The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Non-violence in Palestine

Over the past few years of the second intifada, many friends (always non-Arabs) have asked why the Palestinians couldn't take up non-violent forms of opposition to the Israel's occupation of their land. My answer is always the same: the question shows a misunderstanding of both India and the Israel-Palestine situation. The Electronic Intifada's Ali Abunimah takes up the occasion of Ghandi's son recent visit to Palestine to explain why the Indian experience is really not that relevant to Palestine. That being said, I do wish that the second intifada had been more like the first, and that the types of peaceful protests that take place (and which the Israeli army often tries to contain with tear gas and bullets) would get more attention than the suicide bombings do. Abunimah definitely has a point when he writes this:

Nevertheless, the fact that the Palestinian leadership has never seriously sought to use mass, organized nonviolence is yet another example of its monumental lack of creativity. Imagine, for example, if the Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat, instead of abjectly and unsuccessfully begging his Israeli captors to allow him to attend the Christmas services at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity last year, had simply announced he would walk there without their permission, and invited all the people of Ramallah, international figures, clergymen, and the world's press, to walk with him? What if Palestinian ministers slept in and defended with their bodies the houses and farms of their people, slated for demolition or seizure by Israel?

Where is the leadership?