Thursday, September 01, 2011

Nonviolent Resistance in Palestine

One of the questions I've heard lots of people ask me since my pilgrimage to the Holy Land (you can check out my Project Israel posts for the rundown of the things our group saw and did) is why the Palestinians don't engage in nonviolent resistance. Several people have even said, "they just need a Palestinian Martin Luther King, and this whole thing would get solved".

While that particular statement is probably oversimplifying the complexity of the issues, the short answer is that there is lots of nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. One example I saw firsthand is the Tent of Nations project. We in America just don't hear about these things very much.

This is the point where someone typically blames "the media", and to a certain extent there is some truth to that finger-pointing, because stories about death and destruction tend to attract more readers/viewers (the whole "if it bleeds, it leads" concept), and these organizations are businesses.

But I do think there's something else that lies beneath the surface. Seeing resistance to the Israeli occupation that doesn't involve bombs or guns interrupts the convenient narrative of Israeli good guys vs. Palestinian/Arab Muslim terrorists we've constructed. To consider that Israel might be treating Palestinians unfairly, and that not all Palestinians want to "drive Israel into the sea" requires us to think more deeply about the issue. It might even force us to ask some hard questions of ourselves and wonder if our country is always the good guy in the white hat, since Israel and the USA have so many close ties.

The video below is from a TED conference, by a filmmaker that tries to remedy the lack of attention paid to nonviolent resistance in Palestine. Watch it, and consider for just a moment that complex international issues might not be as black and white as we've been lead to believe.

1 comment:

Dan McNeeley said...

To me, no one who says that they try to stay informed honestly believes that Israel is blameless in this situation. The whole business is to me simply another example of people talking across each other than to each other.

I still try to stay naive enough to think that, even if America isn't in a white hat, it really tries hard to be the good guy. The close ties with Israel are all politics. Our leaders need to learn the truth: the Middle East is another whole way of life. Our values and our attitudes are simply 100% foreign to the reality that exists there. Over-simplified? Maybe.But I believe that every issue needs to be broken down to its basics to reach a solution.