This Is What Palestinian Non-Violent Resistance Looks Like
This compressed, rundown Arab village with roots that date back thousands of years to the biblical prophet Zachariah, now surrounded by a dozen gleaming Jewish settlements, may not appear like an obvious place to witness Palestinian nonviolent resistance.
But it is there, if you look and listen carefully.
It’s in the low-slung, trailerlike building that functions as a community school, even though it is stifling hot in the summer and often drenched with rain in the winter. In the compact grocery store run by a few enterprising women and lit by solar panels — an incongruous sight against the scruffy landscape. In the tall, cone-shaped tree where villagers have affixed a speaker to broadcast the call to prayer, because the Israeli authorities wouldn’t allow them to complete a nearby minaret whose jagged, unfinished exterior reaches half-heartedly into the sky.
“There’s nothing legal here,” acknowledges Abu Ibrahim, a member of the village council who spoke through a translator to a group of American Jewish visitors. And that’s the point of the Palestinians’ resistance: Unable to get official permission to build a school, expand a home or a business, or erect a proper place for worship, the residents of Khaled Zakaria went ahead anyway, risking arrests and fines to provide a radically scaled-down version of the communal amenities enjoyed by the Jewish settlers across the road.
This is the face of Palestinian resistance that is too often ignored. It is the 2017 Middle East equivalent of riding the bus or sitting at the lunch counter, played out in ordinary, everyday life. And it challenges the narrative that Palestinians resist only with stones, knives and bombs, and not also with words, ideas, civil disobedience and civic deeds.
To acknowledge the breadth and depth of Palestinian nonviolence today is not to ignore or minimize the deadly rage trained all too often upon Israelis, and it does not justify the way that some