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March 17, 2013

A Rich Heritage

The New York Times ran a huge cover story today by Ben Ehrenreich about the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Here's the attitude of nearby Israeli settlers to four years of weekly protests from Palestinians who live in the village:

From most south-facing windows in Nabi Saleh, you can see the red roofs of Halamish, the Israeli settlement on the hilltop across the valley…

I first met Shifra Blass, the spokeswoman for Halamish, in 2010...When I visited her again last month, she was not eager to talk to me about the conflict over the spring and the lands surrounding it. “We want to live our lives and not spend time on it,” Blass said. She dismissed the weekly demonstrations as the creation of “outside agitators who come here and stir the pot — internationalists, anarchists, whatever.” It was all a show, she said, theater for a gullible news media.

As the article mentions, Shifra Blass emigrated to Israel from the U.S. So I assume she's aware of the rich heritage of the phrase "outside agitators" and wants to lay claim to it. This is George Wallace, then governor of Alabama, on April 14, 1964:

we have never had a problem here in the South except in a very few isolated instances and these have been the result of outside agitators.

Contrary to reports of many of the national news media and the propaganda distributed by various organizations, our efforts here in the South are not against the Negro citizen. We fight for the betterment of all citizens in our State.

This is Sheriff Jim Clark on January 18, 1965 in Selma, Mississippi:

"John Lewis, you are an outside agitator. You are the lowest form of humanity."

This is an editorial in the Jackson Daily News ("Mississippi's Greatest Newspaper") on August, 18, 1965:

[Jo Freeman] is currently, or until very recently, a member of the team of outside agitators stirring up racial turmoil in Grenada…She has been closely allied with racial incidents created by Dr. Martin Luther King and his aides.

And this is Martin Luther King's perspective on this in "Letter from a Birmingham Jail":

I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies – a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.

I could go on, but you get the point. I think if I were in charge of PR for the Israeli settler movement I'd try to muzzle Shirfra as quickly as possible. But since she's one of the people in charge of it, I guess she'll just keep on talking.

P.S. This problem of outside agitators stirring up the normally happy and docile Palestinians is a long-standing one, as explained by Ronald Reagan in 1988 during the first intifada:

REAGAN: There's every evidence that these riots are not just spontaneous and homegrown...We have had intimations that there have been certain people suspected of being terrorists, outsiders, coming in not only with weapons but stirring up and encouraging the trouble in those areas.

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at March 17, 2013 05:13 PM

"Israeli forces have sprayed Palestinian homes in the village of Nabi Saleh with raw sewage as a punishment for organising weekly protests against the Apartheid Wall built on occupied West Bank land. Human rights watchdog B'Tselem published a video showing Israel's armoured tanker trucks fitted with "water cannons" which spray the foul fluid at Palestinian protesters." Israeli security forces spray raw sewage at Palestinian homes Wednesday, 06 March 2013
Also, Please tweet my new video:

Posted by: Tom Murphy at March 18, 2013 05:35 AM

I messed up the link but you here it is again (clicking on my name gets you there too)Israel Kills BUT Israeli Aggression is NOT Media Focus (Media Bias Exposed)

Posted by: Tom Murphy at March 18, 2013 05:38 AM

Also note the added irony of a settler who emigrated to a Gush Emunim colony in the West Bank - occupied territory - referring to *other* people as "outside agitators"...

Posted by: Rob at March 18, 2013 09:44 AM

P.S. re: my comment above: I know you were hinting at this anyway, but it was rather subtle.

Posted by: Rob at March 18, 2013 09:50 AM

I know you were hinting at this anyway, but it was rather subtle.

Yes, I love the way she came from the U.S. to blame outside agitators. The Pilgrims probably blamed outside agitators for all the trouble they had with American Indians.

Posted by: Jon Schwarz at March 18, 2013 10:21 AM

"Freedom Riders"---I remember them coming through Alabama causing trouble back then. And NOW look, A Black Man is POTUS. Is there no place on Earth any more where one can steal a little land or rob&oppress the "natives" and live in peace&quiet? I doubt Ms. Blass is any closer to GOD(HE'S everywhere) in Israel than in New York. I'm sure she would be much happier fighting Bloomberg over guns&soda pop than to sit around waiting for the SHTF from those water cannons Tom Murphy mentions above.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 18, 2013 11:38 AM

Note to Ms. Blass should she ever read this site---gotta have a GUN to steal The Palestinians Land. Throwing turds at them just pisses them off more and won't stop them in the end.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 18, 2013 11:43 AM

Yep. The last time some religious-nut antigay demonstrators from a nearby town came to Bloomington, the campus GLBT office denounced them as outside agitators. I believe they even used those exact words, though the director and senior staff are old enough to remember where the term came from.

Posted by: Duncan at March 18, 2013 02:04 PM

The Pilgrims probably blamed outside agitators for all the trouble they had with American Indians.

They blamed the original Outside Agitator himself: the Father of Lies, the Dark One, the shadowy patron of all the heathens.

The Garden of Eden: made uninhabitable by an outside agitator.

Posted by: antonello at March 18, 2013 02:53 PM

My favorite has to be when the U.S. blames "outside agitators" from Iran for interfering in Iraq's affairs. I think Ronald Reagan had a long history with "outside agitators". When he was governor of California they were being blamed for the political disturbances at Berkeley. By the way, a communist once joked to me "How can a washing machine work without an agitator?"

Posted by: Edward at March 18, 2013 05:32 PM

If the settler movement is going to start muzzling people for PR purposes, they might start here:

Link points to: (click "CC" for english subtitles)

Posted by: Frank at March 18, 2013 06:41 PM

Perhaps i drew an inaccurate inference, but Barack Obama (sp?) is one piss-poor, tragicomic outcome of Martin Luther King's success. It's amazing how successful one can be on these United States backed by the full force of institutional violence.

Posted by: Rich at March 18, 2013 07:47 PM

I loved the way Ehrenreich kept contrasting the IDF pr with his ground eye view, taking us deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, finally culminating with...

"While I was sitting on a bench, an I.D.F. spokesman called my cellphone to inform me that no journalists with press cards had been detained in Nabi Saleh. I disagreed."

Posted by: BenP at March 18, 2013 07:47 PM

anotello: I can see YOUR point, it looks that bad. Personally blame it ALL on the general GREED&STUPIDITY of the neighborhood. These questions of morality are deeply discussed in the Bible. The Bible says "stripes reprove a fool". But nowhere have I seen a mention of a cure. I have read where if JESUS caught YOU in HIS living room being STUPID&GREEDY, HE'D break out that whip and "reprove" YOU. The lesson I take from that is, at least for a day, where there's a whip, there's a way.

Rich: WE raise them that way here. I blame the American Educational System. APPARENTLY even a Harvard Education doesn't help. White, Black, Asian, doesn't matter a tinkers damn. LOOK at Bush! WE elected him TWICE, and JEB is on his way!!!

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 18, 2013 10:28 PM

"“outside agitators who come here and stir the pot — internationalists, anarchists, whatever.” It was all a show, she said, theater for a gullible news media."........whether in Nabih Saleh or elsewhere where non-violent protests take place...
e.g. Artist Emily Henochowicz

There are many more, Tom Hurndall, Rachel Corrie, Ian Hook......they were there, just for a show!!
And if they can do that to so called agitators, what can not they do the locals?

Posted by: rupa shah at March 18, 2013 10:45 PM

This is what they did to Mustafa Tamimi.....for throwing a stone...


Posted by: rupa shah at March 18, 2013 10:51 PM

My recent favorite example of this was Oakland Mayor Jean Quan deriding the "outside agitators" (coming in all the way from foreign, thuggish San Francisco!) hijacking Occupy Oakland.

The great American historical example was, of course, the late 19th Century labor movement, culminating in the great Haymarket injustice, of European immigrants coming over and agitating for crazy things like the 8-hour workday. It's really remarkable how the propagandist playbook never changes.

Posted by: Daniel at March 19, 2013 02:24 AM

this was also picked up by Scooby Doo, when, at the end of the show, the gang would expose the evil plot, the bad guy would chime in: yeah, and i would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for u meddling outside agitators

Posted by: frankenduf at March 19, 2013 09:04 AM

MM: "APPARENTLY even a Harvard Education doesn't help."

Good heavens, you don't expect a ruling class school to teach anti-ruling class values, do you?

Posted by: Duncan at March 21, 2013 04:10 PM

Duncan: For the price they charge one could rightly expect a half-assed shot at some commonsense at least.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 21, 2013 06:45 PM

Mike: Au contraire, mon frere! I put no store by "common sense," but granting you the term, that's what an elite education is supposed to eliminate.

Posted by: Duncan at March 21, 2013 10:39 PM

Duncan: Should YOU be right and that be TRUE, then Mom&Dad are certainly getting their money's worth.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 22, 2013 12:41 AM

tremendous post

Posted by: N E at March 22, 2013 10:43 AM

Mike: You have to remember who "Mom and Dad" are. The kind of people who can afford to send their kids to elite schools like Harvard usually don't want their kids turning into hippies and leftists. True, there are exceptions, but Yale and Harvard are training schools for the American ruling class. So yes, you'd better believe that Mom and Dad, and all the alumni who keep the endowment fund well-endowed, are getting their money's worth.

But back to "common sense." The term is basically a meaningless noise as far as I'm concerned. Common sense tells us that the world is flat, that a woman's place is in the home, that homosexuals are sick pervs, that if God had wanted the races to mix he wouldn't have separated them geographically, that if children are taught they were descended from animals they'll act like animals, that the Arabs have hidden our oil under their sand, and so on and on.

Posted by: Duncan at March 23, 2013 11:07 PM

Duncan: I suppose its where one is educated. Commonsense tells ME that the world is round as ANY sailor can plainly see. In Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" he writes at length of the oppression of women through time.
That stuff about that oil being OURS, have YOU read the new lease agreements?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 24, 2013 01:13 AM