Jonathan Freedland promotes the myth of ‘non-violent’ Palestinian protests in Bil’in


Jonathan Freedland’s latest essay at ‘Comment is Free’, about President Obama’s upcoming visit to Israel, is boilerplate Guardian: It promotes the idea that a US President needs to coax truculent Israelis who have lost their soul to ‘the occupation’ into pursuing peace, while failing to acknowledge Israeli concerns and ignoring Palestinian responsibility for the conflict.

Indeed, while much of what Freedland writes, in ‘You’re not a tourist, Obama, go to Israel with a message, March 15, is quite consistent with the ideological left’s tendency to view Palestinians as a mere abstraction, the following passage in the essay is worth examining. 

It’s too late to change Obama’s itinerary, but perhaps not too late to influence the in-flight entertainment on Air Force One. It’s a long journey, so the president should have time to see two films, both Oscar nominees. The first is not Les Miz or Argo, but 5 Broken Cameras. Shot by an amateur Palestinian film-maker in the West Bank village of Bil’in, it is a powerful eyewitness account of the everyday reality of the occupation, from unarmed villagers clashing with Israeli soldiers to Bil’in’s cherished olive trees set aflame by nearby settlers.

The depiction of Palestinian protests in the film which Freedland is referring to, however, is egregiously skewed.

The documentary, ’5 Broken Cameras’, focuses on the Palestinian village of Bi’lin, where the local population, in conjunction with international (largely European) supporters, has been demonstrating on a weekly basis to protest the Israeli security fence a few kilometers east of Modi’in.

int'l

European and Palestinian protesters, Bil’in, Aug 2012

The protests, which commenced eight years ago, have continued each week despite the relocation of the fence as the result of an Israeli Supreme Court ruling which enlarged Palestinian territory, making the village more suitable for Palestinian agricultural.

english-map-of-new-sec-fence

Map outlining the new security fence route bordering the Palestinian village of Bil’in 

The film never mentions that the security fence which is the object of protest was erected as a result of the Palestinian terror war in 2000-2005, in which waves of suicide bombers attacked Jewish civilians indiscriminately – constructed for the sole purpose of preventing terrorists from walking into Israeli cities and blowing themselves up.

2-1024x682

A photojournalist covering Bil’in security fence protest, Aug 2012.

More importantly, the narrative, advanced in the film and evidently accepted by Freedland, that protests are staged by “villagers” who are “unarmed”, represents a gross distortion.  

Indeed, the film reportedly edited out scenes of the Palestinian ‘protagonists’ engaging in violence against Israeli soldiers.  And, while they may not possess firearms as such, they certainly engage in violent rioting each week, typically throwing rocks and metal objects, as well as firebombs, at Israeli security forces.

Over the past several years more than 200 Israeli security personnel have been injured by Palestinian rioters in Bil’in.

Like so many symbols of the Palestinian “resistance”, the weekly protests at the security fence near Bil’in are not spontaneous, grassroots acts of civil disobedience but, rather, choreographed, media-friendly acts of violence.

93 comments on “Jonathan Freedland promotes the myth of ‘non-violent’ Palestinian protests in Bil’in

  1. despite the relocation of the fence as the result of an Israeli Supreme Court ruling which enlarged Palestinian territory, making the village more suitable for Palestinian agricultural.

    It took the army about four years to move 2.7 km of fence! And if the Guardian wrote something as ludicrous like “.. which enlarged Palestinian territory …” when referring to Israel, you would write at least three articles about it !

    You should also point out the following: The supreme Court in its ruling said: “The route passes mostly through topographically inferior territory and it endangers the forces patrolling along it. There is no way to explain [the choice of] this route, unless it stemmed from a desire to include the eastern part of Mattityahu East on the western side of the fence.” i.e. the decision to cut off the fields of Biliin from the village had nothing to do with security !

    • Which illustrates that it IS possible to get justice through truly non-violent means. Scheduled media events in which one side is attacked with everything short of bullets are not “non-violent” by any sane definition.

  2. There is always a good feeling to know the huge number of experienced “external” armchair generals who – without having the slightest idea about the topography, about the conflict, about the context and about nothing relevant to the subject – are experts on the security needs of Israel. Thank you for your kind contribution.

    • What’s your problem?

      It took the army about four years to move 2.7 km of fence!

      Correct. There is such a thing as due legal process in Israel. The wheels of justice turn slowly. But they turned.

      And if the Guardian wrote something as ludicrous like “.. which enlarged Palestinian territory …”

      But moving the fence DID enlarge Palestinian territory. Again, what is your problem?

      i.e. the decision to cut off the fields of Biliin from the village had nothing to do with security !

      It had everything to do with security, only more with the security of Israeli residents and less to do with IDF security. You see, the IDF, unlike the terrorists and the Arab armies, are more concerned with protecting their citizens than themselves.

      The army erected a fence around Bilin for security purposes – to protect Israelis. And yes, including the eastern part of Mattityahu East on the western side of the fence contributes to the security of the Mattityahu residents who would otherwise find themselves in hostile Palestinian territory and open to lynch and murder by those (n)ever-peace loving Palestinians. The judge criticised the route because it endangered the soldiers as well as cutting off Bilin farmers from their land.

      • Correct. There is such a thing as due legal process in Israel. The wheels of justice turn slowly. But they turned.

        Sorry, but in any country the ‘wheels of justice’ stop turning when the Supreme Court makes its decision; there is no appeal beyond the highest court. So why was the work (2.7 km of fence) delayed four years ??

        • external your claim that;
          “Sorry, but in any country the ‘wheels of justice’ stop turning when the Supreme Court makes its decision; there is no appeal beyond the highest court”
          Is wrong.

          In the UK even after the Supreme Court makes its decision the ‘wheels of justice’ carry on turning, very slowly.
          From the Supreme Court website;
          “An individual contending that his Convention rights have not been respected by a decision of a United Kingdom court (including The Supreme Court) against which he has no domestic recourse may bring a claim against the United Kingdom before the European Court of Human Rights.”

          As I have no doubt that this is also the case with other European countries as well would you like to retract your statement?

          • Are you serious ? My comment says that in any legal system there is a last stop for any judicial case, beyond which there is no appeal. In Europe it may be a country’s highest court or it may be the European Court. In Israel, the last stop is the Supreme Court. Were there any other court proceedings after the Supreme Court issued its judgment on the fence near Bili’in. So the govt and army received a final and binding court decision and they sat on it for four years while the demonstrations continued.

            What is so difficult for you to understand ?

            • external your comment is clear, you wrote;
              “Sorry, but in any country the ‘wheels of justice’ stop turning when the Supreme Court makes its decision; there is no appeal beyond the highest court”

              Now which part of your own sentence “in any country the ‘wheels of justice’ stop turning when the Supreme Court makes its decision” is difficult for you to understand?
              Is it the term “any country”?

              Once again, clearly your claim does not apply to ‘any country’ there are exceptions in fact a great many exceptions.
              Would you like to retract your statement, or carry on digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole and expose your own ignorance?

              • OK: I revise my “sentence to : “in any country the ‘wheels of justice’ stop turning when the highest court makes its decision”. Happy ???? The Israeli Supreme Court is the highest court available to claimants in Israel and it made its decision. Clear ??? Now will you address the issue ?

                Or perhaps you want to give the Palestinians & Israeli 5th column left-wing traitors the right to appeal decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court at the European Court of Human Rights …………

                • temper, temper external.

                  Do you always throw your toys out of the pram when your errors are pointed out to you?

              • Gerald,

                Do you have an answer to this perfectly legit question?
                If no it is best not to answer.
                As for External’s question?

                There may be a perfect reasonable excuse to delay the movement.
                For the forces to work in order to erect / remove an obstacle, a peaceful working enviornment must exist.
                Was Biilib and Naalin a peaceful enviornment?

                Judging by the film itself it was not!

                You and the Pales have only themselve to blame.
                Some people prefer the status quo. Especially people who work for UNRWA…

                • Itsik what perfectly legit question?
                  Before I can answer any question it is helpful to know what the question is?

                • Gerald. The question was (and I summarise): Why did it take the IDF four years to action a Supreme Court ruling that the fence be moved? That is a reasonable question. There may of course be a reasonable answer, but I for one don’t know what that answer is. Can anyone help?

                • Labenal,
                  thank you for summarising the question, or to put it another way putting it into a form of English.

                  I don’t know the answer, but I do know it would be gross hypocrisy for someone living in the UK to be critical of the wheels of justice turning slowly. How long have we been trying to send a notorious Islamist terrorist back to Jordan, and at the time of writing this still trying

  3. Peter:
    None of us can even dream of approaching your self-proclaimed armchair “expertise”.
    The “expertise” in my comment was not mine, it was that of the Israel Supreme Court.
    You didn’t give your opinion on the sentence in this article: “which enlarged Palestinian territory, making the village more suitable for Palestinian agricultural. The land in question had always been used by the village for agricultural purposes before it was cut off by the barrier.

    • The land in question had always been used by the village for agricultural purposes before it was cut off by the barrier.

      Ah, but you don’t question or mention why the barrier was erected in the first place. it was only erected in the last 5-10 years or so. Now, what important event provoked the building of such a barrier? It couldn’t be the murderous intifada which killed thousands of Israelis when Palestinian terrorists and suicide bombers ran wild over Israel? Nah, couldn’t be!

      Excuse the sarcasm. If your beloved Palestinians had learned to live peacefully with their neighbours, the barrier would never have been erected. They have only themselves to blame.

      • Ahh, but I never said that I disagreed with the construction of the barrier; I only questioned the location. The Israeli Supreme Court concluded that the location “passes mostly through topographically inferior territory and it endangers the forces patrolling along it. . It then draws the obvious conclusion: There is no way to explain [the choice of] this route, unless it stemmed from a desire to include the eastern part of Mattityahu East on the western side of the fence.” (I copied these quotes from Arutz Sheva). There were stories in the Israeli media at that time about rumours that the initial location was chosen due to intense lobbying by developers…..

      • My comment (that you quote) referred to the strange wording used by Adam Levick in this article:

        … Supreme Court ruling which enlarged Palestinian territory, making the village more suitable for Palestinian agricultural.

        How could the territory be enlarged if the ruling only returned to them an area that they had always used for agriculture, until the barrier was built ??

        • It was enlarged in comparison to the size of their territory when the fence went along the previous route.

          • Wouldn’t “restored” be a more accurate term ? You make it sound as if someone gave the Palestinians a gift when in fact they only got back what they previously had.

              • Me too.
                “Supreme Court ruling which enlarged Palestinian territory” makes it sound as if Israel were ceding some of its own territory.

          • Adam:
            You are always so proud every time you persuade the Guardian to correct even a minor point in one of their articles. How about doing the same in one of yours ?

            • Yes, using “restored” certainly makes Israel look more like the humanitarian country with an iron clad commitment to the rule of law that it actually is. Although I don’t know that this could be classified as a correction per se.

        • “How could the territory be enlarged if the ruling only returned to them an area that they had always used for agriculture, until the barrier was built ”
          So you admit that they only used the area but do not own it.
          It was Ottoman states land, later administered by the British mandate and from 1948 on governed and occupied by Jordania. No protests, neither Palestinian nor UN.
          Since 1967 administrated by Israel.

    • Im not a security expert but I’m very much familiar with governement bureaucracy. My best guess is that the process took a long time because the assigning of the new path of the fence caused a lot of legal etc. problems and they didn’t want to open the passage until the new part has been completed. My heart goes out to the inconvenienced farmers but if the delay saved only one Israeli live (as I’m sure it did) then I can live with the pain.

      • An independant investigation into the original route’s decision should have been carried out, and the person who authorised it sacked.
        We are also looking at a possible just claim for compensation to the farmers.

        • Itsik i have nothing against compensating the farmers (if you insist) using your tax pennies and not of the Israeli taxpayers money. Feel free to write to your MP and request him/her to put forward your very generous suggestion to the UK government. And be a bit less harsh about sacking people for political reasons it is not exactly acceptable in a democracy…

  4. Are the critics of Jonathan suggesting that the villagers in Bilin should accept the Wall built on their land by an occupying force and that makes them violent? Weird. I is like suggesting the Parisians should have accepted the Nazi occupation and not resisted that occupied because of the rulings by the Third Reich.
    Palestinians, in international law has every right to resist occupation. Anybody who denies that to the Palestinians whilst supporting resistance to occupations in Europe is being racist.

    • Are the critics of Jonathan suggesting that the villagers in Bilin should accept the Wall built on their land by an occupying force and that makes them violent?

      Someone is rather confused about what’s cause and what’s effect.

    • Are the critics of Jonathan suggesting that the villagers in Bilin should accept the Wall built on their land by an occupying force and that makes them violent?
      Correct. The Palestinan violence is caused by the occupation. Everybody knows that in Hebron well before the existence of Israel in 1929 the Palestians wanted to hug their Jewish neighbors just they have been misunderstood and were forced to massacre them in order to show them the wrongs of the future occupation. Naturally when the the israelis and Arafat negotiated the end of the occupation the suicide bombers simply wanted to express their non-violence, but mistakenly pushed the wrong button.
      And yes the villagers have to accept the barrier until they can’t abandon their somehow bizarre habits to express their longings for peaceful negotiations.
      Weird. I is like suggesting the Parisians should have accepted the Nazi occupation and not resisted that occupied because of the rulings by the Third Reich.
      Thank you for demonstrating your classic anti-Semitism.
      Palestinians, in international law has every right to resist occupation
      According to Jason international law allows to murder civilains in pizzerias and on autobuses. Never would think about it…Seems to me that according to the most basic laws we have the right to live and protect ourselves against murderous terror. I know for you we are not humans and should just commit suicide, but we have to disagree – tough luck Jason
      Anybody who denies that to the Palestinians whilst supporting resistance to occupations in Europe is being racist.
      Says a card-carying classic textbook example Jew-hater…

    • Jason, what is the occupied land mass according to you?
      Cause according to Hamas and hizbullah it is a different area…
      They can’t even agree on it between themselves.

  5. anneinpt love your sarcasm. I suppose it has something to do with intifida and with the Palestinians resisting the occupation. It also has a great deal to do with Nakba with Dir Yasin and with over 4.5 million refugees not allowed to return to their homes.

    Of course, it has also to do with all those occupying Palestinian homes in historic Palestine. Yes, let us admit the reasons behind what is happening in Palestine. However, let us do that honestly and not forgetting any of the dimensions associated with those events. Action, according to the laws of Physics, do solicit reaction.

    • Action, according to the laws of Physics, do solicit reaction.
      I’m happy to see your obvious familiarity with Newton’s laws Jason.
      So we agree that if you are trying to kill us we must react accordingly.

    • Nakba? 4.5 million refugees?so you’ll have to agree that it has to do with 4 million Jewish refugees from arab coutnries and thsoe who occpiy their homes ., Historic Palestine? do you mean to tell me that there was an independent Palestiain state that the Isralei occupied?

  6. over 4.5 million refugees not allowed to return to their homes

    I heard it was 9 million refugees. No, wait–I meant 2 billion. Maybe more, the numbers keep rising because of Israel’s genocidal policies.

  7. No it think, more accurate figure is 6 million between my estimate of 4.5 million and yours of 9 million. Reasonable compromise in figures nevertheless immaterial. Are you a stand-up comedian? But do you not think making jokes out of peoples misery is in bad taste?

    • Neither is ignoring peoples misery, for example the suffering of the 800,000 Jews ethnically-cleansed from Arab countries. Oh, sorry, I forgot that the Zionists are responsible for duping the Arabs into getting rid of their Jews …..

      • The Zionist were responsible for duping the arabs? can you tell us how is that.
        it is 4 million refugees jews from arab states.

          • Why does this site attract so many dense people ? Do you know what “sarcasm” means ? How about “irony” ? “humour” ?
            How about “mentally-challenged” ?

            • ‘external’ you are undoubtedly the best person to answer your own questions.
              “Why does this site attract so many dense people ?”
              “How about “mentally-challenged” ?”

              After reading your posts you tick both the boxes in those questions, so tell me ‘external’ why are you attracted to this site?

          • Why? If the there were 750,000 arab refugees from Palestine in 1948 and now there are 4 ,5,6 million of them . Than 850,000 jews refugees from arab lands will be around 4 millions don;t you agree?

    • making jokes out of peoples misery is in bad taste

      Yes, indeed.

      Making jokes out of someone’s willful dumbfkery, however, is perfectly fair.

    • cba you are trying to diminish the size of the catastrophe. The correct and updated number is close to 90 million. and Jason could compromise – Israel must allow to return 150 million of them.

    • But do you not think making jokes out of peoples misery is in bad taste?
      Sadly your kind of brain-dead “pro-Palestinians” are turning their justifiable pain and misery a bad joke.

    • Jason: “No it think, more accurate figure is 6 million between my estimate of 4.5 million and yours of 9 million.”

      Make it up as we go along are we?

    • Jason:
      “But do you not think making jokes out of peoples misery is in bad taste?”

      Why don’t you join our fight against Steve Bell’s cartoons then?

  8. Jason Haworth, the only occupiers are the Arabs occupying land that doesn’t belong to them. Tell the Arabs to all go back to Saudi Arabia where they all come from.
    Then there will be peace.

    • Barry, would you like to write the letters to all those Bedouin and Druze soldiers?
      Would you like to explain some of our MKs and directors and public sector workers about your new vision where they should go?

      Where exactly are you from?

      • Barry Meridian’s language sounds just like that of another recent bigot here – Ken Kelso. Perhaps he was banned and reinvented himself.

  9. Jason Haworth.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4165965,00.html

    UNESCO says won’t fund Palestinian magazine praising Hitler
    After children’s magazine publishes article on girl’s dream in which Hitler tells her ‘Jews spread destruction all over the world.
    Yitzhak Benhorin
    12.23.11

    http://www.freeman.org/m_online/oct99/meinkampf.htm

    ADOLF HITLER’S MEIN KAMPF IS BEST-SELLER AMONG THE PALESTINIAN ARABS

    http://www.worthychristianforums.com/topic/38025-nazis-arabs-planned-final-solution-for-pre-state-israel/

    Nazis, Arabs planned Final Solution for pre-state Israel
    Stan Goodenough, April 10th, 2006

  10. Barry M:

    “…Anyone that didn’t convert, had there heads cut off. ”

    Remind me who let the Jews back into Jerusalem?
    I think it was a certain Kurd.
    You must be mistaken the early Muslims with the Crusaders’ lust for blood.

    • Indeed jews were treated better by muslim than by Christian but please don;t make them appear as jews lover. They weren’t . They had their share of jews massacares forced conversion to Islam etc. all over the muslim world

  11. The thieving Arabs … The Arabs are invaders from Saudi Arabia.

    That’s as barmy and bigoted as saying: “the thieving Jews are invaders from Ur.”

    • Actaully one of Hamas leaders just said that. Truth is that arab occupied this area in the 7th century and they came for saudi arabia.

  12. errr … and now that Passover is nearly upon us, let us remember the invasion from the direction of Egypt (via Jericho).

  13. I thought it was Prophet Abraham who went Saudi Arabia? May be all of this is a myth but at least that is the narrative and left his new born and the mother to fend for themselves in the desert. So, if anything it was the Jews who went to Saudi Arabia. Perhaps they may have come back from Saudi Arabia as returnees and became Palestinians, just as today’s Jews are claiming to return from Europe. Oh I love these holy stories.

    • FFS Barry. How far back do you want to go? Let’s return Mexico to the Aztecs. Peru to the Incas. Britain to the Celts. Germany to the Goths and Visigoths. Australia to the Aborigines. Siberia to the Inuits.

      History is full of various peoples migrating, expanding, retreating, invading, fleeing, appearing and disappearing.

      Can we stop dealing with the 7th century and try to deal with the 21st?

      Thanks.

  14. The Hungarian Peter sitting I assume somewhere in Hungary can be so knowledgeable about a village in Palestine is astounding. However, I much rather take the information provided by the Palestinians in Five broken Cameras any day than by a Hungarian Peter. Nothing racist, it is just I find difficult that somebody who does not live in Bilin would know more than the cameraman who had five of cameras broken while filming the realities of the occupation in Bilin.

    • You’ll believe the cat that tells you it didn’t eat the cream just because it was sitting by the bowl of cream and saw that it was next door’s dog which actualy ate it all.

    • The Hungarian Peter sitting I assume somewhere in Hungary can be so knowledgeable about a village in Palestine is astounding.
      This is not your lucky day ashley, I have been living for decades in Israel and not like you I know the land, the people and not like you I speak the local language. The Five Broken Camera is a propaganda movie using tendentiously edited documentary recordings. What you find difficult is absolutely irrelevant, reading your posts I’m sure you find difficult to blow your nose without a warder’s help.

  15. So you speak Arabic, it is Semitic language as you know. But anyway how did you get the right to be in Palestine being Hungarian. How did you learn Arabic.

    • It’s really quite simple, ashley. Peter is jewish. You see, Palestine was always just another name for the land of Israel, and a western word at that ( it’s not Arabic) derived from Philistine. People related this name Palestine to the Jews for millennia. It used to be quite common knowledge for the average person. The League of Nations knew it. That’s why they wrote about the Jews being in the country as of right and not of sufferance. You must forgive them for overlooking the Palestinian people, but in their defense no one had ever heard of the “the Palestinian People,” not even today’s (and, of course, eternally, for all of history) Palestinian People. Then came along Arab “palestinian” replacement theology. Then they saw you come walking along as ignorant as a sheep. baaa.

    • The double king size ignorance of anti-Semites is well known but there should be a limit. I’m not living in Palestine ashley (no such country exists) but in Israel, whose main official language is Hebrew and not Arabic. (Arabic is a Semitic language? What are you saying? Nobody knew that before your genial discovery…)
      Re. your question about my rights, let me ask you how did you get the right to waste the oxygen by breathing when you have the IQ of a cancerous cell?

  16. I know Jesus Christ was also European they tell me according to the historic records kept at pinewood and now transferred to Hollywood. Besides make up your mind was it always Palestine or did it never exist? Can you try and agree among yourself. Palestinians have no doubt they always exist and will continue to do so long after the Apartheid wall is pulled down.

    • What is known for sure is that your palarab heroes were led by a Nazi war criminal, aka, Amin al Husseini. Maybe that explains why you worship them.

    • Palestine was a peace of land not a state. Palestinian have no doubt they always existed ? They also said that they have no doubt that jews have no conection to Israel. That the western wall is really muslim . so?

    • “Palestinians have no doubt they always exist [sic]”

      and this belief is based on what exactly, ashley?

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