34th Land Day: state of Palestinian nonviolent resistance

The 34th anniversary of Land Day this week is an opportunity to bring closer attention to the non-violent resistance organized in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Meanwhile, an harder and harder Israeli repression is cracking down on it. For Netanyahu’s government, the bigger and bigger echo it receives is a real threat.

Although it has antecedents in history, the Palestinian nonviolent resistance has been reinvested five years ago by the small village of Bil’in, protesting every Friday since against the separation barrier that prevents to cultivate its land. Today, besides the many villages that along the lines of Bil’in have engaged in nonviolent struggle against the wall and against settlers, the movement has grown, has strengthened and has expanded its objectives. Today, the call for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, signed by more than one hundred fifty organizations of Palestinian civil society, is supported by hundreds of organizations around the world.

On Tuesday, Palestinians, whether in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel or refugees around the world were celebrating for the thirty-fourth time the Land Day, commemorating the death of six Palestinians of Israel killed while demonstrating on March 30, 1976. The nonviolent demonstrations were held everywhere this week, and resulted in numerous arrests, injuries and a boy of fifteen killed by Israeli bullets while demonstrating in the south of the Gaza Strip (« Israeli troops kill Palestinian boy on ‘Land Day’ », Hürriyet, 31/3/2010).

Since last elections and the arrival of the current right nationalist coalition in power in Israel, the repression against the movement of nonviolent resistance hardens. The raids on the village of Bil’in are becoming more numerous (see website of Bil’in village). Israeli settlers, confident in the support of authorities, adopt increasingly violent and provocative attitudes vis-à-vis the Palestinians in the West Bank.

In Haaretz, the Israeli-American artist Udi Aloni noticed that all the dignitaries of the country were recruited to fight against the “terrifying specter of non-violent resistance to the occupation and the apartheid regime ». To him, « Israeli Jew behaves like a spoiled rich brat, who would rather destroy his own castle than see natives share his world and his dreams ». According to him, only a handful of Israelis took the right decision to support Palestinian nonviolent resistance. His hope is for that movement to adopt “a binational Palestinian-Jewish front for an equitable and egalitarian political solution » («Israelis are behaving like spoiled rich brats », Haaretz, 21/3/2010).

This vision is beautiful but seems nevertheless premature. The percentage of Israelis engaged in the Palestinian nonviolent struggle against the occupation is small, and denounced by the majority of Israeli people. Even the Israeli left condemns these « radicals » who are fighting against their own country. But the movement progresses and perhaps offers so far the only hope for a peace process more than ever in a dead end.

Nathalie Janne d’Othée