Wednesday, September 15, 2004

A Gandhi in Palestine

/ politics / non-violent / worth a try /
Arun Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's grandson visited Israel / Palestine a couple of weeks ago..."Observing that the Jews were "dehumanising" the Palestinians by allowing "discriminatory" acts against them, [he] has urged the strife-torn sides to banish the philosophy of hate." He also told Palestinian protesters at Israel's West Bank barrier that "the wall recalled the way South Africa's former white-minority regime treated blacks."
Gandhi "emphasised the need for Palestinians to adopt peaceful methods in their struggle against Israelis.'You need to concentrate on a policy of non-violence for the long term...If the Palestinian people rise up and start a non-violent movement, it will boost world sympathy,' he told reporters, adding 'the nations of the world will rise up and put more pressure on Israel.'"

Now that is good advice. At the present moment with the Palestinian struggle facing a murderous opponent, the literally suicidal strategy of direct confrontation is leading nowhere... Or to somewhere very unpleasant.
Not that I'm among those who see non-violent resistance as a cure-for-all (it assumes a certain amount of humanity from the oppressor that is most definitely not always there), rather it's that there can be no real solution to the Palestinian problem (one- or two-state) that doesn't require the creation of political ties with that part of Israeli society most uncomfortable with Israel role as ruthless occupier: the Israeli left... This echoes in a sense the late Edward Said, who, addressing the people of Palestine, pointed out that

"... We have not at all understood the politics of non-violence. Moreover, neither have we understood the power of trying to address Israelis directly, the way the ANC addressed the white South Africans, as part of a politics of inclusion and mutual respect.

Coexistence is our answer to Israeli exclusivism and belligerence. This is not conceding: it is creating solidarity, and therefore isolating the exclusivists, the racists, the fundamentalists..."

The added benefit is that such a strategy would create an atmosphere in which the Palestinian left would have the upper hand over the Islamic groups, while shifting Israeli politics noticably away from Sharon and the hawks in general... Which is exactly the reason that such a strategy would be bitterly fought against by both the fundamentalists and the militarists...

1 comment:

talos said...

old comments


I think a non violent strategy would work well in Palestine. The Israelis are on average educated and there is considerable press freedom in the country. Additionaly there is a strong jewsih peace movement championing the Palestinian cause.
On a personall note I would find it easier to come around to supporting the Palestinians. Violent struggle is one thing, killing civilians indiscriminantly is quite another. I can't imagine our own heroes of the war for liberation employing such tactics, even against Turks.

2004-09-15 16:16

Well, you know, as far as the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Turks is concerned, when Kolokotronis entered Tripolitsa, he wrote in his "διήγησις" that "…Το ασκέρι οπού ήταν μέσα το Ελληνικό έκοβε και εσκότωνε από Παρασκευή έως Κυριακή, γυναίκες, παιδιά και άνδραις 32000, μια ώρα ολόγυρα της Τριπολιτζάς" … Something corroborated in detail by a number of eye-witnesses to the massacres.

In the whole of the Peloponnese, in general, there were extensive massacres and atrocities against moslems ("Turks"), men, women and children… These atrocities were reciprocal, but really, in terms of brutality well beyond what Israelis and Palestinians are currently doing to each other…

2004-09-15 17:43

I concur with the facts you mentioned and was aware of them myself. MY beef with the Pals is that they choose murder as their sole means of resistance. In a war there will certainly be innocents who die. However the way the Revolution was fought, the objective was to get rid and destroy the Turk's army and soldiers. The cleansing of civilians was secondary and following a military vioctory.

Lastly, don't forget that we were fighting the Turk, not some civilised Euros who would follow any rules wrt surrender. Look at what he did to us 100 years later in Smyrna. As for reciprocity I guess you can't fight the beast without acquiring some of its aspects.

2004-09-16 07:42