Sunday, January 09, 2011

What Bi'lin Looks Like on a Friday Afternoon ...

I like to think of myself as a moderate, and a centrist. If you look at my blog roll you'll see that I've included both right-leaning sites and left-leaning sites. Is it completely balanced? No. But I would say that's an indication of the fact that the English speaking Israeli and Jewish blogosphere tends to lean to the right.

At any rate, one of the left-leaning bloggers that I try to follow is Lisa Goldman. I generally find her stuff well written and thought provoking, and I think that she is one of the more trust worthy bloggers on the left. I've been reading her stuff on and off for years now. But I've found recently that her tone has taken a harder turn towards more radical positions. I also follow her on Twitter and there were a few tweets about last Friday's demonstration in Bi'lin that made me want to write this post.
There are members of Knesset and visitors from Europe in Bil'in. They are all unarmed. And the army is attacking them.
Massive publicity, int'l media & EU parlliament members come to Bil'in & IDF's response is EVEN WORSE.
Well, I wasn't at the event in Bi'lin, the one last Friday or the one before that, so I can't say personally what happened. Fortunately, pro-Palestinian activists make sure to film the event. I think we can assume that these videos are edited to make the Israeli army look as bad as possible. I've typed up what happens in the first video (with a few notes about the second), so if you want you can just read my description, but I really recommend that you watch the videos for yourself to get an accurate picture of these "demonstrations." Please keep in mind these videos are showing the Palestinian perspective.

00:00 - 1:10 - Music, chanting, marching and demonstration.

1:11 - First view of the Israelis soldiers standing and waiting.

1:25 - More chanting, Palestinians push open the yellow gate leading to the fence.

1:46 - Palestinians make contact with the fence and start climbing on it. (In the second video they start pulling down the fence, see 1:34.)

1:53 - Palestinians run away as they are sprayed by the "Skunk," an extremely foul smelling liquid (described as a combination of dead bodies and feces).

2:05 Palestinians respond by throwing stones at the skunk machine.

2:45 - Young Palestinians throw stones and get yelled at by other Palestinians.

2:54 - More stone throwing, Israeli soldiers stand around and do nothing.

3:34 - Israeli soldiers respond with tear gas. People continue to walk around near the tear gas without being greatly affected. Stone throwing continues.

At about this point in the second video you see two men injured, but there is no way to know how they were injured.

4:10 - More tear gas.

4:33 - More skunk

5:55 - Yes, tear gas is painful.

6:13 - More stones, more tear gas

6:30 - Israeli soldiers cross the fence and start moving towards the stone throwers.

7:00 The Palestinians start moving back towards the village. The Israelis uses more tear gas and flash bang grenades.

7:36 - Note the way the Israelis fire the tear gas, in the air, at about a 60 degree angle. This is the way tear gas is meant to be fired.

8:20 - A Palestinian lectures the Israelis, in Hebrew, about killing everyone in the village. The Israelis ignore him.

What always amazes me is that these videos are trying to make the Israelis look as bad as possible, but what do we see? The most basic break-down of events is this. Palestinians try to pull down the fence, the Israelis use the skunk, the Palestinians throw stones, the Israelis use tear gas. Rinse, repeat.

Being opposed to the fence is one thing, being opposed to Israel's control of the West Bank is another. I actually think both of those positions are legitimate. I personally support the fence and think that while Israel ultimately needs to leave the majority of the West Bank, it's not that simple of an issue.

But I can't look at this video and see how you can fault the IDF for it's actions. How can you legitimately say "There are members of Knesset and visitors from Europe in Bil'in. They are all unarmed. And the army is attacking them."

That is not a reasonable statement that accounts for a nuanced situation which includes violence from both sides.

Should the soldiers simply allow the Palestinians to pull down the fence? Should the soldiers simply stand back as the Palestinians riot and throw stones? Should they wait until someone fires live ammunition? What?

The video seems to show a measured and calculated response to Palestinian initiated actions. I would love to have someone explain to me how it isn't.


K said...

Yeah, I agree, it looks pretty defensible. But I'm curious what you think about the previous week's protest, as described by Noam Sheizaf. While the video he links to shows the protesters damaging the barrier, which calls for some sort of response, it also shows soldiers firing tear gas straight at the protesters -- and not at a 60 degree angle -- long before they reached the wall. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

noam's analysis at what occurs at 4 minutes is pure idiocy

the gas cannisters are fired at an angle....they fall near the protesters...note how far away the idf soldiers are, from where the canisters land....basic geometry...maybe you and noam should go back to jr high

firing directly at, would mean a straight line...and the camera shot is from behind the rioters

never mind that the second they lit a tire on fire and began throwing rocks, they moved from being protesters to rioters and shouldve been taken down with all due matter how close to the wall the got

never mind that while the "press" all outfit themselves with gas masks, the protesters make sure to wear nothing...hoping that they will get sick and make a show for the camera