Another David and Goliath story from the West Bank
As reported by Mel Frykberg in The Electronic Intifada, 8 July 2008, the story of a Palestinian village that took on the Israeli military using, of course, nonviolent protest. Many Americans have never heard about such protests, because it is the most dangerous kind of news about a people who have been depicted, through a concerted propaganda effort, as “terrorists.” Of course, from the perspective of the military occupier, every act of defiance is an act of terrorism according to more modern and inaccurate definitions of the term terrorism and who is using it. State terrorism is excluded, naturally.
The US State Department today is probably the greatest outlet for anti-Palestinian propaganda outside of Israel, and if the Ni’lin standoff were to reach the mainstream media here in the USA, it would undoubtedly be accompanied by references of terrorism and how the military occupation is the fault of Palestinians, who victimize Israelis.
RAMALLAH (IPS) – Ambulances were again prevented Monday from entering the central West Bank village of Ni’ilin, near Ramallah, to evacuate the ill and the wounded. Supplies of medicines were running low, as confrontations continued with youths defying a four-day-old curfew imposed by the Israeli military.
The Israeli army had surrounded the village and ordered residents to remain indoors and was also preventing the media from entering Ni’ilin, said Salah al-Khawaja, spokesman for the Ni’lin Committee for Resisting the Separation Barrier.
Following intense media coverage and a meeting between the Ni’ilin Village Committee and the Israeli army, the curfew was lifted Tuesday morning. But the protestors have refused to give up the fight for their land or committed to ceasing demonstrations.
The blockade followed fierce clashes last Friday which broke out between the army and several hundred Palestinian villagers, international activists and Israeli sympathizers, protesting the continued expropriation of village land. Four Israelis were amongst those arrested.
“On Friday over 20 protesters were injured by beatings, rubber-coated bullets and tear gas inhalation,” Hindi Mesleh, a protest organizer presently stuck in the village, told IPS by phone. “Last night the army entered the village at 2am and started shooting sound bombs in front of all the village homes,” he added. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that the village was being placed under indefinite curfew due to “increased violence by the protesters.”
Of course, when demonstrators throw rocks and roll burning tires towards Israeli border policemen guarding the wall, which was said to have wounded one person and damaged an Israeli jeep, it was no longer nonviolent. That’s incredible considering the number of Palestinian civilians including children who have been killed by Israeli Occupation Forces since 2000, even in the past year. Of course, if you suffer a fractured skull from a rubber bullet or beatings of batons issued from Israeli soldiers, it is simply self-defense.
Is this the world of the future according to Orwell? Doubtful. It is really a slick reversal of propaganda to turn victims of military occupation into perpetrators and it has been going on since 9/11, as concisely described by Robert Jensen, Professor of Journalism, University of Texas-Austin, in the documentary, Peace, Propaganda, & The Promised Land .
In contrast to the international press, in American media, there is a reversal of cause and effect in that the occupation is framed as a response to the suicide bombings. All of the Palestinian actions are attacks and Israel actions retaliation, is meaningful. Retaliation suggests a defensive stance against violence initiated by someone else. It places a responsibility for the violence on the party provoking the retaliation. In other words, Palestinian violence like suicide bombings is seen as cause and the origin of the conflict. Since the September 11 attack on the US, Israel’s PR strategy has been to frame all Palestinian actions, violent or not, as terrorism. To the extent that they can do that they have repackaged the illegal occupation as part of the war on terrorism.
Photos above are from the International Solidarity Movement site and were reproduced here by permission.
Other stories about the Ni’lin nonviolent protest can be linked here: