By Jewish Voice for Peace
Any act of violence, especially one against civilians, marks a profound failure of human imagination and causes a deep and abiding trauma for all involved. In mourning the nine lives lost in Gaza yesterday, and the one life lost in Jerusalem today, we reject the pattern of condemning the loss of Israeli lives while ignoring the loss of Palestinian life. We do not discriminate. Life is life. One lost life is one life too many-whether Palestinian or Israeli.
Within the context of 44 years of the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, in the past two years ( Jan 31, 2009 – January 31, 2011), over a thousand Palestinians have been made homeless by home demolitions, hundreds have been unlawfully detained, and over 150 men, women and children have been killed by the IDF and settlers, according to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem (1) . Many acres of Palestinian land were taken and orchards uprooted by armed settlers. Countless hours were lost at checkpoints, often fruitlessly, while Palestinians attempted to get medical care, jobs, and access to education. One and a half million Gazans have been living with a limited food supply, lack of electricity and dangerously toxic sewage.
This is occupation: daily, persistent acts of structural violence. These acts don’t reach our headlines because they are so habitual, so we learn not to see them. But Palestinians live them everyday, and we must keep that in mind, even as we ponder the terrible events of the past few weeks (2):
- Someone or some people (we don’t know who) bombed a bus stop in Jerusalem, injuring 30 and killing 1 Israeli civilian;
- An Israeli bombing killed 3 children and an older man in Gaza;
- Someone or some people, (we don’t know who), murdered 5 members of a family, including three children, in Itamar, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank;
- The Israeli government suddenly tightened the siege of Gaza and escalated military attacks, killing a total of 11 Palestinians and injuring more than 40 since mid-March;(3)
- Palestinians fired over 50 shells and rockets from Gaza into civilian areas in southern Israel.
These terrible acts of violence remind us that to end the Israeli occupation our best hope is supporting the inspiring nonviolent Palestinian movement for change, in the form of unarmed protests every Friday in places like Bil’in and Ni’lin, and the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. This is a movement that respects life, that is part and parcel of the nonviolent democratic people’s movements we have been inspired by throughout the Arab world, that welcomes the solidarity and support of Israeli and international believers in equality and universal human rights. This is a movement that fundamentally subverts the logic of armies, revenge and armed struggle.
Because it has been so powerful, it should come as no surprise that this nonviolent resistance itself is under attack in Israel. Human rights activists are being detained or imprisoned. Bills to criminalize the BDS movement, or harass human rights organizations, are working their way through the Knesset. Just yesterday, the very act of publicly commemorating the Nakba, a crucial nonviolent act of Palestinian remembrance, was essentially criminalized in Israel.
As the Israeli government increasingly deploys anti-democratic measures and military repression, we at JVP are redoubling our efforts to support the best hope- a nonviolent Palestinian-led resistance movement in which we all work together to nurture life, justice and equality. We invite you to join the movement.