – the latest act of aggression being the planned ‘E1’ settlement.

This time though, instead of trying to protest through the courts or simply waiting for the inevitable to happen, Palestinian activists took the initiative and created their own ‘fact on the ground’ – a tent-city settlement of their own in one of the Palestinian areas slated for Israeli settlement construction!

The important thing to realise about the Palestinian ‘settlement’, in contrast with the coming Israelis-only settlement, is that the former is entirely legal. The Palestinians are building on privately-owned Palestinian land with the permission of the owner. Even so, the Israeli courts somehow ruled in favour of the Israeli settlers, and ordered the Palestinian protesters and their international partners to be removed from their land!

I have often said that there are three levels of racism that can infect a community.

  • The first is where racism happens but is not officially tolerated nor accepted by the broader culture.
  • The second level is where racism is culturally acceptable, even if officially frowned upon.
  • The third and most terrible level is where racism receives official sanctioning from the courts and government.

Nazi Germany is probably the most horrible example of this third and final form of a racist state, but if Israeli courts are now so blatantly backing the eviction of Palestinian people from their own land, they are surely on the same terrible path!

Israel mustered 500 armed troops to disperse the Palestinian protesters. As you’ll see from the video, the Palestinians kept to the classic protocols of non-violent resistance. Even so, many of them were brutalised.

It is possible that this valiant act of non-violent resistance could play the same role in the Palestinian struggle as did the ‘Bloody Sunday’ incident of 1965 for the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Can the world really watch this sort of injustice take place and simply say nothing?

Whether this particular act of violence will be the turning point or not, the testimony of Mustafa Barghouthi (recorded below) – that this will be the first of many such non-violent actions – is telling indeed! The Palestinians are tired of waiting for the rest of the world to take action. They have taken the future into their own hands!

Father Dave

If you can’t view this video, click here.

To see some excellent pictures of the protest and response, see this article on the Al Jazeera website

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