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WATCH: Israeli journalist discusses her article defending Palestinian stone-throwing

Amira Hass, who drew heavy criticism from Israeli media about her op-ed in Haaretz last week defending the right of Palestinians to throw stones, and was accused of incitement to violence by the Yesha Council (of West Bank settlements), appeared on Democracy Now this week to discuss her article. I have embedded the interview below, which is in two parts, and highly recommend watching it.

Hass speaks so directly and cooly about the situation as she sees it – saying plainly that Israel has become a foreign ruler in this place and cannot expect to survive this way. You can understand from her answers that she is portraying what she has been witness to as a reporter in the occupied Palestinian territories for 20 years.

Here are some choice quotes from her interview I want to highlight:

Any hegemonic group, sees its hegemony, and the violence it uses, as self-evident, as a natural thing. And we do everything possible to protect this hegemony.

I don’t like the term non-violent because it puts the onus on the occupied rather than on the occupier.

Answering the question about the significance of Kerry’s visit to the region, she said

negotiation becomes an end to itself, and not a means to reach independence…U.S. policy is to keep the status quo going.


We maintain our hegemony with the use of almost unlimited institutional power against the Palestinians…Palestinians have tried many ways, diplomatic ways and others to resist Israeli domination and it has not suceeded. Stone throwing is a message, and the Israelis don’t listen to it. Twenty-five years ago in the first Intifada, Israelis did listen – they did understand it’s a message  – not in order to kill or hit somebody but to tell, you are unwelcome visitors in our midst.

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    1. aristeides

      The other day, on the Ha’aretz front page, there were two photos side by side. One, about a 14 year old boy arrested “for stone throwing.” Right next to it, masked adult settlers throwing stones at Palestinians with an armed IDF guy guarding them.

      No one seemed to spot the irony.

      Reply to Comment
    2. directrob

      The text ” as she sees it ” is not needed (you already say she speaks so directly) so it sounds like critisism. Is there any major thing she says that you see differently?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Nonviolence undertaken as a demand from the outside is not nonviolence; rather, its power comes precisely from being definitionally absurd to the outside. The reason why people retort “throwing stones is not nonviolent” is that they are deeply afraid of nonviolence in its absurdity.

      Throwing stones is neither right nor duty by causal outcome. To say that there is a duty to throw stones is to culturally conscript, so punish those who do not; that is a violence unto one’s own.

      I think Hass right that eduction should include response to the IDF, interrogation, and crowd control (skunk water, rubber bullets, tear gas); the social political economy of the young is inextricably tied to occupation; it defines budding maturity, and such is always difficult, everywhere.

      Her portrait of middle to senior PA just wanting quiet years to mature their famlies seems exactly right.

      Reply to Comment
      • Not “by causal outcome”; should read “but causal outcome.”

        Reply to Comment
    4. Joel

      Actually, throwing stones at Jews is traditionally considered the birthright of Arabs in ruling over Jews as recorded in “In Jews and Arabs: Their Contacts Through the Ages” where S. D. Goitein wrote in 1955:

      “In former times–and in remote places even today–it was common for Muslim schoolboys to stone Jews. When the Turks conquered Yemen in 1872, an envoy was sent from the Chief Rabbi of Istanbul to inquire what grievance the Yemenite Jews had against their neighbors. It is indicative that the first thing of which they complained was this molestation by the schoolboys. But when the Turkish Governor asked an assembly of notables to stop this nuisance,there arose an old doctor of Muslim law and explained that this stone-throwing at Jews was an age-old custom (in Arabic ‘Ada) and therefore it was unlawful to forbid it. [p. 76]”

      Reply to Comment
      • kay

        you poor victim – of your own making

        Reply to Comment
      • sh

        Oh it’s an ancient Christian custom too. Around Easter in Spain (“In the Crown of Aragon, Christians regularly expressed their antagonism toward Jews. Every year during Holy Week, for example, they stoned the walls of Jewish quarters wherein “the sons of the crucifiers” lived.” http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/toc/14999.html) and elsewhere. Oh, stoning is one of the biblical Jewish death sentences too (I think we tried it on Jesus) so I suppose we don’t set a fantastic example ourselves. And oops! http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4275646,00.html

        Reply to Comment
    5. The Trespasser

      Basically, Amira Hass is saying that it is permittable to throw stones at anyone in order to transfer some message.

      And if target does not seem to get the message – throw more and larger ones.

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        Oh we do throw larger ones – with zeal: teargas canisters, steel-coated rubber bullets, rockets, one-ton dronestones, anything goes. It’s an old Judeo-Christiano-Muslim custom.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          >Oh we do throw larger ones – with zeal: teargas canisters, steel-coated rubber bullets, rockets, one-ton dronestones, anything goes. It’s an old Judeo-Christiano-Muslim custom.

          For a first time I could not quite disagree with you.

          I’d only add that it is an old human custom derived from an even older pan-DNA-bearers custom.

          Reply to Comment
    6. Sara

      There is a difference between the right to self determination, which allows for resistance to the domination of a foreign power, and the attack on civilians. There are rules that command the extent to what the right of self determination can be excersized. It is one thing to attack checkpoints and other sites and organs of the occupied power and a very VERY different one to attack civilians. That is the difference between a liberation movement and terrorism. Amira forgot to mention that, big, huge mistake.

      Reply to Comment
    7. guy hawkins

      wierd to me the way people look at this violence that is ongoing since the ‘civil war’ when jews displaced people form their homes…as if the reactions of the opperessed are to be studied…but not acted upon…

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >wierd to me …

        That is because you are ignorant.

        Civil war between Jews and Arabs in Palestine had started about 30 years before Jews displaced Arabs.

        Reply to Comment
    8. Richard Witty

      Amira Hass is honest.

      To say that the she advocated throwing stones is innaccurate. Everything she said was nuanced, qualified.

      The reality is that throwing stones makes NO CHANGE.

      It is more of the same, and if one is advocating for more of the same, then that is a problem.

      Genuine non-violence is effective. A one-person one-vote campaign would be undeniable.

      An anti-colonial campaign, when anti-colonial means “you don’t belong here”, is deniable.

      However understandable the feelings, light violence rock-throwing and light violence BDS, reinforce the status quo more than they change it.

      Ironically, the Fatah/Abbas efforts at nation-building, threatened the status quo construction of “they are not capable of self-governing”.

      But, the ridiculing left regards that effort as complicit.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >Genuine non-violence is effective.

        That’s what whole world is waiting for since circa 1919.

        Did not happen then, will not happen in foreseeable future.

        Reply to Comment
    9. Lucía Perez

      I hope Amira would be invited to Argentina and also Uruguay. In both South American countries the Jewish communities are big. Being a non jewish, I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Montevideo, Uruguay. Most jewish people feel that critize Israel policies is to be a sort of “traitor” to their being jewish and their ancestors. It´s good to hear voices like Amira’s.

      Reply to Comment
    10. John Dowdle

      What I believe Amira Hass is trying to convey is that it is aggressive militarism on the part of Israel that is the problem.
      From the outset – in 1948 – they have systematically tried to drive the Palestinians from their land.
      The Palestinians – rightly – have resisted the Zionist policy of religiously-cleansing all non-Jews from the area defined as Eretz Israel by the Zionists.
      The incident involving stone throwing was a reminder that any and all so-called settlements are illegal under the Geneva Convention and international law.
      If all the settlers were re-settled back behind the 1967 line, the continual problems between the Israelis and Palestinians would largely disappear. However, that requires a small amount of forward thinking on the part of the Zionist political leadership in Israel, which is clearly in very short supply. The likelihood of the Israelis developing the kind of statesmanship and wisdom required to achieve a peaceful solution to the problem of Palestine is seemingly beyond the ability of Netanyahu et al.
      The policy of aggressive military occupation is underminging the essential humanity of all Israelis, as is evidenced by groups like Breaking The Silence – former Israeli Army conscripts who have realised that their experiences in controlling the Palestinians have turned them into inhuman brutes of the worst sort.
      Any moral compass the early Israelis may have had has been irretrievable lost.

      Reply to Comment
    11. an american

      Amira is speaking justice for Palestinians and talks of the shame Israel. Really people, if someone came to your door and told you to get out of your house and off your property because they wanted it, you wouldn’t fight? This is what has been going on for almost 70 years now. It is that simple and Americans are paying for the continued genocide of the Palestinians with their tax dollars.

      Reply to Comment