A letter from the Palestinian Nonviolence Resistance
an article by Elias Deis
[slightly abridged from the original which is online at Wordpress.com]
In Palestine, we were taught how to be nice to people and how to respect human beings. I was taught every thing is possible and that we can make the impossible, possible. While I was a child I heard of people talking about peace and coexistence with Israel. Many groups of people tried to achieve it, but I am convinced that Israel is the reason peace has not been accomplished. Israel has not acted like a willing partner in this struggle for peace.
Holy Land Trust organizes weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the Israeli Occupation and building of the apartheid wall over Palestinian land and farms. Since January 2007, Holy Land Trust has organized this event, but I canít remember, even for one time, that Israel used a nonviolent way to stop us! The armed soldiers, it seems, are always ready to shoot, or use wooden sticks and tear gas.
I have participated in the nonviolence resistance since I started working with Holy Land Trust in March of 2007. I am very happy to see my People (the Palestinians), with the help of some internationals and Israeli peacemakers, to join the nonviolent resistance against the occupation. The number of the participants are increasing, and the idea of resistance against the occupier in a nonviolent way is becoming steadily popular among the society. But the question still lurks: How are the Israeli soldiers supporting these actions? What is their opinion toward the Palestinian nonviolent resistance?
To answer this question I need to begin in 1948, when Israel occupied Palestine. Israel used military tactics to defeat all kinds of Palestinian action against the occupation. Since Palestine is not a armed country and does not have equal power with Israeli, Palestinians had very few ways to defeat the Israeli occupation and gain back their rights and lands. Personally, I have experienced the Israeli violence against Palestinians in the first Intifada when the Palestinians threw stones at Israeli soldiers. Many people were killed in this period, but now we live in a new period. In this new period Palestine is trying a new resistance against Israel, the nonviolent resistance.
Even non-violence does not stop Israel from using violent measures against our peaceful resistance. On Friday, January 25, 2007, I joined the weekly demonstration in Al-Khader village, on the western side of Bethlehem. Demonstrators called to end the Siege of Gaza and to create one land living in Peace. The event proceeded when the Muslim population had their Friday prayer. After, we walked towards the Israeli segregation wall, calling, "End the Siege of Gaza" and "Free Palestine". The Israeli soldiers prevented us to cross to the main road to protest, so we had to start moving back to leave. As we were leaving the tear gas started going off. one of the bombs landed right in front of me. I couldn't breathe and I was running away while my eyes were shut due to the tear gas. I sat on the sidewalk, eyes bloodshot, for 15 minutes trying to breathe fresh air, I felt like I was dying.
Typically, this is the method Israel uses to stop us. Our calls for peace is something dangerous for Israel. I am going insane because I donít understand what we should do to end the Israeli Palestinian Conflict. I feel defeated by them. While reflecting on the previous methods of resistance by Palestinians, I conclude; throwing stones did not work and suicide bombs definitely did not work. In this new time period we must use the nonviolence method, but even that seems aggressive to the Israeli occupiers. I feel they donít want us to be peaceful, but I believe that if peace is going to prevail, nonviolence is the only way we can solve our problems.
Question(s) related to this article:
How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?,
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Latest reader comment:
Here is another view of the Hamas/Fatah agreement, sent to CPNN by the Palestinian peace activist, Mazin Qumsiyeh:
People asked me about the latest "reconciliation" agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Most Palestinians here are skeptical of the sincerity of leadership in Fatah and Hamas and most still think these leaders are driven by narrow factional and personal interests than by interest of Palestine; noticeably absent was the popular Front For the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the largest secular faction after Fatah. Women leaders also complained about the exclusion of women voices and youth were also absent as most of those politicians are my age or older. In my talks (and I give several every week to visiting delegations and local people), I emphasize that people must wake up and push politicians to do the right thing. That is how history changes: via people especially youth and women. Of course, many wish that politicians show some leadership for positive change but we the people have to act. Meanwhile, we have an ongoing slow genocide of the Palestinian people. 7.4 million are refugees/displaced people and that number keeps growing. Those of us who against all odds remain here are subjected to unspeakable restrictions and squeezed into ghettos/cantons by an apartheid regime worse than in Apartheid South Africa and the most profitable occupation in history (thanks partly to the Oslo accords). But I do see positive signs of people acting here and there regularly: so many internationals show so much solidarity because Palestine today is the lightning rod against western hypocrisy and racism in the same way that South Africa provided such a beacon in the 1980s
Editor's note. †Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu was already calling the situation of Israel/Palestine as a system of apartheid in 2003, as reported in CPNN †and now US Secretary of Foreign Affairs, John Kerry, is beginning to speak in the same terms, as reported further down in the same CPNN discussion