Bono, the famous leader of the band U2, is renowned for advocating for peoples deprived of human rights around the world. But strangely, he has stayed away from the plight of the Palestinians, in spite of numerous invitations to come to Palestine and witness for himself the Israeli occupation and the unrelenting theft of Palestinian lands, the colonialism, it supports. Silence has been his response.
Then a column appeared in the New York Times, in which Bono wrote,
"I’ll place my hopes on the possibility — however remote at the moment — that...people in places filled with rage and despair, places like the Palestinian territories, will in the days ahead find among them their Gandhi, their King, their Aung San Suu Kyi."
In response to his incredibly ignorant statement, ALISON WEIR, a journalist and founder of If Americans Knew, wrote this invitation, Calling Bono: Those Palestinian Gandhis....Exist in Graves and Prisons, for Counterpunch.
Your hope has already been fulfilled in the Palestinian territories. Unfortunately, these Palestinian Gandhis and Kings are being killed and imprisoned.
On the day that your op-ed appeared hoping for such leaders, three were languishing in Israeli prisons. No one knows how long they will be held, nor under what conditions; torture is common in Israeli prisons.
At least 19 Palestinians have been killed in the last six years alone during nonviolent demonstrations against Israel’s apartheid wall that is confiscating Palestinian cropland and imprisoning Palestinian people. Many others have been killed in other parts of the Palestinian territories while taking part in nonviolent activities. Hundreds more have been detained and imprisoned.
Recently Israel has begun a campaign to incarcerate the leaders of this diverse movement of weekly marches and demonstrations taking place in small Palestinian villages far from media attention.
The first Palestinian Gandhi to be rounded up in this recent purge was young Mohammad Othman, taken on Sept. 22 when he was returning home from speaking in Norway about nonviolent strategies to oppose Israeli oppression and land confiscation. He has now been held for 107 days without charges, much of it in solitary confinement.
The second was Abdallah Abu Rahma, a schoolteacher and farmer taken from his home on Dec. 10, the only one to be charged with a crime. After holding him for several days, Israel finally came up with a charge: “illegal weapons possession” – referring to the peace sign he had fashioned out of the spent teargas cartridges and bullets that Israel had shot at nonviolent demonstrators. (One such cartridge pierced the skull of Tristan Anderson, an American who was photographing the aftermath of a nonviolent march, causing part of his right frontal lobe to be removed.)
The third was Jamal Jumah’, a veteran leader in the grassroots struggle, who was taken by Israeli occupation forces on Dec. 16th and is now being held in shackles and often blindfolded during Kafkaesque Israeli military proceedings.
Palestinians have been engaging in nonviolence for decades.
When I was last in Nablus I learned of a massive nonviolent demonstration that had occurred in 2001 – estimates range from 10,000 to 50,000 Palestinian men, women, and children taking part in a nonviolent march. All sectors of Nablus had joined together in organizing this – public officials, diverse parties, religious, secular, Muslim, Christian.
Modeling their action on images of Dr. Martin Luther King, they marched arm-in-arm, believing that Israel would not kill them and that the world would care. They were wrong on both counts. Israeli forces immediately shot six dead and injured many more. And no one even knows about it. At If Americans Knew we are currently working on a video to try to remedy the last part; there’s nothing we can do about the dead.
But there’s a great deal you can do, Bono. You can use your talent and celebrity to tell the world these facts. You can write a New York Times op-ed about the Palestinian Gandhis in Israeli prisons and call for their freedom. You can sing of these Palestinian Martin Luther Kings you wished for, and by singing save their lives.
For the reality is that nonviolence is only as powerful as its visibility to the world. When it is made invisible through its lack of coverage by the New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN, Fox News, et al, its practitioners are in deadly danger, and their efforts to use nonviolence against injustice are doomed.
In the New York Times you publicly proclaimed your belief in nonviolence. Now is your chance to demonstrate your commitment."
Here is a list of those nonviolent demonstrators who were killed by Israeli forces while demonstrating against the Israeli wall being built on Palestinian land [source: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/06/7647]
5 June 2009: Yousef ‘Akil’ Tsadik Srour, 36. Shot in the chest with 0.22 calibre live ammunition during a demonstration against the Wall in Ni’lin.
April 17, 2009: Basem Abu Rahme, age 29. Shot in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas projectile during a demonstration against the Wall in Bil’in.
December 28, 2008: Mohammad Khawaja, age 20. Shot in the head with live ammunition during a demonstration in Ni’lin against Israel’s assault on Gaza. Mohammad died in the hospital on December 31, 2009.
December 28, 2008: Arafat Khawaja, age 22. Shot in the back with live ammunition in Ni’lin during a demonstration against Israel’s assault on Gaza.
July 30, 2008: Youssef Ahmed Younes Amirah, age 17. Shot in the head with rubber coated bullets during a demonstration against the Wall in Ni’lin. Youssef died of his wounds on August 4, 2008.
July 29, 2008: Ahmed Husan Youssef Mousa, age 10. Shot dead while he and several friends tried to remove coils of razor wire from land belonging to the village in Ni’lin.
March 2, 2008: Mahmoud Muhammad Ahmad Masalmeh, age 15. Shot dead when trying to cut the razor wire portion of the Wall in Beit Awwa.
March 28, 2007: Muhammad Elias Mahmoud ‘Aweideh, age 15. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Um a-Sharayet – Samiramis.
February 2, 2007: Taha Muhammad Subhi al-Quljawi, age 16. Shot dead when he and two friends tried to cut the razor wire portion of the Wall in the Qalandiya Refugee Camp. He was wounded in the thigh and died from blood loss after remaining in the field for a long time without treatment.
May 4, 2005: Jamal Jaber Ibrahim ‘Asi, age 15. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Beit Liqya.
May 4, 2005: U’dai Mufid Mahmoud ‘Asi, age 14. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Beit Liqya.
February 15, 2005: ‘Alaa’ Muhammad ‘Abd a-Rahman Khalil, age 14. Shot dead while throwing stones at an Israeli vehicle driven by private security guards near the Wall in Betunya.
April 18, 2004: Islam Hashem Rizik Zhahran, age 14. Shot during a demonstration against the Wall in Deir Abu Mash’al. Islam died of his wounds April 28, 2004.
April 18, 2004: Diaa’ A-Din ‘Abd al-Karim Ibrahim Abu ‘Eid, age 23. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.
April 16, 2004: Hussein Mahmoud ‘Awad ‘Alian, age 17. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Betunya.
February 26, 2004: Muhammad Da’ud Saleh Badwan, age 21. Shot during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu. Muhammad died of his wounds on March 3, 2004.
February 26, 2004: Abdal Rahman Abu ‘Eid, age 17. Died of a heart attack after teargas projectiles were shot into his home during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.
February 26, 2004: Muhammad Fadel Hashem Rian, age 25. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.
February 26, 2004: Zakaria Mahmoud ‘Eid Salem, age 28. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.
It is hard not to notice the number of teenagers who were killed during peaceful demonstrations.
It is also troublesome to listen to someone like Bono pretend ignorance and blame the victims, the Palestinians, in what is a gross display of Israeli propaganda. Bono is not that dumb, is he?