The Folly of Israeli Apartheid Knows No Boundaries

by Miko Peled, Fair Observer, 25. Oktober 2015. Miko Peled
is a peace activist who dares to say in public what many choose to deny. He was
born in Jerusalem in 1961 into a well-known Zionist family. The aim of
the resistance is to free Palestine and to give Palestinians the rights they
deserve, says Miko Peled.

courtroom in Jerusalem was small with whitewashed walls and a few simple,
uncomfortable wooden benches. The air conditioner didn’t work well, so the room
was either too cold or not cool enough. The atmosphere was very causal. No one
announced or stood when the judge entered. The prosecution and the defense
council were too busy with their papers, and the defendants—me among them—were
caught by surprise as the door to his chambers opened and the judge entered and
sat in his chair.

Under the
circumstances, the whole thing seemed a waste of time. There I was, along with
two other defendants, charged with participating in disturbances in a protest
in the village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank in 2012. Considering that during
the month of October, armed Israeli vigilantes and soldiers have been killing
and injuring young Palestinians wholesale and getting away with it, our trial
seemed beyond petty—it was stupid.

The main
witness for the prosecution was Yousef Nasser el-Din, a Palestinian Druze
collaborator who serves as an officer in the Israeli Border Guards, or “Magav.”
He is tall and fit-looking, with handsome features. He came wearing the
distinctive olive green uniform of the Border Guards and he was carrying a
loaded pistol on his belt.
Nasser el-Din told the judge about the “Tsambar” hill where we were gathered. I
had never heard this term prior to the trial; it is a Hebrew acronym that
stands for “burning tires.” According to him, we stood on that hill, which the
name suggests is used to roll burning tires down onto the main road, and onto
advancing soldiers. The mob was calling out slogans in Arabic that were meant
to incite for violence. “I understand and speak the Arabic language,” he
reminded the court.
By the time
it was my turn to testify, my attorney, Gabi Laski, looked like she was
suffering from hypothermia. Someone asked to lower the air conditioner and the
judge apologized, pointed the remote toward the air-conditioner and turned it
“What do you
say to these accusations of mob-like disturbances that the previous witness
described?” Ms. Laski challenged me.
“I am afraid
the time allotted for this hearing will not allow me to recount all the lies
told by Officer Nasser el-Din,” I replied.
When I was
done answering, the judge, Ohad Gordon, looked at me closely. I was standing
behind the small lectern that served as a witness stand, just a few feet from
him. He leaned over, his face almost too young for his salt-and-pepper hair.


“I want to
make something very clear,” he said. “On the one hand, we are hearing
descriptions of an unruly riot, stones hurled at the security forces and
incitement for violence. You are describing a completely pastoral environment,
people marching peacefully and then the army, for no apparent reason, shooting.
You see, there is a problem here.”

I looked
back at the judge, who seemed to me to be sincere.

“Your honor,
you described it exactly as it is,” I said. “People marching peacefully and
then the army, for no apparent reason, shooting; not only the place and the
time we are discussing, but at every place and at every time, every Friday in
the various villages in the West Bank. The attempt to paint the Palestinian
popular resistance as a violent mob is deceitful, it is dishonest, it is a lie.
People from around the world come to these villages to participate because the
popular resistance is committed to nonviolence just as it is committed to
resistance and freedom. Palestinian villages have become the international
‘Meccas’ for nonviolent activists. Again I say, your honor, you could not have
described it better.”

officer-collaborator, Nasser El-Din, also described the goals of the popular
resistance in terms that are congruent with general Israeli thinking.

villagers are protesting because of a dispute surrounding who owns the rights
to the spring at the foot of the village,” he said.

Free Palestine

The Israeli
town of Halamish, where some of the most vicious fanatic Israelis live, has
taken much of Nabi Saleh land, including the small spring. But Officer Nasser
El-Din is a fool if he thinks Palestinians in Nabi Saleh or any other village
are putting their lives on the line for a spring, or a well or even a settlement
here or there.

resistance is here to free Palestine and to give Palestinians the rights they
deserve. And it will not end until this is achieved.

It is the
same folly that leads Israeli security officials to think that more soldiers,
more police, more checkpoints and walls will keep Israelis safe from the
consequences of the occupation. If every inch of every street of every city and
town were lined with soldiers, Israelis would still not be safe.

It is also
the same folly that leads Israeli lawmakers to think they can legislate against
the resistance. Legislating against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
movement, legislating against stone throwing, legislating to loosen the
shoot-to-kill guidelines, legislating to keep Palestine supporters out of the
country. One wonders what they may think of next.

But the fact
remains that you cannot legislate to end the resistance any more than you can
legislate to legalize the crimes of Israel. Killing Palestinians in cold blood
is a crime even if it is legal in Israel. The Palestinian resistance is legal
and moral even if Israel calls it illegal.

But if there
is one thing unique about Israel, it is that it’s stupid. Israeli governments
always deal with small irrelevant issues that are devoid of context and avoid
the real problems. Much like my trial, where they tried to place my
co-defendants and I in the midst of an angry mob by showing a video where two
young boys throw rocks at an advancing infantry platoon. Where, in fact, we
were in the midst of a peaceful protest until the army came and all hell broke
loose. But that is neither important nor relevant.

What is
relevant and important is to end the siege on Gaza immediately and without
conditions; to release all Palestinian prisoners immediately and unconditionally;
and to dismantle the military apparatus that has been maintaining the apartheid
regime in Palestine for close to 70 years.

Back to my
court hearing, the young prosecutor, his black hair cropped short, seemed at a
loss. He kept scratching his head until finally he looked at me and asked: “Why
would the army attack, just like that with no reason?”

“That’s an
excellent question,” I replied. “I suggest you ask the army.”

A final
hearing and verdict will take place in a few months.