Watch the BBC’s coverage and it may have you believing that Israel is a small, embattled outpost of modern “civilisation” in the war-ravaged Middle East. A “villa in the jungle,” as racist former war minister and Israeli killer Ehud Barak once infamously put it.
After all – the propaganda has it – Israel is a modern democracy, with a thriving tech-led economy, a state that offers democracy and human rights for all. Sure, Israel comes under criticism during the recurrent wars it engages in with its neighbours, and sometimes, indeed, it may even go too far. But after all, Israel is one of us – the “civilised” West. Israel “belongs to the White Man” as Eli Yishai, the former interior minister and fanatic Israeli racist once put it.
But the truth, as so often, is far removed from the mainstream media image.
Every so often some smug liberal will ask the annoying question, Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? Why do the Palestinians not try non-violent resistance to Israeli occupation? And so on, in monotonous fashion.
Those same smug liberals do not bother to inform themselves about the basic realities of Israel’s West Bank imprisonment regime.
Palestinian activists, human rights defenders, journalists and academics are frequently picked up off the streets, out of their homes in the middle of the night, in front of their families – Israel’s thug soldiers take them off to jail and intern them without trial, often in conditions of torture and isolation.
Military courts then rubber-stamp the actions of Israel’s military and spy agencies.
There was one salient example of their regime only this week. Abdullah Abu Rahme, one of the main organisers of popular resistance against Israel’s apartheid wall in the village of Bil’in, was convicted by one of the Israeli military’s kangaroo courts of “obstructing the work of a soldier”. This was in reference to a 2012 incident when Abu Rahme tried to stop a military bulldozer from clearing land on which to build the apartheid wall. According to +972 Magazine Abu Rahme is likely in December to be sentenced for four months in prison for this “crime”.
Ghassan Najjar, an activist with the Solidarity Movement for a Free Palestine (SFP — an ISM offshoot) was taken by Israeli soldiers from his home village of Burin, near Nablus, on 27 August. Najjar is well known locally as unarmed activist against Israeli occupation. For this “crime,” Najjar languishes in Israel’s prisons, under its “administrative detention” regime – i.e. internment without charge or trial. SFP says he has had been barred from seeing a lawyer apart from one short conference during a military court hearing that extended his detention.
The day before Najjar, Israel abducted retired academic Yousef Abdul Haq formerly of An-Najah university in Nablus. Abdul Haq is allegedly affiliated with the Marxist organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. For this “crime” the 73-year-old’s home was ransacked at 2 am, and he is still being detained without charge.
In a similar vein, elected PFLP law-maker Khalida Jarrar was in August issued with an internal deportation order by Israeli occupation forces. Soldiers delivered the order to her Ramallah home, ordering her out of the city, expelling her to Jericho, in another part of the West Bank. This was a vindictive action presumably intended to obstruct her activism and educational work in the West Bank and internationally. In this case, international solidarity with Jarrar has had an effect, and the order was effectively withdrawn last month. Her daughter Yafa (a well-known boycott activist in her own right) issued a statement saying: “We believe that this arbitrary and unjust decision would not have been reconsidered without all the international pressure and local pressure that you have contributed to.”
Israel’s prisons are full of “Palestinian Gandhis”. There are many Palestinians committed to resisting Israel in all sorts of ways, be it cultural resistance, popular protests or educational activities. But the mainstream media’s obsession with violence is part of the reason that armed resistance will always have a key role to play in opposing Israel.
Israel’s very existence is predicated on violence and negation of the Palestinians’ very right to exist. This is a state that was literally built on the ruins, ashes and mass graves of those 750,000 Palestinians expelled by Israel in 1948. The long-term outlook for such 19-century-style colonialism in the twenty-first century is not good to say the least.
Meanwhile, Palestinians will continue to resist Israel by any means necessary.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.