Monday, August 05, 2013
Pushed In the Corner: We Have Nothing Except Stones
Despite the start of so-called peace talks between Israel and Palestine, the uproar over a recent New York Times piece on the "rite of passage" that is kids in the West Bank throwing stones - "They do it because their brothers and fathers did" - reveals the yawning distances that remain. Zionist supporters blasted an effort to "romanticize and heroize the Palestinian perpetrators," without any acknowledgement of the context of their acts.
Progressive critics, meanwhile, noted that while the defiant act of kids with nothing to lose is recognized as an "indelible icon of Palestinian pushback against Israel," the story never mentions the word "occupation" and fails to recognize the harsh treatment Israel doles out to stone-throwers as young as five. Strikingly, outraged Jews have offered some of the most incisive looks at why kids throw stones and risk what they risk.
Haaretz' Amira Hass, the only Jewish journalist living in the West Bank, calls throwing stones "the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule....an action as well as a metaphor of resistance" in the name of "steadfastness (against) systemic, institutionalized violence" - and against a society that protects the resources, profits, privileges and other fruits of that violence.
Gideon Levy likewise cites the right to "resistance to the occupier's violence" and the failure of Israelis to apply "the same internal justice" to others: "Rooted deep in the Israeli experience is the idea that what is permitted to the Jewish people is prohibited to others."
In the end, numbers tell much of the tale: The U.N. reports that 7,000 Palestinian minors, some as young as 9, have been detained in the last ten years. Defense for Children International, an advocacy group that last year documented 360 cases of arrested Palestinian youths, found that many were blindfolded, beaten and threatened during interrogations, and over 90% got jail sentences in Israel’s military system.
Gideon Levy: "Now we must ask Hass’ detractors: What do you expect? What are you, patriots and supposed opposers of violence, offering the Palestinians? Do you honestly think they will bow their heads in submission and obedience for another 46 years? Is there an historical precedent for such behavior? And even if they were to do so, what would happen? Their fight would only be further forgotten. That is the lesson Israel taught them − the hard way."