Where the Arab-Israeli conflict comes up things get more complicated (as they always seem to): The International Solidarity Movement come to the territories and protest, which one its own is fine. But then they take things to the next level. Here are some examples of the way that the ISM and other groups "protest the occupation:"
-"Acting to deter military operations. Some ISM volunteers object to the use of the term human shield to describe their work because, they argue, in a Palestinian context the expression more usually refers to forced use of captive Palestinians by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) when searching Palestinian neighbourhoods."These all sound pretty nonviolent, and they are, but only on the surface. Let's take a hypothetical example of a possible situation during the Second Intifada. Israel gets a tip from an informant that a group of Palestinians are building a bomb and are preparing to detonate it at a checkpoint. They gear up a unit of soldiers and go into the West Bank to arrest the Palestinians and confiscate the bomb parts.
-"Removing roadblocks. These are large unmanned mounds of earth and concrete on roads throughout the West Bank, and sometimes placed at the entrances of Palestinian villages by the IDF, thereby isolating those villages' inhabitants by preventing traffic in or out."
-"Attempting to block military vehicles such as tanks and bulldozers."
-"Interfering with the construction of the West Bank barrier and placing political graffiti on the barrier."
As soon as they enter the refugee camp, though, all of these ISM activists come running out into the streets and get in the way. By the time the Israelis clear them out of the way (admit insults and thrown objects) the Palestinians have gotten away. The next day, the bomb detonates at a checkpoint and three IDF soldiers are killed.
In this situation, the ISM interfered with the ability of Israel's military to do it's job. Because of their interference, enemy combatants were able to carry out their deadly mission and three people died for it. Isn't this aiding and abetting the enemy in a conflict situation? Isn't the IDF more than within its rights to kill the ISMers on sight if they try to hinder military operations? I don't think many people would agree.
To take another example, the ISM activists try to tear down the West Bank security barrier. They have taken a step beyond simply protesting and began actively trying to hinder Israeli military hardware. A Palestinian who tried to infiltrate the security barrier would very likely be arrested or even killed. Why should the ISMers expect to be treated differently just because they aren't Palestinians? Put another way, so the ISMers tear down the barrier in one section and then a suicide bomber uses it to try and kill Israelis. Will this even weight on the conscience of the ISM for even a second? Somehow, I don't think so.
So what I am getting at is that there is peaceful protest, and then there is what the ISM and people like them are doing. In cases like the Iraq War, it is pretty simple. Americans protest in the streets of Washington DC, but it would be unthinkable for them to fly to Iraq and run around with insurgents in the streets of Baghdad. If one of them were killed doing this it would be accepted as a consequence of his own poor decision-making. But of course with Israel, things are different.
Not that things were different before the ISM came along, because it wasn't. Arab "protests" led into riots all the way back in the 1920 and 1930s, and today it is quite normal for the Palestinians to have rock-throwers or even riflemen sprinkled throughout a crowd of peaceful protesters. If the Israeli troops try to defend themselves, it would be almost inevitable that they would hit someone who is unarmed.
So perhaps what this court case should be about is the way that nonviolence activists should be allowed to protest in what amounts to a war zone. Running in front of a tank might make for great theater, but if the tank driver is more concerned about incoming rockets than watching where he is going you might just get run over. The reality is that peaceful protesters who insert themselves into a situation where bullets are flying on both sides are putting themselves at risk. As I said before, ISM activists toe the line between helping Palestinians in general and helping Palestinian terrorists, so there might be more to be discussed about the nature of nonviolent protests. As usual, it only ever seems to be Israel who has to think about these things. Any other nation would think, "You're helping our enemies? Sorry, but move out of the way or you're dead." What's happening in the territories isn't political drama, as much as the ISMers might want it to be. It is a war zone, and in wars people get killed.