This is not good..


At first glance, the headline ‘When Settlers Strike, Palestinians Point and Shoot back’ had a hopeful ring about it, but this is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we are talking about here and for the moment there’s nothing hopeful about that.

Video cameras like hers have emerged as a new nonviolent weapon for West Bank Palestinians – who face a rising number of attacks at the hands of settlers anxious over their fate in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. But the Palestinian video footage often ends up on Israeli TV, thus becoming a tool for both deterrence and justice.

“We’re trying to use the cameras to reduce the level of violence as a whole. When settlers see the camera, we hope that they will behave less violently,” says Sarit Michaeli, the spokeswoman for Btselem.

“We also want to use the footage to provide to the Israeli media to raise awareness of the problems and to pressure the law enforcement bodies to do their job.”

Btselem has given out 150 cameras as part of its Shooting Back program that started slowly last year and is beginning to show results. Already, footage shot by Palestinians has been used in at least 20 cases involving settler violence.

In any other society I would think that non-violent resistance could make a dent in the morality of the greater society, but that doesn’t seem to work in this conflagration, because all too often camera men and women are shot and their images so clouded in claim and counter claim minutae the impact of the captured images is lost.  Fadel Shana’s death was caught by his own camera and there was no mistaking who murdered him, but of course Shana’s offense was he was carrying a “camera” the IDF confused for some sort of weapon that he should not have been pointing at a tank that could more clearly see him through its “camera”  than he it through his, and so deserved to die.  Of course the people responsible for his murder were let off without even a reprimand because his execution was “sound“.

Amnesty remains extremely concerned that Israeli military personnel continue to operate unaccountably in Gaza. In April this year, for example, a Reuters cameraman – Fadel Shana – was killed by an Israeli tank shell in Gaza despite clearly displaying ‘TV-Press’ on his flak jacket and nearby vehicle.

Two Palestinian children – Ahmad Farajallah and Ghassan Khaled Abu ‘Ataiwi – were also killed in the attack that killed Shana and several other people were also injured. Shana and the two children were killed by a ‘flechette’ shell containing up to 5,000 5cm-long steel darts (or flechettes) that spread over an area as big as a football pitch when fired. These munitions are notoriously imprecise and should never be used in areas populated with civilians. In this case the Israeli army later wrote to Reuters saying it had investigated the incident saying the decision to attack the journalist was ‘sound’.

So far this year more than 420 Palestinians (including some 80 children) have been killed by Israeli forces, and 30 Israelis killed by Palestinian groups. Most of these deaths (some 385) occurred in Gaza. Amnesty International remains concerned at a widespread failure to bring people to justice for unlawful killings.

So, with this as background, the introduction of more video “vigilantes” as they most probably will be called, or worse, “video terrorists” is being heralded as a non-violent response to settler aggression?

We’re trying to use the cameras to reduce the level of violence as a whole. When settlers see the camera, we hope that they will behave less violently,” says Sarit Michaeli, the spokeswoman for Btselem.

When has that happened in the history of this conflict?? Is that a duh moment or what? For perspective one only need to ask Salam Amira whose story we highlighted earlier this year.

“Since my video was shown, the soldiers shoot at our house all the time,” she said. The shattered and cracked windows at the front of the building confirm her story. “When we leave the windows open, they fire tear gas inside too.”

Doesn’t seem like her possessing a camera and filming the shooting of a neighbor’s ‘big toe’ did either the neighbor or her any good.  You can see what she filmed here.

I’m sure the folks passing out the cameras are aware of all this, so why do they insist on this form of protest?  I can only think they might be saying to themselves if enough images of Israeli oppression are shown to enough people it will have a positive influence on the “peace process”, but in fact, Israelis are not like Americans of the 50s and sixties.  They are much more steeped in the dehumanization of their opponent, the Palestinian, and far more willing to accept the inhumane treatment he receives at their hand wihtout any conscious about it more so than his American counterpart. It’s that difference which makes both countries so special; no doubt the organizers of this “event” want to influence Israeli as well as American public opinion, but American opinion is controlled by a corporate media which is beholden to American politicians heavily lobbied by special interests which have reduced the atrocities of the aggressor and turned them into the aggression of the victim.  It’s gonna’ take more than cameras to change that.

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