The Disachievements of the Palestinian Struggle
By Tali Shapiro at Jun 21, 2009
Once again, I see no point in saying anything about Netanyahu's speech. Apparently people were waiting for it eagerly. I didn't even know it was suppose to happen. That could probably be easily explained by the fact that I'm new to all these etiquette of politics. Of course, once I saw it, I saw absolutely no shifting in policy and no real repentance. As such, I can go on and talk about more meaningful things, than the blathering of a murderer.
My fifth protest in Bil'in will be marked with bewilderment and a strengthening resolve to make a change in the methods of the ongoing struggle, whether it's my place to suggest such changes, or not.
The eery feeling started off with the fact that we were less protesters than usual. The confusion would grow as we actually reached the gate of the Bil'in fence, with no tear gas being fired. The army was taking it's time to even make its presence. Although never out of site, there were no soldiers at the fence, when we got there. There were calls to abolish the wall and protestors started opening the gate, as usual. The soldiers lined the fence at this point. They had their plastic shields with them and did nothing but stand there. The kids started jeering at them and throwing a heavy amount of stones. The soldiers didn't move much. Every once in a while they fired a few gas grenades. Nothing that would deter us completely.
As an ex-soldier, I don't understand what was going on exactly. I don't think I would have agreed to just standing there, and I don't know what the point of this inaction is supposed to achieve. Especially since the fact that by the end of the protest, they would shoot yet another massive amount of gas into the unarmed crowd and the shrubbery-covered orchard of the unfortunate Palestinian home at the edge of the town, which caught fire.
I assumed that there must be a media ploy behind this. otherwise there's never a good reason for the army not to shoot the crap out of us. Although I can't confirm for sure, I can guess that there was a general order to the Israeli forces in the area. In Nil'in, the neighboring village:
"... journalists and photographers showed up on the soldiers' side. It seems that the army had staged a media event in order to demonstrate the leniency it employs during these protests..."
On the Ritual of Throwing Stones
Stone throwing has become a strange ritual, which Palestinian children engage in. Personally, I see a therapeutic value in this- the children take out their aggression, directly at the oppressors. On the other hand, it's clear to me that this is hardly a clinical solution for traumatic stress. For someone coming from outside, whether internationals or Israelis, this practice seems futile (rocks against an army), inciting (in the heat of the moment violence incites violence) and stupid (we know exactly what the mainstream media does with these images). I call it a ritual, because, at this point it seems to be done thoughtlessly, yet not instinctively.
From what I've been able to understand (I stress this is only my personal opinion, and I'm hardly an expert on human behavior), this ritual is also part of a macho, nationalistic character that is growing within the Palestinian youth. The stone throwing is only done by boys (Palestinian women don't usually take part in the protests), it's a way for them to prove their manhood. While the older generation (today in their 50's) chant "no to the wall" and "return what you stole", the kids are swearing and using gender slurs. From what I gathered, speaking with the older generation, their claim to land is personal. The younger generation has a principled outlook, that is more about the struggle as a goal than a means.
This is, of course, very understandable, seeing as they were born into the existing reality, and know no other. But I see it as Israel's victory. There are four living generations of Jews on the land of Palestine, that were born here. A just resolution of the occupation, would be to respect all born in Palestine, as no one had a choice in the matter. Israel has succeeded in creating a racial hatred in the Jewish population for the Palestinian population, and as the years go by, it creates a racial hatred inside the Palestinians for the Jews.
It seems to me, that on all fronts, the Palestinian struggle is decentralized. There is no plan, no strategy, no rules of conduct, that would create a united front. Even in the Bil'in protests, I see a microcosms of the struggle. The organizers rely upon the history of peaceful struggle, the youth take a more aggressive approach, and there seems to be either no dialogue between them, or a disagreement (I can't say for sure as I've yet to have a conversation about this with them).
I've asked a bit about the history of Bil'in and was told that for about two years, the demonstrations were creative and organized. Then I asked the inevitable "what happened?", and was told the inevitable "erosion. It takes time, creativity, and effort." Every conversation I have about this issue strengthens my feelings that Palestinians need support in the struggle itself. More creative ideas, more positive energy, more resources, and- most importantly- more positive engagement for the kids, who are born under occupation.