Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bil'in as a model of Palestinian civil disobedience

A NY Times article on August 27 <http://bit.ly/19rRit> discusses the Palestinian village of Bil'in, a site of frequent confrontations between protesting Palestinians and the IDF over the Israel's separation barrier, which has foreclosed access by villagers to much of Bil'in's historic farmland and olive groves. Bil'in has become a model for Palestinian civil disobedience in the Occupied Territories, attracting a series of visits from high-profile public figures such as Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu, but also from less obvious political players like Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, and Jeff Skoll, founding president of eBay, as well as from a wide range of international state and grassroots leaders.

In recent months, Bil'in has been the subject of a series of night raids by IDF forces bent on breaking the back of the village's protests by arresting the town's leaders. But villagers have not ceased waging weekly protests in the village's streets -- and extending their efforts to remove Israel's separation barrier by taking the fight into Israeli courts, where in 2007 the Israeli Supreme Court ruled the route of the barrier "highly prejudicial" to Bil'in (subsequent Supreme Court rulings, however, have ratified the building of new Israeli settlements on land confiscated from Bil'in). Protests in Bil'in have often been creative: Bil'in's children, for example, participated in a recent "We Want to Sleep" demonstration captured on a YouTube video <http://bit.ly/HGJWx>.

Bil'in maintains a blog on its Web site, which makes for highly informative reading <http://bit.ly/XMuEI>. The site, which makes mention of allied political struggles around the world and asks site visitors to not forget the plight of Gaza, offers activist resources and suggestions for supporters who want to help the village defend itself against Israeli occupation and ever encroaching land confiscation by Israeli settlers.

--Lincoln Z. Shlensky

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
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