Monday, December 11, 2017

Building a “culture of resistance” in Nabi Saleh


By The Palestine Monitor - November 12, 2016
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Culture]
Tags: [nonviolent resistance] [Nabi Saleh]

The Nabi Saleh Cultural Committee held its first conference this weekend under the title “Occupation, the enemy of religions and humanity.” The two-day event attracted locals as well as international and Israeli supporters as both audience and speakers.
 
Many of them were familiar faces. The village of 550, located some 20km north of Ramallah, has been at the heart of the Palestinian non-violent protest movement since it began demonstrating against land annexation by the nearby Israeli settlement of Halamish in December 2009. The weekly demonstrations, held in at least six other villages across the West Bank, brought international and Israeli anti-occupation activists to protest alongside Palestinians against the separation wall and settlements, although numbers gradually waned over the years.
 
Last summer, the Nabi Saleh Popular Struggle Committee, which had been organising the protests, decided to discontinue the weekly marches. Known for the regular participation of women and children, they invariably ended in sometimes lethal confrontations between stone-throwing youth and the Israeli army, indiscriminately firing tear gas and rubber bullets and live fire into the crowd.
 
One of the protest leaders, Bassem Tamimi, 50, estimates that 350 people from this tiny village were injured and 50 were left physically disabled over the years, while two members of his family were killed. Last year, 22 youth from Nabi Saleh were arrested. Some of them are facing long sentences or hefty fines for their release from Israeli military jail.
 
A demonstration in Nabi Saleh
 
But Tamimi, a leader during the First Intifada, has not given up on the idea of non-violent resistance.
 
“We are now trying to build a culture of resistance,” Tamimi told Palestine Monitor, adding that he intends for this to be the first in a series of conferences and other cultural events to take place in the village. Next August, he hopes to resurrect the Nabi Saleh traditional arts festival.
 
“The Nabi Saleh festival was a historical arts festival, with singing, art, and dancing, before the occupation,” he said. “We will continue to educate the people and to make our voices heard this way,” he adds, admitting that some among the younger generation are less keen on the idea. Demonstrations will continue, but only “in occasions when something happens. We don’t want to feel it’s an exam or a Friday lesson.”
 
The conference saw the participation of international civil society, including Amnesty International, well-known figures in activist circles such as former member of the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini, as well as BDS movement leaders.
 
“In this part of the land, religion has been used by the occupation,” Morgantini said in one of the panels, where she spoke alongside religious leaders from different faiths from across Palestine and abroad - echoing what was intended to be the conference’s message. “Israel has always played down its multiculturalism and tried to divide Palestinians with all [its] means,” she stated.
 
“We are trying to build a new strategy, to create something new. Because we must study from our experience, and if we can do something better than we are doing,” Tamimi said.
 

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