Resistance Studies Network

Supporting critical studies on resistance, organised by scholars at Gothenburg, Sussex & UMass Universities

Category: Occupation (page 1 of 5)

The Resistance Themes of The Dark Knight Rises

Author: Christopher Sims
Doctoral Candidate
Department of War Studies
King’s College London

If Occupy Wall Street had made a Hollywood blockbuster, it may have been remarkably similar to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Purportedly the final instalment of a Nolan trilogy, this film serves as a sometimes explicit, sometimes allegorical critique of those responsible for the crisis of Western capitalism. As such, Nolan unashamedly taps into the zeitgeist, throwing in his lot with the 99% over the 1%: the former who make up the bulk of the trilogy’s fan-base; the latter its financial base. Indeed, in one scene, Gotham city traders are strapped to the backs of motorcycles to be used as human shields; transformed from peerless architects of self-aggrandising financial systems into helpless slaves of the West’s violent arbiter.

In the film, art imitates life. The plot of The Dark Knight Rises would have had little resonance were it not for Occupy Wall Street or the atrocities of 9/11. The grand theme of the film, that of a disenfranchised majority serving an über-wealthy minority and a masked terrorist mastermind detonating considerable portions of the city, has its roots firmly in actual events, where Gotham is a thinly disguised New York City. Even the villainous Bane’s entry to Gotham may seem familiar, taking control of a US government-operated plane, ultimately using it for his own ends as he controls its mid-air disintegration, leaving one of his group members onboard who is quite prepared to sacrifice himself in order to enable the operation to advance.

Bane we are informed has been the only inmate of a notorious prison somewhere in the Global South to have escaped its confines. Thus he is in possession of the strength, conviction and guile necessary to confront the West. Bane’s continual articulation of the philosophical reasoning behind his actions brings to mind the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s comment in his conversation with Gilles Deleuze: ‘And when the prisoners began to speak, they possessed an individual theory of prisons, the penal system, and justice. It is this form of discourse which ultimately matters, a discourse against power’. It is this discourse against the status quo which is so unsettling – articulate and yet seemingly bereft of compassion. The idea of incarceration is an important one in the analysis of East/West binaries, as seen for example in the geographer Derek Gregory’s writing on the global war prison.

Emancipated, Bane comes to control Gotham, achieved by using the West’s – specifically Wayne Enterprises – technology against itself, acquiring cutting-edge military hardware in order to quell dissent. This is a prominent theme in contemporary counter-terrorism fictions: in one episode of 24, day 4, when a stealth fighter is stolen, Chloe O’Brian observes that the terrorists are using our own technology against us. There is an ensuing pause laden with implication. This idea if not entirely rooted in the events of 9/11 then resonates on that level. At the same time, paralleling the Occupy protests, Bane arrives in Gotham to occupy a key installation in the financial district. He brutalizes the security staff before taking hostages. It’s Occupy Wall Street, but with a rather more kinetic character.

When the first confrontation between Batman and Bane takes place, Bane concludes that ‘victory has made you weak’. Such must be the verdict upon the West itself; from its peerless position at the end of the Cold War to a new era in which it appears plagued by popular self-doubt, afraid of what resistance movements may evolve in the Global South amid the consequences of a War on Terror waged across continents and systemic economic violence. Capitalism is at risk, democracy is evidently a volatile and malleable system of government; many analyses conclude that world inequality is increasing. Is The Dark Knight Rises escapism or self-reflective voyeurism?

Where is the West’s redemption? It is in his support of the bottom billion that we find the heroic in the character of billionaire Bruce Wayne. At one charity fundraiser the character reaches his philosophical apogee, considering the banquet laid out for the charity supporters as a great irony. It is a tedious, trite dialogue, well-worn, but necessary in order to resonate with the audience, articulated simply to appeal to the 99 percent watching from their cinema seats whilst drinking soda and eating candy purchased from multinational corporations. The film’s importance is in what is absent; the military and the political are relegated to obscure sideshows: this is instead visceral physical violence combating systemic economic abuse. The Masters of the Universe, to borrow Tom Wolfe’s phrase from his 1987 novel Bonfire of the Vanities, are usurped by those who have come from nothing and consequentially have nothing to lose. It is a compelling narrative: compelling because the narrative resonates.

Bane has been bankrolled by a member of Gotham’s financial elite. In one scene, the pair is together, with orders being given to Bane, before Bane turns and kills his former master. It is a fearful image, and evokes Karl Marx and Friederich Engel’s argument in The Communist Manifesto that modern capitalism, ‘a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the underworld that he has called up by his spells.’ In Gotham too, there is an underclass no longer provided for by the state, instead, they find their best chance of work, and thus of hope, is found by mysterious employment deep in the sewer system, now working for those very powers of the underworld.

The analysis of the interplay between life and art, between popular culture and politics, is a burgeoning discipline gaining mainstream momentum; consider Kelly DeVries’ and Charli Carpenter’s recent assessments of the political and historical relevance of Game of Thrones, in the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs. In The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan has fused violent anti-Western resistance narratives to the Occupy Wall Street agenda, under a powerful Hans Zimmer score. Bane attempts to catalyse societal rebellion, enabled by self-aggrandising elite figures. Art may be the translation of personal experience into a universally resonant form, but this film is clearly the translation of universal experience into an artistic form. Bane represents our greatest fear – that Western hubris has spawned an eloquent and omnipotent arbiter intent on bringing the West its day of reckoning.

In the West today the interface between rich and poor has not reached the physical carnage played out in The Dark Knight Rises, but a discernible friction exists; witnessed in sporadic bubbles of discontent at bankers’ bonuses, the Occupy protests, Anonymous hacktivism, recent demonstrations in Spain and Greece. In the Global South where social deprivation is stark, these interfaces are more pronounced: systemic violence removes all attempts at social dignity and hope for future prosperity, resulting in the protests of the Arab Spring. Inequality in the West is ever-increasing too; for the average wage-earners, real income has not increased since the 1970s, this despite a sizeable recent increase in income for the top one-percent. In Germany, praised as a fiscal model to emulate, there has emerged a new stratum termed ‘the working poor’. Perhaps after all it is life which imitates art. Perhaps a storm is coming.

Image: Lego Bane. Photo credit anonymous, via

Portrait of Hitler Discovered in French Church Window

From Der Spiegel On Line

A stained glass window in a small church has caused a sensation in France. Unveiled in 1941, it depicts Adolf Hitler executing a saint who symbolizes the Jewish people. Local priests have praised the work as a brave act of resistance against the Nazi occupiers.

In the popular imagination, the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation of France is associated with heroic acts of guerrilla warfare, such as blowing up bridges or derailing trains. But in one small town near Paris, two artist brothers also resisted the occupation in their own quiet way — with a politically charged stained-glass window.

Local historians in the town of Montgeron have rediscovered a stained-glass church window that criticizes the Nazi occupation by depicting Adolf Hitler as an executioner. The dictator is shown in the act of killing St. James, who was one of Jesus’ 12 apostles.

Although Hitler’s distinctive hairstyle can easily be recognized in the portrait, his trademark moustache has been left out. “The glassmakers hid it behind his arm, to avoid any trouble,” local priest Dominique Guérin told the French newspaper Le Parisien.

Political Message

The church’s stained-glass windows were unveiled in July 1941, during the Nazi occupation. Locals believe that the two artists, the Mauméjean brothers, deliberately depicted Hitler as the executioner of St. James, whom the church is named for, as an act of artistic and religious resistance.

Guérin’s predecessor Gabriel Ferone told Le Parisien that the saint represents the Jewish people, as his name in Hebrew has the same etymology as Jacob, the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. Stained-glass windows created by the brothers in other churches also mix political and religious messages, according to historian Renaud Arpin.

Authorities in the town are now hoping that the media attention will turn the church into a tourist attraction. Montgeron is only 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from Paris and is easily reachable by train.


Easter Island land dispute clashes leave dozens injured

From BBC

Local people said the police had fired on people at close range

At least 25 people have been injured during clashes between Chilean police and local people on Easter Island.

Witnesses say police fired pellets as they tried to evict several indigenous inhabitants from buildings they occupied earlier this year.

The Rapa Nui group say the buildings were illegally taken from their ancestors several generations ago.

Easter Island, which was annexed by Chile in 1888, is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Chilean security forces began their operation in the early hours of the morning, says reports.

When the group refused to leave and others gathered at the scene, they opened fire with pellet guns.

Officials said 17 police officers and eight civilians had been injured. But the Rapa Nui put the number of injured locals at 19, and denied that any police had been hurt.

“ The land on this island has always been Rapa Nui. That’s why we’re asking for our land to be returned”

Maka Atan Rapa Nui lawyer

A number of people were also arrested and at least one person was air-lifted to the mainland for medical treatment.

A statement on the Save Rapa Nui website said several people had been shot at close range. It said police had used rubber bullets and tear gas.

“They injured at least 23 of our brothers and sisters, three of them seriously,” Edi Tuki, a relative of one of those injured, told the Efe news agency.

“One was shot in the eye with a buckshot pellet from just a metre away.”
‘Shooting to kill’

Maka Atan, a Rapa Nui lawyer, told the Associated Press police had been “shooting to kill”. He said he was shot in the back by pellets.

“It seems like this is going to end with them killing the Rapa Nui,” he said.

Rapa Nui is the official name for the remote Easter Island, which lies more than 3,200 km (2,000 miles) off the west coast of Chile.

The tiny island has a population of about 4,000 but is best known for its ancient giant carved stone heads, known as Moais.



The indigenous Rapa Nui people have been protesting for the past three months about what say are plans to develop the island, as immigration and tourism increase.

They are demanding the return of ancestral land they say was unlawfully seized from their grandparents.

“The land on this island has always been Rapa Nui. That’s why we’re asking for our land to be returned,” Mr Maka told AP.

“Nobody has said this is a normal situation,” said Raul Celis. “There was an eviction, and buildings had been occupied illegally for several months.”

Mr Celis said the evictions would continue.

Media reports said police reinforcements were travelling to the island from the mainland.

Destroying Palestinian Olive Trees

By César Chelala in The Globalist

Olive trees have been mentioned in the Bible, the Qur’an and the Torah. Olive oil is a key product of the Palestinian national economy, making up 25% of the total agricultural production in the West Bank. César Chelala explores why the Israel Defense Forces have been accused of uprooting olive trees to facilitate the building of settlements.

Why do Israel Defense Forces and settlers destroy olive trees?

Why do Israel Defense Forces and settlers destroy olive trees?

During the last few years, Palestinian olive trees — a universal symbol of life and peace — have been systematically destroyed by Israeli settlers.

“It has reached a crescendo. What might look like ad hoc violence is actually a tool the settlers are using to push back Palestinian farmers from their own land,” stated a spokeswoman for Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization monitoring incidents in the West Bank.

The tree and its oil have a special significance throughout the Middle East. It is an essential aspect of Palestinian culture, heritage and identity, and has been mentioned in the Bible, the Qur’an and the Torah. Many families depend on the olive trees for their livelihood.

Olive oil is a key product of the Palestinian national economy, and olives are the main crop in terms of total agricultural production, making up 25% of the total agricultural production in the West Bank.

Palestinians plant around 10,000 new olive trees in the West Bank every year. Most of the new plants are of the oil-producing variety. Olive oil is the second major export item in Palestine.

For the last 40 years, over a million olive trees and hundreds of thousands of fruit trees have been destroyed in Palestinian lands. The Israel Defense Forces have been accused of uprooting olive trees to facilitate the building of settlements, expand roads and build infrastructure.

The uprooting of centuries-old olive trees has caused tremendous losses to farmers and their families. At the same time, restrictions to harvesting have come through curfews, security closures and attacks by settlers.

The uprooting of olive trees by the Israel Defense Forces and by settlers are done to protect the settlers, since they are supposedly used to hide gunmen or stone throwers. “The tree removals are for the safety of settlers…No one should tell me that an olive tree is more important than a human life,” declared IDF army commander, Colonel Eitan Abrahams.

As a result of the attacks on farmers by the IDF and by settlers, the farmers “can’t get to their lands and work them. The settlers chase the farmers, shoot in the air, threaten their lives, confiscate their ID cards and damage the crops,” declared B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.

Yesh Din has declared that not even one of 69 complaints filed during the past four years on damage to Palestinians trees in the West Bank has resulted in an indictment. The toll includes thousands of trees from several areas, from Susya in the southern Hebron Hills to Salem in northern Samaria.

Rabbis for Human Rights has declared that, in recent weeks, the olives from about 600 trees near the settlement of Havat Gilad were stolen before their Palestinian owners could harvest them.

In a review he wrote on this issue, Atyaf Alwazir, a young Muslim American, stated that the uprooting of trees from Palestinian lands violates the Paris Protocols, The Hague and Geneva Conventions and the Covenant on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights.

According to Sonja Karkar, founder of Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia, uprooting olive trees is contrary to the Halakha (the collective body of Jewish religious law) principle whose origin is found in the Torah: “Even if you are at war with a city….you must not destroy its trees.”

What do settlers actually want? To destroy Palestinians’ livelihood with impunity? To create a barren land, unfit for trees and people? Perhaps they should be reminded of the A.E. Housman verses:

Give me a land of boughs in leaf,

A land of trees that stand;

Where trees are fallen there is grief;

I love no leafless land.

IDF soldier faces silent protest at ASU

From Waging Nonviolence

When Nadav Weinberg, a soldier who had served with the Israeli Defense Forces, spoke at Arizona State University last week, the room was filled with protesters. Rather than disrupt his speech, which is often the tactic taken at such events, the demonstrators found a much more powerful way to voice their dissent: silence.

Here you can see a seven minutes video from the action

After taking their seats, the demonstrators took off their jackets to reveal red t-shirts with signs bearing the names, ages and dates that civilians were killed by Israeli troops. They then took red tape and covered their mouths with it.

Folks in the back of the room held a sign that read: “Giving Voice to Civilians Silenced by IDF Policy.” (I like the emphasis on policy rather than on the individuals within the military, which I think is always an important distinction for nonviolent activists to make.)

Part way through Weinberg’s speech, the group proceeded to stand up and slowly walk out of the room, leaving it close to empty.

A similar action took place at the University of Michigan recently, which is a hopeful sign that IDF soldiers will not be able to share their viewpoints on American campuses uncontested.

Britain And The Increasing Nonviolent Resistance

Fadi Abu Sa’da – PNN Editor in Chief – It was vey strange that the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, came to visit Israeli and the Palestinian Territories in the same day that marks the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

Foreign Secretary, William Hague

Foreign Secretary, William Hague

It is known that most of British diplomatic work are meetings known in diplomatic terms as “ Black & White.” The other strange thing is the addition of a new “color” to the visit of the British Minister; which is very important to the British and their diplomacy, but as important to us as well and holds many meanings.

It came to my knowledge that British diplomats were in contact with a group of Palestinian leaders of the nonviolence resistance, they were informed of a secret meeting that will be held between them and a VIP person. They were not told who or any other details for security reasons. But for the misfortune of the British, Israel has to be informed of all the details of the diplomats’ visits; and Israel started its pressure on Britain to get the details of this secret meeting.

In some mysterious way Israel knew that Hague was in fact going to meet Palestinian nonviolence resistance leaders. The army started to try to know their names, something Britain refused to give up, as the case all the time Israel tried to say those leaders are terrorists and are convicted by the occupation, but in fact they are nonviolence resistance organizers; something that is legitimate in all international laws.

The activists were Ahmad Al Azeh from The Holy Land Trust, a Palestinian NGO that work in promoting nonviolence in Palestine, Mohamed Zawahrah, a leader of nonviolent resistance against the wall in Bethlehem area , and Hindi Musleh, an activist from the village of Ni’lin, where weekly nonviolent actions are organized against the Israeli wall.

Al Azeh being arrest by troops at protest in Bethlehem (Archive)

Al Azeh being arrest by troops at protest in Bethlehem (Archive)

I knew that Al Azeh and Zawahrah were transported from Bethlehem to Ramallah on the day of the meeting in a “special way” fearing that Israeli troops will stop them from attending the meeting.

The meeting was held at a neutral area, most importantly that it does not fall under the Israeli security control, the place was a hilltop overlooking the Israeli detention center of Offer near Ramallah city, in central West Bank. The car that was driving British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, arrived at the location and he met the activists for 25 minutes. The place and the setting of the meeting, was not classical according to diplomacy but it was of great importance.

The meeting with the British Minister tackled three issues; the increase in the nonviolence resistance and the importance of the international support to it, second the effects of the Israeli wall on the Palestinian farmers, and third the Israeli violence to counter such resistance and activities.

Hague told the activists “it’s very important to continue in this form of nonviolence resistance, and you have unlimited support to such work from our side.”

Israel did not allow any media to cover the meeting; fearing that the headlines will change from Hague visiting Israeli to him meeting Palestinian Nonviolence resistance leaders.

Indeed I want to thank those activists and their efforts for delivering our voice to the world and I have small gratitude for the British Diplomat for this nice gesture, but it should happen more often from them and other diplomats working in the Palestinian areas. We only ask for our right that is guaranteed by international law and we will get it one way or the other.

Indian completes 10 years on hunger strike, vows to continue

GUWAHATI, India — A human rights activist in northeast India who is dubbed the “Iron Lady of Manipur” has completed 10 years on hunger strike and vowed to continue her protest, her supporters said Wednesday.

Irom Chanu Sharmila (C) is escorted by female police officers prior to a court appearance

Irom Chanu Sharmila (C) is escorted by female police officers prior to a court appearance

Irom Chanu Sharmila, from the remote state of Manipur, which borders Myanmar, began her fast on November 2, 2000 after witnessing the killing of 10 people by the army at a bus stop near her home.

Now 38, she was arrested shortly after beginning her protest — on charges of attempted suicide — and was sent to a prison hospital where she began a daily routine of being force-fed vitamins and nutrients via a nasal drip.

Sharmila is frequently set free by local courts, but once outside she resumes her hunger strike and is rearrested.

She is campaigning for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that enables security forces to shoot on sight and arrest anybody without a warrant in impoverished and heavily militarised Manipur.

“She decided to continue with her fast-unto-death mission until the draconian legislation is repealed by the government,” Babloo Loitongbam from local human rights group Human Rights Alert told AFP.

“She made her intentions pretty clear as she completed 10 years of hunger strike,” Babloo said after visiting Sharmila on the 10th anniversary of the start of the fast on Tuesday.

“Militancy is still thriving. In other words, the Special Powers Act has miserably failed.”

AFSPA was passed in 1990 to grant security forces special powers and immunity from prosecution to deal with raging insurgencies in the northeast of India and in Kashmir in the northwest.

The act is a target for local human rights groups and international campaigners such as Amnesty International, which says the law has been an excuse for extrajudicial killings.

Amnesty has campaigned vociferously against the legislation, which it sees as a stain on India’s democratic credentials and a violation of international human rights law.

Several rights groups held sit-in demonstrations in Imphal, the capital of Manipur, to express their solidarity with Sharmila on Tuesday.

“She is Manipur?s crusader for peace and rights violations by security forces,” said Anita Devi, a women’s rights activist.

She is currently being held in an isolated cabin at the Jawarharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal.

Manipur is home to 2.4 million people and about 19 separatist groups which have demands ranging from autonomy to independence. An estimated 10,000 people have been killed during the past two decades of violence.

AFSPA is also deeply unpopular in Kashmir, where senior politicians have campaigned for it to be withdrawn.

It was seen as one of the factors that fuelled mass street protests in the Muslim-majority region over the summer in which more than 100 people died, most of them in shootings by security forces.

Hunger strikes were used effectively by India’s independence movement during the British rule, particularly by Mahatma Gandhi, whose use of the technique was an integral part of his non-violent resistance.

Exodus in protest of the pillage

15.10 – 2010 03:01 Western Sahara Resource Watch

In protest of the ongoing exploitation of Western Sahara’s natural resources, and their dire socio-economic situation, hundreds of Saharawi in the occupied territories have left their homes in the cities to live in tents in the desert.

Since 4 days, over 1.000 Saharawi in the occupied territories of Western Sahara have left their homes in El Aaiún, Boujdour and Smara, to go and live in tents in the zone of Lemseyed (in Gdeim Izik). They say they’re doing this as a peaceful protest against the Moroccan occupation of their homeland and the ongoing exploitation of the territory’s’s natural resources.

Sources say that about 1.100 individuals are now living in approximately 150 tents. Other sources cite up to 400 tents. As a sign of support, the former phosphate workers, who lost their jobs in Fos Bou Craa when Morocco took over the company, have visited the camps.

This exodus has already elicited a response from the Moroccan authorities. Since 12 October, 15 armed trucks and 35 vehicles of the auxiliary forces have been sent in. Additionally, 2 army-helicopters take turns in surveillancing the protest-camps. See footage from the Moroccan police surrounding the camps here.

The Saharawi people in the occupied territories of Western Sahara have become a marginalised minority in their own country: they are outnumbered by Moroccan settlers who are provided jobs through the exploitation of Western Sahara’s abundant natural resources. Meanwhile the Saharawi see their most basic human rights continuously violated by the Moroccan occupying regime, in a climate of impunity.

Palestinians Sentenced for Civil Disobedience


This month, as a new documentary about a successful campaign of nonviolent, civil disobedience by Palestinian villagers in the West Bank screens in New York and Los Angeles, Israeli military courts have handed out jail terms to two men who led similar protests against the path of Israel’s security barrier near their village.

The documentary now being shown, “Budrus,” is named for the village that succeeded in forcing a change to the path of the security barrier, which would have cut Palestinian olive farmers off from their trees. In July, my colleague Nicholas D. Kristof, an Opinion columnist, wrote that the film is, “a riveting window into what might be possible if Palestinians adopted civil disobedience on a huge scale.”

In the same column, Mr. Kristof described attending a protest at another West Bank village, Bilin, the home of the organizers recently sentenced in Israeli military courts. He wrote:

Most of the marchers were Palestinians, but some were also Israeli Jews and foreigners who support the Palestinian cause. They chanted slogans and waved placards as photographers snapped photos. At first the mood was festive and peaceful, and you could glimpse the potential of this approach.

But then a group of Palestinian youths began to throw rocks at Israeli troops. That’s the biggest challenge: many Palestinians define “nonviolence” to include stone-throwing.

Soon after, the Israeli forces fired volleys of tear gas at us, and then charged. The protesters fled, some throwing rocks backward as they ran. It’s a far cry from the heroism of Gandhi’s followers, who refused even to raise their arms to ward off blows as they were clubbed.

The arrests and military trials of two of the Bilin organizers drew criticism from human rights groups, Britain, the European Union and Desmond Tutu.

Abdullah Abu Rahma, a teacher in the village, was arrested last December. Last week, he was sentenced to one year in prison by an Israeli military court that found him guilty of “organizing and participating in an illegal demonstration” and “incitement.”

He was cleared of another charge of weapons possession after the prosecution failed to convince the court that collecting Israeli tear-gas shells and bullets fired at the demonstrators to prove that force had been used against them constituted a crime.

On Thursday, a military court extended the sentence of another Bilin organizer, Adeeb Abu Rahma, a taxi driver whose cousin had been killed at a protest by a direct hit from a tear-gas shell, one caught on a graphic video.

As my colleague Ethan Bronner reported last year, the campaign, with its weekly marches against the construction of the Israeli barrier near Bilin, has been going on since 2005, making it “one of the longest-running and best organized protest operations in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it has turned this once anonymous farming village into a symbol of Palestinian civil disobedience, a model that many supporters of the Palestinian cause would like to see spread and prosper.” Mr. Bronner also noted:

Like every element of the conflict here, there is no agreement over the nature of what goes on here every Friday. Palestinians hail the protest as nonviolent. … But the Israelis complain that, along with protests at the nearby village of Nilin, things are more violent here than the Palestinians and their supporters acknowledge.

While the historian and blogger Joseph Dana is among those who support the Palestinian protests known as the “popular struggle” against the construction of Israel’s barrier on Palestinian land — he has compared the jailed Bilin protest organizers to Gandhi — Arutz Sheva, a news organization that represents the view of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, wrote last week:

The riots at Bilin — and nearby Nilin — are billed by the left as non-violent but are, in fact, extremely violent. Since they began in 2005, the weekly riots have caused the death of a Border Guard policeman who lost his step and fell to his death while trying to catch rock-throwers, as well as causing an IDF soldier to lose his eye and another Border Guard policemen to suffer a serious eye injury.

While the situation seems black and white to some settlers, other Israelis have suggested that Israel’s military has taken to imprisoning the protest organizers not because it sees stone-throwing as a grave crime, but because it perceives them as a serious threat. Last year, Amira Hass, a columnist for Israel’s left-leaning Haaretz newspaper wrote:

The purpose of the coordinated oppression: To wear down the activists and deter others from joining the popular struggle, which has proven its efficacy in other countries at other times. What is dangerous about a popular struggle is that it is impossible to label it as terror and then use that as an excuse to strengthen the regime of privileges, as Israel has done for the past 20 years.

The popular struggle, even if it is limited, shows that the Palestinian public is learning from its past mistakes and from the use of arms, and is offering alternatives.

After Adeeb Abu Rahma’s jail term was extended, his lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said on Thursday: “Today the court of appeals has shown that it is serving as one more instance of political repression not as an actual court where justice is served. The court admitted what we all knew –- that the entire system is trying to make an example of Adeeb in order to silence the entire Popular Struggle movement against Israel’s occupation.

While the activists remain in jail, their struggle to prevent the barrier from separating Bilin villagers from their farmland — which was supported by a ruling in their favor by Israel’s High Court three years ago that was not implemented — appears to be nearing an end. On Thursday, The Jerusalem Post reported: “The IDF plans to complete the construction of a new security barrier near the West Bank Palestinian town of Bilin in the coming weeks. Bilin has been the scene of weekly anti-fence demonstrations in recent years.”

The new barrier will comprise a tall concrete wall, and security cameras will be placed near the haredi settlement of Kiryat Sefer. About [160 acres] of agricultural land will be given back to Bilin. Nonetheless, according to attorneys representing the village, roughly [320 acres] of private farmland will remain on the Israeli side….

“A concrete wall means better protection, and at the same time, means we do not have to repair the barrier like we’ve had to do almost weekly following the demonstrations at Bilin — because currently, it is just a fence,” said a senior officer on Wednesday.

A Study in Middle East Nonviolence

Movie Review of Budrus from NYT

American audiences watching the documentary “Budrus,” about a pioneering effort in nonviolent protest by Palestinians in the West Bank, will find many of the images familiar. The marching, the chanting, the nerve-racking encounters between protesters and jumpy, heavily armed young policemen and soldiers: it’s “Eyes on the Prize” with olive trees.

The writer and director Julia Bacha has fashioned an engrossing and sometimes inspiring account of the confrontations that took place in the village of Budrus in 2003 and 2004 over the building of the Israeli security fence, relying on footage shot at the time by more than a dozen people. At first she keeps the larger and more intractable issues in the background, focusing on the stark contrasts of unarmed Palestinian women jumping in front of bulldozers and being beaten and gassed by the Israeli police.

As the protests, led by the quiet, tough-minded mayor, Ayed Morrar, and his teenage daughter Iltezam, succeed in stalling construction of the fence (which threatens to destroy 3,000 of the villagers’ olive trees), the Israeli news media take notice, and the situation grows more complex. Mr. Morrar, having invited women to participate — an unusual step — goes further and welcomes Israeli peace activists. Soon both the Israeli army and Palestinian politicians are involved; neither is a welcome presence. The cycle of violence the Morrars sought to end seems inescapable.

Ms. Bacha doesn’t duck the dispiriting aspects of the story: she shows us how young Palestinians eventually began throwing stones, and Israeli troops began shooting. “Budrus” makes a convincing case for the courage of the protesters (while giving ample screen time to the commander of the Israeli border police unit they confronted, who happened to be a very attractive young woman). The ultimate value of nonviolent protest in the occupied territories, however, is beyond the film’s scope.


Written and directed by Julia Bacha; directors of photography, Shai Pollack, Monalisa Sundbom, Jonathan Massey, Ms. Bacha, Riyad Deis and Mohammed Fawzi; edited by Geeta Gandbhir and Ms. Bacha; music by Kareem Roustom; produced by Ronit Avni, Ms. Bacha and Rula Salameh; released by Just Vision. At the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village. In Arabic, Hebrew and English, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 21 minutes. This film is not rated.

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