Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Michelle Chen Cheerleads Palestinian "Resistance"

Veteran Huffington Post blogger Michelle Chen has joined the ranks of blatantly one-sided Huffington Post pundits when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Her latest piece is a love letter to the Palestinian "resistance" and she dances very close to endorsing violence, only to shrink back at the last minute. Even so her article is worth analyzing, for its obvious agenda if nothing else. We'll start with a personal anecdote that Ms. Chen might have thought was encouraging:
"Beesan Ramadan, a young activist I met during a volunteer teaching stint at a local university, is up front about her views: "I'm not against armed struggle, but I don't like to see people dying for no reason.""
Wow. How peaceful. It's not like the Palestinians have trouble coming up with reasons to fight Israel or anything. Otherwise Ms. Ramadan's attitude might be worrisome. At this point Ms. Chen goes through with a history lesson, reminding us about the demonstrations around the Middle East, the current situation in the West Bank (completely with the usual talking points copied right out of IfAmericansKnew), and how the Palestinians don't expect the UDI  to actually lead to...not peace, which is what you expect, but a resolution. At this point she talks about the growth of nonviolence "resistance," performed by people other than the Palestinian Arabs of course, but I thought this selection was interesting:
"Palestine has always helped define resistance, "violent" or not: the First and Second Intifadas colored the aesthetics of Third World resistance. Images of children pelting rocks at Israeli tanks... Streets in Nablus are plastered with faded, frayed martyr posters, depicting children who died fighting."
Hm. Children who die while fighting. Hey, isn't using child soldiers a war crime, as well as a crime against humanity? Some criticism of the Palestinians who do that would have been nice, but I guess we can't expect such things from Ms. Chen. I also like how the world "violent" is in scare quotes like that, as if maybe what is or is not violent becomes open to interpretation (or opinion) when Arabs are the ones involved. We're not finished yet, though.

Ms. Chen has another personal anecdote for us:
"One evening the international volunteers visited the family of a woman who had been imprisoned by the Israelis several years ago. Her relatives expressed pride in her decision to become a freedom fighter. I asked how they felt about younger children who also aspire to be militants. One brother supported armed struggle; another disagreed and wanted to see an end to all fighting. Neither suggested they regretted the woman's decisions, and I never got a straight answer about the kids, who scampered about as we sipped coffee and looked at family photographs of the heroine, who may die in prison."
So again, any comment on this, Ms. Chen? Anything? Anything at all? This article is quite amazing in its repetition: Ms. Chen lauds this idea of "nonviolent resistance," then puts forward stories about how the Palestinians are actually quite open to the idea of killing people to get what they want, and then it cycles. It's like Ms. Chen is living in some kind of fantasy world where inconvenient facts just don't matter. I can't complain too much though, because most other bloggers would have just covered up these stories rather than just hoping their audiences wouldn't notice.

But no, she just keeps on going with more complaints about the phantom settlers who are always around and making the 2 million people who live in the West Bank unhappy all the time. She then explains that Palestinians just living their lives is enough to be "resisting" the Israelis, whom she calls "invaders." This would be a little more understandable expect that 95% of the Palestinians don't live near the settlements and don't interact with Israelis much on a day to day basis, so it's not really so impressive when you put it like that. Then she makes her bias clear:
"To young Palestinians, it depends on whom you're asking. How does civil society demand respect, let alone reconciliation, from an occupying force that is built on a racist ideology?"
Now she could just be repeating what the young Palestinians think, but if not then we've got just another blogger who doesn't think that the Jews are worthy of the same rights that everyone else takes for granted. After a little bit of weasel words about how the boycott movement, we'll conclude with this:
"Nonviolent resistance may have the potential to challenge occupation because it isn't just a passive plea for peace. It's an insistence on humanity in the face of oppression."
How nice. But in the real word, the Palestinians don't want to "challenge occupation," they want to destroy Israel. If not immediately, then at some point in the future. So in that sense they don't want peace either. And, as Ms. Chen has shown in her article, the Palestinians aren't so enthusiastic about "nonviolent resistance" either. So like many of these other Huffington Post bloggers we have seen over the past few months, it sounds like Ms. Chen is bowled over with excitement over this new movement among the Palestinians.

One little problem: It doesn't actually exist. Except for protests in Bi'lin (which are not really peaceful) and other small potatoes activity, there is not national nonviolent movement. That didn't stop Ms. Chen from penning her article though. How typical.

1 comment:

  1. I've been to a Bil'in protest. In america we would call it a riot. Protesters physically attack the border fence (which is currently being moved...not that the people in the protest care. It is only an excuse to express their hatred of israel), attempt to physically attack the israeli soldiers, most times people throw molotovs, and the defining action of this protest is rock throwing.

    Saying Bil'in is peaceful resistance is an embarrassment to the concept. The idea of peaceful resistance is not a part of the palestinian psyche.


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