“…then they fight you, then you win…”

August 17, 2007

As the nonviolent protests and demonstrations against the Apartheid wall continue to gain momentum and strength in the Palestinian community in general and in villages in particular we are seeing even greater violent response and threat by the Israeli army. This is not new, in villages like Bil’in, the army has for two years responded to almost every nonviolent action with appalling violence.

As I have witnessed these actions grow, I remember the famous quote by Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

In some actions we have seen the soldiers ignore the protestors completely, they would not even come down from their army base to see what the protestors were doing, and once they ignored the protestors the goals of the actions were always achieved.

In some actions we saw Israeli soldiers ridicule and taunt the protestors, everything from commenting on how silly and insignificant the protests were, to trying to discourage and threaten the protestors, to using foul and obscene language.

In other cases and as a growing tactic, we are seeing greater movement by the Israeli army to fight, quell, and crush these nonviolent protests and actions.

This is what we witnessed in this Friday’s demonstration against the building of the Apartheid Wall in the village of Wallaja. Tens of villagers and Muslim worshippers from nearby areas conducted Friday prayer near a land that had for several days experienced the tragic uprooting and destruction of over 400 trees. More than 1,800 forest, olive, and fruit trees will be destroyed in order to build a section of the wall that will engulf the entire village.

After prayer the protestors moved to the land where we witnessed the tragic destruction taking place there. Once the protest on the land was over, the demonstrators began their return to the village on a path created for the heavy Israel bulldozers that are used to destroy the trees. The Israeli soldiers used tremendous violence against the protestors. Some of the soldiers blocked the protestors and pushed them including the women on the rocks causing many injuries. At least one of the soldiers loaded his machine gun threatening to use that type of force to suppress the nonviolent action. Even though there were many who were injured and one arrested (released later that afternoon), this action has truly empowered the villagers to break down the barrier of fear that has existed in their community. 

Yes, it has been easy for those who are engaging in nonviolent action to withstand the Israeli army “ignoring” them and even “mocking” them, but now is the time to stand strong in the face of an Israeli army that recognizes the failure of these tactics and is now ready to “fight” those who engage in nonviolence…

The great thing about Gandhi’s quote is the fact he did not say “…then they fight you, then they lose …” He said “… then you win.” In nonviolence there are no losers, only winners and this is what the Israeli soldiers will one day realize.

walaja nonvioloence August 17 2007walaja nonvioloence August 17 2007

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jm7XOcPuKkwalaja nonvioloence August 17 2007

walaja nonvioloence August 17 2007


8 thoughts on ““…then they fight you, then you win…”

  1. Jeremy Presto


    I visited your center and witnessed a protest last week as a volunteer for the Lajee Center. I believe you are correct in your assertion that nonviolent resistance is the only tactic that will successfully end the occupation. Congratulations on your continuing progress in Wallaja and I hope you are able to convince more of your people in the West Bank and Gaza to embrace your ideas and tactics. I look forward to returning soon and seeing more of your great work.

    Best of Luck,
    Jeremy Presto

  2. Hansruedi Guyer

    Hello Sami,
    I am so glad to know about your tireless efforts to mobilize people for non-violent resistance against the apartheid wall. For me a sign of hope when the news about the advancement of the wall are so depressing and Bethlehem seems to turn into a huge prison. Go on! Hold on!
    Your visit to us here in Dürnten early last year is not forgotten. People know about your struggle.

  3. Bill Mims

    I am overwhelmed at your courage and your spirit. Non-violence is truly a “force more powerful,” and I see it in your actions. I saw it first hand last fall when I was there. Non-violence is truth speaking to power.

  4. Simona Benfenati

    Dear SAMI
    on September 10th I will be in Bethlehem for 3 months and will contact you to learn more about your hard work for nonviolence activities and courage. Your feeling must be imitate.
    Take care and go on.

  5. Sami,

    It is hard to be back in the states far away from Bethlehem, Um Salamona, Artas, Walega. I want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. Peder, Meg, and I are working hard on the documentary and have been taking every chance we get to talk about our trip and arrange exhibitions and screenings of the film and photography. Thank you again for everything you did for us and do on a daily basis for the liberation of Palestine.

    Also, if anything happens to the familiy in Walega (that HLT and ICHAD helped rebuild their house) we would appreciate hearing about it.

    Yallah bye. Adam

  6. J.Peter van der Veen

    We had our monthly prayer vigil for Peace in the Middle East here Saturday afternoon ( August 18) at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church. Some 20 different congregations take turns in hosting the service each month on the 18th. The vigil started on the first Sunday in Advent, December 3, 2000, and we plan to continue until a peace agreement emerges. We thereby help the congregations to incorporate the wellfare of the people of the Middle East into the heart of our Church life, and we want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. We also have an information table on the Palestine/Israel issues at the weekly farmer’s market in town (from April through October), to promote awareness of the suffering there. Bellingham, WA, USA

  7. P. Rainer Fielenbach

    Dear Sami and all realy peace searching people in the area of South-Bethlehem!

    Thank you very much for organizing this peacefull demonstrations every friday. The last three week i myself took part on this demonstrations and I’m very gratufull, that i could be witness with my own eyes, what is going on in Artas, Um Salomona, Al Walajeh, Cremisan… by robbering the palestinian land, uprooting the trees, building the appartheitwall. I saw the violence and power from the israelien soldiers against the peaceful and non violent protest of the villagers, their kids and old people, their families, the israelien and foreign peaceactivists – doing nothing else as to try to hold their land and their future, which Israel will cut.
    I m very gratefull, not only to hear or see this by video, but my own eyes.
    I m very gratefull, that you give the people in the world at least an impression of all these actions. Please show us and the world also in future the weekly demonstrations by video and description: Nobody in the world is allowed to say: I didn’t know. Thank you very much!!!!!!!!!!!
    Many greatings from Germany also to the people of Walajeh on this friday
    Father Rainer

  8. Pingback: Non-violent direct action « Khanya

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