You may have heard of Budrus, a documentary about nonviolent resistance in the West Bank town of the same name soon to make its U.S. debut. In the course of a commentary on the film at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Hugh Gusterson writes that when it comes to dealing with Palestine, Israel is all about the bidding up.

“Israel follows an escalatory strategy of violence. … Whatever resistance the Palestinians attempt is treated as a bid that the Israelis must counter. [For example, if] the resistance is non-violent, the response is tear gas, nightsticks, and rubber bullets. … The theory seems to be that the exercise of violence is like bidding at an auction and that the Palestinians, once they see they are outbid, will, like a good rational actor, fold their hand. …

“But Palestinians . . . are not rational actors. … They are enraged and humiliated human beings who are embittered by life under collective punishment and determined not to surrender the one thing left to them: the ability to resist. Unless Israel wants an endless emergency, a permanent cycle of violence, their Palestinian strategy is failing miserably.”

To show why it’s failing, Gusterson circles back to Palestinian terrorists.

“. . . Budrus dramatizes the no-win situation within which Israel has imprisoned the Palestinians. If the Palestinians resist the occupation with violence . . . they are shot at, imprisoned, blockaded, their homes destroyed — and their land is taken away, bite by bite. If, as in Budrus, they resist with non-violence . . . they are tear-gassed, beaten, shot at with rubber bullets — and their land is taken away, bite by bite.”

A rigged auction, in other words.

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