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Girls throw stones, too

Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp is located right next to the separation barrier and the massive Israeli checkpoint known as 300. As Aida is subject to frequent raids by both Israeli soldiers as well as Palestinian Authority forces, it sees regular clashes.

A young woman who lives in Aida told me that last week, when Israeli forces entered the camp, she and other girls threw stones at the soldiers. Before the soldiers had a chance to arrest or shoot at them, the girls scattered, running into any house they could.

The young woman told me that while an elderly woman let her into her home, the old lady scolded her. “Girls shouldn’t be throwing stones,” she said. “That’s the boys’ job.”

“But all the boys do is sit inside, typing on Facebook,” my acquaintance protested.

Graffiti in Aida refugee camp, Bethlehem, January 19, 2013. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Graffiti in Aida refugee camp, Bethlehem, January 19, 2013. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

She added that while some people consider advocating for Palestine on social media a form of resistance, she doesn’t feel that it’s making a difference on the ground here. Or at least it doesn’t make a difference from her perspective, as a refugee who lives in the West Bank, who passes through military checkpoints every day, whose right of return seems like a distant dream even though it’s guaranteed by UN resolution 194.

The young woman threw stones because she felt there is nothing left to do. She is fed up with everyone: the Israelis, the PA, the Palestinian political parties, Palestinian leaders (or a lack thereof), the international community; the people who spend time on their computers rather than making a revolution; those in her society who think women can’t or shouldn’t fight for their rights when there is an occupation to fight; those who think that fighting the occupation is a man’s work.

The media plays a role in the latter, she says. “All you ever see is pictures of boys throwing stones,” she told me. “What about us?” By depicting the Palestinian struggle as a man’s struggle, it creates and reinforces the idea that women can’t or shouldn’t participate.

***

I could draw some conclusions here about how this moment shows the many obstacles that make a Palestinian intifada unlikely. Or I could be optimistic and say something about one woman and her hope. But maybe there’s no larger lesson here. It’s just another day in the refugee camp.

Related:
‘The NY Times’ investigates a Palestinian hobby
When the stones fly the wrong way

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    COMMENTS

    1. Matt

      Interesting article on the Palestinian use of child soldiers. Thank you.

      Reply to Comment
      • BaladiAkka1948

        Yeah, sniffing Ziocaine is damageable to one’s comprehension skills

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          Halleluyah … Girls throw stones too. Cause to celebrate. Especially if one is “an Israeli” journalist.

          What happens to such girls in Syria, Egypt and other Arab countries? One hates to think …

          Reply to Comment
        • Matt

          How far do the Palestinians have to go before you stop defending them? Do they have to strap bombs to these young girls?

          Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        As opposed to Israel, which doesn’t use child soldiers, right?

        Reply to Comment
        • Matt

          Hey, look over there!

          Reply to Comment
    2. Bar

      Yeah, but girls throw stones like a girl.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Jan

      Why shouldn’t girls throw stones at the occupiers?
      The real question should be why is the IDF constantly going into Palestinian areas where they know they are hated?

      Maybe it is because, as one former Israeli soldier admited, “to make a provocation.”

      They know that they will provoke the young people who are not sent out by their parents, parents who probably threw stones at the occupiers when they were young.

      People who are occupied for decades have the right to resist and if resistance includes throwing stones so be it.

      After all, Israel doesn’t even like non-violent resistance to occupation and land theft. If the IDF did not show up for the weekly demonstrations at several villages there would be no stone throwing. It would be better for the IDF to stay out of the areas where Palestinians live.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        So you want Israel just to get out Jan? Unconditionally?

        Reply to Comment
        • Jan

          Damn right. Israel should have gotten out of the West Bank years ago. This bloody occupation has gone on for far too long and the people who are seeing their land stolen, their homes demolished, their children shot, their family members imprisoned are not going to take it forever and they should not.
          Please remember that the Palestinians were not to blame for the pogroms in Russia and Poland and the virulent anti-semitism in Europe that made a group of Zionists decide that the Jews needed a homeland, a place to be safe. They did not take into consideration that there was already a people on the land, a people who might not take kindly to being dispossessed by another people coming from Europe. The Palestinians have become the victims of victims and you know that very well. If you don’t know that you should.

          Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            Congratulations. I believe you’ve just written the maximum possible number of falsehoods in the history of two paragraph comments in the history of the Internet.

            Reply to Comment
    4. Tzutzik

      “They did not take into consideration that there was already a people on the land,”

      Yea, lots of people. Around 1850, there were about 400,000 people living in an area in which today there around 10 million people living and which still has open lands.

      And those 400,000 people inhabited every square inch of Palestine which was fully cultivated. Any more BS, Jan?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Jan

      I did not say that every inch of Palestine was populated or cultivated. Every inch of Israel today is not populated or cultivated.

      However there were Palestinians living in Jerusalem, Haifa, Ramallah as well as in hundreds of villages throughout Palestine. Close to 500 of those villages were destroyed after Israel became a state.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        As early as the mid 1800s, Jerusalem had a majority Jewish population. An oppressed Jewish population by their Muslim masters according to the accounts of none other than Karl Marx who visited Palestine in 1854 and wrote about it in a newspaper article.

        Around that time was when mass Jewish immigration into Palestine began. And like I tried to tell you but you keep on ignoring it, there were only about 400,000 people living in Palestine so there was plenty of room for more people. Nobody needed to be replaced, nor were they displaced. That happened much later in 1948 in the war of extermination that the Arabs launched against us which backfired on THEM. Had they not started that war, they would still be where they always lived. Instead, there could have been two states side by side working together to improve the lot of both peoples. Oh and probably there would not have been about a million Jewish refugees who were kicked out from Arab countries either …

        Reply to Comment
        • Jan

          Certainly there was enough room for both peoples. The partition plan, however, gave over 55% of the land to the Jews and less than 45% to the Arab population. At the time of partition Jews owned about 7% of the land.

          No one needed to be displaced or dispossessed. From the beginning the Jews should have said that they had no desire to take over the land and that they wanted to live side by side in equality with the Arab population.

          However, early on the Jewish settlers threw the Arab workers off the land that they had purchased and were clear that they only wanted Zionist labor. That sent a message to the Arabs that they were not wanted.

          Asher Ginsberg, also known as Ahad Ha’am, often traveled to Palestine. In his 1891 report he wrote: “We who live abroad are accustomed to believe that almost all Eretz Yisrael is now uninhabited desert and whoever wishes can buy land there as he pleases. But this is not true. It is very difficult to find in the land [ha’aretz] cultivated fields that are not used for planting….We must surely learn, from both our past and present history, how careful we must be not to provoke the anger of the native people by doing them wrong, how we should be cautious in our dealings with a foreign people among whom we returned to live, to handle these people with love and respect and, needless to say, with justice and good judgment. And what do our brothers do? Exactly the opposite! They were slaves in their Diasporas, and suddenly they find themselves with unlimited freedom, wild freedom that only a country like Turkey [the Ottoman Empire] can offer. This sudden change has planted despotic tendencies in their hearts, as always happens to former slaves [‘eved ki yimlokh – when a slave becomes king – Proverbs 30:22]. They deal with the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, trespass unjustly, beat them shamefully for no sufficient reason, and even boast about their actions. There is no one to stop the flood and put an end to this despicable and dangerous tendency. Our brothers indeed were right when they said that the Arab only respects he who exhibits bravery and courage. But when these people feel that the law is on their rival’s side and, even more so, if they are right to think their rival’s actions are unjust and oppressive, then, even if they are silent and endlessly reserved, they keep their anger in their hearts. And these people will be revengeful like no other.”

          That was 1891 and perhaps it was the attitudes of the Jews as observed by Ginsberg, that set the stage for the Arab rejection of Jewish immigration. Too bad. Things might have been different.

          Reply to Comment
    6. Tzutzik

      I will respond to your post in detail. But first, I note that you entirely ignored the newspaper article by Karl Marx that I mentioned. Any particular reason you don’t want to comment on that? That was written in 1854 before Herzl even wrote his Zionist manifesto.

      It said that the Jews of Jerusalem who were the majority were oppressed and mistreated by their Arab Muslim neighbors. No comment on that, Jan?

      Reply to Comment
      • Jan

        I would like to read the entire Karl Marx article. Please post it or a link to it so I can comment on it.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Jan

      I had no idea this article existed. What it really shows is that when one group can lord it over another they will do that.

      Sadly this seems to be the fate of mankind.
      Maybe the evolution of man was a bad idea. The world should have been left to the animals who usually kill only for food.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        Jan

        Don’t be so despondent about mankind. We are an extreme animal. We are capable of doing the most extreme evil but we are also capable of doing utterly unselfish noble things too. Most of us on both sides, Arab, Jew or anyone else are in between.

        But I am glad that you now seem to realise that the Palestinians are not just saintly victims. They too are perfectly capable of victimizing and they have. We are no angels either but one thing we won’t compromise on. Our self determination and independence. They just have to accept that as we have to accept their rights too. Mutual respect, mutual self interest with compromise, or no deal. We don’t need to be subservient to them, nor they to us. All we ask is that they should acknowledge their past too. The good, the bad and the indifferent …

        Reply to Comment
        • “We are no angels either but one thing we won’t compromise on. Our self determination and independence. They just have to accept that as we have to accept their rights too. Mutual respect, mutual self interest with compromise, or no deal. We don’t need to be subservient to them, nor they to us. All we ask is that they should acknowledge their past too. The good, the bad and the indifferent …”

          One of the better exchanges I’ve seen on these comment threads. In my view, if both sides are to evolve I think economic ties more improving than fixation on Two States. The best way for people to see their enemy is not the devil is to encounter him (er, enemy, not devil). This could be done incrementally through economic contracts across the divide.

          I also suggest that if Nakba presentation was reformulated according to your vision, on both sides, it could lead to mutual improvement as well.

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Greg

            Your vision is fine as long as it does not mean us giving up our independence and self determination as a Jewish nation. Given our history, we are unwilling and unable to compromise on that probably for at least a couple of generations if not more. After that? Who knows? Let our great grandchildren decide for themselves based on how they perceive the world in their future.

            Reply to Comment
    8. Vadim

      Feminists always say that war and violence are a result of predominately male society. That if women held the reigns, there would be less wars and bloodshed. That they would find a better way to settle conflicts.

      Yet, even to girls and women, the synonym to the Palestinian struggle is throwing stones, confronting soldiers and blowing up in buses. What’s next? A new Hamas brigade of women rocket launchers? Proud feminists digging tunnels to smuggle stuff into Gaza?

      How about something new and refreshing – a non violent demonstration? Not “non violent” like
      we’re used to, but really a non violent one? One that would leave IDF soldiers bored?

      Reply to Comment
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