Friday, July 16, 2010

Nicholas D. Kristof On Israeli And Palestinian Human Rights Activists

Following his articles on inequities between Israeli settlements and Palestinian villages and on Israel's counterproductive blockade of Gaza, columnist Nicholas D. Kristof wrote about inspiring Israeli and Palestinian human rights activists. "In Israel, the Noble vs. The Ugly" focuses on one Israeli rabbi:

I watched the ugly side of Israel collide with its more noble version, as Rabbi Ascherman and I visited a rural area in the northern West Bank where Jewish settlers have taken over land that Palestinian farmers say is theirs.

“If we try to enter our land, settlers will be waiting, and we will be beaten,” said Muhammad Moqbel, a 71-year-old Palestinian from the village of Qaryout who pointed to fields that he said had been stolen by settlers. Last year, he said, he was hospitalized with a broken rib after settlers attacked while he was picking his own olives.

Rabbis for Human Rights has helped Palestinians recover some land through lawsuits in Israeli courts. And Rabbi Ascherman and other Jewish activists escort such farmers to protect them. The settlers still attack, but soldiers are more likely to intervene when it is rabbis being clubbed.

"Waiting for Gandhi" cites a Palestinian activist who promotes non-violent civil disobedience:

So far there is no Palestinian version of Martin Luther King Jr. But one candidate might be Ayed Morrar. A balding, mild-mannered activist, he was the mastermind behind the most successful initiative so far: nonviolent demonstrations a half-dozen years ago in the West Bank village of Budrus against Israel’s construction of a security fence there. More than many other Palestinians, he has a shrewd sense of public relations.

“With nonviolent struggle, we can win the media battle,” Mr. Morrar told me, speaking in English. “They always used to say that Palestinians are killers. With nonviolence, we can show that we are victims, that we are not against Jews but are against occupation.”

Mr. Morrar spent six years in Israeli prisons but seems devoid of bitterness. He says that Israel has a right to protect itself by building a fence — but on its own land, not on the West Bank.

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