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David versus Goliath (David won again)

Victory in Bil’in

Thursday 13 September 2007, by Michel Warschawski

On the cover-page of Israel’s second largest daily, Maariv, was the following headline: "Bil’in Residents Have Won Against the IDF,” and the subtitle: "Three Years of Violent Demonstrations Led by Palestinians and the Far-Left [Israeli] Activists Have Paid: The Separation Fence Close to Bil’in will be Moved." In the inside story, the title is even more eloquent: "The Battle over the Fence: The State has Lost in Bil’in."

Except for falsely defining as "violent demonstrations," what was in truth a strategically conceived non-violent struggle, the feelings of rightwing Maariv editors were shared also by the hundreds of residents of Bil’in, who organized a victory rally in the village, immediately after the decision of the Supreme Court was made public: a victory of David against Goliath.

Together with a few dozens Israeli and international activists, they danced and sang for hours in the main street of the village and on the well known path leading from the village to the fence. They celebrated the victory of a popular struggle on a powerful military-colonial apparatus organically linked to a gang of thieves who didn’t respect even the (illegal) rules of that apparatus.

The Bil’in mobilization is not the only struggle against land confiscations and colonization. However, it became the most emblematic due to a combination of several factors: the determination of the villagers, the creativity of the local popular committee, the organic nature of the cooperation between Palestinians, Israelis and internationals, the active role of the "Anarchists Against the Wall," and the ability to address local as well as international public opinion through the media.

The fact that every week, on Friday afternoon, a few hundred activists were meeting and demonstrating at the fence in Bil’in made it possible to keep Bil’in on the agenda, not only of the media, but, more important, of the Israeli solidarity movement. As in the 1990s, when, every Friday, we used too say, "I am going to Women in Black rally,” in the last three years, hundreds of Israeli activists put the Bil’in demonstration on their weekly agenda.

Also emblematic is the fact that there was a materialization on the ground of the indispensable triangle that we identified during the Bilbao conference in 2003: Palestinian resistance, Israeli cooperation and international solidarity. This triangular articulation must be at the heart of any strategy of resistance against occupation and colonization, whether here, in Israel/Palestine, or abroad. A lesson that has to be kept in mind by the national Palestinian movement as well as by the solidarity movement.

As for the Anarchists and their counterpart in the occupied Palestinian territories, they don’t need to learn that lesson: the struggle in Bil’in has confirmed that it is a constituent part of their worldview, their politics and their strategy.

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