Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Different Path

by young_activist

I do not believe in principled non-violence. I am a pragmatist. I think every tactic must be judged by it effect and nothing else. When violence is the most effective option available it use is justifiable. But just as non-violence must be judged by its outcomes so to should violence.

For the last sixty years Palestinians have been unjustifiably subjected to unimaginable horrors. That they are angry is understandable. That their anger has manifested itself in violence is regrettable, but that is also understandable. The right of Palestinians to armed resistance is enshrined in international law and in the minds of many people across the world. The lone surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising has said that that Palestinians are the heirs of his struggle. Nelson Mandela has called them his brothers in arms. In the face of dispossession and occupation by a racist war machine I too recognize the right of an oppressed people to armed struggle. I must ask though, what has violence accomplished for the Palestinian people?

The Palestinians remain dispossessed, they remain occupied, and they are still the victims of oppression and apartheid. Armed resistance has been ongoing for decades and it has provided nothing but pretexts for the Israeli government to appropriate more land and continue its racist policies. For all of its rhetoric Hamas has not even been able to protect its own citizens from the Israeli onslaught in Gaza.

Israel is the regions only nuclear power and it enjoys uncritical support from the world's only superpower. It has the world's fourth most powerful military and the most advanced technology. Palestine is a weak splintered nation. It has no tanks, no air force, no heavy weapons, and no sophisticated spy network. If Palestinians confront Israel militarily they will be crushed every time, but they have the power to chose the field on which their battle for freedom is waged. Wouldn't it make sense for the Palestinians to fight that battle on a plane where they have the greatest advantage? The strength of Palestine does not lie in its military assets, but in the courage of its people and the justice of its cause. This is where Israel must be engaged.

In 1999 a nation with a tenth the population of Palestine and the diaspora with less than three-hundred fighters won its independence from an American backed nation thirty-five times the size of Israel. That nation is East Timor and its road towards independence holds valuable lessons for the Palestinians. Almost immediately after Indonesia's 1975 invasion western solidarity movements emerged and campaigned for an end to Indonesian military need.

However, many western governments such as Australia, Britain, and the U.S actively supported the occupation and continued military cooperation with Indonesia. Then the world was shocked into action by an atrocity so horrible that it could not be ignored. At a funeral for an independence campaigner killed by Indonesian soldiers troops went on a rampage and killed hundreds of people, including a human rights activist from New Zealand, and beat two American journalists. The entire incident was captured on film by an undercover British journalist and smuggled to the outside world where it garnered critical support both internationally and inside Indonesia.

Independence for East Timor would not have been possible without international support. Palestine will also not be able to gain its freedom without support from within Israel and around the world. Violence and terrorism would have alienated support for East Timor internationally and polarized the issue along ethnic lines. The media is biased against the repressed and for the oppressor. It is wrong and it is unfair, but it is the reality with which we must work. Violence by Palestinians will be extensively reported and violence by Israelis will almost always be ignored. The battle for Palestine will not be won or lost in the streets of Gaza, it will be fought in the hearts and minds of foreigners and Israelis. This is something the Palestinian militants seem to be unaware of, but it is something that Israel's leaders are perfectly knowledgeable of. They know that all they have to do is mention Palestinian violence and they will be given a free hand to do whatever they want.

Without extensive foreign and domestic support Israel would not be able to continue its present policies towards the Palestinians. Because of tragedies in the past persecution, both real and perceived. has become an important component of Jewish identity. This is particularly true for Israelis who do not understand the history of the Palestinians, but only think of them as a violent group of rabid antisemites. Violence has only reinforced this ideas. The effect has been that the issue has been polarized for many Israelis along ethnic lines. A unilateral end to Palestinian violence will demonstrate to Israelis that the desires of Palestinians for freedom are not targeted at them. This will remove any last semblance of legitimacy from Israeli military operations and it will give more Israelis the chance to view the conflict in an objective manner and start pressuring their government, both through the normal political channels and joint action with Palestinians, to change its policies. There is already a grassroots network in Israel, but at the moment they are confined to the far left and are too marginalized to have a serious impact.

In the U.S, perhaps the most critical foreign nation, that network is even more marginalized. Criticism of Israel's human rights records is confined to a small number of highly intelligent, highly informed, activists. These people are the critical human infrastructure needed to bring about a change in policies, but by themselves they will be able to change very little. I can't tell you how many people I have spoken with, liberal people, people who I know would support the cause of justice and freedom if they knew that the Palestinian cause is the cause of justice and freedom, who have been so disturbed by the extensively covered Palestinian violence that they are unable to consider that Israel is not without blame.

I know how they think because I used to be one of these people. In 2006 I watched in horror as the "good guys" invaded Lebanon. It was an event so horrific and laden with civilian casualties that it garnered quasi sympathetic coverage even in the U.S. I watched in even greater horror as every politician from every party, people who I thought represented me, came out in droves to declare their full support for Israel's "right to defend its citizens", but said nothing of the citizens of Lebanon and Palestine who were being massacred by American made weapons. This event and my government's response to it was so shockingly outside of my conception of Israel that I realized there must be another to this story, I side that I did not know.

I began researching the Middle East and my government's role in it. At first I was sceptical of the Palestinians. I remember thinking that this war was only the product of a new and inexperienced leader in Israel, not any cynical policy. If only we had a great statesmen, a great man of peace like Sharon back in power, I remember thinking, this would have never happened. But, as I learned more I slowly realized that American support for Israel was entirely unjustifiable.

This is how other Americans will come to realize what has happened to the Palestinians. Israel is more fearful of a single camera than it is of an army of stone throwers. This is why it has been so restrictive of foreign media in Gaza and the West Bank. This is why it has done so much to frustrate the work of Palestinian journalists.

The liberation of Palestine will not take place within the framework of armed struggle. It is time for a third intifada. This intifada must be exclusively nonviolent. In the past the vast work of nonviolent activists have been ignored in the west because it is easier to cover Palestinian violence. The media is biased against Palestine it is true, but there are some things they will not be able to ignore. The media would not be able to ignore the Palestinian refugees if they followed the advice of Gandhi's grandson and walked over the border to their historic homeland in the tens of thousands in complete defiance of the Israeli military and also without any violence. The media would not be able to ignore such an event if it succeeded and they would definitely not be able to ignore it if the Israeli massacred the refugees in full view of foreign cameras. The Palestinians must do such things to shock the west and to shock Israelis into action.

People will die. It is unfortunate, but it is unavoidable. Even more will die, though, if the occupation continues. It is better that their deaths should be used to bring an end to the occupation. Shock, defiance, and sabotage are the only viable tactics at the disposal of the Palestinians. As they win widespread international support boycotts, sanctions, and divestment will become available as well. This is the only practical way for a weak and powerless nation to triumph over one of the world's most powerful governments.


A great thought of a young friend of mine. You can find her thoughts in here :
It would bring no harm to always open up our minds and our hearts.


Chet said...

This article written by such a young person is great. If the world had the insight of the young_activist it would be a better place.

Yehudi said...

Chet, you're as dis-illusioned as the person who wrote it. Here's something that was written by a brilliant young man, the difference between the two is that this is factually-supported.

The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. There is no such thing as a Palestinian nation. Never in the annals of history has there been a sovereign Palestinian country, or a distinct Palestinian people, culture or language. The only three independent nations in the Land of Israel have been Jewish: the Davidic kingdom, the Hasmonean dynasty and the modern state of Israel. The term 'Palestine' was invented by the Roman emperor Hadrian after he crushed the Jewish revolt in 70 CE. Destroying the Temple in Jerusalem and scattering the Jews to across the world, he renamed Judea 'Palestinae', in the name of an ancient extinct people, the Philistines, in an attempt to erase the Jewish connection to Israel. Many successive empire conquered the Land of Israel yet none ever bothered to build their own nation. When Islam spread through the Middle-East in the 7th century, the Arabs moved into and occupied the geographical entity known as Palestine, yet never once did they consider themselves Palestinian. British document from the Mandatory period consistently refer to "the Jews and Arabs of Palestine", not the Jews and Palestinians. Only in 1967, once the Arabs had lost 6 wars against Israel did they decide on a new tactic and spun the tale of the "Palestine", stolen and occupied by the Jews.

This is not a conflict about territory, or about rockets and settlements. It is about moral rights, whether or not the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people or to the Arabs. In a betrayal of history, Israel's leaders do not have the strength and moral convictions to assert Jewish rights from river to sea. Precisely for this reason does Israel find itself incapable of dispatching a ragtag band of murderers and terrorists. The Arabs speak about "dying for Palestine", martyrdom, and will not compromise on an inch of what they consider holy soil. Israel speaks about self-defense, tactical victories, cease-fires, truces and the "peace process". It is no surprise that Hamas shows not signs of surrender despite an intense 11-day barrage while Israel's leadership (but not people) are demonstrating war weariness. The corrupt Kadima government is determine to surrender as much Jewish land as possible. A post-Zionist government does not have the capacity to implement the necessary solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Gaza is firmly Jewish. It was a part of the tribal inheritance of Judah, was the site of Samson's campaigns against the Philistines and where David slew Goliath. During Greek times, it fell to Alexander the Great and was eventually recaptured by the Hasmoneans. It was home to a thriving and flourishing Jewish community. In 1967, A. Ovadiah excavated the area and discovered a synagogue from the sixth century C.E. Archaeology evidence supports the biblical premise of a continuous Jewish presence from the Late bronze period until the Byzantine period (ca. 1500 B.C.E. through 632 C.E.) It must be recalled that most of the Arabs living in Israel only came in the middle to late 1920’s to escape economic hardship and political persecution by their own people for better opportunity. Gaza, as well as Judea and Samaria, remain under illegal Arab occupation and must be returned to their rightful owners. International law, enshrined in the League of Nations mandate for Palestine and recognized by the UN, gives the Jewish people sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel, and both sides of the Jordan. Various British policies further limited and reduced the area to be given towards a Jewish homeland. However, the world body has never repealed the Jewish right to the Land of Israel under the International law.

A true and lasting peace will only come to the region once Gush Katif, Neve Dekalim and all of the destroyed Jewish towns are re-built on the ruins of Hamas. The Jews of Gaza were unjustly expelled from their rightful homes. The entire leadership responsible for the Expulsion must be tried for crimes against the Jewish people. Only once Israel has the strength to firmly declare that the entire Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, and only the Jewish people, will the conflict be resolved. Until then, rockets and suicide bombings will continually maim and kill Jews. Israel's leaders crave world attention and acceptance and therefore are hesitant to assert Jewish rights over the Land. The offensive in Gaza has been limited due to international pressure. What Israel's weak leaders don't realize is that the world body hates the Jewish people. Never will the UN and EU be satisfied until Israel is wiped off the map, G-d forbid. As a wise man once said: "It is better to have an Israel that the entire world hates than an Auschwitz that world loves". Jewish morality demands that Israel defend its citizens and re-conquer its land. Our enemies must be either completely destroyed or transfered from the Land.

History will judge harshly those who seek to separate the Jewish people from their inheritance. The nation that begged, three times a day that "our eyes should behold Your return to Zion in mercy", cannot be defeated. "And I will turn the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God." (Amos 9:14-15). May we see the day when the prophecy of Amos is fulfilled. Amen!

nindee said...

And i thought things like what you wrote were only propaganda from islamic extremists who want moderate people like me to hate jews.
So glad I met you, finally know the real zionist. And finally see the real meaning of peace for you...
Thank you, Yehudi.

Bar Kochba said...

This article is based on complete historical revisionism. It is the product of living in a fantasy world.

Your portrayal of Israel as a colonial power is absurd. Living in the United States, you must be aware that your country is built on the ruins of what was Indian territory. Every single country in the Americas exists because the European settlers dispossessed the native Amerindians. Yet, nobody dares suggest that these countries are somehow illegitimate. On the other hand, the Jews are the indigenous people of Israel and are constantly having their right to their land challenged by Islamic and Western imperialists.

The territory that today occupies Israel was purchased legally by the Jewish National Fund and various Jewish organization, during the times of the first aliyot. Jews had a constant presence in Israel since biblical times and began to return en masse in the 18th century. No Arabs (ARABS --- the term "Palestinian" did not exist yet to refer to any people) were displaced. Rather, the early Zionists purchased the land from the landlord effendis and settled the land, legally and legitimately. During the war of Independence, hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled, at the behest of the invading Arab armies, and were promised that they would be allowed to return once the Jews had been killed. Israel belongs to the Jewish people, according to every political, historic and religious right. To paint the Jews as colonialists in their native land is absurd. The Arabs have 22 states- the Jews have one tiny strip of land, consisting of less than 1% of the land in the Middle-East. The real colonists and occupiers are the Arabs squatters on Jewish land.

It is an abuse of history to claim that the Arabs have endured unimaginable horrors during the past 60 years. Over a million Arabs are equal citizens in the state of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle-East. They enjoy more rights than their brethren in neighbouring countries. Nowhere else can Arab women vote, hold office or can Arabs freely express their opinions.

This is not a battle over land. Hamas is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state. Fatah has the same long-term goal but wants to use a two-state "solution" as a Trojan horse. Israel has offered the Arabs peace many times before. As Abba Eban said, the Arabs never miss and opportunity to miss an opportunity. In 2000, Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat 95% of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, with joint sovereignty over Jerusalem. The Saudi Crown Prince told him that it would be a crime if he refused! Of course, Arafat walked away, not content that Israel exist.

Israel came into possession of Judea and Samaria, its biblical homeland, after liberating them in 1967. When in history has a winning nation been expected to return land conquered in a defensive war? 6 Arabs nations invaded Israel! When the Egyptians ruled Gaza and the Jordanians ruled Judea and Samaria, never was there any talk of "Palestinian" nationalism. Their occupation was illegal under international law as that land had been promised to the Jews under the Mandate for Palestine! A two-state solution already exists, with "Palestinians" making up over 2/3 of the population of Jordan. Israel cannot be divided up any further. Withdrawing from Judea and Samaria would put Israel back at what Abba Eban famously dubbed "the Auschwitz borders", since they are indefensible.

The sides in this battle are clear. Israel, a democratic nation, is faced with a genocidal murderous enemy, Hamas which is a proxy of Iran, led by a Holocaust-denying madman who wants to wipe Israel off the face of the map. On one side stands Western civilization, life, freedom while on the other stands the forces of Islamic barbarism and hatred. Israel is the proverbial canary in the coal mine but the same hatred has manifested itself in NY on 9/11, on the London Tube, in Bali, and in Mumbai. It always begins with the Jews, but it never ends with the Jews.