Although attention is focused on New York, the real struggle for Palestinian rights is playing out on the ground

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While the PA’s Statehood bid dominates the media and public attention, those involved in the true movement for Palestinian rights continue to be overlooked.

One such organizer is Bassem Tamimi from Nabi Saleh. Although he has been jailed since March, the first witness only testified on September 25th. The questionable evidence presented during Sunday’s sole testimony was from former deputy battalion commander in Nabi Saleh, Major Michel Dahan. Dahan accused Tamimi of directing an elaborate network of stone-throwers because, from 300 meters away and with the help of binoculars, he witnessed Bassem shout in Arabic and make hand gestures from a rooftop. Despite admitting that he didn’t see anything more than what was described and the fact that he couldn’t understand what Tamimi was yelling because he doesn’t have knowledge of the Arabic language,  he was certain of Tamimi’s guilt.

As Palestinians have little legal recourse under the military Occupation, Bassem is in the same predicament that forced his village to organize a campaign in the first place. With no legitimate court to turn to about the theft of their natural springs and farmland, Nabi Saleh has been protesting weekly since January 2010.  In response, the village has been subjected to intense repression. But when the deliberate misuse of “crowd dispersal” weapons, including US made tear-gas and live ammunition failed to coerce protestors into abandoning their claims; the Army began to conduct nightly raids, arresting any suspected demonstrators including underage children.

The experience of Nabi Saleh isn’t an anomaly. Bi’lin, Ni’lin, al-Ma’asara, al-Walaja, Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Beit Hanoun – all Palestinian resistance is met with violent repression.  Israel acknowledges but remains indifferent to the non-violent tactics of the protesters, as proven by a recently leaked cable where Israeli Minister of Defense Amos Gilad is quoted as saying that “we don’t do Gandhi very well”. 

The UN bid has been rightly criticized for being a false assertion of the Palestinian struggle as a matter of statehood, rather than of fundamental rights.  And as the international community focuses on the PA power play in New York, the real struggle, happening in Palestinian villages, is ignored.

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