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Special Peace Team to Gaza, March 1, 2009

Photo Peter Dougherty
One example of civil society resistance -- everyone is doing something, and giving each other courage in the struggle. In this photo, a group of Palestinians are advocating on behalf of the people in Gaza with an Egyptian government official.

Notes from the West Bank

A Palestinian’s Analysis
Ahmed [not his true name] lives between Ramallah and Nablus in the West Bank. He was impressive with his analysis of the Occupation of Palestine. He was also impressive with his understanding of nonviolent social change.

Ahmed has two masters’ degrees from U.S. universities, in the fields of Education and Political Science. He is married, with five children. He has a job in the public sector. Here we share a bit of his analysis.

“There are three approaches Palestinians have in this conflict. First, the Palestinian Authority approach – negotiations. This means doing whatever Israel says, with the idea that the world will see how it does not bring peace, but continual suffering for Palestinians, and the world will demand change and justice for Palestinians. However, negotiating and negotiating has no power. Second, the Hamas approach – armed struggle. This is a kind of power, but it is not going to bring peace. Third, civil society resistance. We do not like the word nonviolence; it doesn’t communicate the power we mean. We do not use violence, but organize the resistance.

In negotiating, the people are not involved, only the Palestinian government is. In the armed resistance approach, the people stay in their homes and hide. They are afraid and are not involved.

With civil society resistance, everyone is involved. Everyone is doing something, and giving each other courage in the struggle. This is the way to Peace. It is peace for Palestinians and Israelis.”

Ahmed’s commitment to nonviolence in the struggle for social change is striking. He knows the methods and strategies and can communicate it. He has been part of a civil society resistance organization, but less so now with his having recently been in the U.S.

Ahmed also shared the difficulty of creating civil society resistance. He says that right now there is less of that resistance in the West Bank. Israeli invasions are not happening now in the West Bank as they did a few years ago, and people are just trying to live their daily lives. [Note: The usual checkpoint harassment, the construction of the separation barrier, the building of Israeli settlements, etc., goes on.]

We (Liz and Peter) went to the Friday demonstration against the separation barrier and the Occupation. It was a cold rainy day, and there were fewer present than usual. A leader of the popular committee was glad to see us from MPT. Bil’in weekly demonstrations have been taking place for about three years. Though there is frequent violence by the Israeli military - including tear gas, sound bombs, beatings, rubber bullets, and at times live bullets – these Palestinians courageously confront the barrier.

We met there a Palestinian photojournalist who is a relative of Marwan Barghouthi, the imprisoned Palestinian resistance leader, who many Palestinians in the Fatah political party wish to become president of a new Palestine. He said his cousin Marwan told him recently that the U.S. government is in communication with him regarding an arrangement to have the Israeli government release him in a prisoner exchange with Israel. What influential role Marwan might play in the present situation is an unknown factor.

-- Liz and Peter

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