Over the past five years the Israeli peace camp has dwindled. Last month marked the occupation’s 40th anniversary, and no more than 4,000 people gathered in Tel-Aviv to protest
Among the most committed of these are
Established in 2003, the anarchists are made up of young Israelis, mostly in their twenties, who work closely with the Palestinian popular village committees in order to resist
The anarchists are active in numerous other villages and towns as well. Day in and day out, they travel in small groups through the West Bank, supporting non-violent direct action that help Palestinian farmers gain access to their fields and crops, while opposing the construction of the separation barrier and the confiscation of occupied land.
One of the most remarkable qualities of these young Israelis is their subversive use of their own privilege, employing it not for self-interested social, economic or political gain — as most people do — but rather in order to stand up to power. The anarchists, in other words, exploit the privilege that comes with their Jewish identity and use it as a strategic asset against the brutal policies of the Jewish state.
As Jewish activists they are well aware that the Israeli military behaves very differently when Israeli Jews are present during a protest in the West Bank and that the level of violence, while still severe, is much less intense. Indeed, according to Israeli soldiers the military has more stringent open fire regulations for demonstrations in which non-Palestinians participate. So when a village’s public committees decides to carry out non-violent protests against the occupying power, the anarchists mingle with the demonstrating villagers, thus becoming a human shield for all of those Palestinians who have chosen to follow the path of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King.
Even though the anarchists are frequently beaten and arrested, they do not desist. To date, about 10 Palestinians have been killed in demonstrations against the separation barrier and thousands have been wounded, a number that would no doubt have been much greater had it not been for the fearless dedication of the anarchists.
These unsung heroes are currently regarded in
The anarchists took this as a new challenge. They have launched a legal campaign, whose aim is to defend the basic civil right of all Israelis to resist their government’s rights-abusive policies. Leading this battle is Gabi Lasky, an energetic lawyer, who spends many of her weekends releasing anarchists from detention and her weekdays representing them in court.
Unlike the struggle inside the