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Palestinian schools should teach forms of resistance

After Amira Hass’s article Noam Sheizaf comes to her defence but two articles from Israel HaYom, the largest-selling daily paper in Israel, say why they disapprove.
Links to related articles at bottom.

 Amira Hass
The inner syntax of Palestinian stone-throwing

It would make sense for Palestinian schools to give classes in resistance: how to build multiple ‘tower and stockade’ villages in Area C; how to behave when army troops enter your homes; how to identify soldiers who flung you handcuffed to the floor of the jeep, in order to submit a complaint.

By Amira Hass, Ha’aretz
April 03, 2013

Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance. Persecution of stone-throwers, including 8-year-old children, is an inseparable part − though it’s not always spelled out − of the job requirements of the foreign ruler, no less than shooting, torture, land theft, restrictions on movement, and the unequal distribution of water sources.

The violence of 19-year-old soldiers, their 45-year-old commanders, and the bureaucrats, jurists and lawyers is dictated by reality. Their job is to protect the fruits of violence instilled in foreign occupation − resources, profits, power and privileges.

Steadfastness ‏(Sumud‏) and resistance against the physical, and even more so the systemic, institutionalized violence, is the core sentence in the inner syntax of Palestinians in this land. This is reflected every day, every hour, every moment, without pause. Unfortunately, this is true not only in the West Bank ‏(including East Jerusalem‏) and Gaza, but also within Israel’s recognized borders, although the violence and the resistance to it are expressed differently. But on both sides of the Green Line, the levels of distress, suffocation, bitterness, anxiety and wrath are continually on the rise, as is the astonishment at Israelis’ blindness in believing that their violence can remain in control forever.

Often hurling stones is born of boredom, excessive hormones, mimicry, boastfulness and competition. But in the inner syntax of the relationship between the occupier and the occupied, stone-throwing is the adjective attached to the subject of “We’ve had enough of you, occupiers.”

After all, teenagers could find other ways to give vent to their hormones without risking arrests, fines, injuries and death.

Even if it is a right and duty, various forms of steadfastness and resisting the foreign regime, as well as its rules and limitations, should be taught and developed. Limitations could include the distinction between civilians and those who carry arms, between children and those in uniform, as well as the failures and narrowness of using weapons.

It would make sense for Palestinian schools to introduce basic classes in resistance: how to build multiple “tower and stockade” villages in Area C; how to behave when army troops enter your homes; comparing different struggles against colonialism in different countries; how to use a video camera to document the violence of the regime’s representatives; methods to exhaust the military system and its representatives; a weekly day of work in the lands beyond the separation barrier; how to remember identifying details of soldiers who flung you handcuffed to the floor of the jeep, in order to submit a complaint; the rights of detainees and how to insist on them in real time; how to overcome fear of interrogators; and mass efforts to realize the right of movement. Come to think of it, Palestinian adults could also make use of these lessons, perhaps in place of their drills, training in dispersing protests, and practice in spying on Facebook posts.

When high school students were drafted two years ago for the campaign of boycotting settlement products, it seemed like a move in the right direction. But it stopped there, without going further, without broadening the context. Such lessons would have been perfectly in tune with the tactics of appealing to the United Nations − civil disobedience on the ground and defiance of power in diplomacy.

So why are such classes absent from the Palestinian curriculum? Part of the explanation lies with the opposition of the donor states and Israel’s punitive measures. But it is also due to inertia, laziness, flawed reasoning, misunderstanding and the personal gains of some parts of society. In fact the rationale for the existence of the Palestinian Authority engendered one basic rule in the last two decades − adaptation to the existing situation. Thus, a contradiction and a clash have been created between the inner syntax of the Palestinian Authority and that of the Palestinian people.


Settlers accuse ‘Haaretz’ of calling for violence against them

By Noam Sheizaf, +972
April 03, 2013

Fallout from Amira Hass’s article on Palestinian stone-throwing shows that as far as Israelis are concerned, any and every form of resistance against the occupation is illegitimate.

The Yesha Council – the regional council for West Bank settlements, which operates also as the settlers’ political and lobbying arm – filed a complaint with the Jerusalem Police against the Haaretz daily newspaper and its reporter in the occupied territories, Amira Hass.

Hass this morning published a piece discussing the logic of stone-throwing and persecution in the occupied territories.

Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance. Persecution of stone-throwers, including 8-year-old children, is an inseparable part − though it’s not always spelled out − of the job requirements of the foreign ruler, no less than shooting, torture, land theft, restrictions on movement, and the unequal distribution of water sources.

[…]

Often hurling stones is borne of boredom, excessive hormones, mimicry, boastfulness and competition. But in the inner syntax of the relationship between the occupier and the occupied, stone-throwing is the adjective attached to the subject of “We’ve had enough of you, occupiers.”

This article, and especially the first sentence, can be read as a description of the reality in the occupied territories – or even the situation under any occupation – but it could also be seen as a call for action. Many on the Right chose the latter interpretation. My Israel, the online network established by the leaders of Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked, called on its 100,000 Facebook followers to send Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn a photo of Adel Bitton, the Israeli child who was critically injured recently following a car accident last month, which was caused by stone-throwing.

Yesterday, a military court in Ofer prison convicted a Palestinian from Halhul with murder following the death of a settler from Kiryat Arba and his baby, also in a car accident which was caused by stone-throwing. Some people who commented on the military court’s verdict and Hass’ article noted that settlers’ stone-throwing almost always goes unpunished. But the real issue is the legitimacy of Palestinian resistance in the eyes of Israeli society – or more correctly, the lack of legitimacy.

Back when he was running for prime minister, Ehud Barak famously said – in a television interview to Gideon Levy – that had he been a Palestinian of the right age, he would have joined one of “the resistance groups.” At the time, it was widely understood that Barak referred to the armed struggle, and not to stone-throwing or general strikes. Mainstream Israelis, let alone mainstream Israeli politicians, do not usually acknowledge the moral legitimacy of Palestinian resistance (although there were always exceptions). More often than not, “understanding” the roots of Palestinian violence is a recipe for trouble in Israeli society, proved by the firing of Larry Derfner from The Jerusalem Post – over something he didn’t even publish in the paper itself. As soon as Hass’ article was published, it was clear that the Right would use it against her and against her paper.

In the Israeli political conversation, all forms of Palestinian resistance are forbidden. Those advocating for Israel view every Palestinian action as a form of terrorism, and as such, they become inherently illegitimate and justify repercussions and unilateral moves by Israel. The BDS movement – which is clearly non-violent – is often referred to as “cultural terrorism” and “economic terrorism,” the UN statehood bid was “diplomatic terrorism,” stone-throwing is “popular terrorism,” and so on. The Israeli government is taking active measures to suppress all those forms of resistance, and the debate in Israel isolates and punishes those who support them. The sad reality is that by doing so, Israel leaves more and more Palestinians to wonder on the value of such non-violent acts, as opposed to that of the real, armed terrorism.

Personally I think that some forms of resistance are illegitimate, and all have moral and legal consequences which should be debated (Hass said so too in her piece), but it’s not for Israelis to set the rules for the ways Palestinians should challenge our oppression, especially at times when Israeli society clearly lacks any interest in changing the status quo. Our role is to end the occupation.

One last comment: following a similar debate, I once asked law professor Aeyal Gross if the Palestinians have a legal right, according to international law, to fight the Israeli occupation, and if so, with what means (I didn’t ask about the moral right, which I believe exists, just about the legal side of the matter). His response was that this is one of the most underdeveloped sides of international law. Prof. Gross referred me to this Harvard International Law Journal by Richard Falk and Burns Weston which tried to make a legal case for the legitimacy of the first Intifada as a rare exception.


Violence is never legitimate

By Yossi Beilin, Israel HaYom newsletter
April 04, 2013

Haaretz columnist Amira Hass was highly critical of the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday, accusing it of shirking its duty to educate Palestinian children on the various forms of resistance against Israel. According to Hass, rock throwing “is the core sentence in the inner syntax of Palestinians in this land.” By being resigned to the occupation, she laments, the Palestinian Authority has put itself at odds with the Palestinian people. Quite an accusation.

I hold Amira Hass in high regard. She is a very courageous woman. She does not fear being in the minority. Despite constantly being criticized, she has remained true to her convictions. But her column on Wednesday was both surprising and disappointing. Not just because rock-throwing is not a solution to the Palestinian problem, but also because unlike a U.N. statehood bid or a call on Palestinian construction workers not to work at settlements, rock throwing is not a legitimate means of protest.

Hass was wrong to claim that those who are under occupation have a “birthright and a duty” to engage in rock-throwing attacks. Throwing stones is a violent act that may kill or maim. Hass believes that a distinction should be made “between civilians and those who carry arms, between children and those in uniform,” but she does not provide specifics on how to differentiate those targets. This is particularly the case at night.

A moral person cannot come out with such statements and has no right criticizing the Palestinian Authority for not encouraging such actions. Such statements are also unwise. Having endured the Rabin assassination, the pro-peace camp was dealt its most crushing blow when the Second Intifada broke out, just as Israelis and Palestinians were holding their most serious talks to date. We in the pro-peace camp could never quite explain why former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s provocative tour of the Temple Mount was used by the Palestinians to justify the intifada and the violence. Should a third intifada erupt, those who will pay the price are the peaceniks on both sides (as will the actual casualties who would be directly affected by the violence).

Don’t go overboard, Amira. The two sides could eventually reach a settlement. But this vision will be realized when leaders make the decision to strike a deal, not by means of rock throwing. As U.S. President Barack Obama said, the leaders won’t go there unless their people demand that they do so. Those who believe in peace have no right to preach violence. Or encourage throwing stones, for that matter.


Yesha council files police complaint against Haaretz, Amira Hass

Umbrella body of municipal councils in Judea and Samaria Yesha Council says Hass op-ed, which claims “stone-throwing is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule,” legitimizes acts of terror against Jews and incites violence.

By Yori Yalon, Edna Adato and Israel HaYom Staff
April 04, 2013

The Yesha Council has filed a police complaint against Haaretz newspaper and journalist Amira Hass over an opinion piece which it said incites violence.

The op-ed was published following Tuesday’s conviction of Waal al-Arja, a former officer in the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, in the 2011 murders of 30-year-old Asher Palmer and his 1-year-old son Yonatan.

Palmer was killed after Arja and another man, Ali Saada, threw a large rock at his car as it was traveling on Route 60. As a result, Palmer lost control of the vehicle, which overturned, landing on the side of the road. Both he and his son were killed on impact.

Arja was convicted of two counts of murder in the Palmer case and 22 counts of attempted murder over a series of stone-throwing incidents on Route 60 in Judea and Samaria. His sentence is pending.

Hass’ opinion piece, titled “The inner syntax of Palestinian stone-throwing,” said: “Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance.”

The Yesha Council, which is an umbrella organization of municipal councils in Judea and Samaria, claimed in its police complaint that Hass’ piece was “singing the praises of stone-throwing and legitimizing such actions.”

“The piece totally disregards the fact that throwing stones is an illegal act that places Israeli lives at risk, and that such acts have caused grave injuries and death,” the council said.

The complaint cited the Palmers’ murder as well as a mid-March incident in which Adva Biton and her three young daughters were wounded after stones hurled at their car on a Samaria road caused it to collide with an oncoming truck. Two-year-old Adele Biton sustained a severe head injury and is still fighting for her life.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel was also vexed by Hass’ opinion piece and filed a petition with Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein urging him to launch an investigation against Haaretz, its editor Aluf Benn and Hass, for inciting violence.

The forum’s legal counsel, attorney Hila Cohen, wrote in the petition that Hass’ “grave statements constitute incitement to violence and encouraging murderous acts of terror.”

Haaretz was unavailable for comment.


Some useful links
Palestinian stone thrower to appeal murder conviction Wael al-Araja was found guilty of murder by a military court on 2nd April, 2013. He had thrown a stone that hit a car being driven by settler Asher Palmer in 2011. The car crashed, killing Palmer and his infant son.
The relevance of international law to Palestinian rights in the West Bank and Gaza: In legal degence of the intifada, Richard Falk and Burns Weston, 1991, pdf file.
Young singer with growing reputation arrested for stone-throwing Arrest of Oday Khatib
Settlers accuse Haaretz writer of inciting violence Times of Israel
Legal Forum for the Land of Israel  Created in 2004 to protect the interests of Israelis made to leave Gaza.
Settlers want IDF to treat stone-throwing as live fire

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