Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Personal mistake, passion tactics and continuing the struggle

As we walked from the demonstration at Beit Sira [last post], I heard that the army had re-invaded Balata and that friends of mine, internationals and Palestinian medics were hurt. I raced up to Nablus against the advice of ISM who said they needed me for the next Beit Sira demo, taking place the following day.

When I got to Nablus the army had already left. Whilst I was there an Israeli activist was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet at Beit Sira and a Palestinian was shot with a rubber bullet at close range. The army isn't meant to fire rubber bullets within 70 meter's of the target but the Palestinian was shot so close that the rubber bullet penetrated his skin by about 8 centremeters.
Whilst facing the dangers of a war zone may have potentially been more exciting and felt more urgent, my experience in non-violent direct action would have been more useful in Beit Sira (particularly given we already had people in Nablus and our numbers are down). I might have been able to help prevent casualties in Beit Sira (probably not), or at least helped with the demonstration. I chose the selfish option of going into Nablus to deal with my own crap rather then doing what was right for the team and putting faith in my comrades to deal with the situation.

So why am I telling you that I screwed up. I guess because there are a few lessons that I think activists can draw from my experience. Firstly that the struggle needs people everywhere and organising the "back lines" can be as important as the front. This is particularly important for activists in countries like Australia who need to continue the struggle back home to give courage to those who are facing all sorts of injustice around the world. It is also important in this context to recognise the importance of collective struggle and trusting comrades in different areas.

The Israeli activist may loose his eyesight but the Palestinian will be fine. The Israeli activists organised a protest for Matan Cohen (the Israeli who's eye was shot), on the streets of Tel Aviv. The demonstrators particularly wanted to make the point that this sort of thing happens to Palestinians on a regular basis but it doesn't make the news.

Anyway I ended up in Nablus for the funerals which I will talk about shortly.

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