Israel & Palestine: Breaking the Silence

David Shulman in the New York Review of Books:

ScreenHunter_02 Feb. 09 11.15 A few weeks ago I was in al-Nabi Salih, a Palestinian village northwest of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. It wasn’t so easy to get there; the Israeli army had closed off the area on every side, and we literally had to crawl through the olive groves, just beneath one of the army’s roadblocks, before we managed to reach the village. Al-Nabi Salih is a troubled place. The large Israeli settlement of Halamish nearby has taken over nearly half of the village lands, including a precious freshwater spring. Most Fridays there are dramatic confrontations between the soldiers and the villagers protesting this land grab and the other difficulties of life under occupation.

Yet the first thing I saw in al-Nabi Salih was a huge sign in Arabic and English: “We Believe in Non-Violence. Do You?” It was World Peace Day, and speaker after speaker reaffirmed a commitment to peace and to nonviolent resistance to the occupation. Particularly eloquent was Ali Abu Awwad, a young activist who runs a new organization, the Palestinian Movement for Non-Violent Resistance, with its offices in Bethlehem and growing influence throughout the occupied territories. “Peace itself is the way to peace,” he said, “and there is no peace without freedom.”

All of this is, in some ways, rather new in Palestine, although in his latest book the philosopher Sari Nusseibeh, the president of al-Quds University in Jerusalem, traces an earlier stage of organized Palestinian civil disobedience in the popular struggle of the first intifada in 1988 and 1989, in which he had a significant part.

More here.

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