“I was shot at close range with a high-velocity metal tear gas canister… When it hit me, it tore off a part of my scalp,” says Christopher Whitman, a 25-year-old American student and activist who was seriously injured when he was shot by Israeli forces while attending a West Bank protest on Friday. At the time of the shooting, Whitman was recording video of the weekly nonviolent protest against the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank.
But of course as it turns out the IDF isn’t just folding immediately upon contact with non-violent tactics. Instead, Abdallah Abu Rahmah who was leading non-violent resistance in the village of Bil’in was sentenced yesterday to 12 months in prison. Some people I’ve spoken to here say this goes to show that non-violence is hopeless and that a return to armed intifada is inevitable. They may be right about the inevitability, but I think they’re wrong about the hopeless part. Your Gandhis, your Martin Luther Kings, and your Nelson Mandelas all spent time in prison and prevailed in the end. The point, however, is that it only works if it captures the attention of the world so here I am paying attention.
The Washington Post editorial page and other outlets want to make this all about deliberate provocations by the Syrian government. But while the Syrian government certainly does enjoy a good provocation, people who see that as all that’s happening are being fools or liars.