When I first visited Palestine on a witness trip with FOSNA in 2014 I kept hearing the resistance movement being talked about as the beautiful or creative resistance. I had heard ‘’nonviolent resistance’’ before, but never the former two. At that time, I thought that this beauty and creativity applied to the arts and the way Palestinian’s were able to express themselves creatively to enact their humanness. Those words – creative resistance – have stuck with me since that trip and embedded themselves in the fabric of my conditioning. What did it mean, what could it mean, to resist creatively or beautifully? Following the myriad of answers to that question has led me right back to working with FOSNA and the space they provide for advocates to think creatively about how to respond to the Israeli occupation and its violation of Palestinian human rights.
Looking back, I see now that the creative resistance is not just about how resisters express themselves, but how they use their minds. The potential that is innately within each of us to do good in this world. To push the limits that upholds the status quo and explore new horizons of what kinds of worlds are possible. It is the threading together of ideas – ideas that Israel has tried to destroy – with the goal of building a broad and spread-out coalition of resisters committed to ending the centuries-old colonial project once and for all. To resist with Palestine is to stand up for our entire world – and all the people and traditions in it – because it is an attempt to end the colonial disease once and for all. The occupation, the apartheid wall, the IDF, Netanyahu – these are all symptoms of a disease our species has been trying to cure ourselves of for centuries, and what Palestinians have showed us is that the most effective treatment to conquer this illness is through a creative and beautiful resistance. If colonial occupation is the disease, then resistance is the antidote that enables us to work towards repair.
When I asked David from the Tent of Nations, the last piece of hilltop land secured by a Palestinian family since settlers and their settlements have stolen a majority of Palestinian land, what nonviolent resistance meant to him, he responded by saying “When you do something different, it confuses the other side. We must act differently.” That is what creative resistance means – to do something different than what is expected of us.
Iyad Burnat, leader and protest organizer in Bil’in.
Palestinian creative resistance: growing plants from tear gas canisters.
The project I’ve just started working on with FOSNA is an intricate one that requires us to think creatively and pragmatically on how to bridge theory with practice at the local level. To move forward with effective pragmatism requires creativity. This campaign is creative in the way it sutures together many ideas and people, creating an affirmation of resistance. It’s beautiful because it is borne of and travelled through the many minds of resisters throughout time to get where it is now, showing how similar struggles can coalesce similar resisters.
The new FOSNA campaign aims to assist local constituents to take back the people power in their cities, townships, counties, or communities. Millions of dollars from our taxes are filtered into contracts and investments chosen by our local city officials and we, the people of these municipalities, have a right to collectively decide how this money is spent. FOSNA “encourages groups to work on municipal campaigns, targeting governmental entities that have contracted, or are proposing to contract, with companies profiting off the violation of Palestinian human rights in their local areas. We urge you to get to know the local political powers and learn how the system works, where the authority lies, and what works best with local governing bodies. Much of the work done by your local government involves contracts with outside companies, corporations, and businesses. Contracts are legally binding agreements between two or more parties. Typically a local governmental entity will announce a contract opportunity on a procurement portal, and companies will then bid for that contract. After a preset time (typically a few months) bidding will close and the city council, school board, or other entity will then review each bid and decide on an awardee. The contract will then enter into force for a specified period of time. After that period the contract will expire and the process starts again.’’