Speaking Uncountable Words against Occupation

A headline in early September drove home the moral bankruptcy of the supporters ((Yes, supporters. If one is actively against non-violent resistance to occupation and oppression, then one is undeniably supporting the aims of the occupiers.)) of the occupation of Palestine: “Unionist slams ‘ludicrous and racist’ anti-Israel drive.” The unionist railed against the Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement because, according to the Australian, it was “potentially racist, ludicrous and a recipe for a civil war in the Middle East.” Once again, it is the oppressed and those who oppose oppression who were being demonized as “ludicrous” and “racist” not the oppressors and those who support oppression. Anyone endowed with an iota of critical thinking ability would readily realize that when one group oppresses another group, then it is the oppressor that is primarily guilty of discrimination, and hence, it is racist. That the divisive words of one unionist (who should know fully well that solidarity is the foundation necessary for achieving social justice) presents backwards logic and the Australian newspaper reports it is revelatory of their agenda.

Fortunately there is a book, Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine by William Parry, that pictorially deflates monopoly media disinformation and complicity.

Against the Wall indisputably drives home the dispossession, brutality, racism, and oppression that one group — Israeli Jews — inflicts daily on another group — Palestinians.

Although text accompanies the evocative photographs, the photos speak for themselves. Against the Wall depicts Palestinian families being separated from one another, being prevented from tending to their crops, Israelis inflicting economic deprivation on Palestinians, Israelis targeting of school children, and Israelis intended humiliation of Palestinian workers passing through checkpoints in the wall. ((I write “intended humiliation” because, in fact, it portrays the dignity of Palestinian workers who day-in and day-out withstand the indignities to support their families – an honourable act – and it is rather a self-humiliation for the Israelis that people in positions of power would lower themselves to behave so inhumanely to other humans.)) Against the Wall reveals the spirit, art, and determination of the Palestinian resistance, the anger of the occupied people, messages to the world, etc.

One message reads, “The only peace Israel wants is a piece of my land.” Given the de-Arabization of East Jerusalem and the growing Jewish colonies in the West Bank, in contravention of Israel’s obligations under the Oslo Accords, and given that the Wall (deemed illegal by the World Court) encroaches inside the Green line from the 1967 War further stealing Palestinian land ((If land acquired through violence is wrong, and unless the United Nations has a moral right to dispossess peoples of their homeland, then arguably all the land of Israel and Palestine is Palestinian land. This principle holds for all lands acquired through violence, including Canada, the United States, etc.)) — there is no denying the truthfulness of the message. This has not caused the US government to stop giving $3 billion+ a year to an OECD member (historically an economically elitist grouping of states) that openly engages in the occupation and the siege of an indigenous people. ((Although preponderantly responsible for helping Israel maintain its occupation, the US is not alone, as many western states, and Arab dictators are complicit in the occupation of Palestine.))

Usually when there is an occupation, and especially when that occupation is oppressive, there is resistance. Much of the artful resistance and messages on the Wall come from non-Palestinians, and Parry acknowledges that not all Palestinians support the wall being used as a medium for artful resistance. Parry relates an exchange between British street artist Bansky, who supports the Palestinian resistance, with a Palestinian elder:

OLD MAN: You paint the wall, you make it look beautiful.
BANSKY: Thanks.
OLD MAN: We don’t want it to be beautiful. We hate this wall, go home.

Against the Wall answers the question: what does occupation, apartheid look like? It appears somewhat like a coffee table book. Unlike the usual coffee table book, however, the photos and text in Against the Wall convey a message of grave importance. It is a book hard to put down. One can stare at the photos for long periods of time and return again to the photos a short while later. It is not a book that is read and placed on a shelf. It invites you back time and again. Against the Wall should be on the coffee tables, in the libraries, and on the gift lists of every person who cares about human rights for all humans.

Where words — despite their sincerity, truthfulness, and morality — alone cannot convince, the pairing with authentic photography creates a vividly more powerful impact. That is Against the Wall. Get this book and share it!

Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Read other articles by Kim.