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Demonizing the Non-violent Resistance

IDF spokesperson’s campaign to demonize Non Violent peace activists
by the ISM Media Crew, 26 May 2007

According to the Israeli news internet site Walla on Friday, May 25, the Israeli military spokesperson claimed that the demonstration in Bil’in “ended in relative quiet.” The military spokesperson claimed that “this relative quiet stems from the fact that there were almost no leftist Israeli activists present”, since they “cause most of the friction between the demonstrators and the IDF”.

During this “relatively quiet” demonstration, soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd from a distance of 200 meters without provocation, injuring six Palestinians, including an AFP journalist, who was rushed to the hospital after being shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet. Two activists were detained during the demonstation. The first, Mohammad Khatib, from the Bil’in popular committee against the wall and settlements, was beaten during his arrest and after he was handcuffed. The second, Israeli David Reev, was approached by a soldier who twisted David’s arm while demanding that David hand over his camera.

Video of Mohammad Khatib being arrested and abused

Abbas Momani, 33, a photographer for Agence France-Presse, was shot when Israeli soldiers fired at a group of journalists. Turkish Daily News reported that Momani stated he was outside of a Palestinian residence in Bil’in when soldiers confronted them and told them to leave. Momani said, “We explained that we would leave but that we were waiting for the army jeeps who were blocking our cars from getting out. One of the soldiers, who was barely two metres away from us, then fired.”

For full AFP story click HERE

Is it really these leftist Israeli activists who incite “friction” and “provoke” the soldiers into throwing tear gas and sound grenades, and to shoot rubber-coated steel bullets?

Or is there another reason why the military wants to be rid of the Israeli and International activists? Israeli soldiers have stated in court that their regulations regarding opening fire differ when Israelis are present than when Palestinians demonstrate alone. If the soldiers assess that Israelis are present they are restricted from firing live ammunition on the crowd. A striking example is Beit Likya, a village neighboring Bil’in. In contrast to its neighbor, there have been no organized demonstrations against the wall and therefore no Israeli or International activists present in Beit Likya over the last two years. And yet within this time, three of the villages children were murdered, shot dead with live ammunition by a solider and a private security guard in incidents related to the Apartheid wall.

This demonization of nonviolent activists is not original or surprising. Muhatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King were also labeled provocateurs and trouble makers by those that supported the racist systems that they worked against.