Here's Your Nonviolent Resistance
- Bloody Sunday, the latest mass murder of peaceful refugees by Israeli army on May 15, 2011 passed without raising hue and cry over blood shed. Hundreds of Palestinians were killed and wounded along Israeli borders, in Golan, South Lebanon, Gaza and Kalandia on the West Bank. They were unarmed, presented no danger, and still they were met with lethal fire.
The mainstream media of the West hardly reported this occurrence; ditto in Russia. The Jewish lobby is strong these days; journalists and editors are afraid to be listed as 'antisemites' and prefer to look other way, say, to Syria. All their compassion to hapless refugees was wasted in Libya, none remained for the Palestinians. The chief butcher, Netanyahu, is on his way to receive standing ovations in the US Senate coming Tuesday. ICC is too busy looking for Qaddafi; if they would but mention Israel, Israel would bomb The Hague.
Our Malaysian friends went to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza; their vessel called The Spirit of Rachel Corrie was attacked by Israeli Navy's heavy machineguns in international waters. This act of piracy went practically unnoticed.
The Egyptian border remained as calm as it was in Mubarak's days. Sinai was sealed for the protesters. One does not see much difference between pre-revolutionary and the new regime: it is now Mubarak 2.0, without Mubarak personally. The Egyptians came to demonstrate to Israeli embassy in Cairo, and were shot at by the police and security.
Some people advise the Palestinian refugees to come over the border as a huge unarmed wave, hoping they will be able to get home and that the Jews would not shoot. This is not an advise I'd give: who knows how many will die before gaining ground? Here is an interesting article from the British weekly, The Economist, summing up ideas of non-violence.
Israel and Palestine
Here comes your non-violent resistance
May 17th 2011
FOR many years now, we've heard American commentators bemoan the violence of the Palestinian national movement. If only Palestinians had learned the lessons of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, we hear, they'd have had their state long ago. Surely no Israeli government would have violently suppressed a non-violent Palestinian movement of national liberation seeking only the universally recognised right of self-determination.
Palestinian commentators and organisers, including Fadi Elsalameen and Moustafa Barghouthi, have spent the last couple of years pointing out that these complaints resolutely ignore the actual and growing Palestinian non-violent resistance movement. For that matter, they elide the fact that the first intifada, which broke out in 1987, was initially as close to non-violent as could be reasonably expected. For the most part, it consisted of general strikes and protest marches. In addition, there was a fair amount of kids throwing rocks, as well as the continuing threat of low-level terrorism, mainly from organisations based abroad; the Israelis conflated the autochthonous protest movement with the terrorism and responded brutally, and the intifada quickly lost its non-violent character. That's not that different from what has happened over the past couple of months in Libya; it shows that it's very hard to keep a non-violent movement non-violent when the government you're demonstrating against subjects you to gunfire for a sustained period of time.
In any case, if you're among those who have made the argument that Israelis would give Palestinians a state if only the Palestinians would learn to employ Ghandhian tactics of non-violent protest, it appears your moment of truth has arrived. As my colleague writes, what happened on Nakba Day was Israel's "nightmare scenario: masses of Palestinians marching, unarmed, towards the borders of the Jewish state, demanding the redress of their decades-old national grievance." Peter Beinart writes that this represents "Israel's Palestinian Arab Spring": the tactics of mass non-violent protest that brought down the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, and are threatening to bring down those of Libya, Yemen and Syria, are now being used in the Palestinian cause.
So now we have an opportunity to see how Americans will react. We've asked the Palestinians to lay down their arms. We've told them their lack of a state is their own fault; if only they would embrace non-violence, a reasonable and unprejudiced world would see the merit of their claims. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of them did just that, and it seems likely to continue. If crowds of tens of thousands of non-violent Palestinian protestors continue to march, and if Israel continues to shoot at them, what will we do? Will we make good on our rhetoric, and press Israel to give them their state? Or will it turn out that our paeans to non-violence were just cynical tactics in an amoral international power contest staged by militaristic Israeli and American right-wing groups whose elective affinities lead them to shape a common narrative of the alien Arab/Muslim threat? Will we even bother to acknowledge that the Palestinians are protesting non-violently? Or will we soldier on with the same empty decades-old rhetoric, now drained of any truth or meaning, because it protects established relationships of power? What will it take to make Americans recognise that the real Martin Luther King-style non-violent Palestinian protestors have arrived, and that Israeli soldiers are shooting them with real bullets?
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