Nonviolence resistance after thirty 30 years of the Palestinian First Intifada

Not all the ephemerides that celebrate the 2017 in relation to the Israeli colonization of Palestine involve such a negative connotation, as it does the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the 70th anniversary of the Nakba or the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the occupation. Moreover, the recent declaration of Donald Trump, through which the United States recognize the city of Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli State, bolstering the weight of its own role into the colonization of Palestine and closing the door to any fair and sustainable peace agreement. Exactly 30 years ago today, the Palestinian population rose up in a massive rebellion against the Israeli occupation of their territories and against decades of oppression, revealing the existence of a people willing to face the violence and injustice through the civil disobedience and nonviolent action. And that is exactly what we want to remember and celebrate today, from here and from Palestine.

In these days in which the Palestinian civil society is remembering the popular resistance movement that characterized the First Intifada, the Trump’s attack to any possibility of achieving a fair peace for Palestine -even the solution of the two states-  raises the unavoidable victory of imperialism in the region, subjugating the population to a new escalation of violence and to the brutal repression of the Israeli forces. Four deaths and more than one hundred of injured are the price that the demonstrations and the mobilization of the Palestinian youth had payed until today, while protesting against the establishment of the colonial state which reaffirms the declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The popular uprising which challenged three decades ago the continuity of the colonialist status quo and which provided an unprecedented legitimacy to the Palestinian cause, constituted a cohesive and supportive movement, articulated around the work in the popular committees which had been consolidated before 1987. The multiple structures of civil of nonviolent resistance existed yet before the outbreak of the riots and were acting simultaneously with the violent actions during the sixties and the seventies. They provided the massive, generalized and grassroots-organized character of the uprisings that sustained them in all the spheres and levels of the political mobilization and social action. The commercial strikes and the boicot to the Israeli products, the renounce to pay the taxes, the infringement of the military orders, the creation of alternative –and sometimes also clandestine- structures of self-management, self-sufficiency and self-sustenance of the communities (attached to the education, jobs and health) and multiple forms of protest and peaceful demonstrations characterized the popular rebellion that gave name to the First Palestinian Intifada.

The Israeli State applied brutal measures of repression against the uprisings with the aim to disarticulate the wide popular basis which had created, without the use of armed violence, a counter-authority to the occupation forces. Arrests and detentions, closure of schools and universities, curfews, criminalization of the belonging to the grassroots committees, deportations, injured and more than two thousand Palestinian killed, were the price of the intifada, which revealed how nonviolence could call into question the colonialist and oppressive practices of Israel.
Indeed, even if the rhetoric of violence and armed fight had acquired increased prominence along of the Palestinian national movement, the civil nonviolent resistance had contributed in a much more significant way to generate changes and improvements into the recognition of the human rights in Palestine. Nonviolent movement had also promoted the social cohesion of the communities and had generalized and increased the participation of different social sectors and groups into inclusive and diverse strategies of civil disobedience and social action against the oppressive structures and the abuses of human rights.
25286910_1450815091653652_1662036942_nActually, after the devastating experiences carried by the Oslo Agreements and the violence that characterized the first years of the 2000, the use of nonviolent strategies of resistance as a form of struggle for the national and social liberation of Palestine has acquired again a new momentum among civil society. It’s possible to prove a re-emergence of those peaceful practices of social and political transformation since the end of the Second Intifada and during the last decade.
Even if nowadays the nonviolent resistance movement isn’t beneficiary of the same conditions of popularity and massive participation as it did the First Intifada, the political changes in the national context hadn’t been an impediment for the existence of a solid structure of organizations and social grassroots-movements. This social system is enrolled in nonviolent initiatives in order to contribute to civil mobilization, to the emergence of diverse proposals of collective action focused on the struggle against the occupation and the apartheid system, and to the generalization of a culture of human rights defense.

Today, after thirty years of the beginning of the First Intifada, and facing the increasing waves of attacks to the rights and freedoms of civil society –in Palestine and all over the world- we consider essential to celebrate nonviolence as a legitimate strategy of social action and political mobilization, as a practice of peaceful transformation of the structures of oppression and injustice and in defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Recently we have seen the emergence of numerous initiatives of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience, through which the population has organized and mobilized itself against repression and the abusing and indiscriminate exercise of State violence, denouncing the flagrant violations against human rights and the perpetuation of the guarantees of impunity, which ensure the persistence of oppressive regimes.
Numerous collective effervescences had filled the streets with peaceful demonstrations of the power of the people during the last years, from the 15M and the Arab Springs, the Black Lives Matters in the US and until the civil mobilizations in Spain against the criminalization of the right to protest. All those movements contribute to wake up an interest to explore and approach a little bit more to the experiences of nonviolent resistance which had characterized, in other moments in history, the struggle of other peoples against oppression, injustice and violations of human rights.
Today is a good moment, while talking about the mobilizations that are filling the streets in Gaza Strip and the West Bank, to remember the Palestinian population’s capacity of resistance. Even thought the prevailing fragmentation of the civil society in the occupied territories, despite the despair and hopelessness generated by the continuity of the colonization of Palestine, today is a good moment to remember the nonviolent resistance’s legitimacy as a referent for the Palestinian to keep on struggling for the justice and freedom.

Today we want to celebrate the First Intifada as an example for the generations of Palestinian youth, who those days are organizing the protests and demonstrating against the occupation forces.

To learn more:

About the nonviolence (I)
About nonviolence (II)
About the role of women during the First Intifada
Movie ”The wanted 18”