Protests in Bil’in or in Tel Aviv

Should Israelis protest Bil'in in Tel Aviv?

Posting has been a bit light lately as I am currently traveling for a bit in order to renew my visa for another three months.  While I should be back to normal this weekend, expect few updates for the next few days as well.  However, I did want to briefly share an article by Bernard Avishai at Talking Points.  Avishai recently went to the protest at Bil’in, encouraged, apparently by the murder of Jawaher Abu Rahmeh by Israeli soldiers last week.  Abu Rahmeh was killed by inhalation of CS tear gas that led to heart failure; IDF spokespeople, meanwhile, attempted to lie about the murder.

[tweetmeme] Reacting to the protest, Avishai was pushed to conclude that Bil’in was such a clearcut example of Israeli intransigence and impunity that the weekly protests that have taken place for years at the small town could easily be replicated in Tel Aviv, as the behavior of the IDF and the government is demonstrably undemocratic and oppressive.  The entire piece is worth reading, but here is a small bit:

The case, in other words, is appalling in a way a great many Israeli liberals could understand; and it is indicative not only of the ways the occupation corrupts the state but also of the caution with which the Supreme Court now proceeds, especially in confrontations over Arab rights, in order not to provoke a backlash against its dwindling power. But all of this also means that the weekly Bil’in demonstration could just as effectively be held, not at the site of the wall, but at the the Defense Ministry in downtown Tel Aviv. For the dozens (or in Friday’s case, hundreds) of democratic activists who drive and climb and march to the town for weekly confrontations with army troops–most of them painfully young under their riot gear–the demonstration feels a little like yelling at the person who answers the phone at a call center when your bank has failed to credit your account…

To the extent that the relevant audience is international opinion, have not these demonstrations achieved their purpose, or exhausted international attention span, or both? When I was myself retreating (from surprisingly stinging tear gas), I was passed by a young correspondent from Fox News, jogging purposefully, speaking into his microphone, careful to remain in his camera’s range, relieved (I suspected) that there was some drama. But to the extent that the demonstrations aim to move the Israeli public, it is precisely scenes reminiscent of intifadas that cause ambivalent reactions. Again, the larger point might best be made at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.

Photo from AATW

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