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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Different prisoner agreement lessons between Arabic and English

From Ma'an, by Ali Sawafta of Reuters:
Standing up to Israel through non-violent resistance can produce encouraging results, Palestinians said Tuesday, after a prisoner hunger strike produced some Israeli concessions.

The deal under which thousands of prisoners agreed Monday to end a month-long fast against Israel's prison policy was struck on the eve of Nakba (catastrophe) Day that marks Israel's founding in a 1948 war when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven out of their homes.

To some, the hunger strike proved the value of "popular resistance" as favored by President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah. But his rivals in Hamas said their own confrontational attitude had paid dividends.

Some Palestinians said Israel was used to meeting violence with violence, but less adept at countering non-violent tactics.

"The prime lesson here is that resistance, unity and solidarity can bear fruit for the political movement," said West Bank political analyst Hani al-Masri. "Resistance, unity and determination can bring about results."
There are a few two problems with this thesis.

One is that the hunger strikes were accompanied with threats from all parts of Palestinian Arab leadership, from Abbas through Hamas, saying that if any hunger strikers die there will be a huge breakout of violence against Israel (and the Red Cross and UN.)

Another is that this "non-violent" lesson does not seem to be what Palestinian Arab media in Arabic is writing. I could not find this Reuters story in any Palestinian Arab newspaper, only this Egyptian one.

And at the same time that this story was published, Hamas threatened to kidnap more soldiers for more prisoner swaps. I guess they didn't get the memo that "nonviolent resistance" is the way to go.

Moreover, Islamic Jihad took a much different lesson from the episode of the hunger strikers: that Israel is fragile and easily defeated.
Spokesman for al-Quds Brigades, Abu Ahmed, said in that prisoners are the fuel of the confrontation and the leaders of each stage, pointing out that the victory was a new quantum leap, and proved again that the occupying entity is fragile and defeated.

"We have proved the prisoners are able to defeat their enemy, who boasts of his power yet his army is defeated in front of the whole world," he said.

He added: "The issue of prisoners will remain at the top of the priorities of the resistance forces at the top of Al-Quds Brigades," noting that they will spare no effort in order to ensure their freedom by force and that the enemy does not understand the other language."
Here is another case where the Palestinian Arabs seem to give one message to eager Westerners anxious to pretend that the culture of non-violence is widespread throughout the territories, and a different language altogether to their own people.