Non-Violence in Palestine: Timing and Intentions

one speaks of or advocates non-violence, does he promote such an idea
because he believes that historically it has been a more effective
means of liberation, or is it purely because he thinks that it is a
more self-respecting means of struggle?

one speaks of or advocates non-violence, does he promote such an idea
because he believes that historically it has been a more effective
means of liberation, or is it purely because he thinks that it is a
more self-respecting means of struggle?

recent history, many advocates of non-violence have been celebrated as
modern day icons. From Ghandi to King, songs are written in their
honor, their life stories fill the pages of our children's history
volumes as noble examples of which everyone must aspire to emulate.
Holidays are instituted in their honor and around the world; streets
and boulevards carry their namesake.

is it that the "establishment" goes to such great lengths to lift up
these individuals? Where are the holidays commemorating the life and
sacrifices of Malcolm X, where are the stories of Crazy Horse or
Geronimo? Could it be possible that these figures remain in the shadows
of pacifists because their ideals shook up the status quo just a little
too much? When the "establishment" celebrates individuals for their
non-violence, could that be another way of recognizing them for making
just enough commotion, but not too much commotion?

decades, the Palestinian struggle for freedom was largely a non-violent
movement. With occasional pockets of armed resistance, Palestinians in
the occupied territories employed methods of general strikes,
demonstrations and the like to express their demands and desires to
finally live in freedom. And yet these were the years where
Palestinians saw that great majority of their homeland swallowed up
into what is now the State of Israel. Land was stolen with no
recompense to its owners, prisons burst at the seams with prisoners who
never received a trial, houses demolished by the hundreds, entire
orchards of olive and fruit trees ransacked and burned. All this was
carried out in the confines of an "Intifada-free" society. So, it might be suggested that Palestinians gave non-violent resistance more than a fair shot.

seems that there is an ongoing trend among many in the "establishment"
to celebrate those broken and oppressed refugees who in spite of more
than sixty years of bondage call for non-violence or passive
resistance. While the intention is in itself honorable, one must
question the timing.

the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released a report
entitled: "UN: 70% of Palestinian youth oppose violence to resolve
conflict with Israel". The report addressed a survey conducted in the
occupied territories that interviewed 1200 youth in the West Bank and
Gaza. The survey found that nearly 70 percent of young adults in the
occupied territories do believe that the use of violence is "not
helpful" to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The report stated
that only 8 percent found violence a necessary tool, and it also found
that 80 percent of young Palestinians are depressed, 55 percent being
"extremely depressed".

recent months, Palestinians have endured some of the most painful blows
since the early years of Israeli rule. The recent bloodletting in the
Gaza Strip claimed the lives of more than 1400, wounded thousands, and
robbed millions of any sense of security, safety and hope for a better
world. Human rights groups around the world decried the Israeli
genocide as war crimes, World leaders committed to filing charges at
the International Court of Justice and have Israeli leaders tried for
war crimes and crimes against humanity. The liquidation of Gaza became
center platform in Israeli elections. Cluster bombs, white phosphorous
and God only knows what other illegal weapons were unleashed on a
starved and sieged civilian population where relief workers strived to
pinpoint just what chemical weapon only leaves behind the evidence of a
human skeleton?

the grief and rage that followed, Belgium found it fitting to nominate
one sorrow-stricken doctor and father of three lovely daughters from
Gaza, the Nobel Prize, in recognition of his efforts to promote peace
between Palestinians and Israelis. The 55 year old physician, Ezzeldeen
Abu al-Aish, lost his three children in a most viscous way, when
Israeli shells hit his house, crushing and suffocating all those
inside. Dr. Abu al-Aish just happened to be talking on Israeli
television about the suffering of the people of Gaza when he was
informed that the shell hit his home with his family inside. He
suppressed his anguish long enough to express his hope that his
daughters would be the last victims of Israel's attack.

it cannot be denied that such a man deserves the highest honor for his
commitment to the population of Gaza, and for the personal sacrifice he
has endured, the irony of his distinction coming at such a time, after
the most horrifying of sieges, after the grisly killing of his
children, but more, after the grieving father responded with a poignant
message of "reconciliation".

the midst of this mess, where is the call for Israel to embrace
non-violence, would the media and the world community press the
Israelis to embrace non-violence, had they endured such atrocities such
as those witnessed in Gaza?

once again, the intentions of the "establishment" come in to question.
One has to wonder, if Abu al-Aish would have responded with the resolve
of so many grieving parents who vowed to "never leave" to "rebuild" to
"resist until victory or death in its pursuit", would he still be
recognized for his efforts to promote peace among Palestinians and

why does the UNDP find it fitting to highlight a survey that concludes
that most Palestinian youth find violence "unhelpful" at such a time?
And why does the world renown a man who calls for reconciliation, a
term that somehow suggests a conflict between people of equal standing,
while his daughters rest in fresh graves? Some may suggest that
non-violent resistance in such situations is the embodiment of the
dignified struggle.

Others might call it surrender.

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