Whose protests are they?

June 20 Beit Jala Demonstration (Photo: Joseph Dana)

by Joseph Dana

Beit Jala is a small city outside of Jerusalem. The wall that Israel is building in order to expropriate land and create a physical barrier between Israeli and Palestinian society is being built through the middle of this city. Palestinians have decided to begin a series of weekly demonstrations against the construction. The demonstrations are usually composed of Palestinians, international activists and a handful of Israelis. In the middle of last week’s protest, baking in the summer heat, I wondered how helpful the international activists were. Instead of maintaining a low profile and letting the Palestinians demonstrate, the internationals were at the front of the protest yelling slurs at the Israeli troops in the city. The Palestinian right to protest, resist and demonstrate is real, yet I am curious about the outcome when internationals to engage in the same actions, with their own style and individual behaviors. Israelis that want to assist and take on a supportive role often do so at the directive of the Palestinians. The Anarchists against the Wall are the most profound example of this movement in Israel. Are international activists who travel to Israel for short amounts of time part of the protest movement in Palestine? It is one thing to support a protest movement and another thing to join a protest movement.

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