Michel Warshawski on Abdallah Abu Rahman of Bil’in
Michel Warshawski, 15 December 2009
An official from the Israeli Military Prosecution recently stated to Attorney Gaby Lasky, who represents many activists arrested in the course of the weekly Bil’in demonstrations, that the objective of the military is to put an end to these demonstrations. This may explain why, on the night of 12 December, an army commando group raided the home of Abdallah Abu Rahmah and arrested him.
Abu Rahmah is one of the leaders of the Bil’in Popular Committee that is organizing the resistance of this Palestinian village against the Wall and Israeli colonization. Leader? Not in the usual sense: the Bil’in Popular Committee leadership is more a team of spokespeople than a leadership, for the resistance in Bil’in is a truly popular one, i.e., based on the active participation of the local community and led by whoever is taking part in the struggle. In that sense, Abdallah is the best kind of leaders, the kind that facilitate the self-leadership of the community.
The Bil’in resisters and their allies have been extremely creative in the ways they organize their struggle, each weekly demonstration having its own specificity, making use of the context—when the Goldstone report was made public, the demonstration was focused on its recommendations—and of the special guests coming to express their solidarity: a couple of weeks ago, a Belgian choir organized a spontaneous concert in front of soldiers and under a heavy could of tear gas.
The resistance in Bil’in has spread far beyond the borders of that small village threatened by the huge Modi’in settlement’s bloc. Thanks to Abdallah Abu Rahmah, Muhammad Khatib and many other local activists, the struggle in Bil’in has become a symbol not only of Palestinian resistance against Israeli colonialism, but of global resistance against the international strategy of re-colonization of the world. During the last five years, it has attracted thousands of international activists, coming to the Friday’s demonstrations and, back in their country of origin, advocating for the rights of the Palestinian people and their legitimate struggle against Israeli colonialism. The Bil’in Conferences offer an exceptional opportunity to discuss the lessons of the local resistance and to learn from other struggles in our planet: Peace Nobel Prize winners, Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire have been among the guests of Bil’in’s popular committee.
In a sense, Bil’in is the Soweto, the Derry and the Chiapas of the beginning of the 21st century, with two specificities: it is a civic non-violent mobilization and it is based on a strong alliance between the local Palestinian population, the Israeli anti-colonialist movement and active international solidarity.
Abdallah Abu Rahmah has been playing an important role in raising international awareness on Bil’in resistance, and his recent arrest is obviously connected to his successes in international advocacy. This is one more reason for the international solidarity movement to demand from the Israeli authorities, loud and clear: release freedom fighter Abdallah Abu Rahmeh now, without delay, without condition!