THE DILEMMA OF THE ISRAELI LEFT

Why is it that thousands of leftist Israelis are able to gather under a public umbrella of human rights, joint struggle and value and not think about venturing into the West Bank to struggle with Palestinians?

Connection between the human rights march and West Bank demonstrations?

Posted by Joseph Dana

 

Before the first heavy rains hit Israel yesterday, thousands people gathered in central Tel Aviv to mark international Human Rights Day. The occasion brought together various Israeli NGO’s and thousands of concerned citizens in the spirit of presenting a face of Israel that supports human rights and progressive values. Placards were carried through the streets supporting gay rights, woman’s rights, African refugees rights and, also, coexistence between Jews and Arabs. Police lined the streets of the demonstration to ensure the safety of the protesters and keep confrontation with the right wing counter protesters at bay (one has to hand it to the right in Israel, a counter protest to human rights?!). If the Tel Aviv Human Rights Day march wanted to have more authenticity in terms of Palestinian/Israeli coexistence, it should have had more connection with the human rights struggle happening simultaneously in the West Bank.

Only 25 kilometers away from this festive scene, Palestinians were holding their weekly protest against the separation wall and for human rights in the village of Ni’ilin. The protest began as usual, with a speech about the wall and the pain that it has caused the community. This was followed by midday prayers and finally a protest march to the wall itself. Among the Palestinians were a handful of Israeli supporters from Tel Aviv.

 

Palestinian Child in a Cloud of Tear Gas in Nabi Saleh on International Human Rights Day. Photo Credit: Joseph DanaPalestinian Child in a Cloud of Tear Gas in Nabi Saleh on International Human Rights Day. Photo Credit: Joseph Dana

 

Once at the wall, protesters banged on the gate with stones and sticks. For a second, the banging sounded like the drummers of Sheikh Jarrah, who engage in ‘joy resistance’ by drumming and blowing whistles in their weekly demonstration. The army, on the other side of the wall, spoke on bullhorn informing everyone that the area was a closed military zone and we must leave. It seems that everywhere for the army is a closed military zone and one day, perhaps in the near future, I expect to hear the same bullhorn in Jaffa or Jerusalem proclaiming that the entire land of Israel is a closed military zone. A soldier continued on the bullhorn, saying that they are present to protect the wall. The wall has been built for security reasons yet it requires its own security. Just like the settlements have been said to improve Israeli security but in effect drain security resources.

Unlike the police presence in Tel Aviv, the army in Ni’ilin is present to attack, not defend. It is there to crush the spirit of unarmed resistance in the West Bank. It is there to reinforce that Palestinians are a controlled people living under constant Israeli occupation. As Naomi Chazan began her speech in Tel Aviv (I was following the updates on Twitter while tweeting my own), the army began covering the area of the protest with tear gas. Wave after wave of gas covered the area. Soldiers fired canisters directly at protesters. There was no restraint. Israel’s recognition of International Human Rights Day was starting to take full shape.

The protest ended quickly, as it often does these days in N’ilin, and the five Israelis present drove to Nabi Saleh. There was little discussion about Human Rights Day among the Israelis. They were engaged in a struggle for human rights on the ground and clearly did not have the energy/time to formulate cleaver theoretical approaches to the issue or grand visions of the future.

The village of Nabi Saleh was under siege by midday. Just as in the recent weeks, Israelis wanting to join the demonstration had to take an extended hike through the rugged hills of the West Bank in order to reach the village. Once in the village, the unarmed demonstration was being crushed with live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets and clouds of tear gas.

Just as the rain hit Tel Aviv marking the end of the Human Rights march, Nabi Saleh was being invaded by IDF soldiers firing live bullets in three directions. The small village, perched on a tired hilltop, was covered in tear gas. Due to the lack of wind, the tear gas was not escaping into the air thus the entire village was walking around as if in a drunken haze with tears in their eyes.

The siege of Nabi Saleh continued until sunset when the last IDF jeeps pulled out of the village. As soon as the army left small boys were running around collecting the hundreds of spent tear gas canisters. Watching them scramble to collect them, the absurdity of human rights day in Israel sunk in. As thousands of people held signs in Tel Aviv proclaiming peace and co-existence, roughly ten Israelis made the half an hour drive to Nabi Saleh or Ni’ilin (Bil’in held a demo as well which had a number of Israelis in attendance).

 

Palestinian Child in a Cloud of Tear Gas in Nabi Saleh on International Human Rights Day. Photo Credit: Joseph DanaPalestinian Child in a Cloud of Tear Gas in Nabi Saleh on International Human Rights Day. Photo Credit: Joseph Dana

 

Imagine if that number was not ten but fifty Israelis. If fifty people from the thousands who marched in Tel Aviv had shown up in Nabi Saleh, the reality on the ground would have been different. Even thirty would have had a profound effect on the attitude of the soldiers and on the people of Nabi Saleh who draw profound inspiration from their Israeli and international supporters.

Why is it that thousands of leftist Israelis are able to gather under a public umbrella of human rights, joint struggle and value and not think about venturing into the West Bank to struggle with Palestinians? One path of co-existence lies in these joint actions of solidarity and since Palestinians are not allowed to enter Tel Aviv it is the responsibility of Israelis to go to the West Bank.The disconnection between human rights in Tel Aviv and human rights in the Occupied Territories was on display yesterday. While the march was a necessary competent of creating a new political space in Israel, it should be only one part of a larger platform which includes Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Perhaps next year, we will see humans rights demonstrations from Nabi Saleh to Tel Aviv with more Israeli and Palestinians in both places.

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. December 11, 2010 at 15:43

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by maafa, Kelly and Alton_Ellis, Alton_Ellis. Alton_Ellis said: RT @maafa: THE DILEMMA OF THE ISRAELI LEFT « Desertpeace: The occasion brought together various Israel… http://bit.ly/hIYhEP #Israel # … [...]

  2. mikael said,

    December 11, 2010 at 21:30

    Political akses is nothing butt an ilusion. Left or right, are nothing other than practical carpets to hide under. The truth is , and it hurts, that allmoust nobody cares. I know, they hate me, because i do nothing other than telling the truth, and letting them se them selfs in a mirror. Ther is not mutch room left to do that enymore, the main stream media, is closing down the opportunetis. This year has been even harder, and the sensur is widespreading.
    There have been some intelectuals that have raised ther voises, some have protested to the crule injustis from the Israeli side. Butt the reality is that, if people dont stop to be intimidated by hasbara, they will never be of eny juse. Sorry butt its the truth. It pains me se the openly covardnes, butt again, i am not counting on them at all.
    Some times its so fu…. frustrating to wittnes.

    COURAGE
    It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

    “Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital, quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.”
    R.F. Kennedy
    (amen to that)

    free Palestina

  3. December 12, 2010 at 01:46

    [...] THE DILEMMA OF THE ISRAELI LEFT « Desertpeace. December 11th, 2010 | Category: Uncategorized | Comments are closed | [...]


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