Tag Archives: Palestine
Ben Ehrenreich’s March 15 cover story
On March 15, The New York Times Magazine broke important ground in the mainstream by publishing Ben Ehrenreich’s long and often-thrilling account of resistance in occupied Nabi Saleh, based on his visits to the Palestinian village last summer and earlier this year. The cover of the magazine featured heroic portraits of villagers who had guided the village’s political movement at huge risk, and Ehrenreich’s article portrayed young Palestinians’ throwing of stones as a valid response to military occupation. “The stones were … symbols of defiance, of a refusal to submit to occupation, regardless of the odds. The army’s weapons bore messages of their own: of economic and technological power, of international support.”
While the Forward and Haaretz were quick to attack Ehrenreich for his failure to believe in Zionism–seemingly out of fear that the piece would get a lot of attention– there has been surprisingly little media followup to his important article.
So last week I called the anti-Zionist Jewish novelist, 40, at his home in California to ask a few questions. The record below includes some follow-up by email.
Q. What’s the response been to your piece?
Ben Ehrenrich: Predictably it has been mixed. The most immediate reaction came, not all that surprisingly, from liberal Zionist quarters, from Chemi Shalev in Haaretz, who wrote something of a self-fulfilling prophesy, predicting that the piece’s critics would focus their attacks on me. All of Shalev’s substantive points were written in the subjunctive, such as his suggestion that the piece “might” be read as encouraging an intifada and would “likely” elicit condemnation. He pointed readers to an op-ed I published in the L.A. Times in 2009 ["Zionism is the problem"] in which I argued that a principled opposition to Zionism had been a mainstream stance within Judaism for most of the twentieth century and in which I made the case for an ethical, Jewish critique of Zionism.
Everything that followed both from both liberals and from points much farther to the right followed Shalev’s lead. No criticism that I saw made any serious effort to take on the piece on a factual basis. Factually it was ironclad—it was extremely closely fact-checked. So no one attempted to engage with the piece directly, which is a shame.
It was the usual attempt to limit the discourse by delegitimizing any possible criticism and demonizing any possible critics. The approach was, “This guy’s an anti-Zionist and he shouldn’t be allowed to talk about the issue at all.” Which is absurd really. Ali Gharib made the point in the Daily Beast that if only Zionists are allowed to talk about Palestine, 99 percent of Palestinians would be disqualified from analyzing their own predicament. Another popular line went, “There are a lot of interesting facts in this article, but it’s all out of context,” and it quickly became clear that the only context they would have accepted as relevant was one that would refute all the facts, namely that the people I wrote about are really violent terrorists and everything they say is a lie.
I didn’t think it necessary or productive to respond to any of the criticism. Some people seemed to want me—or my editors—to recant what I had written in the L.A. Times op-ed, as if it were something I should be ashamed of, but I stand by everything I said in that article, and I think it’s worse than ridiculous to demand absolute allegiance to Israel as a precondition for being able to comment on the actions of the Israeli state. One of my goals in writing about these issues has been to broaden what has for years been an extremely and dangerously narrow discourse, to try to expand the borders of what can be said. Some people clearly find that threatening.
Q. There wasn’t a lot of pickup of your story by journalists seeking to interview you.
No. I went on one radio show out of Chicago. Other places I might have expected to follow it chose not to go after it.
Q. Are you telling me that the only interview you did was with that Chicago radio station?
The only interview I did was that one radio station.
Q. Why do you think that is?
I don’t know. There’s obviously been a great deal of hesitation among editors and producers to grapple with this issue at all. They did have a news hook: Obama was in the West Bank.
Q. Did this surprise you?
Q. But Amira Hass is over here on her duty-to-throw-stones story, and Nancy Updike did a story on Nabi Saleh for “This American Life.” Aren’t we in a new moment for the American discussion about Palestinian resistance?
I certainly feel that it’s possible to say things in the American press that it wasn’t possible to say a few years ago. I think the tipping point was Cast Lead. After the bombardment of Gaza in 2008 and 2009 a lot of Americans found they could no longer offer Israel the kind of uncritical support they had given it for so long. The logic of self-defense became harder and harder to justify. I wrote that L.A. Times op-ed in the wake of Cast Lead and was shocked when the paper agreed to publish it. I was quite happily surprised when the New York Times decided to assign the Nabi Saleh piece. It’s extraordinary that they chose to publish this piece. They showed a lot of courage in doing it.
And I was very happy to have my inbox overwhelmed by supportive emails after the piece ran. I received a couple of dozen emails attacking me, which I expected, but also dozens and dozens and dozens of emails thanking me for writing the article, expressing happiness and surprise that it was published in such a prominent place as the Times Magazine. I had a similar experience with that op-ed in 2009. People wrote me with this incredible sense of relief, that I had been permitted to express ideas in print that many people share but that they never see reflected in the mainstream press. At least in terms of popular opinion and media discourse, something is certainly shifting in the U.S. Unfortunately that shift isn’t reflected in the actions of our politicians, which was quite clear from Obama’s trip.
Q. Your piece didn’t take a political position or offer much political analysis, one state, two state.
I think that it’s fairly easy to make a case in one direction or another and it happens on op-ed pages all the time. More in one direction than the other perhaps. But what you don’t see at all in the American media is Palestinians who are not P.A. officials or Hamas officials being taken seriously. You do not see them portrayed as human beings dealing with the humiliating realities of a military occupation and you do not see them as individuals making painful moral choices and committing themselves to a daily struggle with no end in sight. I don’t believe the piece romanticized anything, but I did make a great effort to provide sufficient historical and political context for readers to understand why and how the people of Nabi Saleh act as they do, to allow readers to understand their struggle on their terms, not on terms provided by the IDF or the State Department. Those are perspectives that we don’t get in the US media, and it seemed far more important to document them accurately than to make easy political points.
Q. It was rumored that the Times editors were surprised to learn of your 2009 LA Times piece at the time of your detention by the Israeli army in Nabi Saleh July 2012–when news broke that you were over there for the Times, and folks on twitter got very excited about the LA Times story.
I don’t think so. It took a lot of courage for The Times to publish it, and I felt very well backed throughout. They were very committed to this piece.
Q. The piece seemed to be delayed for months. I thought it was going to die. What happened?
There isn’t really a story there. They held it for various reasons that weren’t political. It was about to close when the Gaza war broke out in November, and, since no one knew what was going to happen, they decided to hold off. By December my original reporting, which I had done over the summer, was beginning to feel stale, and they made the decision to commit more resources to the story. They sent me back for another three weeks and sent Peter van Agtmael, the photographer, whose work is really extraordinary, back as well. They certainly knew they would catch heat for publishing the story, and they pushed ahead and ran it almost as soon as Peter and I returned from the West Bank.
Q. How did the piece originate?
I had visited Nabi Saleh briefly in 2011 while working on a piece for Harper’s about the role of water in the occupation of the West Bank. In early 2012, a Times magazine editor asked me to pitch stories. I came up with five or six ideas, including a piece on Nabi Saleh. (None of the others were Palestine-related.) To my surprise, the Nabi Saleh story was the one that caught the editors’ interest.
Video and Photo Essay: Nabi Saleh continues to resist and call for all Palestinian political prisoners to be freed
Video by Bilal Tamimi
Photo essay by Haim Schwarczenberg: 19 April 2013
Nabi Saleh popular struggle demonstration begins
Roadblock made of stones to try and prevent Israeli Occupation Forces invading Nabi Saleh vilalge
Palestinian youth attempts to prevent Israeli Occupation Forces invading Nabi Saleh village
Skunk (foul chemical water) fired at unarmed demonsrators
Israeli Occupation Forces invade Nabi Saleh
Israeli Occupation Forces firing teargas
Israeli Occupation Forces firing teargas
Nariman Tamimi treated for tear gas inhalation
by International Women’s Peace Service: 19.04.2013
Human Rights Report No.464
Human Rights Summary: Use of cruel and unusual punishment in An Nabi Saleh
Date of incidents: April 19 2013
Place: An Nabi Saleh
Witnesses: IWPS, ISM, Anarchists against the Wall, Community of An Nabi Saleh
IWPS arrived in An Nabi Saleh at 11 am, one hour before the demonstration was scheduled to start. At 11:30am, two Israeli Military jeeps were stationed at the main road and a group of four soldiers were observed walking on foot through the village.
Over a hundred gathered at An Nabi Saleh for their weekly demonstration against the occupation. The community of An Nabi Saleh was present with people from all ages alongside national, international activists and media. At 12 pm, following the afternoon prayer, there was a short speech that commenced the march through the centre of town down the main road. At the main road three Israeli Military Jeeps were stationed along with a large white “skunk-truck” equipped with a long range hose and a bulldozer apparatus in front.
Chanting and singing, the crowd walked 300 meters past the gas station before pausing to set up defensive barricades with rocks. Two rock lines were set up before the Jeep and Skunk truck came forward removing the barricades, shooting several cans of tear gas and spraying the crowd with a sickeningly foul-smelling liquid.
The crowd quickly dispersed and the truck and Jeep continued to drive the length of the village drenching each house and the street with the foul smelling liquid and tear gas as a form of collective punishment which is prohibited under international law. Furthermore, such attacks on private homes are unnecessary and dangerous to the families inside. Numerous people were soaked; many reported feeling ill from the overwhelming smell. By 2pm the jeeps and skunk-truck had parked at the surveillance-tower crossroads. The demonstration had dispersed into small groups of 4 to 10 people being met by similar numbers of Israeli soldiers on foot, regularly shooting tear gas.
Report written by: Alex
Report edited by: Meg and Sylvia
Date of report: April 19, 2013
On Palestinian Prisoner Day in 2013, there are 5,000 Palestinian political prisoner incarcerated in 27 Israeli prisons, jails, detention centers and interrogation centers. 106 prisoners have been in jail since before the signing of the Oslo accords between Israel and PLO in 1993. 14 prisoners are women, with Lina Jarbouni being the longest serving prisoner, so far held for 11 years out of her 20-year sentence. There are 235 child prisoners in Israeli jails and 200 administrative detainees, 14 of whom are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council
For more information: http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=22151
12th April 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Nabi Saleh, Occupied Palestine
Updated: Nabi Saleh demonstration violently suppressed by Israeli forces; activist shot three times
UPDATE 13th April 2013: The injured Spanish activist returned to hospital Saturday morning, after experiencing continued pain, dizziness and fatigue. She had been shot three times with plastic coated steel bullets at Nabi Saleh demonstration the day before. She is currently under observation at the Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, being treated with antibiotics.
12th April 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Nabi Saleh, Occupied Palestine
Around one hundred Palestinians, joined by a handful of Israeli and international activists, participated in today’s demonstration in Nabi Saleh. After midday prayers, protesters marched from the centre of the village, deviating from their usual route and walking across the main road and up the hill, trying to reach the water spring stolen by settlers from Halamish settlement more than three years ago.
By the time protesters reached the hilltop, several Israeli Border Police officers waiting and immediately started to shoot tear gas canisters and rubber coated steel bullets at them. One Spanish international activist was hit by a rubber coated bullet in the right leg. As people retreated from the hilltop back to the main road, Israeli forces continued shooting tear gas canisters.
Teargas shot at peaceful demonstrators
As protesters walked chanting and clapping towards a large group of Israeli military personnel and jeeps blocking the road, they were ambushed. Border police officers who had invaded the village shot multiple volleys of rubber coated steel bullets directly at unarmed protesters from a vantage point on top of the hill, as protesters retreated.
The same international activist who had previously been shot was again shot with two bullets; one in the ribs on the back and the other on the stomach. This breaks the Israeli forces’ own rules of engagement which state that rubber coated bullets should be fired at the legs. Despite the fact that officers clearly saw that the activist was injured, they continued shooting rubber coated steel bullets along the road. The activist was immediately assisted by Red Crescent personnel and taken to hospital by ambulance. She is in good health condition, recovering from the injuries at home.
Activist’s injury by rubber coated steel bullets
Israeli forces continued shooting tear gas canisters and rubber coated steel bullets at protesters until three in the afternoon, when the demonstration finished.
The village of Nabi Saleh has been demonstrating against the theft of the natural spring and the occupation since December 2009. Israeli forces violently suppress the weekly Friday protests by shooting tear gas canisters, skunk water, sound bombs, rubber coated steel bullets and even live ammunition at protesters. Two people have been killed, Mustafa and Rushdi Tamimi, and many others severely injured. Bassem Tamimi, from Nabi Saleh, has spent 16 months in Israeli jails, merely for being a prominent activist at the protests. After more than three year and despite the repression, Nabi Saleh continues to fight against the injustices of a brutal military Israeli occupation.
5th of April 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Nabi Saleh, Occupied Palestine
Young protesters walking towards the Israeli military
On Palestinian Children’s Day, the kids of Nabi Saleh played a leading role in their village demonstration, holding banners and balloons, claiming their rights to a childhood free of oppresion and occupation. However, Israeli forces, as they regularly do, quickly suppressed the demonstration.
As the crowd of protesters were marching along the road with the intention of going to their stolen water spring down the hill, Israeli border police accompanied by a skunk water truck started to shoot the malodorous water and tear gas canisters at the protesters.
Border police officers, located on the main road and on the two hilltops beside it, continued shooting tear gas canisters for approximately an hour, after which they further invaded the village, chasing Palestinian youths down the hills on the other side of Nabi Saleh. A local journalist was severely pushed, pepper sprayed and had stun grenades thrown at him by Israeli border police officers whilst covering the protest.
Nabi Saleh boy watching Israeli soldiers invading his village
The demonstration finished at around 3pm when Israeli forces retreated from the village. Then, the children of Nabi Saleh, took over their streets to celebrate their day, claiming their right to a childhood without Israeli occupation.
The village of Nabi Saleh has been demonstrating against the theft of the natural spring and the occupation since December 2009. Israeli forces violently suppress the weekly Friday protests by shooting tear gas canisters, skunk water, sound bombs, rubber coated steel bullets and even live ammunition at protesters. Two people have been killed, Mustafa and Rushdi Tamimi, and many others severly injured. Bassem Tamimi, from Nabi Saleh, has spent 16 months in Israeli jails for the only reason of being a prominent activist at the protests. After more than three year and despite the repression, Nabi Saleh continues to fight against the injustices of a brutal military Israeli occupation.
Photos by Haim Schwarzcenberg and Tamimi Press/Video by David Reeb
Nabi Saleh residents begin Friday demonstrations – photo by Haim Schwarczenberg
Israeli Occupation Forces open fire on unarmed demonstrators in Nabi Saleh – photo by Haim Schwarczenberg
Israeli Occupation Forces fire teargas at protestors – photo by Haim Schwarczenberg
Palestinian woman carrying flowers in front of Israeli Occupation Forces soliders – photo by Tamimi Press
Skunk being sprayed at protesters – photo by Tamimi Press
Israeli Occupation Forces harass journalists and press in Nabi Saleh – photo by Tamimi Press
Illegal Israeli settlers occupy spring located on stolen Palestinian land owned by Nabi Saleh residents – photo by Tamimi Press
by Nabi Saleh Solidarity: 25 March 2013
(the date stamp on the camera appears to be incorrect – the photo was taken in March 2013)
Three of the leading woman activists from Nabi Saleh are currently on speaking tour in France. Manal Tamimi, Nariman Tamimi and Boshra Tamimi have spoken at a number of meetings, with their visit covered by some of the French media.
Below is a report in French about one of the solidarity meetings, along with clippings from the French media.
Nariman Manal et Bochra de Nabi Saleh ont séjourné les 12 et 13 mars à Montpellier.
Une conférence de presse - tenue dans les locaux du CCFD/Pax Christi qui nous ont accueillis – a réuni les journalistes des deux quotidiens de Montpellier, le rédacteur en chef du journal du diocèse, et des représentants de deux radios (dont RCF). - Une rencontre avec une vingtaine de personnes du CCFD, de Pax Christi et de l’ACAT s’est tenue ensuite avec des échanges fructueux. Les sujets abordés : la résistance populaire non-violente, la place et le rôle des femmes, les prisonniers ont permis d’aborder des questions auxquelles Nariman, Manal et Bochra ont répondu en traitant le niveau local et le national, situant leurs actions sur le plan politique de la lutte du peuple palestinien contre l’occupant.
Après un repos bien mérité à la mer et une « ballade » dans Montpellier pour nos trois amies palestiniennes, 90 personnes sont venues à la rencontre du soir. Après le témoignage des femmes, la vidéo sur Nabi Saleh a été suivie d’un moment d’intense émotion. Le débat a été riche. Beaucoup de questions sur la résistance populaire et les prisonniers. Comme lors de la conférence de presse, les trois femmes ont toujours relié leur lutte à celle de leur peuple en indiquant que celui-ci est bien déterminé à mener la lutte jusqu’au bout.
A la fin du débat des amis de Kaïna TV (télévision locale associative par internet) ont remis deux caméras pour Nabi Saleh afin de remplacer celle qui a été brisée. Ce fut moment très fort et émouvant.
Merci à toutes ces personnes qui ont permis que cette soirée soit intense et riche en émotions.
Ci-joint les premiers articles du Midi Libre et Hérault du Jour (bon article, avec une coquille sur Nabi Saleh devenu Nassibala)