RAMALLAH, July 11 (JMCC) - Writing for the Electronic Intifada, Lina Alsaafin raises questions
about the way that protests by West Bank villages have been dubbed popular resistance despite their small size and how their claim to non-violence have done an ill turn to the hopes of a broader Palestinian movement.
Her provocative article includes interviews with organizers of protests in Bilin and Budrus and their misgivings about the effectiveness of the demonstrations. In some cases, activists feared that the agendas of supportive Israelis, foreign governments and even the Palestinian Authority had taken over.
It goes without saying that Israeli activists must never take a decision-making or leadership role in the Palestinian struggle, but instead must remain on the periphery. In my experience, most of the Israeli activists already know and understand that. Once establishing their presence in Palestinian protests, their primary responsibilities are documenting the Israeli occupying army’s crimes, facilitating legal proceedings in the case of Palestinians getting arrested by the Israeli army and diverting arrest, which means placing themselves in front of Palestinians who are about to get arrested to allow the Palestinians more time to escape arrest.
Eltezam Morrar from Budrus, who led the women in her village to protest against the occupation army, shared her fear that the present-day reality is not totally led by Palestinian voices.
“Any international or Israeli who wants to join us in our demos is welcomed,” she told me. “But as my father once said, we are the ones who put the agendas for the resistance and the Israeli or international supporters follow it. Nowadays I am not really sure if the agendas are 100 percent Palestinian.”
This issue is exacerbated by the absence of a truly representative Palestinian leadership able to lay out a strategy for resistance and mass mobilization, instead of busying itself with creating a police (non)state in the West Bank bantustans, or autocratic rule under Hamas in Gaza.
Some Israeli activists speak explicitly of a “joint struggle” between Israelis and Palestinians (see, for example, Noa Shaindlinger’s 24 June article “Thoughts on a joint, but unequal struggle” on the website +972).
But to put it bluntly, there is no such thing as a “joint struggle.”