I read Ethan Bronner’s article with interest. Palestinians non-violent protests against the Israeli occupation of their land, though frequent, are rarely covered in the mainstream press. However, Mr. Bronner was careful to state Israeli claims that the marches are not as non-violent as claimed, and that 3 soldiers were badly enough injured to have left the army. Unfortunately he omitted another important statistic — in the same period of time, the Israeli army has killed x people in these demonstrations, and injured many, many more. The Israeli army does not rely on non-lethal weapons alone. Live ammunition has been fired, and tear gas canisters have been fired point blank at demonstrators. As a result, in just two examples, Basem Abu Rahme, a 29 year old resident of Bil’in, was shot with a tear gas canister and suffered chest wounds that killed him, and American Tristan Anderson, who participated in anti-wall protests in Nil’in, has been left brain dead after being shot with a tear gas canister. 18 Palestinians have been killed in non-violent protests against the wall since its construction began in 2004. 7 of them were children under the age of 16. Most were shot with live ammunition.
These statistics are important not just for humanitarian reasons. They make it clear that Israel meets Palestinian non-violent protest with deadly force. What course would you recommend for an occupied people to assert their rights? Non-violence, as a form of political protest, is successful when it arouses the conscience of others. If the New York Times fails to make clear the price Palestinians pay for non-violent protest, it is complicit in eliminating non-violence as a political tactic.