Please read this enormously important post by Israeli activist Joseph Dana, who attended nonviolent West Bank demonstrations in the Palestinian villages of Ni’ilin and Nabi Saleh yesterday. The twist is that these demonstrations happened to occur just as ten thousand Israelis were participating in a Tel Aviv march in honor of International Human Rights Day.
I first learned about these simultaneous events through Dana’s numerous tweets from the ground. Here’s a sampling:
– While the Human Rights March gets underway in Tel Aviv, I am on my to Ni’ilin/Nabi Saleh
– Ni’ilin demo underway while tel aviv marches
– While tel aviv marches for human rights, palestinians are attacked with tear gas
– Human rights day is underway, tel aviv is talking peace while ni’ilin and bil’in are under cover tear gas. I am on the way to nabi saleh
– 10000 people march in tel aviv for human rights and we could not get 20 israelis in ni’ilin. Upsetting
Dana later made the point explicitly in his blog post: for those interested in human rights, the real struggle is not occurring in the streets of Tel Aviv but in the villages of the West Bank, where Palestinian nonviolent activists are regularly brutalized by Israeli military forces. How differently things might have turned out if these thousands of Israelis had saw fit to demonstrate alongside Palestinians in Ni’ilin and Nabi Saleh?
The (Tel Aviv march) 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.
I’m in complete agreement. Those who seek human rights in Israel/Palestine would do well to support the cause of justice in the Occupied Territories – and in particular, the popular Palestinian committees whose demonstrations are regularly broken up by the IDF with violence and whose leaders are regularly imprisoned without cause.
To this end, I encourage you to this recent statement by Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leader of the Bil’in popular demonstrations who was imprisoned by Israel a year ago (on, that’s right, International Human Rights Day). This past October, Abdallah was sentenced to an additional year in prison, with a six months suspended sentence for three years and a 5,000 NIS fine:
I often wonder what Israeli leaders think they will achieve if they succeed in their goal of suppressing the Palestinian popular struggle? Is it possible that they believe that our people can sit quietly and watch as our land is taken from us? Do they think that we can face our children and tell them that, like us, they will never experience freedom? Or do they actually prefer violence and killing to our form of nonviolent struggle because it camouflages their ongoing theft and gives them an excuse to continue using us as guinea pigs for their weapons?
My eldest daughter Luma was nine years old when I was arrested. She is now ten. After my arrest she began going to the Friday demonstrations in our village. She always carries a picture of me in her arms. The adults try to look after her but I still worry for my little girl. I wish that she could enjoy her childhood like other children, that she could be studying and playing with her friends. But through the walls and barbed wire that separates us I hear my daughter’s message to me, saying: “Baba, they cannot stop us. If they take you away, we will take your place and continue to struggle for justice.” This is the message that I want to bring you today. From beyond the walls, the barbed wire, and the prison bars that separate Palestinians and Israelis.
Click here to send a letter to Secretary of State Clinton requesting that she advocate the release of Abdallah Abu Rahmah and demand that Israel cease its targeting of the Palestinian popular resistance.