"If there is a third intifada, we want to be the ones who started it."
March 18, 2013 11:09 AM   Subscribe

"Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?"
"One village in the West Bank tests the limits of unarmed resistance."
posted by andoatnp (74 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's a long article, by Ben Ehrenreich, son of Barbara Ehrenreich, and worth the time to read. Ostensibly, the article is about peaceful resistance to Israel and its military, including eye grabbing quotes from an Israeli military policymaker, “We don’t do Gandhi very well.”

The article also spends some time discussing the Palestinian villagers' attitudes to stone throwing:
I asked one of the boys why he threw stones, knowing how futile it was. “I want to help my country and my village, and I can’t,” he said. “I can just throw stones.”
“We see our stones as our message,” Bassem explained. The message they carried, he said, was “We don’t accept you.” While Bassem spoke admiringly of Mahatma Gandhi, he didn’t worry over whether stone-throwing counted as violence.

It goes on to document what I read as the apparent futility of this sort_of non-aggression, in which stones are thrown at men with guns and armoured vehicles, young Palestinians are killed, detained or beaten, young Israeli soldiers toss tear gas about, protestors are covered in skunk water and the author himself is arrested, which the IDF denies despite forcibly taking him off to a police station.

It ends on the discussion of the third intifada, and the undertone that the thing Netanyahu fears is a peaceful resistance developing momentum, and captured on protestors' cameras for the world to see and for copycat demonstrations to draw strength from. I guess the pull quote is this one:
“We have to create a sense of renewal,” he said, “not only in Nabi Saleh but on a larger scale.” The village’s losses — and his own — he acknowledged, were daunting. “The price is now higher,” he said, but “if we don’t continue, it would mean that the occupation has succeeded.” It would take constant creativity, he said, to hold onto the momentum.

An interesting read. Thank you andoatnp.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:57 AM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Taking up arms wasn’t, for Bassem, a moral error so much as a strategic one. He and everyone else I spoke with in the village insisted they had the right to armed resistance; they just don’t think it works.

Seconding MuffinMan; thanks for posting this.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:03 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


And after the last thread and discussion, everyone is afraid to comment:P Perhaps it would help to pre-emptively agree on/review some ground rules for commenting in this particular thread? Maybe in MeTa so we don't derail this thread?
posted by eviemath at 12:04 PM on March 18, 2013


I found this interesting:

'One senior military commander, who would agree to be interviewed only on the condition that his name not be used, told me: “When the second intifada broke out, it was very difficult, but it was very easy to understand what we had to do. You have the enemy, he shoots at you, you have to kill him.” Facing down demonstrators armed with slings and stones or with nothing at all is less clear-cut. “As an Israeli citizen,” the commander said, “I prefer stones. As a professional military officer, I prefer to meet tanks and troops.”'

Presumable he means that he feels comfortable meeting bullets with more bullets, but when he's asked to respond violently and/or with deadly force to people that pose no actual threat to him and/or his soldiers he finds it problematic. The fact that he's being quoted anonymously implies that there would be retribution towards him by his leadership for expressing this perspective.

Preceding the Ghandi comment MuffinMan made above is the following context (which seems to imply more force will be met towards non-violent protesters in the future):

'According to a leaked 2010 U.S. State Department memo, Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi of Israel “expressed frustration” with the West Bank protests to American diplomats, and “warned that the I.D.F. will start to be more assertive in how it deals with these demonstrations, even demonstrations that appear peaceful.” '

The wealth of background information that seems to come from leaked diplomatic memo's really helps the depth of reporting on international issues.
posted by el io at 12:06 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


There was a relevant video on the Guardian website (the video autoplays). I only made it through the first 15 minutes or so, so it could take a turn for the horrible in the last 10 minutes that I don't know aobut.
posted by hoyland at 12:13 PM on March 18, 2013


Wow, this part is rich:

"They drove us to the old British police station in the I.D.F. base in Halamish. While I was sitting on a bench, an I.D.F. spokesman called my cellphone to inform me that no journalists with press cards had been detained in Nabi Saleh. I disagreed."

Did I read that right? While the journalist was being detained (after showing his press card multiple times to people detaining him) he got a call from the PR wing of the military telling him that no press had been detained? Talk about some missed signals. Regardless of any past history of the IDF and the veracity of it's public statements, this particular incident must have been surreal in it's blatant deception.

Wow.
posted by el io at 12:22 PM on March 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


And after the last thread and discussion, everyone is afraid to comment:P

Hopefully they're just reading the article, which is excellent. And it was one of two in the Sunday NYT, this being the other.
posted by hal incandenza at 12:25 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, organizing unauthorized processions is a crime that is tried in Israel's military court system? Did I understand that correctly? If so, that's messed up.
posted by Area Man at 12:32 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's unarmed resistance, and then there's non-violent resistance. People intuitively understand that if someone is throwing rocks at you, you're allowed to defend yourself. It's hard to get people outraged at the idea that the IDF dispersing crowds of Palestinians with tear gas or rubber bullets if those Palestinians are throwing rocks that could seriously injure or kill a soldier if they hit him in the face. More to the point, for the Israeli public it maintains the image that they live next to a group of people who want to attack them with whatever they have available. I imagine that a lot of Israelis will see Palestinians throwing rocks and, instead of seeing partners in peace, see violent Arabs who have simply been subject to effective military control, and therefore can get their hands on nothing better than rocks. I'm not saying that's necessarily the case - I'm saying that these Palestinian activists continue to misunderstand the psychological dynamic they need to create in order to win their own state.

If Palestinians would take the next step, towards totally non-violent, mass resistance, they would find that democracies can't resist truly peaceful calls for self-determination. Take part in marches, but when you come across the IDF, don't throw stones at them. If tens or hundreds of thousands of Palestinians regularly took part in peaceful demonstrations for self-determination - not sending the Jews into the sea, not filled with violent, racist rhetoric - they would achieve their goal in a few years. The embrace of violence from the outset of Israel's creation was the biggest strategic mistake the Palestinians made. It will take years to repair the damage that the Second Itafada, especially, did in hardening moderate Israeli opinion against the Palestinians, but it's not impossible. The current Palestinian leadership is as good a peace partner as Israel is likley to find; sadly, the same can't be said of the Israeli Prime Minister.
posted by Dasein at 12:59 PM on March 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


Dasein: "If Palestinians would take the next step, towards totally non-violent, mass resistance, they would find that democracies can't resist truly peaceful calls for self-determination."

Yeah, but there are non-violent protests in both Israel and the Palestinian territories on a regular basis. They're symbolic and achieve nothing. Numbers of protestors varies widely.

Take part in marches, but when you come across the IDF, don't throw stones at them. If tens or hundreds of thousands of Palestinians regularly took part in peaceful demonstrations for self-determination - not sending the Jews into the sea, not filled with violent, racist rhetoric - they would achieve their goal in a few years.

I tend to agree. But am not convinced non-violent protest is getting them anywhere now. It is very hard to see what incentive they'd have, when rocks and rockets do provoke responses.

Jane Eisner, editor in chief of The Forward, has posted a response to the Ehrenreich editorial. Nothing surprising there, but worth noting.
posted by zarq at 1:34 PM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


And another reaction to the story from some of those settlers up on the hill.
posted by mareli at 1:35 PM on March 18, 2013


They're symbolic and achieve nothing.

Protests are only going to work if they're large enough that they can't be dismissed as symbolic. They will also need to go on for some time in order to be effective. After the Second Intafada, Israelis were happy just to be separated from the Palestinians, and don't want to engage with them. What's the point, when violence is down anyway? But the Palestinians have a trump card left: the ability to demand the right to vote in Israeli elections. The threat of playing that card in the future will prove useful to them, if they can stick to non-violence.
posted by Dasein at 1:40 PM on March 18, 2013


Actually, this village is the home town of Said and Ahlam Tamimi, who had an active role in decisively violent resistance actions such as the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem. The use of nonviolent (and not-quite-as-violent) methods is little mroe than Good Cop Bad Cop.
posted by ocschwar at 1:41 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The use of nonviolent (and not-quite-as-violent) methods is little mroe than Good Cop Bad Cop.

A common thought brought up here is the idea that Ghandi or MLK wouldn't have been as effective if there wasn't a threat of violence the back it up - deal with the Good Cop or suffer violence from the Bad Cop. Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but it does require that your Good Cop really be someone you want to work with if you go with it.
posted by charred husk at 1:48 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, here you have a "good cop" that has the Orwellian dishonesty of characterizing the throwing of football sized boulders onto cars as "nonviolent," and a "bad cop" whose express belief is that they will restore their enemy to the status quo ante as the despised minority they were for 1400 years.

Hence the Israeli vote for none-of-the-above.

Neither of these map to the civil rights movment. MLK and his followers talked the talk when they talked nonviolence. And unless you can poitn otherwise, all I know of African American violent resistence in that era consisted of rural blacks shooting back at Night Riders. Not exactly a close analogy here.
posted by ocschwar at 1:53 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


MLK and his followers talked the talk when they talked nonviolence

By which I mean, of course, walked the walk.
posted by ocschwar at 2:14 PM on March 18, 2013


Here's a video of Ahed Tamimi, the 13 year girl referenced in article, confronting, yelling and demanding answers from IDF soldiers regarding the detention of her brother. No subtitles, just a rather young kid shaking her fist at several very heavily armed soldiers.
posted by zenon at 2:18 PM on March 18, 2013


Ocschwar: There was plenty of variance of viewpoint during the civil rights movement in the US in the 60's. The Black Panthers certainly had a perspective that wasn't necessarily non-violent (which they characterized as self-defense), the Nation of Islam also was part of the conversation. One can argue that there was a plurality of viewpoints on tactics during the 60's on how to combat institutionalized racism.

There are certainly those that believe that MLK's viewpoints were the reasonable ones because there were other viewpoints from other African American movements during the time that looked less desirable.
posted by el io at 2:23 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


And another reaction to the story from some of those settlers up on the hill.

The authors are the parents of Malki Roth, a 15 year old girl murdered by a bomb assembled in this "nonviolent" village. They do not live in the West Bank.
posted by ocschwar at 2:24 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]



Ocschwar: There was plenty of variance of viewpoint during the civil rights movement in the US in the 60's. The Black Panthers certainly had a perspective that wasn't necessarily non-violent (which they characterized as self-defense), the Nation of Islam also was part of the conversation. One can argue that there was a plurality of viewpoints on tactics during the 60's on how to combat institutionalized racism.


White support for the end of Jim Crow was secured in the 50's and early 60's, when the Black Panthers weren't on anyone's radar. There was no Bad Cop in the script. There was only Martin Luther King.
posted by ocschwar at 2:27 PM on March 18, 2013


I think non-violence is the right thing to do and makes sense in this situation as a tactic, but I have trouble understanding an argument which presumes it is okay for one side in a conflict to use violence but not the other.
posted by Area Man at 2:36 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


ocschwar: " The authors are the parents of Malki Roth, a 15 year old girl murdered by a bomb assembled in this "nonviolent" village. They do not live in the West Bank."

Malki Roth was killed in the infamous Sbarro suicide bombing that killed 15 people, including 7 children and a pregnant woman in Jerusalem a month before 9/11. 130 people were injured in the explosion. Her parents established a foundation in her name to help children with disabilities.

The woman who escorted the bomber to the pizzaria, Ahlam Tamimi, was freed during the Shalit prisoner exchange. That was controversial, to say the least. The Roths actively petitioned the Israeli government to keep her behind bars, but failed. Tamimi now hosts a talk show in Jordan discussing Palestinian prisoners.
posted by zarq at 2:47 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ocshwar: I was trying to counter the suggestion that there were more African American's that thought violence might be an answer to their struggles than you had asserted. I would argue the civil rights era did not end in the early 60's, but I'm not sure how productive an in-depth discussion over the US civil rights struggle would be.

Certainly (as is acknowledged in the article) non-violence in this context (ie: the article) is a tactic as it is acknowledge by those trying to change their situation that violence is not an appropriate tactic:

'Bassem saw three options. “To be silent is to accept the situation,” he said, “and we don’t accept the situation.” Fighting with guns and bombs could only bring catastrophe. Israel was vastly more powerful, he said. “But by popular resistance, we can push its power aside.”'

Regardless of perspective on either side of this conflict, surely we can all agree that non-violence is a preferable tactic to violence? It appears (according to the unnamed quote in the article) that the IDF will not tolerate demonstrations that 'appear peaceful'. If this is true it will not help them their international public perception .
posted by el io at 2:53 PM on March 18, 2013


Ben Ehrenreich, Behind the Cover Story also
The late Chief Rabbi Menachem Froman was a great proponent of talking and peaceful protest.
Unfortunately so many peaceful protests end with Tear Gas.
posted by adamvasco at 3:01 PM on March 18, 2013


Regardless of perspective on either side of this conflict, surely we can all agree that non-violence is a preferable tactic to violence

Ideally yes, but if non-violence does not lead to a meaningful solution for one non-violent party at what stage does it stop being a meaningful tactic?
posted by biffa at 3:51 PM on March 18, 2013


The embrace of violence from the outset of Israel's creation was the biggest strategic mistake the Palestinians made.

Nonviolent resistance was tried early on as well. It met with more violent responses from the IDF than the early violent resistance.

Another view of the first Intifada.

Some more reporting on nonviolent Palestinian resistance.
posted by eviemath at 4:03 PM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ocshwar: I was trying to counter the suggestion that there were more African American's that thought violence might be an answer to their struggles than you had asserted.

Then why is it that the only examples of African American militancy that I know of in the South consist of rural blacks shooting at Night Riders? If the only time you think it's appropriate to shoot is when people are driving past your home at night and firing shotguns to intimidate you, than you're not much of a militant, and your situation is not plausibly analogous to what's going on in the Middle East.

By the time the Black Panthers came on the scene, there was no debate on whether whites and blacks shoudl be equal before the law. That part was over. And I seriously challenge you to find a single white American whose stance on race relations was driven by the prospect of facing a confrontation with Black Panthers.

While you're at it, try to find a single African American whose own stance on African American self determination was based on turning the tables and asserting a reverse form of racial supremacy. Because restoring the supremacy of the Muslim over the Jew is very much the goal of Palestinian organizations such as Hamas, and even "moderate" Palestinian leaders pay lip service to the idea. And frankly, if people demonstrate in favor of restoring me to the legal inferiority imposed on my ancestors, I don't care whether they use violent or non-violent tactics. I'd start with tear gas and escalate from there.
posted by ocschwar at 4:18 PM on March 18, 2013


A major propogator of violence is the IDF frequently against peaceful protests. As this has been so thoroughly documented I can only suppose as I am sure do many others that this level of heavy policing and outright intimidation is tacitly approved if not encouraged by the higher echelons of the command structure. This is not a healthy situation for any democracy to be in as in effect it means that no matter who is in power left or right or centre that the security forces become a law unto themselves and a state within a state.
Of the 240 complaints received by the army in 2012, not one resulted in an indictment.
posted by adamvasco at 4:30 PM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]



'Bassem saw three options. “To be silent is to accept the situation,” he said, “and we don’t accept the situation.” Fighting with guns and bombs could only bring catastrophe. Israel was vastly more powerful, he said. “But by popular resistance, we can push its power aside.”'


Notice that his only object to guns and bombs is that it would backfire. No objection to murdering people on the grounds that murder is bad.

Not exactly a guy I would let in my home, that's for sure. Especially knowing he's a relative of the murderess Ahlam Tamimi. The man speaks with a forked tongue. Neither his cause nor his chosen means are worthy of respect.
posted by ocschwar at 4:31 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]



A major propogator of violence is the IDF frequently against peaceful protests


When demonstrators are using peaceful means to demonstrate in favor of restoring me to the oppression imposed my ancestors, I would not stay peaceful either.
posted by ocschwar at 4:33 PM on March 18, 2013


[This thread very badly needs to not become a referendum on one peson's response to everything. ocschwar, maybe dial it back for a bit please? ]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:36 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"And frankly, if people demonstrate in favor of restoring me to the legal inferiority imposed on my ancestors, I don't care whether they use violent or non-violent tactics."

Sounds like an argument *for* black militants to me. I personally don't subscribe to that point of view; I think that non-violent tactics are more likely to garner the support of the world at large, and support those tactics.

Although I think I could answer your questions regarding 'find me a single person' on various sides of the civil rights struggle in the US during the 60's, I'm not sure what that would accomplish.

You do have many supporters (on both sides of various struggles) that would agree with you that violence is an appropriate tool. I am not one of them.
posted by el io at 4:45 PM on March 18, 2013


So you blame the Palestinians for not being non-violent and applaud Israeli violence against non-violent protesters? How enlightened.

On a different note, I think there are problems with the underlying article. The author really does skim over the important differences between throwing rocks and on-violent protest.
posted by Area Man at 4:47 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bassem saw no easy way to break the torpor and ignite a more widespread popular resistance. “They have the power,” he said of the P.A., “more than the Israelis, to stop us.” The Palestinian Authority employs 160,000 Palestinians, which means it controls the livelihoods of about a quarter of West Bank households. One night I asked Bassem and Bilal, who works for the Ministry of Public Health, how many people in Nabi Saleh depend on P.A. salaries. It took them a few minutes to add up the names. “Let’s say two-thirds of the village,” Bilal concluded.

this is the most important paragraph in the piece... the issue of nonviolence is a red-herring. The Oslo peace process was mainly about the last intifada being a existential threat to the violently corrupt PLO, not Israel. Places like Nabi Saleh are comfortable for Western/Israeli leftists because they are dominated by secular, highly educated professionals (see the comment about the percentage of residents with higher degrees.) The women even make vegan meals for the visiting anarchists!

Unfortunately, when Fatah and the PA collapse, people like the Tamimis will be mensheviks to likely Islamic bolsheviks.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:51 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Seriously, take it to MeMail or the open Meta thread, not here.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:59 PM on March 18, 2013


There was a relevant video on the Guardian website (the video autoplays). I only made it through the first 15 minutes or so, so it could take a turn for the horrible in the last 10 minutes that I don't know aobut.

The boy in the video also wrote an open letter to President Obama. The video is embedded on that page too, but it doesn't autoplay there.
posted by homunculus at 5:02 PM on March 18, 2013


While some nonviolent movements in history have been religiously or ethically motivated, many of them were more motivated by tactical considerations. Most famously, perhaps, are Gandhi's writings particularly about his motivations for his earlier use of nonviolent resistance in improving conditions for the Indian community in South Africa. I think his motivations became more religiously based later in life, but his considerations and arguments for using nonviolent tactics in the struggle for and independent India were also significantly tactical rather than ethical in nature. Certainly not everyone who followed him was a true believer in nonviolence.

Maybe a more useful direction to take this discussion in would be to ask the question, ok, you've had decades of conflict in a region, which means that there's going to be a history of at least some bad actions on both sides, and few will have no connections of any sort with at least someone who the other side considers to have used unjustified violence. South Africa under apartheid was not free of black on white violence, for example, despite the majority of the violence being directed against blacks. So how do you achieve peace? In Northern Ireland, as in many places recovering from civil wars, they've found that attaining peace and political stability requires a certain amount of accepting present positive actions despite qualms on each side about the motivations of the actors. And then having a truth and reconciliation process after a certain amount of political stability has been achieved.
posted by eviemath at 5:11 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


putting this comment back since the letter it's responding to is also back:

The East Jerusalem home in question in the Guardian video and homunculus's letter was owned by Jews until Jordan took it from them in 1948 (1, 2), and his family was not paying their rent. It was left to the courts to decide, and people (including Jewish groups) are protesting the decision.

Children make great innocent spokesmen, but that doesn't mean that they know all the facts. Personally, I would prefer they were taken off the battlefields altogether.
posted by Mchelly at 5:47 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]



In Northern Ireland, as in many places recovering from civil wars, they've found that attaining peace and political stability requires a certain amount of accepting present positive actions despite qualms on each side about the motivations of the actors.

The Nabih Saleh actions are a media spectacle comprised of a pastiche of non-violent action. They are not a positive action. Other Palestinians are in fact engaging in positive actions, but not these guys.
posted by ocschwar at 6:20 PM on March 18, 2013


Aren't all demonstrations intended to be media spectacles? Isn't this pretty much the point of a demonstration - to get media attention and then sympathetic viewers/readers of that media to your cause?

I would imagine the people involved with the non-violent demonstrations wouldn't argue this point to much; they would acknowledge the point of these demonstrations is to garner media attention. This is why many protesters engage in silly or absurd tactics (ie: throwing pies, or glitter) - to help ensure there is media coverage of their cause.
posted by el io at 6:27 PM on March 18, 2013


Yes, but not every media spectacle is a cynical pastiche.

Compare the lunch counter sit-ins of the 1950's to, say, the funeral pickets by the Westboro Baptist Church. Tactically very similar. But intrinsically, not at all.
posted by ocschwar at 6:32 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The current Palestinian leadership is as good a peace partner as Israel is likley to find; sadly, the same can't be said of the Israeli Prime Minister.
posted by Dasein at 12:59 PM on March 18


How does it makes sense for Israel to make the major concessions that they can potentially make in exchange for peace with a state in the West Bank while Hamas rules Gaza, constantly trying to smuggle weapons from Iran through the Sudan and elsewhere, only taking the occasional break from their rocket attacks?
posted by knoyers at 6:39 PM on March 18, 2013


Because peace in the West Bank can be a blueprint for peace in Gaza, and an enticement for the people of Gaza to cast off Hamas. I'm not sure what you think Israel would be giving away to Hamas if it made peace in the West Bank. Gaza would remain under blockade until its government agreed to the same peace terms, so Israel doesn't lose anything, and it could make clear to the world that it's Hamas - not Israel - that's the cause of any continuing conflict. That seems like an obvious win for Israel.
posted by Dasein at 6:44 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


zenon: "No subtitles, just a rather young kid shaking her fist at several very heavily armed soldiers."

I saw this video when it came out. Rather, I saw a picture on a blog and found it odd, searched a bit and found this video. It's a sad example of a child putting into practice the lessons of Pallywood. This is not a child being brave, this is a child being manipulated to cause a media reaction. Watch the part between 2:00 and 3:00. The three children are between the soldiers and two young women, one with a white shirt and another with a blue shirt. The young woman with the blue shirt is clearly directing the scene - she doesn't interact with the soldiers, but keeps pushing the children towards them and positioning them according to the cameras. At around 2:30 the young kid in the black soccer jersey tries to leave the circle, and is dragged back and shoved by the two young women back to the position facing one of the soldier. The young woman pushes him several times until she's satisfied.

"Peace will come to the Middle East when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us." - Golda Meir
posted by gertzedek at 6:58 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It might not be easy or simple for the Gazans to cast off Hamas if they wanted to. A Palestinian state in the West Bank might be more vulnerable to becoming like Hamas' Gaza than the reverse. The Palestinian Authority is a fragile political organization. Geographically, a hostile independent state in the West Bank would be a far more substantial threat to the Israeli population. And if Israel were to make various concessions necessary for peace, so as to create an independent state in the West Bank, but Hamas continues attacking and threatening Israel as it does now, Israel won't have much left to potentially negotiate over, other than fighting. And Hezbollah is a greater threat than Hamas. It's not difficult to see why Israel doesn't want to make all its concessions to buy a partial and uncertain peace with one fragment of the Palestinians, while the rest are controlled by terrorist groups that have vowed never to be satisfied with peace.
posted by knoyers at 7:06 PM on March 18, 2013


Too many buried erroneous assumptions to respond to. You seem to be able to come up with lots of reasons not to make peace under any realistic scenario. That's the tragedy of the Middle East. It always supplies those reasons.
posted by Dasein at 7:35 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Here's a link to Wikipedia's Arabic page on this village (Google Translate). There's one major difference between it and the English version: the Arabic one lists seventeen "martyrs", as well as other "most prominent prisoners", including the aforementioned Ahlam Tamimi.

As for the stone throwing, it's not just IDF troops who are endangered by it: a toddler was critically injured last Thursday because of stones thrown at cars on Route 5, about eight miles from Nabi Saleh. Yes, it very likely wasn't the same people who were throwing stones at those soldiers, but it's not as if there's some dividing line between virtuous stone throwers and evil ones, particularly when the villagers themselves boast of killing around twenty Israeli civilians.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:37 PM on March 18, 2013


The google query "soldier killed by rock" has 4 hits (I expected thousands).

One of them about a soldier killing someone that threw a rock.

One about a soldier dying due to a rockET (the 'et' was left out of the truncated headline).

One that is spam (ie: no story about anything).

One story about an actual soldier being killed by an actual rock (soldier was Britsh, incident apparently occurred in Macedonia).

There is no excuse for anyone to be hurling rocks at moving cars (as your link about the toddler shows), but I don't see any evidence that soldiers are actually in danger from rock throwers. (pro-tip: throwing rocks at soldiers, cops, or other authority figures with weapons and the authorization to use them may be generally hazardous to your health).
posted by el io at 10:06 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Coming back around to the main topic of the link - what are some of the key similarities and differences between the nonviolent tactics described in the linked article and other nonviolent protests around both the West Bank and Gaza, and the nonviolent tactics used by some groups in the first Intifada, as described in my links above? What might the past, taken together with reports surrounding present-day actions, lead us to expect from an Israeli response? And along the same lines of historical comparison, how might a new Intifada focused on nonviolent tactics affect the balance of political power among Palestinians?
posted by eviemath at 10:13 PM on March 18, 2013


For a time, Nariman regularly prepared a vegan feast for the exhausted outsiders who lingered after the protests. (Among the first things she asked me when I arrived was whether I was a vegan. Her face brightened when I said no.)

This was my favorite quote from the article.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:15 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Before I posted my first comment I pondered making more of a note about whether the author really made a decent fist of working out what non-aggression meant, and specifically the issue of stone throwing.

I still don't know if he did. But I think that's because he doesn't know how to approach the situation from a Palestinian perspective - to give in to the sense of futility or to see cause for optimism.

As constructed, the narrative lays out the options for Palestinian resistance: "Its primary weapons were the sort that transform weakness into strength: the stone, the barricade, the boycott, the strike." Non-euphemistically, the strike includes the use of deadly force from guns, bombs, missiles etc and the narrative deals with that early on: the 100 dead Israeli civilians in the second intifada, the 21 dead in a Tel Aviv disco, the kids killed in Sbarro. To the author's credit, I think, he lays out the mixed feelings about those killings, from pride through to a belief they were strategically counterproductive.

At this point, opinions here and elsewhere tend to divide sharply, but it is surely a statement of the obvious that the backdrop to the Palestinian views on "strikes" comes against a background, at a minimum, of high(er) levels of civilian casualties of their own. The author says as much. Of Said Tamimi, he writes, "Said, Manal told me, “lost his father, uncle, aunt, sister — they were all killed. How can you blame him?” Ehrenreich also outlines the 5:1 ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths during the second intifada and it's unsurprising that the Palestinians would have mixed emotions about "strikes."

Through the article is the author's take on the history of non-aggression: he reports Yitzhak Rabin "authorized soldiers to break the limbs of unarmed demonstrators" in 1988. He details the demonstrations at Budrus in 2003, met with "tear gas, beatings and arrests; at times with live ammunition." He details the successes of demonstrations in 2009 and the anxiety that resistance that wasn't "an existential threat" caused to Israeli policymakers and that in 2010 the IDF "will start to be more assertive in how it deals with these demonstrations, even demonstrations that appear peaceful." And we get the money quote: “As an Israeli citizen,” the commander said, “I prefer stones. As a professional military officer, I prefer to meet tanks and troops.”

Within this, I think his point is more subtle than that. He specifically contrasts the story of the nearby settlers whose children won't come home when the tear gas drifts towards them with this: "early on, the villagers took all the children to one house during demonstrations, but when the soldiers began firing gas grenades into homes, the villagers decided it was safer to let them join the protests." And through the article, he peppers stories of arrests, beatings, tear gas, skunk water, stun grenades, rubber bullets and live fire as a recurring or regular feature of the lives of the Palestinian villagers. The article specifically ends with soldiers casually tossing tear gas about the village. He also notes, "assaults on Palestinians by settlers are so common that they rarely made the news."

Is the stone throwing relevant and does Ehrenreich deal with it? The article also notes that the IDF view is that the demonstrations are not peaceful and that 200 IDF personnel have been injured over the years - a number that strikes me as low when one considers more than 100 police officers were injured in Belfast riots in 2001 and a further 30 were injured in a single night this year. Ehrenreich notes:
It was strange, asymmetric combat: a few dozen masked shebab ranging in age from 8 to 38, armed with slings and stones, against 20 or more soldiers in armored vehicles and on foot, dressed in helmets and body armor, toting radios and automatic weapons. The shebab put a great deal of thought into tactics, trying to flank and surprise the soldiers. But even when their plans were perfectly executed, they could not do much more than irritate their enemies. The soldiers, though, would inevitably respond with more sophisticated weaponry, which would motivate the shebab to gather more stones Friday after Friday despite — and because of — the fact that nothing ever seemed to change, for the better at least.

I asked one of the boys why he threw stones, knowing how futile it was. “I want to help my country and my village, and I can’t,” he said. “I can just throw stones.”
One is welcome to call Ehrenreich biased, of course. He very clearly has taken sides. But I think he does resolve the issue of whether stone throwing is violent or not. His characterisation is that, against an army with armour and weaponry, the stone throwing is an act of violence but is, both in macro (i.e. strategically) and in micro (in terms of the threat it poses to the soldiers) not really the point. The stone throwing is not trivial. It does injure. It does provoke a response that is provably deadly to villagers on occasion. More importantly, it marks the line in the sand between legitimising a response that appears to be already deeply unpleasant and something worse.

From what I read, Ehrenreich concludes this violent aspect of "peaceful" resistance is contradictory but ultimately not the point where the benchmarks are set much higher at "existential threat to Israel" on the one hand and the pattern of deaths and disruption faced by Palestinian villagers on the other, and where the author is unclear about whether the IDF would truly respond non-aggressively to no violence at all, based on its behind the scenes policy discussions.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:56 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's a video of IDF troops retreating briskly when confronted by people throwing stones. The stones look large, and heavy. Have you ever been hit with a cricket ball or baseball? I did the maths: a 2" (5 cm) ball of stone is comfortably heavier than either of those. These stones seem much larger than a 2" sphere, and pointier.

The video doesn't tell us why those soldiers were retreating so very, very briskly, but I think it's reasonable to presume that they were in fear of their lives.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:41 AM on March 19, 2013


I'm not sure of the point, Joe. The soldiers have armour and helmets and are armed. I don't think it is in dispute that they could injure or even do injure from time to time. But given that the soldiers know the score and are kitted in riot gear it comes back to what the article talks about: the stones are, functionally, an irritant rather than a pressing danger.

The soldiers are not retreating because they fear their lives, unless they are all unarmed. They are retreating because they have a choice of escalating or retreating. Once you decide to retreat, you do so because you've already signalled that you don't intend to escalate.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:55 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Right, but if you're a soldier protecting a civilian population (ignoring for a second whether the civilians should be there) then you can't retreat. So throwing stones forces the soldiers to respond with force in some circumstances. If the protestors want to complain about the soldiers' use of force, they should not be throwing stones at them. That's not a defence of Israeli settlement policy. Some draftee teenager having rocks hurled at him doesn't make those decisions.
posted by Dasein at 6:46 AM on March 19, 2013


Maybe one of the reason the IDF is so heavy handed is that they know they can get away with it and cause little or no political fallout fror their politicians because the country which is most allied to Israel ie USA regularily uses such tactics against its own people a la occupy ''riots''.
Apartheid in S. Africa was widely protested by many means in other countries which in turn led to pressure by those countries politicians on the existing S. African Junta.
I am not saying this is why ANC finally won. What I wish to point out is that protest and action outside Israel can also help bring about change by peaceful protest and action.
The disinvestment campaign only impacted South Africa after the major Western nations, including the United States, got involved beginning in mid-1984.
Similar has been suggested by university students without much success so far.
Why does the US keep throwing money at Israel instead of witholding funds for not activly trying to find a workable solution. The message at the moment is that Israel can be the playground bully and fear no reprecussions.
Note I am not talking National Security here, just treating citizens with the dignity that they deserve.
posted by adamvasco at 7:50 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Immediately discounting the actions of a group because of their links to people who committed violent acts or because of their own history of violence is ridiculous.

The Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, used to be known as the Butcher of the Bogside.
posted by knapah at 8:10 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Adamvasco:

One of the issues with South Africa was that *after* 1984 US, British (and other) interests still aligned with the Apartheid government, for 2-3 years afterwards. There were economic interests, of course. But also support for Renamo in Mozambique, which was fighting against the Soviet aligned and nominally communist government. Renamo was also active against Robert Mugabe's government, although to a lesser extent. South Africa also opposed Soviet-aligned interests in Angola during the civil war there by backing UNITA. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989 the need to support South Africa as a means of fighting Soviet expansionism diminished. Peace talks began for Mozambique in Rome in late 1990. The Angolan government signed a peace agreement with UNITA in 1991 (although it didn't last). Apatheid began to be dismantled in 1990. But I digress.

There are parallels to the situation in the Middle East. For example, during the first Gulf War the only decent sources of intelligence in Iraq came via three countries: Iran, Syria and Israel. Until two years ago there was still a strong push to integrate Syria into the fold. Iran got pushed away pretty quickly after the Gulf War for a whole host of reasons, not least its support for Hezbollah but also its capacity to foment popular Shia dissent in Sunni autocracies. Post-Arab spring, as Iran exerts influence across the region and threatens US oil interests and Israel, and Syria implodes, Israel is all the more important over and above its strong cultural ties with the US. So public support is very strong for Israel in the US and very unfavorable for Iran. Interestingly, Iran is not viewed nearly as unfavorably in Europe. Nor even in Israel.

This level of support for, and perceived need for support from, Israel unquestionably buys it political cover. Even if Iran buddied up to the US tomorrow I doubt that support would wane to the degree that the US would not still back Israel strongly. Mid term, once China and India get their feet under the table relations become more complex but are unlikely to simply flip against Israel. China wants strong relations with Iran and Israel, and benefits in oil from the former and tech transfer from the latter. India enjoys strong cooperation with Israel in areas of defence and intelligence and share a common regional wariness of Islamic extremism.

This is arguably why neoconservatives are so leery of Iran. At present it is the only country in the Middle East with the natural resources, population size and sophistication to become a regional player and disrupt not only Israel but a whole host of strategic alliances in places like Bahrain and Kuwait. The nuclear aspirations are relevant because they shift power more quickly, but they are a side show. Pakistan, which is far more dangerous IMHO, was given a whole lot more love despite its nuclear capability building until the relationship became too strained.

tl:dr - a strong Iran weakens Israel's regional superiority but I think it is wishful thinking to draw too many parallels between disinvestment in South Africa and the same occurring in Israel unless there were to be a significant regional realignment of interests.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:41 AM on March 19, 2013


This is not a child being brave... I simply summarized the video as best I could.

If I was going to attempt interpretation I would actually focus on that first soldier confronted - who looks a little bewildered at this turn of events, the uncertainty of it all and most of all, seems rather weary. Perhaps he is also a little sad, for ultimately he is all alone in that soldier kit and he might have to use that gun. What things he is being asked to do!

“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.” Golda Meir 1969
posted by zenon at 1:22 PM on March 19, 2013


zenon: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.” Golda Meir 1969

Is this quote being offered to discredit Golda Meir? The actual quote is much more nuanced and not incorrect, and having being said in 1969 (during the War of Attrition with Egypt) not problematic. Saying it today is another story - and there are elected officials in Israel that would say that and perhaps worse. But that's not what Golda Meir said.

Apparently, what's below is the whole quote. I couldn't find any reputable sources though.

"There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist." Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969; The Washington Post (June 16, 1969)
posted by gertzedek at 3:51 PM on March 19, 2013




> White support for the end of Jim Crow was secured in the 50's and early 60's, when the Black Panthers weren't on anyone's radar. There was no Bad Cop in the script. There was only Martin Luther King.

In 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee split into two factions. In 1966, Stokely Carmichael was that Bad Cop. MLK held him back when the cops tried to stop the march.

Here's James Forman of SNCC "If we can't sit at the table, let's knock the fuckin' legs off it"

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 didn't magically end white support of Jim Crow in Alabama and Mississippi (or Chicago). When King was killed in 1968, he wasn't retired.
posted by morganw at 11:27 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


How Soccer Explains Israel

In conclusion, Israel is a land of contrasts.

Incidentally, I can tell the writer is from the USA:
the slick-gelled faux-hawk, three-day stubble, and diamond earrings characteristic of the arse — a particularly useful Hebrew word for the kind of foolhardy young man you wouldn't want dating your daughter.
Hebrew word? It's soldier slang. You see, before the British mandate began in 1920 the holy Jews whose presence preceded the State of Israel had never encountered bad language. When they heard this word dropping from the lips of the British soldiers they were at first aghast, then curious; and then daringly, tremulously, adopted it for their own. Now there are several expletives authorised for use in the State of Israel, and rumor has it that the Academy of the Hebrew Language will introduce bugger it for use on a trial basis.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:12 AM on March 20, 2013


As constructed, the narrative lays out the options for Palestinian resistance: "Its primary weapons were the sort that transform weakness into strength: the stone, the barricade, the boycott, the strike." Non-euphemistically, the strike includes the use of deadly force from guns, bombs, missiles etc and the narrative deals with that early on: the 100 dead Israeli civilians in the second intifada, the 21 dead in a Tel Aviv disco, the kids killed in Sbarro.
That line is clearly talking about labour strikes.
posted by cdward at 1:28 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The word "strike" can mean a lot of things, and one of its translations in Hebrew can also mean "terrorist attack". But in context it is almost certainly talking about a stoppage of labour, particularly as it is contrasted with "the heavy wave of suicide bombings" that came later.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:56 PM on March 20, 2013




Jeffrey Goldberg's reactions to the President's speech.

I thought this part was interesting:

One more note: the President spoke most feelingly, I think, when he asked Israelis to imagine the lives of Palestinian children, and asked Israelis to put themselves in the shoes of Palestinians. This seemed reasonable to me, but it probably caused Netanyahu, watching on television, to say, "Well, yes, but first the Palestinians have to understand what it's like to be an Israeli." I've very seldom run into Palestinians and Israelis who can imagine what life is like on the other side without quickly resorting to demands that the other side do so first. Which is part of the problem.
posted by Area Man at 11:10 AM on March 21, 2013


This bit was just delusional:
Now, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who’s dedicated to its destruction. (Applause.) But while I know you have had differences with the Palestinian Authority, I genuinely believe that you do have a true partner in President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.
The reason they occupy their offices is because there have been no Palestinian elections to throw them out; and the reason there have been no elections is because everybody knows that they would be thrown out. So what exactly is the point of saying that they are "true partners"? Even if that were the case, they have neither power nor legitimacy.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:42 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obama Lays Out Case for Israel to Revive Peace Talks

Good luck, but Israel hates him so it's tough seeing anything likely to happen.

On the other hand, hell just froze over.
posted by Artw at 2:57 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The IDF blog posted a relevant article: Rocks Can Kill. Apparently at least one Israeli soldier has been killed by a thrown projectile. I don't think this should make any difference, though: throwing rocks at people should always be illegal, even if most of the targets were not civilians; furthermore, I'm astonished that anyone would think soldiers are invulnerable to thrown stones and should therefore accept them with equanimity.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:27 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]




CNN has a video of the heckling, but they identified the heckler as a Jew protesting about the treatment of Jonathan Pollard.

If only CNN had access to people who could speak more than one language.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:57 PM on March 23, 2013








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