#133 Choosing nonviolence

The idea is simple. Shift our focus to what we want instead of what we fear. Give center stage to peace rather than war. Julia Bacha calls on media to do just that. She wants them to put peace in the spotlight instead focusing nearly all of their attention on violence. In her talk for TED, Bacha uses the example of the Palestinian village of Budrus to make a compelling case.

For 10 months in 2003, villagers staged a nonviolent protest, objecting to Israeli plans to construct a barrier across their olive groves. The barrier would have robbed them of 40 percent of their land. They would have been effectively imprisoned, with no free access to the rest of the West Bank. So day after day they marched and chanted and refused to respond to police provocation.

Israeli police shot live bullets in the air. They clubbed some of the demonstrators, including women. Instead of fighting back, the protestors responded with peaceful determination. Ten months later the Israeli government agreed to their demands.

Had Bacha not filmed the peaceful protests, they would have been almost completely ignored by media. Bacha observes:

“Violent resistance and nonviolent resistance share one very important thing in common; they are both a form of theater seeking an audience to their cause. If violent actors are the only ones constantly getting front-page covers and attracting international attention to the Palestinian issue, it becomes very hard for nonviolent leaders to make the case to their communities that civil disobedience is a viable option in addressing their plight.”

When Bacha shows her film to other villagers in the region, they are inspired to try peaceful protest rather than violence. Allies in the new Israeli peace movement, Solidariot, use the film as a recruiting tool. Peace begets peace, yet most media ignore it.

So I add my own small voice to Julia Bacha’s, and I urge you to do the same. Together, let’s call on major media to draw attention to peaceful protest, to nonviolent demonstrations, and to the good and caring people of the world. Let’s persuade them to replace their attachment to violence with a new focus on cooperation and peace.

I’ll close with two inspiring videos. The first is an excerpt from the film about Budrus, showing how women boldly stepped forward to demand their rights. The second is the amazing TED talk given by Julia Bacha. You can follow her work on You Tube, Facebook and Twitter.


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