Many of us Zionists have donated money to have trees planted in Israel, have toiled in the dirt ourselves, and have seen others contribute time and effort to enhance Israel’s greenery.
However, this particular tree planting ceremony is different. This photograph illustrates Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, planting a tree in the West Bank. Trees symbolize the Palestinian’s intentions to settle the land permanently. This is one of a new wave of nonviolent actions that the Palestinans are taking against Israel. Although I am thankful that these approaches will not harm anyone physically, I worry that they will cause a whole new set of problems.
This photograph is extremely concerning. Over the course of Israel’s history, Palestinians have used many obscenely violent methods to threaten Israel. Now, they are trying other methods to respond to Israeli policies. The nonviolent approach has included Israeli product boycotts, rallies, and planting trees. To evoke empowering emotions, the nonviolence campaign has even invited speakers such as Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson and Martin Luther King III. Let’s hope these speakers are not as moving as their predecessors.
Will the nonviolent approach affect Israel? Or will it go unnoticed by Israel’s politicians? Will the Palestinians’ message get across?
Boycotts have been instituted before against Israel as non-violent protest. In 1922, the Fifth Palestine Arab Congress instructed Arabs to boycott Jewish businesses in Palestine. In 1945, a boycott targeted the Israeli automobile industry and was rather effective. Boycotts have been directed at hurting Israel’s economy.
The current tree-planting and the speaker campaign are intended to influence Israel’s policies while arousing Palestinian patriotism. Will either work out? Either way, both are potentially threatening, and for now, troubling. Nonetheless, I am thankful that the actions are currently of nonviolence.
Posted by Miriam Mosbacher