Friday, January 1, 2010
January 1, 2010
Happy New Year, future people.
So far my new year has been inauspicious-- in a good way.
Dog got me up before seven am for his early walk, so we both went back to bed and napped it up. Eventually I woke up, ate leftover Mexican food and watched a marathon of the Resident Evil movies in my sweatpants. Later I will go out to dinner and get Thai food with friends.
In my world, this is close to a perfect day.
But I am sadly aware that the simple pleasures of such days are at a high premium globally.
For example (speaking of resident evil), Mohammad Othman, a non-violent activist in the “Grassroots Stop the Wall Campaign” who was arrested by Israeli Defense Forces on September 22nd when he was returning home after a speaking engagement in Norway, didn't get to lazily ease into the new year by alternating sleeping and eating with rubbing the dog's belly. Instead he remains in Israeli "administrative detention", an Orwellian term for imprisonment without trial, and all efforts at getting him freed have been thus far been frustrated by the Israeli government. The international movement that grew up in response to his arrest--which has been completely ignored by the US media-- broadened by year's end when other activists in the popular movement against the Apartheid Wall were arrested as well.
Does this signal a change in Israeli policy as the Shin Bet, Israel Defense Forces, Border Police, police, and civil and military judges have begun to target the leaders in the popular struggle against the wall? Haaretz reporter Amira Hass seems to think so. In a December 23 article she writes,
"Over the past few months, the efforts to suppress the struggle have increased. The target: Palestinians and Jewish Israelis unwilling to give up their right to resist reign of demographic separation and Jewish supremacy. The means: Dispersing demonstrations with live ammunition, late-night army raids and mass arrests... Since June, dozens of demonstrators have been arrested in a series of nighttime military raids. Most are from Na'alin and Bil'in, whose land has been stolen by the fence, and some are from the Nablus area, which is stricken by settlers' abuse... Israel also recently arrested two main activists from the Palestinian organization Stop the Wall, which is involved in research and international activity which calls for the boycott of Israel and companies profiting from the occupation. Mohammad Othman was arrested three months ago. After two months of interrogation did not yield any information, he was sent to administrative detention. The organization's coordinator, Jamal Juma'a, a 47-year-old resident of Jerusalem, was arrested on December 15."
Haas argues that the purpose of this unofficial policy change (which she describes as "coordinated oppression") is to wear down the activists and deter others from joining the popular struggle, which supports an international boycott of Israeli companies and those that support and profit from the occupation. Such boycotts have proved to be historically effective, notably in the case of Apartheid South Africa. According to Haas, "what is dangerous about a popular struggle is that it is impossible to label it as terror and then use that as an excuse to strengthen the regime of privileges, as Israel has done for the past 20 years." Yuval Diskin and Amos Yadlin, the respective heads of the Shin Bet security service and Military Intelligence, seemed to confirm this justification for the campaign against non violent activists in Palestine during a cabinet briefing when they said, "The Palestinians want to continue and build a state from the bottom up ... and force an agreement on Israel from above ... The quiet security [situation] in the West Bank and the fact that the [Palestinian] Authority is acting against terror in an efficient manner has caused the international community to turn to Israel and demand progress."
In other words, the source of their frustration is that these activists use nonviolent means which shift the international focus to Israel and its violent policies and subsequently put the onus for peace progress back in Israel's lap. So this way the Israeli government gets to arrest and terrorize nonviolent peace activists AND condemn those who act violently as terrorists.
If that doesn't definitively illustrate that the Israeli government is not the victim but rather the perpetrator in the dynamic between Israel and Palestine, I don't know what would.
Did I mention that the US media has completely ignored this story?