An interlude, while the thought is on my mind.
ISM is often described as a "peace movement" and ISMers as "peace activists" (that is, when we're not being described as evil terror-supporting anti-semites.) I don't have too much of a problem with that (the peace movement thing that is), but it's not exactly right.
ISM characterises itself not as a peace-movement, but as a non-violent resistance movement. It is not there to make peace between Israelis and the Palestinians, it is there to support and participate in non-violent Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation.
Now that may not sit entirely comfortably with some people, indeed sometimes it doesn't sit entirely comfortably with me. It sounds... well, partisan, one-sided, aggressive almost. Surely there's wrong on both sides and you should be trying to promote reconciliation, not taking sides?
Well, let's consider one of the best-known exponents of non-violence in modern times, Mahatma Ghandi. Few would question that he was a man of peace.* But to say that his mission was about "making peace" would not really be accurate - he was not about bringing the British and the Indians together, finding common ground, working out a compromise, promoting reconciliation and group hugs, etc. - he was about organising a movement that would resist, disrupt and ultimately end British occupation of India. He was on the side of the Indians against the British.
But, crucially, he was about doing this through non-violence. Which doesn't just mean "not doing violent things", it means maintaining an attitude of respect for the humanity of everyone you interact with, even your enemies, even the British soldiers. And yes, once freedom has been won, your goal is reconciliation and peace. Indeed, the only way that reconciliation and peace can happen is if there is an end to occupation and oppression.
I see the Israel/Palestine conflict as analogous. As I said in a reply to neonchameleon
, the conflict is often portrayed as far too complicated to understand, and all to do with religion and ancient hatreds, etc., but actually the immediate
conflict is quite simple, Israel is occupying the Palestinian territories in an extremely oppressive manner, the Palestinians are fighting back, and yes, some of them are doing so using means that I, and most people, would consider morally repugant. But that doesn't change the fact of who is occupying whom. So, yes, ISM is taking sides, it is part of the Palestinian resistance, seeking to end the Occupation, but the resistance it seeks to be part of and to encourage is a non-violent resistance movement. And again, this means not just using non-violent means, but seeking to foster non-violent attitudes, respecting the humanity even of the Israeli soldiers, though that is bloody hard some of the time. And yes, at the end of the road, once the Occupation is ended, is peace and reconciliation.
The fact that this is not just warm words by ISM for public consumption is underlined, I believe, by the - not just welcoming, but real warmth
and friendship I have seen between the Palestinians in ISM and in the communities, and the Israeli activists who have joined the struggle against the Wall and the Occupation - Israelis who have stayed in the homes and eaten the bread of Palestinian families, and who have stood, and shed blood, alongside them. No doubt there are some Palestinians who hate all Israelis and want to blow them to bits, there are people like that anywhere, but my experience is that most Palestinians do distinguish between Israeli people and the actions of their government, and do want peace. But with justice.
More on the march later.
 It is rather more complicated than that, due to the question of the Palestinian refugees expelled from their homes during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. But I think that is something that could and would be resolved alongside an end to the Occupation, though probably not entirely to the satisfaction of those concerned.
*Yes, I know, I can't talk about Ghandi and non-violence without thinking about that
scene from Buffy either.