By force of arms or by force of morals? Palestinians are looking again at the meaning and tactics of resistance, writes Saleh Al-Naami
The Palestinian reporters who went last week to cover the student march against settlement activities on the outskirts of
Senior officials in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) are not shy about not tolerating a mood of popular action that could trigger a third Intifada. Adnan Al-Damiri, spokesman for Fayyad's security apparatus, justified security intervention to prevent many demonstrations by various popular movements to protest against
But while Fayyad's cabinet is obstructing such expressions of popular discontent regarding
Foreign and Israeli peace activists take part in the pre- orchestrated gatherings, as do symbolic figures of the PA. In fact, Fayyad described this as a model of "peaceful resistance" that should be applied everywhere. Gaber Suleiman, however, who lives near Balaayn believes that after more than one year of this form of "resistance"
"What is most discouraging is that some people have advised us to go to Israeli courts as a form of peaceful resistance," complained Suleiman. "But we have found that the Israeli Supreme Court legalises almost everything the Israeli government does."
Similar to the marches in the West Bank, these demonstrations comprise hundreds of protesters joined by tens of foreign activists who come to
According to Mahmoud Al-Zaq, coordinator of the Popular Committee to Confront the Security Belt and an organiser of these events, this form of resistance was born after the killing of several farmers by the Israeli army while doing their work. Occupation forces warned farmers not to go to the fields that fall west of the demarcation line between
Al-Zaq added that he spent a long time trying to convince others to subscribe to peaceful resistance, and that finally a large sector of Palestinian society has come to realise the advantages of this method. Despite Palestinian losses by participating in such resistance activities, Al-Zaq is determined to continue his efforts.
There are other differences among "peaceful resistance" organisers in
Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Political Committee in the Palestinian parliament and a leading member of Fatah who is close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, believes that this is the best mode of peaceful resistance and should be generalised. Abdullah told Al-Ahram Weekly that such demonstrations are much more effective than other forms of resistance, because they reveal
Salah Al-Bardawil, member of the Hamas leadership, told the Weekly that his group does not reject any form of resistance, as long as it does not drown out other modes of resistance. Al-Bardawil warned against limiting resistance to this format because it would serve
Al-Bardawil described this type of resistance as "TV resistance that presents the Israeli army in a civilised light because it shows it employing anti-riot methods used all over the world. Meanwhile, the army uses the most atrocious methods off camera." The Hamas leader makes a distinction between the different modes of civilian resistance, such as marches towards the demarcation line and popular mass resistance through direct confrontation such as stone throwing. Al-Bardawil believes this is selective resistance targeting a specific category and is limited geographically.
Former culture minister in Fayyad's cabinet and political science professor at
At the same time, he is infuriated with "peaceful resistance" because it is selective. "This is hypocrisy and political manoeuvring," he retorted. "What Fayyad and his cabinet are doing gives a misleading impression that they are resisting." Abrash revealed that Fayyad's government and security apparatus prevent mass participation in demonstrations and marches out of fear that these would become genuine popular resistance. He also rejected the notion of pre-determined locations for protests. "Fayyad is sponsoring this mode of resistance to justify why other types of popular resistance are banned," rationalised Abrash. "But peaceful resistance can be very effective if thousands are participating in it," he added.
Regardless of where they stand on peaceful versus armed resistance, it is clear that the Palestinians are reassessing their resistance modus operandi. The result of that reassessment will inevitably colour developments ahead.
The link: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2010/993/re2.htm