Trending Topics:

After building a protest movement, West Bank village of Nabi Saleh steps back from weekly Friday protests

on 24 Comments

Over the summer, one of the founding villages of the Palestinian non-violent movement, Nabi Saleh, decided to stop holding the weekly Friday demonstrations that brought the small West Bank town international attention. The move comes following scores of arrests and a general fatigue among protesters.

“It is very hard for the families to continue participating,” said Bassem Tamimi, a leader in Nabi Saleh who helped organize weekly marches over the past six years. The demonstrations are organized more or less in the backyards of the villagers. A combination of tear gas, rubber bullets, and live fire sprayed through the village on a weekly basis, which is different from other towns that stage marches in the far off agricultural lands.

“The tear gas is inside the village, the clashes are inside of the homes, and it’s a small village which makes it difficult for the people to continue,” said Bassem.

He estimates that more than 350 people from his 600 person town have been injured in clashes with the army since 2010, and 50 were left physically disabled. Two from Bassem’s family were killed by the Israeli military—Mustafa Tamimi and Rushdie Tamimi, the latter a police officer with the Palestinian force.

Bassem’s wife Nairiman has a surgically placed metal plate in her leg. It was implanted after she was shot in the knee last year by an Israeli soldier. 

“Too many times to count,” Nairiman said, revealing scars from wounds inflicted by Israeli soldiers.

Bassem Tamimi. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Bassem Tamimi. (Photo: Allison Deger)

When the protests were first launched in 2010, most Friday mornings Bassem and Nairiman cooked an egg breakfast for at least 300 demonstrators. The ratio of participants was always and has remained around 3:1 Palestinians to Israeli and international activists. In those early years, the demonstration’s goal was to reach a natural spring taken over by settlers from Halamish. According to the Israeli human rights group Peace Now, 33 per cent of Halamish is built on land usurped from private owners in Nabi Saleh, with the watering hole in the count. 

By 2013 the protests outgrew their small hamlet. The Tamimis caravanned to other villages around the West Bank. They shut down entrances to settlements, and a main highway that runs through the occupied Palestinian territory into Jerusalem, road 443. 

The problems began last fall when a sizable group from the town were carted off to jail. 

Lately, the numbers at the protests in town have dwindled. “The last one,” Bassem said referring to a march organized two months ago, “had around 30 Palestinians, and around 15 Israelis and internationals.”

“We found ourselves with just a few people who were participating after 22 [villagers] were arrested. But it’s not in Nabi Saleh only where the participation has declined. It’s everywhere,” Bassem said.

The relatives of the jailed found themselves in a sea of paperwork and court fines, Bassem included. His eldest son Waed was released in late August after being incarcerated for ten months for charges relating to protesting. Both Bassem and Nairiman have served time in Israeli prisons.

Nairiman Tamimi. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Nairiman Tamimi. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Bassem explained the math while seated on a sofa in his living room, Waed napping on another couch, “For example, I paid for Nariman my wife, the first [arrest fine] was $2,600 [10,000 NIS], the second time $1,300 [5,000 NIS], and another time $180 [700 NIS]. For me, I paid $3,200 [12,000 NIS] the first time, $1,300 [5,000 NIS] the second time. For my son I paid $400 [1,500 NIS] the first time, and the second time $500 [2,000 NIS].”

Actually, Bassem did not pay the last fine.

“I want to convince the people not to pay it, so I started with my son,” he said. Waed spent another two months in jail for refusing to post the bond.

Nabi Saleh was one of around eight West Bank villages that launched weekly Friday demonstrations and their protests received international recognition. Nairiman and the eldest Tamimi daughter Ahed, 15, traveled to Turkey to receive an award for outstanding activism after she was photographed tucking her arm back as if she were about to right hook a soldier. The image of a blond girl facing off with a grown man in full military garb perhaps best defines the mystique Nabi Saleh has built for itself. 

The atmosphere in the village is widely regarded as somewhat unique. No other protest group included representational numbers of women and children. Bassem added, that because the town’s youth unabashedly threw stones at soldiers the army acted with more force.

Although Bassem considers stone throwing within his definition of non-violence, this view is not shared by the Israeli military. Police spokespeople generally refer to these actions as illegal and are called “disturbances” or “riots.”

“We don’t know what is the best decision,” Bassem lamented before cheerfully recounting Nabi Saleh’s successes. From the outset, his goal was never limited to only claiming back the land Israel expropriated for Halamish. His aims were higher: to subvert Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory by way of a mass movement of civil disobedience, with every sector of Palestinian society involved.

Bassem wanted a societal revolution of sorts, where villages across the countryside would protest in unison, starting with Nabi Saleh as a model.

That did not happen. But something else took a foothold. 

Ahed Tamimi (L) sits with her mother Nairiman Tamimi outside of their family home in Nabi Saleh. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Ahed Tamimi (L) sits with her mother Nairiman Tamimi outside of their family home in Nabi Saleh. (Photo: Allison Deger)

“When we started in Nabi Saleh, we started after a decision. We are a group of leaders from the first intifada, and our goal was to convince our people and our society of the means of using non-violence,” he said. 

“Our goal is the means,” he underscored, relating the importance he sees peaceful protests in contrast to the turbulent years of the second intifada in the early 2000s, “to make it familiar and acceptable, and for it to be the Palestinian strategy and the belief for dealing with the Palestinian issue in the future.”

Bassem had taken stock of the more than two decades of peace talks that did not lead to an agreement with Israel, and by 2004 he had joined protests with Israeli left-wing activists in other areas of the West Bank. They demonstrated against Israel’s separation wall.  This, Bassem said, led to a sea change. He became a full-fledged “one-stater,” dropping faith in what he describes as the “losing” two-state solution to Palestinian sovereignty outlined by the West Bank’s ruling Fatah party, to which he is most aligned.

“We believe the negotiations [with Israel] will not lead to our rights, and the armed resistance, we can’t do it because it gives a cause for our enemy,” he said.

Bassem insists he has not given up on protesting, rather he plans to hold less frequent marches in order to build-up to a critical mass of dissidents, maybe monthly. “The general goal is to end the occupation,” he concluded.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

24 Responses

  1. Rusty Pipes on September 7, 2016, 6:00 pm

    One out of twelve (50 of 600) villagers have sustained disabling injuries as a result of their years of weekly nonviolent actions. Resistance to oppression takes a toll.

    • Kathleen on September 8, 2016, 8:37 am

      Over half of the village injured. 50 permanently disabled. Lost two family members. Unbelievable human tolls.

      What incredible stamina, commitment. Awe struck.

      Pleased to read they will continue once a month.

      Has anyone donated to this honorable cause?

      Sure folks noticed that in the “Commander in Chief” forum Matt Lauer did not ask anything about the I/P conflict. Zero

  2. Marnie on September 8, 2016, 2:07 am

    I have a lot of admiration for the Tamimi family. They’ve endured so many personal losses. Their smiles and strength is the real light to the nations.

    • gamal on September 8, 2016, 7:24 pm

      Dear Marnie I posted a little thing that seems to be unacceptable (sorry mod honestly you are patient but still i am puzzled)

      but in honour of Saleh my old friend Hisham does the full Nabi

      ( and mod was it the Assad reference, no one gives a shit about Tai, these days)

      Hisham says don’t look behind you

      • Marnie on September 9, 2016, 12:39 pm

        gamal – I’m watching this little by little – Hisham’s beard looks soft like his eyes and voice. Thanks –

  3. Talkback on September 8, 2016, 8:40 am

    The usual terrorism of settler colonialism.

    Qucik Bibi, talik about Palestinian rockets, knives or Islamic terrorism in general.

  4. eljay on September 8, 2016, 9:31 am

    Poor Zio-supremacists. It seems that no matter what they do, whether its…
    – committing acts of terrorism;
    – ethnically cleansing the indigenous population from their homes and lands;
    – establishing an oppressive and religion-supremacist state;
    – maintaining and expanding their supremacist state by means of military occupation and colonialism;
    – deliberately flouting international laws and refusing to honour their obligations under them,
    …or simply crushing peaceful protests and maiming civilians, they’re demonized as the “bad guys”.

    Aggressor-victimhood sure is a tough gig… :-(

    • Cazador on September 10, 2016, 3:44 am

      a tough gig indeed, and a very ugly, out-of-tune, inhumane music

  5. Danaa on September 8, 2016, 7:05 pm

    I kind of wish people like tamimi started leading a movement for equal rights for palestinians. The struggle for a palestinian state is unfortunately all but over. A combination of increased israeli brutality, tacit support by a US largely captured by zionist visions which obscure the colonialist nature of the israel project, and a steadily rising campaign against international activists, have all contributed to the realization that palestine cannot be as envisioned.

    Sometimes, i think left wing activists get so sold on their own somewhat idealistic visions that they neglect to see the reality, in all its gore. The reality is that power and money (the two being interdependent) play a big role in human events and always did. Revolution is a nice word, but when these only work when the numbers are there. The sanders revolution in the US failed, so what hope does a palestinian revolution have?

    Ultimately, the palestinians of the west bank may need to take a step back, save themselves from death and injury, so they can fight another day. And when that day comes they will have to overcome their own differences and join the palestinian israelis (even if there’s a barrier in between) and call for their rights within the israeli system, crooked as it is.

    Somehow the struggle of the palestinians for a state of their own reminds me of the Spanish civil war. We know who won and who lost in that one. Those who saw echoes of Algier in palestine were misguided in equating the french with Israelis, and also ignoring the fact that a sea separated Algeria from france. Geography is destiny, they say, and in this case, it unfortunately is.

    • Danaa on September 8, 2016, 7:19 pm

      To add one thing – another fact that neither israeli notr international activists counted on, is just how utterly cruel and racist the israeli mind frame really is. There have always been perhaps too many jewish people among the internationals. many (at least till proven otherwise) kept believing, deep in the recesses of their minds, that there was commonality between jewish people raised and educated in Western democracies, and israelis, raised and educated in a semi-Sparta-like garrison state mentality. The nice jewish liberals of the west could see palestinians as people, even behind scarves and religion. The israeli – except for the few most enlightened ones – cannot and never will. presuming there was some sort of a “bond’ between jews of the world and israelis was – and still is – a major error, which contributes, time and again, to failed tactics. I am reminded of the gaza flotillas, among other things.

      I am also reminded of people like Finkelstein and Blumenthal, who, while actively engaged in exposing israel’s misdeeds, cannot bring themselves to cross the rubicon. Namely their own sub-concious fear that anti-semitism is real if dormant, and BDS, can wake it up. But that’s the line that needs to be crossed, because one can’t hold the stick on both ends. One must risk blow-back of all sorts to be effective.

      many palestinians know this, on a very deep level. Blumenthal can write in the comfort of his Milieu. The people of the gaza ghetto can’t. And until he is willing to see gaza as a ghetto, and the israelis as fundamentally flawed and cruel people, he will never understand what is really happening.

      I believe Phil may have, at some point, crossed that line. But i also understand what it means to cross lines. So I can only say what I see, which is that time is running out for one cause, and it’s high time to start working for another.

      • ritzl on September 8, 2016, 8:15 pm

        Great comments Danaa.

      • RoHa on September 9, 2016, 5:29 am

        I think you are absolutely correct about this. Equal rights for all within the territory of Palestine is the way to go, and the Palestinians should work for that. But, as you also note, they would have to convince the cruel and racist Israeli Jews to change their attitudes. No easy task.

      • Susan A on September 9, 2016, 6:02 am

        Dear Danaa,
        I take it you’ve read ‘Goliath’? I think Max Blumenthal knows full well what you have written about the “semi-sparta-like garrison state mentality”, and he has written volumes about Israeli flaws and cruelty. I also think that he knows full well that there are few Israelis with whom he has “commonality”. There are, however, some Israelis who ARE aware of the utter cruelty and who we can ALL have commonality with. Blumenthal, in my opinion, is also fully aware that Gaza is a ghetto. He has consistently advocated for BDS for quite some time now. Yes, he has spoken about anti-semitism, but it does exist, though only marginally, I would say in the solidarity movement; and when it is exhibited by anyone it is always called out. It’s very sad to see such criticism of him when he is always being attacked and smeared from the those he speaks out against. I say all this as a non-Jewish English person.

      • Keith on September 9, 2016, 11:30 am

        DANAA- “I am also reminded of people like Finkelstein and Blumenthal….”

        Blumenthal strikes me as a post Zionist Jewish tribalist. He criticizes Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and of support for Israel being the center of Jewish tribalism as it is now. However, he also is rather quick to go out of his way to label people as anti-Semitic in an effort to buttress his community bona fides, his uncalled for attack on Gilad Atzmon one example. Not that Atzmon doesn’t seek to provoke. Finkelstein, on the other hand, tends to downplay anti-Semitism, although he seems to embrace the Jewish community but without Zionist level solidarity.

      • Danaa on September 9, 2016, 2:25 pm

        Susan A, my critique of Blumenthal (whose book I have and read, and to whose interviews – the few he is allowed to give – I listened) is circumspect, and well tempered by my respect for what he HAS done and HAVE brought to light. I am the last person to advocate rifts and minor internecine battles for purity or otherwise among the all too few supporters of Palestine. Same goes for Finkelstein who has done much good, and whose debating skills are beyond comparison.

        That being said, my comment has to do with something i recognize that exists among even the best jewish solidarity activists, and i hope you can view it with the consideration it deserves. I understand all too well what the somewhat one-sided teachings about jewish history have done to the people of israel, because I was subject to them myself. Even now, just as I think I escaped the worst of the tribal circle the wagons mentality, something happens, or someone says something and I am back into the old Anne Frank dilemma wondering who will hide me when the whole thing cracks open. That little twinge of fear is real, and fight as one way, I recognize its origins in having been brain-washed from a wee young age into the “basically all the goys are against us” mind frame. In israel that is how >95% of them feel – and express – quite overtly. In a place like the US, that little fear is tempered by multiple loyalties and alliances, such as are formed in this country. Loyalties that cross the ethnic/religious/political dividing lines. Just look at Phil and read his writings over the years, but even he, now and then feels that little twinge. He and I and multitudes of other Americans of jewish descent feel it when we talk about things like the rise of the jewish mandarin class (which Phil has done himself on several occasions and on a deeply personal level). We worry – what happens to us, solidarity people, progressives par excellance, when they come after the 1% with pitch forks. Will they make exceptions for some? all?and I speak here as one with my own pitch fork well sharpened, waiting in the shed, for when the time comes, and the neoliberal economic order based on perpetual accumulation of wealth by few, collapses, as it inevitably would. Just like the peasants of old, will the screwed over unemployed and under-employed, be inclined to make fine point distinctions? who knows?

        So, the way Blumenthal and Finkelstein deal with this existential angst is to arm against closet anti-semites, that you say exist among the activists. The way I deal with mine is to see all activists as soldiers in a battle for the soul of humanity. Like all soldiers, comments will be made in a heated moment, but that has been the case for every people fighting a much more powerful enemy – which in this case is the monied, all-powerful, deep state pupeteers, whoever and wherever they are. As warriors against deep states everywhere (israel included!), looking for closet bigot, here, homophobe there, anti-semite somewhere else is pointless and divisive. Ultimately, it’s not whether anti-semitism is real or not, and whether all goys are infected a little by this ‘virus” (which our distorted history inclines us to believe). It’s about our own fears, sub-conscious anxieties and that’s what needs to be recognized.

        Long answer but the gist is simple; no, greta berlin was no more anti-semitic than you or I. And Atzmon got it right on lots of issues that may be disturbing to many, even if his mannerisms may not be to everyone’s taste. And BDS is just about the only weapon we got and it needs to be sharpened to the max, one heck of lot more than it is now. Even as the forces of evil are arrayed against it everywhere we look. In the end, we are either in this together, fighting as warriors in a common battle, or we are in it for the excitement and adrenalin rush of some feel-good activism, something that can be abandoned when we become too despondent over too few victories and many losses (we have one coming now, in Hillary). If it’s the former then sorry, but you – and blumenthal, and Finkelstein and the many other jewish people who see palestinians as the oppressed people in this colonialist-settler adventure known as israel, we need to fight as one, and avoid the squabbles that tarnished just about every revolutionary movement from time immemorial.

    • Keith on September 9, 2016, 10:55 am

      DANAA- “Ultimately, the palestinians of the west bank may need to take a step back, save themselves from death and injury, so they can fight another day.”

      I have always felt that focusing excessively on some ideal future (one state versus two, etc.) is counterproductive. Much of our focus needs to be on the here and now. End the Siege of Gaza, tear down the wall, eliminate the check points, etc. That is one reason why I was distressed by the attack on Greta Berlin and the consequences for the Free Gaza movement. The ongoing overemphasis on alleged anti-Semitism is extremely counterproductive.

      • Danaa on September 9, 2016, 2:55 pm

        Keith, I totally agree bout the need to focus on the here and now. The siege of gaza needs to be a rallying point even if they attack us as Hamas-lovers, or Putin-stooges or whatever. Tearing down the wall, ditto. But israel is upping the ante as we speak, slowly but surely executing its grand plan.

        So, on our side, it’s good to have a grand plan or two as well. It occurred to me that we – as in you, I, activists, palestinians on the front line, solidarity people everywhere – cannot bring ourselves to envision the outlines of a grand plan. And because of that we are weak in the face of a far more determined and focused foe, which actually has a unified philosophy, namely – we want it and we’ll have it, and time is on the side of those who make facts on the ground.

        So, i says there is room for philosophers and visionaries. We need the likes of Zizek in our ranks, and the palestinians need them too, They have some of their own, to be sure, great thinkers, like Said, but the message needs to permeate more deeply and widely. It is necessary, I believe, to accept that the time is rapidly coming for a gestalt transition, among us all, palestinians included. people like Shmuel have been preaching this gospel for some time now, and quite well, but the message needs to resonate in villages like nabi saleh, and in cities like Ramallah and in the refugee camps throughout. Sure abbas can continue to have talks with yahoo. Why not. learn from Putin – the Russians always talk of cease fires even as they maximize gains on the ground. At this time, the best Abbas and his ilk can hope for is the equivalent of a “frozen conflict” but israel will not let them have even this much.

        So, I am thinking tactics and strategy, because thinking is all I have to contribute at this time.

        As with regards to sanders, I am conflicted. the revolution i speak of was more in the sense that the SPIRIT of a revolution really does exist among the people. Clearly, sanders, may have triggered something, but we all understand that ultimately – and always – he is a politician, and must do what politicians do. I try not to be too cynical about him, because cynicism drains the soul of energy. Instead, I look for the green off-shoots of a real movement. Can the off-shoots survive the coraling the establishment is intent on un-leashing, using the threat of trump as a trump card? I kind of see my job (if it can be called a job – because it really is just my programing that so inclines me) as encouraging and making connections to the off-shoots. The time for the real movement will come. I want it to be a good one, even while recognizing we may not have the luxury of having a national leader (if we did, they would bring them down). I am thinking local for now.

        BTW – an interesting subreddit for you: WayofThe Bern. Don’t get discouraged by the name. They are all refugees there, but lots of good links, which i store in the shed where I keep my pitch fork well oiled and sharpened. Not enough eassayists. For those check out caucus99 (I am not providing the link so as not to bring the ire of whatever from the woodworks).

    • Keith on September 9, 2016, 11:06 am

      DANAA- “The sanders revolution in the US failed, so what hope does a palestinian revolution have?”

      If you think that the Sanders’ “revolution” failed, then you have misperceived the goals and objectives of the Sanders’ “revolution.” As far as I am concerned, the Sanders’ “revolution” has succeeded brilliantly, and his follow on “Our Revolution” will continue to do so, much as has done.

  6. Marnie on September 9, 2016, 12:39 am

    “There have always been perhaps too many jewish people among the internationals. many (at least till proven otherwise) kept believing, deep in the recesses of their minds, that there was commonality between jewish people raised and educated in Western democracies, and israelis, raised and educated in a semi-Sparta-like garrison state mentality.”

    I agree. There is no comparison between israeli Jews and western Jews, except for the western Jews that are zionists. Everything about “Jewish” life in israel is military-centric. It’s us vs them, separate roads, walls, schools, etc. American Jews may get a taste of ‘garrison state mentality’ if there is a President Trump in the near future. I hope not. How sad that it comes down to the lesser of the two evils. However, it appears there are many Americans who seem to actually desire a garrison state, but I think they don’t think they really know what they’re hoping for, or maybe they do. There seems to be a real doomsday mentality there, as well as here. Certainly christian fundamentalists have played a role in keeping zionism on life support when the plug should have been pulled a long time ago. I don’t look for the united states to do the right thing about anything, but especially wrt to Palestine. If any change is to happen, I hope that it will be from the actions of Palestinians and not the united states, which has a history of dark plans, dirty deeds and evil intentions. The people who are doing the suffering and dying should be the people who control their destiny.

  7. mcohen. on September 9, 2016, 1:02 am

    only way forward is one state.israel.with equal rights for all.ror for those born in israel.

    thats the line that has to be crossed.maybe not under Netanyahu…the old guard but under lapid or maybe the justice minister…iron fist velvet glove… that saying.

    velvet underground..sweet jane

    Standin’ on a corner,
    Suitcase in my hand.
    Jack’s in his car, says to Jane, who’s in her vest,
    Me, babe, I’m in a rock n’ roll band.
    Ridin’ in a Stutz Bearcat, Jim,
    Those were different times.
    And the poets studied rows of verse,
    And all the ladies rolled their eyes

    Sweet Jane, Sweet Jane, Sweet Jane

    Now, Jack, he is a banker,
    And Jane, she is a clerk.
    And the both of them are saving up their money…
    Then they come home from work.
    Sittin’ by the fire…
    Radio just played a little classical music for you kids,
    The march of the wooden soldiers
    And you can hear Jack say

    Sweet Jane, Sweet Jane, Sweet Jane

    Some people like to go out dancing
    And other people, (like us) they gotta work
    And there’s always some evil mothers
    They’ll tell you life is full of dirt.
    And the women never really faint,
    And the villans always blink their eyes.
    And the children are the only ones who blush.
    ‘Cause life is just to die.
    But, anyone who has a heart
    Wouldn’t want to turn around and break it
    And anyone who ever played the part
    He wouldn’t want to turn around and fake it

    • annie on September 9, 2016, 2:17 am

      ror for those born in israel.

      oh gag me w/a friggin spoon. you say that almost 80 years since the nakba! you don’t see germany making that requirement of israelis seeking german citizenship if their parents or grandparents were born in germany do you? refugees include children of refugees — and their children and grandchildren.

      by your standards the only jew who would have return status/rights are those whose relative actually lived in palestine during the mandate — not allegedly thousands of years ago. you can’t justify ‘returning’ to a place your supposed ancestors lived during the iron age and then claim “ror for those born in israel” only a few decades ago!

      • mcohen. on September 9, 2016, 8:30 pm

        annie says

        hold a second.where did i mention that jews are entitled to ror.
        why put words in my mouth
        i believe no right of return to israel for all.both arabs and jews.
        immigration to israel should be no different than immigration to the usa.through a green card process
        or whatever.
        germany has nothing to do with it

    • eljay on September 9, 2016, 8:05 am

      || mcohen.: only way forward is one state.israel.with equal rights for all.ror for those born in israel. ||

      So no more of that supremacist foolishness involving “Jewish State” and “Law of Return”. Glad to hear it. I look forward to you admonishing Zio-supremacists who peddle that crap here on MW. :-)

  8. Marnie on September 9, 2016, 3:41 am

    Elton John’s Dolce and Gabbana boycott backed by Martina …

    Not part of this story I know and sorry for going off the rails for a minute here but just saw a commercial for Ricky Martin (anybody remember him?) who’ll be playing the ‘white city’ next week. He and Elton John, among others, are boycotting Dolce and Gabbana for their remarks about IVF and traditional families. Looking at Mr. la vida loca’s website, he is against human trafficking (Ricky Martin Foundation) too, “We denounce human trafficking and educate about its existence through global awareness, research, and community initiatives, anchored in the defense of children and youth rights”. After reading through The Act, The Means and The Purpose wrt human trafficking, I’m shocked he’s playing Tel Aviv. It seems like some actors and musicians (who hit their stride 20 years ago) are incapable of reconciling their so-called passions or projects with the facts on the ground when it comes to Palestine. Human trafficking is big business in the Holey Land. Oh and boycotts are just find and dandy as long as they aren’t against the occupation.

Leave a Reply