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Occupation magazine - Activism
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Bili’in as an Allegory: The Party is Over, Declares Netanyahu
By Michael Warschawski
Alternative Information Center (AIC)
The decision to declare Bili’in and Na’alin as closed military zones for a period of six months (so far) has meaning that goes far beyond the weekly demonstrations held there for the past five years already. “The party is over” – that is the message that the Netanyahu-Liberman government is sending to the social movement in Israel in general, and to activists against the occupation in particular. In other words, “from now on, what was will no longer be.”
This closure accompanies a series of other steps including the detention of Palestinian activists, from Bili’in and other places, who lead non-violent and non-partisan popular struggles, the detention of Jamal Jumaa, various legislative proposals intended to limit Arab Knesset Members, legal steps against Israeli activists involved in the struggle in Sheikh Jarrah, a hardening of the police in everything concerning the right to demonstrate, a hardening which has so far been halted by the High Court, and more. The campaign of incitement against the President of the New Israel Fund, former Knesset Member Professor Naomi Chazan, demonstrates that the Israeli attack is not limited to the seemingly radical section of the Israeli social movement, but to every attempt at expressing a different opinion of some of the public concerning Israel’s occupation policies and oppression of the Palestinian people.
In actuality this attack commenced already a decade ago, in the period of the Barak government, which lethally oppressed demonstrations of the Palestinian population in Israel which stood alongside the uprising in the occupied Palestinian territories. The message of Barak and Sharon was clear: the era of relative openness in which the Palestinian population received partial recognition and the Rabin government freed budgets and jobs in order to lessen the “gap”, in his words, the era in which representatives of the Arab population starred in the Israeli media and some of them became favourites of the Israeli intellectuals, was over. “A return to the 1950s and 1960s,” threatened the little man who then sat at the head of government, before he led his party to suicide.
In parallel Ariel Sharon managed, with the brutality characteristic of him, the reoccupation of the partially autonomous Palestinian territories, butchered the Palestinian population and collapsed the Palestinian Authority. And one day we will know if Sharon killed Yasser Arafat…
Ten years later, the Gaza Strip is under siege and the West Bank has become more than ever an area open to the settlement enterprise. Facing these attacks there is no longer a “peace camp”, which fell a willing victim to the huge lie of Ehud Barak, in August 2000, that “there is no partner.” Remaining is only a small protest movement composed of radical women and men activists from the Coalition of Women for Peace, Anarchists against Walls, the various refusenik groups and a few NGOs such as Rabbis for Human Rights and the Alternative Information Center (AIC). Occasionally this protest movement receives publicity and wider support, such as in the mobilization against the settlement in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and the weekly demonstrations in Bili’in.
Barak-Liberman-Netanyahu are now attempting to eliminate the remains of this protest and to create a unified and united national front vis-a-vis the enemy and world public opinion, which moved drastically away from Israel following last year’s slaughter in Gaza. The last benefit of the protest movements remaining on the ground is in the international arena, where the Israeli national public advocacy lost no few points, and this protest must therefore be silenced. A violation of the military order prohibiting demonstrations in Bili’in and the surrounding area is the answer given by the Bili’ in activists, and we must go with them and follow them. For us the party is not over and will not be over as long as injustice rules in Bili’in, Sheikh Jarrah and Gaza.
This article was translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC)
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