Today, following a training on nonviolent tactics of demonstrating (basically how to not be charged with assault; how to protect others, particularly Palestinians, from being arrested; how to spend as little time in Israeli jail as possible; and how to avoid being blacklisted and banished from Israel and/or the West Bank for the rest of your life), I started wondering about the methods used to achieve peace. Is protecting ourselves from the obtuse, unjust, and oppressive civilian legal system of Israel the best means possible for eliminating this oppressive legal system?
There are no military zones right now in the West Bank. But, if we choose to hold a demonstration, then the Israeli Army can apply to create a military zone, and then charge us for being in a military zone. This is the most common charge against protesters.
Our facilitator in the training today told us that we should immediately question the procedure of the Israeli military in applying for and authorizing a military zone. If they do not show the proper paperwork, or if this paper is not properly dated and signed, then we have a means for getting out of jail much more expediently. If their paperwork is in order, then they can charge us, and we may have to spend up to 24 hours in jail and agree to several stipulations, such as agreeing not to demonstrate, agreeing not to go to certain cities in the West Bank, etc.
But here is my question to you: when a law is so blatantly oppressive and subject to the discretion of the enforcers – read, “unjust” – is arguing against the law the best means for eliminating it? I feel as though by arguing on their terms, we are merely legitimizing their oppression.
But how can we shift the frame? How can we appeal to 18 year-olds with M-16s whose sole occupation is to enforce unjust laws?