Saturday, August 31, 2013

Intifada against tyranny

Young children standing up against bulldozers has become an iconic image not only in Palestine against the Israeli military but in Kashmir against the Indian military. It’s part of intifada in both countries. But regrettably it has become a common David vs. Goliath experience in the Israeli-occupied West Bank & around the world--because military occupation & brute force are increasing to enforce tyranny.

Unarmed civilians of every age, from young kids to the elderly stand with rocks, slingshots, & burning tires against tear gas, water cannons, grenades, rubber bullets & live ammunition, attack dogs, armored vehicles, & 60-ton tanks & bulldozers. The most memorable moments include the anonymous Tank Man standing unarmed against a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989; fifteen-year-old Palestinian Faris Odeh in 2000 holding off a bulldozer with only rocks (10 days later he was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers); Rachel Corrie, the US activist mowed down by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003; the small Kashmiri boy facing off an Indian army tank after another young boy shot by the Indian army died in his arms in 2009.

But from resistance to English occupation of Northern Ireland to the uprisings in Egypt & Bahrain to resistance against slum eviction in the Philippines, we have seen the oppressed defy superior military might with nothing but rocks & defiance. This photo is from a protest in the West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum. This is not an iconic moment but a weekly event as Palestinians resist continuing Zionist land grabs of their property. Armored bulldozers serve many aggressive purposes in the ongoing land theft--in particular demolishing Palestinian homes. These vehicles, used mainly by the Israeli military, are made by Caterpillar & paid for by the US government as part of its aid to Israel.

Media commentaries on this phenomenon draw on the least enlightened sources for explanation. Little brother Odeh is called an “adolescent daredevil” who didn’t understand the dangers; a French philosopher made himself comprehensible for one brief moment to utter the Islamophobic banality that martyrdom like this is due to the Islamization & “culture of death” of Palestinians; mental health practitioners without a political bone in their bodies claim intifada is a distraction for children who don’t understand the dangers. Which doesn’t explain the old ladies throwing stones.

These worthless commentators don’t have a clue about commitment to justice that is not reckless or fearless but that will brave all against tyranny & oppression & occupation; in their privilege & sniveling cowardice before power, they cannot hope to understand this spirit of rebellion & resistance to oppression, especially in the young.

Cynics & ideologues of Zionism claim the conflict between Palestinians & Jews is too intransigent for resolution & necessitates a separate, apartheid, “Jewish” state. But the only thing that separates Palestinians from Jews is Zionism--a repugnant, right-wing, racist & colonial ideology that promotes Jewish isolationism & religious & ethnic superiority over human solidarity. The symbols of Zionism are this bulldozer & the apartheid wall.

Palestinian & Israeli visionaries have long fought for a unified democratic, secular state incorporating Jews & Palestinians as brothers & sisters. There is nothing intransigent or impossible about this political perspective. It is the imperative of progress & justice. If we want to facilitate this political process, it begins with demanding “No US aid to Israel,” with boycotting all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729), & supporting the cultural boycott of Israel.

(Photo by Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images)

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