Saturday, May 22, 2010

Palestinian nonviolence relies on global non-silence

The world cannot expect Palestinians to abandon violence while remaining silent on Israel's repression of nonviolent activists

Yousef Munayyer
(Executive director of the Palestine Center and the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development), Friday 21 May 2010

(Left: Bassem Abu Rahma after he was shot and killed by Israel, April 2009, while engaged in a nonviolent protest at Bil'in)

"When will there be a Palestinian Gandhi? I'm often asked this question by people who sympathise with Palestinian suffering but are uncomfortable associating themselves with resistance movements that they see as violent or terrorist.

The reality of course is that Palestinian nonviolent resisters are not only active today but have a long and storied history in the Palestinian struggle. The real question is: why haven't we heard about them?

Like many resisting oppression, Palestinian Gandhis are likely to be found in prisons after being repressed by Israeli soldiers or police or in the hospital after being brutally beaten or worse.

In recent years, the Israeli repression of Palestinian nonviolent dissent has increased significantly and Israel is showing signs of transforming into a fully-fledged police state. Even Israeli citizens, both Palestinian such as Ameer Makhoul and Jewish, have faced intimidation in one form or another for being critical of Israel's policies. Surely, Israel has realised that its ongoing occupation, continued colonisation of Palestinian land, and its bombardment of civilian-packed Gaza have significantly and negatively impacted on its image abroad. The images of nonviolent Palestinian protests against the Israeli occupation aren't helping Israel's reputation either......

Sadly, the same leaders who call on Palestinians to abandon violence have been silent in the face of Israeli repression. By condemning violent Palestinian resistance while remaining silent in the face of Israeli crackdowns and political arrests, they are simply endorsing violence against civilians by one side instead of the other....."

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