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Tagged ‘Palestine‘

What Would it Take to Get Israel to Stop? What the American Left Has Trouble Saying

“However much he deplored violence, Gandhi did deem it much preferable to inaction in the face of injustice. Should one be incapable of nonviolently resisting an outrage, the only honorable option would be to resist violently, whereas flight would be wholly shameful. For, if there was one thing Gandhi detested more than violence, it was ‘mute submissiveness’ — and what was yet worse, such submissiveness masquerading as nonviolent resistance.” – Norman Finkelstein, 2008

 

“The question central to the emergence and maintenance of nonviolence as the oppositional foundation of American activism has not been the truly pacifist formulation, ‘How can we forge a revolutionary politics within which we can avoid inflicting violence on others?’ On the contrary, a more accurate guiding question has been, ‘What sort of politics might I engage in which will both allow me to posture as a progressive and allow me to avoid incurring harm to myself?’ Hence, the trappings of pacifism have been subverted to establish a sort of ‘politics of the comfort zone’…” -Ward Churchill, 2007

 

“Time and again, people struggling not for some token reform but for complete liberation — the reclamation of control over our own lives and the power to negotiate our own relationships with the people and world around us — will find that nonviolence does not work, that we face a self-perpetuating power structure that is immune to appeals to conscience and strong enough to plow over the disobedient and uncooperative. We must reclaim histories of resistance to understand why we have failed in the past and how exactly we achieved the limited successes we did. We must also accept that all social struggles, except those carried out by a completely pacified and thus ineffective people, include a diversity of tactics. Realizing that nonviolence has never actually produced historical victories toward revolutionary goals opens the door to considering other serious faults of nonviolence.” – How Nonviolence Protects the State

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Here’s an answer to the question of what it would take for Israel to stop that you won’t hear from most of the American left: violence, Palestinian violence. Don’t agree? Here’s what an Israeli journalist said about it on November 17, 2012:

If history has taught us something, it’s that in those rare occasions when the other party is able to inflict too much pain and discomfort on Israelis – thus making the status quo “less tolerable” – concessions are finally made. This is the way the First Intifada led to Oslo and the second one to the disengagement (much in the way the 1973 war lead to the peace treaty with Egypt). In all these cases, the Palestinians (or Egyptians) paid a heavy price – much heavier than Israel – but they were able to move Israel out of its comfort zone. Israeli leaders often express the desire to “teach the Palestinians a lesson against the use of violence” or “to burn it into their consciousness,” as Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon famously said. But in reality the terrible lesson we have taught them is that in order to get something out of Israel, violence is not enough – one needs a lot of violence. It seems that the world understands that, and after two decades of diplomatic efforts, the latest escalation is met with indifference (which Israelis wrongly interpret as support). 1

– Noam Sheaf, Israeli journalist

The arguments being emphasized now by American leftists about how the number of Israelis killed by Palestinian resistance are so low compared to the thousands of Palestinians killed by Israel are of course true.

But all this talk of the disproportionate impact on Israel is really a way to not deal directly with the truth: Palestinian families have a legal right to resist occupation, including the use of violent resistance. Therefore, Israel has no right to self defense.

“…[A]ccording to international law today, Israel has no rights to or in the Occupied territories of Palestine.  According to the same international law, the occupation ought to have ceased one year after its beginning, that is by June 1968.  The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution requiring Israel to withdraw from all occupied territories, Resolution 242 in November 1967.” 2

– Lynda Burstein Brayer, South African, Israeli trained human rights lawyer.

Catherine Charrett’s piece on Mondoweiss says it perfectly:

Palestinian factions represent a non-state (as we all know way too well Palestine does not have its state yet) and therefore, any form of violence Palestinian movements engage in will be, by de facto, that of a non-state actor. War or violence launched by a non-state actor, is so quickly coupled with militant or terrorist in the Western discourse on legitimate uses of violence. Palestine continues to be forbidden its status and capability as a viable state; how then is Palestine meant to resist its occupation, when Israeli leaders wage their own war on Palestine and simultaneously work so energetically and aggressively to dissallow its status as a state? How are Gazan resistant movements, which do enjoy almost unanimous support from the entire Gaza population, meant to resist in a way which is legitimate to western governments? If these Western narratives were more dedicated to their own professed adherence to human rights then they would not be able to stand in defence of Israel. According to the Geneva Conventions a people under occupation have the legal right to resist their occupation; this Article 1 (4) of Protocol 1 stresses that force may be used to pursue the right of self-determination. States and actors who attempts to suppress the Palestinian right to resist violent occupation is in direct contradiction with the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which all legally aim to provide support to those fighting colonial regimes. The Western discourse on the legitimate use of violence needs to sensitise and educate its view: Palestinians have the legal right to resist and that is exactly what they are doing. 3

So, not only is Palestinian resistance, including the use of violence, legal, it’s also effective. And given how ineffective the world community is at even recognizing Palestinians as Israel’s target of genocide, much less defending Gaza, any support for Gaza now should include uproarious cheers for every rocket that lands in Israel.

Perhaps this is why, as even the New York Times knows, Gaza is a place “where resistance is an honored part of the culture.”4

 

How Obsession with “Nonviolence” Harms the Palestinian Cause

“Oppressed people do not and should not have to explain their oppression to their oppressor, nor tailor their resistance to the comfort of the oppressors and their supporters.”

Opinion/Editorial

10 July 2012

Palestinians do not have to tailor their resistance to the liking of the oppressor class and their supporters.

(Mahfouz Abu Turk / APA images)

In recent years, western discourse surrounding the Palestinian cause has employed a few new — and superficial — adjectives to describe Palestinian resistance: Palestinian “nonviolent” resistance, Palestinian “peaceful” resistance, Palestinian “popular” resistance, Palestinian “unarmed” resistance. And the ever so popular Palestinian “Gandhi-style” resistance.

This discourse has been adopted by the Palestinian popular struggle committees, born after the success story of the occupied West Bank village of Budrus that embarked on popular protests and managed to regain 95 percent of its lands that were expropriated by Israel’s apartheid wall in 2003. However, the obsessive, fetish-like concentration on a specific type of resistance has in one way or another contributed to the delegitimization of other forms of resistance, while simultaneously closing off open discussion on what popular resistance actually is.

An historical overview of Palestinian resistance would testify to its use of different forms, although they were not viewed separately by Palestinians themselves. Palestinians were aware of their rights being stripped from them and confronted their occupiers.

There were the 1929 Wailing Wall/Buraq Wall demonstrations against the domination of the site by Jews who were backed by the British Mandate that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians and Jews; the 1935 armed uprising spearheaded by Izz al-Din Qassam against British soldiers; the six-month trade strike against the British Mandate and Jewish colonialists the following year; and the subsequent three-year uprising brutally crushed by the British.

During the outbreak of what became known as the first intifada, in 1987, the iconic image of a Palestinian rock thrower facing a fully-armed, sophisticated army “redeemed” the Palestinian resistance of hijacking planes in the 1970s.

No need to explain

Nowadays, Israelis and internationals and unfortunately even some “enlightened” Palestinians champion “nonviolent resistance” and consider throwing a rock to be a violent act. The argument goes that throwing rocks tarnishes the reputation of Palestinians in the western world and immediately negates the “nonviolent/peaceful” resistance movement. This argument falls into the trap of western- (read, colonizer) dictated methods of acceptable means to resist.

Oppressed people do not and should not have to explain their oppression to their oppressor, nor tailor their resistance to the comfort of the oppressors and their supporters.

The last time we truly had a genuine, grassroots popular resistance movement in Palestine (before the protests against Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank village of Budrus in the early 2000s) was during first three years of the first intifada.

In 2005, people in the village of Bilin began their weekly protests against the wall Israel built on their land. The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) was formed in 2008, touted as the rebirth of popular resistance as more and more West Bank villages started their own weekly protests and were effectively swept under the wings of the PSCC.

Mohammed Khatib, one of the founders of the PSCC, told me in an interview that the committee “sought to undertake creative direct action as a result of the low numbers in the protests.”