After hearing that the Palestine Liberation Organization has decided to abandon a resolution requesting the Human Rights Council to forward Goldstone’s report to the UN Security Council, the thought flashed through my head that if I was Palestinian, I’d vote Hamas. What could have possibly possessed them, but a sheer disconnect from their people? One must ask, is their money that good?
Fatah Vs. Hamas
On many occasions, we that are born free (all is relative) find it hard to understand Palestinian mentality. Just this week, I’ve had exhausting debates about the safety of children, during the Bil’in weekly protest. Though I can’t defend or agree with allowing your children to be near the fence, when the army is 101% likely to fire gas grenades, I firmly believe that mindsets under occupation are something we don’t fully understand. Maybe when I’m a mother to a child that’s been snatched from his bed at night, arrested, beaten and interrogated, I’ll have a different perspective on danger.
By the same token, I believe it may be extraordinarily hard to make that fateful choice, when you’re at the voting booth. Although Hamas has been cynical towards its people during the Gaza massacre (claiming to have “won the war” and other flamboyant rhetoric), as if militaristic ego was a top priority; If I were Palestinian this latest in a long line of PLO sell-outs would seem much more cynical, to me.
Asimple google search with the words “Palestinian violence” yields over 86,000 pages, while a search with the words “Palestinian civil disobedience” generates only 47 pages.
Sometime in 1846, Henry David Thoreau spent a night in jail because he refused to pay his taxes. This was his way of opposing the Mexican-American War as well as the institution of slavery. A few years later he published the essay Civil Disobedience, which has since been read by millions of people, including many Israelis and Palestinians.
Kobi Snitz read the book. He is an Israeli anarchist who is currently serving a 20 day sentence for refusing to pay a 2,000 shekel fine.
Thirty-eight year-old Snitz was arrested with other activists in the small Palestinian village of Kharbatha back in 2004 while trying to prevent the demolition of the home of a prominent member of the local popular committee. The demolition, so it seems, was carried out both to intimidate and punish the local leader who had, just a couple of weeks earlier, began organizing weekly demonstrations against the annexation wall. Both the demonstrations and the attempt to stop the demolition were acts of civil disobedience.
When Western liberals call on the Palestinians to renounce violence and to adopt Gandhian passive resistance instead, I usually become enraged. My first response is, they’ve tried non-violence, and you failed to notice.
For the first two decades after the original ethnic cleansing of 1947 and 48, almost all Palestinian resistance was non-violent. From 1967 until 1987 Palestinians resisted by organising tax strikes, peaceful demonstrations, petitions, sit-down protests on confiscated lands and in houses condemned to demolition. The First Intifada was almost entirely non-violent on the Palestinian side; the new tactic of throwing stones at tanks (which some liberals consider violent) was almost entirely symbolic. In every case, the Palestinians were met with fanatical violence. Midnight arrest, beatings, and torture were the lot of most. Many were shot. Yitzhak Rabin ordered occupation troops to break the bones of the boys with stones. And despite all this sacrifice, Israeli Jews were not moved to recognise the injustice of occupation and dispossession, at least not enough to end it. The first weeks of the Second Intifada were also non-violent on the Palestinian side. Israel responded by murdering tens of unarmed civilians daily, and the US media blamed the victims. Then the Intifada was miltarised.