Artistic resistance in the Middle East

Sophie Ghaziri

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When situations are unjust and oppressive then it is only natural that humanity should resist. What is taking place in the Middle Eastern at this moment in time are perfect examples of resistance to abuse and oppression of human rights. There is no doubt or question that the people need to rise up and find a voice. But what is debatable is the form this resistance should take.

Instead of the active aggression we have seen many individuals and groups expressing their frustrations through, one should realize there are more peaceful and artistic forms.

There are rights groups and NGOs across the world coming together to protest against hostility and oppression through non-violent demonstrations, but we are still seeing upsurges of rage and impetuosity from certain sectors, which are so suppressed they resort to any means to thwart their aggressors.

‘Birth right’ resistance

One prominent Israeli journalist, Amira Hass, recently received unfriendly backlashes to her article published in Haaretz newspaper where she defended the stone throwing of Palestinian youths in their right to resist violent occupation.

No one is denying they have rights but the way Hass presented her view angered some Israelis who had recently lost relatives and family to a barrage of stone throwing.

Hass called this action by Palestinian youths a “birth right and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule.”

She also claimed Israeli’s live in denial about “how much violence is used on a daily basis against Palestinians.”

The PA and Hamas, however, could use more constructive methods to educate and empower their people in order to handle and respond to Israel’s iron fist.

Sophie Ghaziri

Throwing rocks is one form of self-expression, when a population feels suffocated, frustrated, irate and oppressed, but there are other ways to bring the plight of the Palestinians to light and grab the world’s attention.

The West and the international community have turned a blind eye to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because of the constant violence and hostility.

Today we live in a fast paced society where the average person is bombarded with information from both the TV and the Internet, what they want is a quick fix, which is usually something entertaining.

This is where the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Hamas government have neglected to understand and utilize the power of the media.

In my opinion, Hass was simply stating the obvious imbalance between the two conflicting forces. Israel has the weaponry and therefore the capability to wipe out and destroy whereas the Palestinians have nothing but rocks to throw.

The PA and Hamas, however, could use more constructive methods to educate and empower their people in order to handle and respond to Israel’s iron fist. Despite being the daughter of two Israeli holocaust survivors Hass has displayed her understanding of the conflicting sides and still managed to recognize the struggle of the underdog. She has been reporting on occupation for over 20 years and said “it just gets worse.”

Citizen and soldier

Hass has endeavored to portray the conflict from an ethnographic and sociological point of view. Let’s not forget that in her article she highlighted the distinction between “a citizen [as a target] and a solider or someone who carries arms.”

One cannot help but ask, what are the options?

Speaking up for human rights is one thing but the steps taken to achieve a satisfactory outcome require a compassionate and a thoroughly comprehensive appreciation of the causes.

Non-violence has proved worthy when we remember the Gandhi-era. This is not necessarily submitting to the state or the occupier, it is a form of resistance with an ethical stance, pursuing your goals without guns, warfare, stone throwing or as in some recent cases women removing their clothes.

Instead one can construe a productive stand leading to a beneficial atmosphere, which could generate a more positive reaction from the desired audience.

An alternative form of protesting has taken place in Tunisia where youths came together at a university and perform a dance routine to ‘Let’s get it started’ as they called for the ouster of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party. That video in particular went viral online, receiving thousands of hits on YouTube which exemplifies the public’s reaction to nonviolent resistance.

Across the water in Lebanon, women have been protesting for their rights against domestic violence which the government has refused to recognize. The country has not even passed the draft law that just awaits approval in Parliament. Its significance has been completely disregarded and simply shelved.

Those women gathered in downtown Beirut and danced to the chart-buster ‘Gangnam Style’ to make their point.

The above examples are just a couple ways that the plight of women and the rejection of a government have been brought to the attention of the average person. It has reached out to every household. This form of expression in itself is a more dynamic and creative way to get ones point across and leave a memorable impact on an audience through an active, peaceful resistance.

In my opinion this is ones so called “birth right.”

Throughout history it is proven that violent resistance fails to achieve any positive results. In this new technological age we can reach out to the masses through informative creativity, which should be our path to an ethical, nonviolent, artistic resistance.

Sophie Ghaziri is a Shift Editor at Al Arabiya English. She has previously worked as a producer, presenter and a writer at the BBC, Al Jazeera and she was Head of English at Future News in Lebanon for 2 years. She can be followed on Twitter on: @SophieGhaziri

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.