HOLY LAND TRUST: Internationals and Nonviolent Resistance in Palestine March 29, 2010


Holy Land Trust

International support is important for the success of nonviolent struggle but it should not be seen as the main actions or the substitute for internal nonviolent resistance. A distinction should be drawn between international government and grassroots actions. Foreign governments can exert pressure on the oppressive regimes by issuing public declarations, undertaking diplomatic actions, imposing economic sanctions, etc. International government actions are more effective and pose a more serious challenge to the oppressive regimes than grassroots movements. International movement opposition may take considerable time, leaving time for the resistance to be crushed.

International grassroots participation should be seen as complementary to the main internal struggle. The role of international supporters lies in spreading information and boosting the resisters’ morale.

International supporters are very important in the Palestinian struggle because the Palestinian narrative has often been distorted and downplayed in the media. International supporters are important because:

• They support Palestinians. As people in Palestine are getting increasingly hopeless about their situation and have extremely limited opportunities to travel, international volunteers and supporters can, at least symbolically, support Palestinians. Their presence can be a symbolic indication that the international community has not totally abandoned Palestine. There are various ways to support Palestinians – either through spreading information or doing it in practical ways (fundraising, rebuilding homes, etc.)

• They disseminate information about the situation in Palestine. Internationals coming to Palestine can serve as a channel of communication and spreading information to the rest of the world – either through the media or sharing stories in their local circles, universities, local organizations, individuals. Their testimonies can provide an important counterbalance to the prevalent Israeli narrative and, in the words of Edward Said, to enhance the Palestinian “permission to narrate”.

• Their presence reduces violence. Israeli soldiers are less likely to use violence against Palestinian civilians when they see foreign sympathizers during nonviolent protests and marches.

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