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Dr. Mustafa Barghouti: Nonviolent resistance is more effective

Palestinian politician on his version of events from Land Day, the ineffectiveness of the United States and why Israelis themselves will not be free until the Palestinians are free.

By Elsa Rassbach

On March 20th, I interviewed Dr. Mustafa Barghouti about the plans for a new international initiative for Land Day, March 30th: a Global March to Jerusalem, to bring together in one nonviolent action all of the Palestinian political parties and civil society organizations in historic Palestine as well as in the diaspora, with supporting actions around the world.

Then on March 27, Mustafa’s distant cousin, Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, issued a letter from the Israeli prison where he has so far served ten years of five life sentences. In it, Marwan Barghouti called on the Palestinian Authority to end peace negotiations and all coordination with Israel, to institute a total boycott against Israel, and to turn to the UN General Assembly to advance the bid for statehood.  He also called on the Palestinian people to begin a new a popular nonviolent uprising in the spirit of the Arab Spring: a third intifada. As punishment, the Israelis put him in solitary confinement.

Both Barghoutis are calling for increased Palestinian popular resistance, which is an implicit criticism of the old-guard Fatah leadership. Both Barghoutis have called for unity between Fatah and Hamas and all other Palestinian parties, yet the two might well compete against each other in a new Palestinian election: Marwan as leader of the more activist second generation Fatah activists and Mustafa as leader of the Palestinian National Initiative party (Al-Mubadara). During the 2005 elections, as candidate for president of the Palestinian Authority, Mustafa Barghouti won 19 percent of the vote. The Israelis thereupon banned him from entering Jerusalem, where he was born and had worked as a medical doctor for fifteen years.

In the Global March to Jerusalem this year, Palestinians and their supporters planned to march as close to Jerusalem as they could get: whether at the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, at the checkpoints in Gaza and in the West Bank, or at Israeli embassies around the world.  The closest point Mustafa Barghouti could reach was the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah, where he now resides, and Jerusalem.  At Qalandia he was injured and brought to a hospital, amid conflicting reports regarding the cause of his injury.

Reports on the success of the Global March to Jerusalem were also mixed.  Far fewer demonstrators amassed on the borders of Lebanon and Jordan than had been predicted by some, and, as far as is known, no one attempted to cross over into Israeli controlled territory. Yet the organizers have stated that they had achieved their most important goals.

I recently spoke with Mustafa Barghouti again by Skype.

What was your response to the call that Marwan Barghouti issued from prison?

I agree with him that Israel is trying to make the Authority a security sub-agent while Israel continues occupying and oppressing us. Thus all this coordination with the Israelis should stop. I think we also share the same opinion about popular nonviolent resistance.  That’s what we’ve been working on for the last ten years. And I am personally proud and happy that now all political forces that in the past did not consider nonviolent resistance effective are recognizing it and adopting it.  This is the biggest success that can happen.  And I believe that this is now a good opportunity for all of us to conduct a unified struggle.

Did this nonviolent approach arise from the villages in the West Bank and their struggle?

Already back in 1936 there was in Palestine a nonviolent resistance movement, a strike which went on for six months. There is a tradition, and the best example is the first intifada.  But the new nonviolent resistance in its most purified form started in villages like Budrus and Safa, then moved to Bil’in and then Nil’in and then to other villages, then to Jerusalem, then to Hebron and now it’s spreading everywhere.  If you go back to statements we made three or four years ago, we were anticipating that this nonviolent resistance would spread. People believe in it now for three reasons: first of all, the total failure of the so-called peace process, which became nothing but a substitute to peace and a cover for Israeli expansionist policies; second, because many people understand and realize now that nonviolent resistance is much more effective than military actions; and third – and this is very important – it is a very good way of linking the Palestinian struggle to international solidarity with a clear aim, which is to change the parameters of the struggle and of the conflict and change the balance of power. We believe that so far the Israeli occupation has been profiting from occupying us, and this popular nonviolent resistance is going to make the occupation costly.  The nonviolent resistance takes multiple forms, and that is good.  One of the most important acts we did was to try to break the siege on Gaza: I remember in 2008, when we went in a small boat and managed to break the siege, how much this affected many leaders in Gaza regarding their belief in and acceptance of nonviolent resistance. But there are many more forms: hunger strikes, demonstrations, and the very important form of boycotting Israeli products, which we are planning to increase in the coming weeks.

Why is nonviolence more effective?

It works better because it allows everybody, and not just a small group of people, to participate. It works better because it does not allow the Israelis to claim that they are victims in this conflict. It reveals and exposes them as they are in reality: the oppressors, the occupiers, and the creators of an apartheid system.

This year on Palestinian Land Day, March 30, there was a new nonviolent initiative, the Global March to Jerusalem, of which you were a principle supporter.  What role did your political party, the Palestinian National Initiative, and the other political parties play in this initiative?

I represented all political parties in the West Bank in the coordination committee of this March. In the West Bank all the political parties were completely involved in the organization of the Global March to Jerusalem, along with the civil society institutions and other structures. And we all agreed that we would come to the March with Palestinian flags as well as with our political party flags.  The idea was to encourage party members to come in big numbers, and it worked. There was a long effort to bring all the Palestinian factions together, and so the Global March to Jerusalem seems to be at least a symbolic step towards unity.  During the demonstrations in the West Bank, all of the leaders of the political parties marched in front. It’s of course our duty to be in the front, because we cannot have young people to be hurt by the Israelis and wait behind and direct them from the comfort of an office. The Palestinian Initiative had a lot of its supporters from different regions of the West Bank participate in the March.

On Land Day, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa called on Israel to stop using excessive force against demonstrators.  Did the Israelis use an unusual amount of violence against the Global March?

It was unusual how early they started attacking us. I think they were hoping that somehow the demonstrations would be aborted, and when they realized they would not be, they immediately turned to severe violence. Not only was the violence disproportionate and extreme and excessive, but also – for example in Qalandia, where I was – they started shooting the tear gas and the metallic bullets covered with a thin piece of rubber when well before we reached the checkpoints, before we were even given any chance to approach them. Then this violence did not stop.  And this has become a habit, the constant and disproportionate use of violence by the Israeli Army against nonviolent demonstrations. And I think this will continue for as long as the international community does not criticize and pressure them sufficiently. I really thank Amnesty International for directing attention to the excessive violence and force they used. On Land Day they injured at least 320 people, including one who was killed in Gaza with a high velocity bullet; a man in Bethlehem who was hit directly in the face, with a broken jaw; and I myself received one of their tear gas bombs that grazed my head.

On Land Day Amnesty International also cited reports that Palestinian Authority security forces tried to prevent protests in areas under their control and that Hamas security forces had beaten protesters in Gaza.   Is the popular resistance in Palestine now facing Palestinian security as the first obstacle?

The Palestinian security forces did try to stop the demonstration in Bethlehem, but they could not, and people from Mubadara and Fatah and other groups managed to get past the security officers who were standing there to conduct their demonstration.  In Qalandia, there was a mob that attacked the people participating in the demonstration and tried to prevent the demonstration from reaching the checkpoint.  Of course these were people wearing civilian clothing.  We don’t know them.  We don’t know exactly who was directing them, but clearly there are suspicions that there were efforts to try to prevent the demonstration from proceeding. The Palestinian Authority officially declared that it supports popular nonviolent resistance. So we expect that no Palestinian should try to prevent or stop Palestinians from nonviolently, peacefully struggling for their rights, because we are struggling for the freedom of everybody.  They should support the popular nonviolent resistance rather than try to obstruct it or co-opt it. The authorities in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip have no right to stop Palestinians from participating in peaceful nonviolent resistance, whether it’s in Gaza or in West Bank or anywhere else.

On Land Day you were injured during the demonstration and brought to a hospital, and there are conflicting reports regarding the causes of your injury. Can you tell us what happened?

As Land Day this year was on a Friday, it began with two prayers, one in the street and one inside the mosque. When the one in the street finished, people started to move, with Mr. Alol who is a member of the central committee of Fatah and others and I leading.   Then some guys said there are others waiting still in the mosque, so we stopped the demonstration and waited. After that everything went well until the Israeli Army attacked us. In the second wave of the teargas bombs, one of the bombs hit me in my head. I was injured and a wound started to bleed. I was rushed to an ambulance. As I was trying to enter the ambulance, some of the people who had been trying to co-opt the demonstration and prevent it from moving tried to attack me.  And when I got into the ambulance, they started attacking the ambulance, hitting it, and we were just lucky that they couldn’t break through.  They assaulted not only the ambulance I was in, but also two other ambulances. The Palestinian Authority is investigating this matter now, and we are waiting for the results.

Who were these people?

This is being investigated.  We think anybody who attacks Palestinian demonstrators during a demonstration against occupation cannot be serving the interest of the Palestinian people. Only the occupation will benefit from such acts.   I spoke with President Abbas on this matter three times.  We met, and he condemned such acts against any Palestinian leader. He wished me recovery from the Israeli tear gas bomb injury. Many other officials came to see me in the hospital.  And now there is an investigation to find out why some of these guys tried to block this demonstration, because we will not allow this to be repeated.  We have to be unified.  The Global March to Jerusalem on Land Day was organized in very close cooperation between my party, the Mubadara, and Fatah, PFLP, Hamas, everybody else. And when I was in the hospital, all the leaders of all parties — Fatah, Hamas, PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), PPP (Palestinian People’s Party), everybody — came to see me to express their respect.  So we will not allow this to affect our unity. There was no conflict between the political parties.  This was an act by a small group of people who instigated attacks on ambulances and on injured people and on some demonstrators.  These people have to be investigated.  We have to find out who directed them and who motivated them. And I think the Israelis are ridiculous when they try to take away the responsibility for injuring me.  Would they also claim that they are not responsible for the other 320 others they injured on Land Day and for the death of the 19-year-old Mahmoud Zakout in Gaza?

What was accomplished on Land Day towards building Palestinian unity?

I think it consolidated this unity.  And it was a great day because you had people participating at the same time in activities and in demonstrations inside Israel — the Negev and Galilee — in West Bank, in Gaza, in Jerusalem, and in the Diaspora.  This was a great sign of regaining Palestinian unity again around common goals, and it was also a great merger between Palestinian popular nonviolent resistance with international solidarity.

But though there were solidarity demonstrations in more than 80 countries around the world, these activists mostly so far have not had much influence on their own governments to convince them to support the Palestinian cause.  

This is not true.  The activists are building very good influence in their countries. Our struggle is like the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. It takes time and it needs to be built gradually. We need to stop dreaming about getting the solution from the United States government, as some politicians do. Like the anti-apartheid struggle, people are working now at the grassroots level in many countries, and gradually it will have an impact on parliaments.  It has already changed even the European Parliament a great deal.  And after parliaments, governments will change. And the last to change will be the United States. We know that.

You don’t count on Obama, if he’s reelected, to help you?

No. Maybe there will be a miracle and he will change. But I count on the people of the United States, who will gradually learn and know, including the Jewish American community.  I spoke the last week in March at a conference of a Jewish organization called J Street in Washington, DC, and it was amazing.  And I think as more and more people understand the reality and the moral integrity of the Palestinian struggle, and how immoral the Israeli oppression is, the more we will prevail.  And I believe in the people who will change their governments.

What about Germany?

People in Germany more and more understand the situation, and more and more of them are more enthusiastic for the Palestinian cause. I am sure you read the remarks that were made by the head of the Social Democratic Party when he went to Hebron and said this is apartheid.  This is just one indicator.  The more these leaders come to Palestine, the more they will understand the situation. People in Germany need to comprehend that our struggle to free Palestine does not negate or undermine the sufferings of Jewish people during the Holocaust, nor even during the pogroms in Russia or during the Inquisition in Spain.  None of what we do negates this, but on the contrary, that suffering of the Jewish people should be a motivator to the government in Israel not to repeat the same mistakes, not to oppress the Palestinian people. Our nonviolent resistance is not only about freeing Palestinian people from the oppression, but it is also about freeing the Israelis themselves from the last colonial settler system in modern history and from the worst apartheid system in modern times.  When the German people understand that, I think they will realize that supporting our struggle is also about supporting both people and preventing conflict for both people and saving lives on both sides.  The Israelis themselves will not be free until the Palestinians are free.

A shorter version of this interview appeared in the German newspaper “Neues Deutschland” on April 10th.

Elsa Rassbach is a filmmaker and journalist from the United States, now based in Berlin. She is a member of CODEPINK, an organization that endorsed the Global March to Jerusalem. She is a frequent contributor to German and U.S. publications. Her award-winning film, The Killing Floor,” an historical dramatic film about a union’s struggle against racism in the Chicago Stockyards, will be re-released this year. 


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    1. aristeides

      It’s obvious how effective this tactic is from watching the Israelis freak out and make themselves look ridiculous as well as brutal.

      Reply to Comment
    2. XYZ

      Looking for the magic formula. Mass terror bombings of school buses and synagogue courtyards didn’t do it, rockets fired indisrciminately into Israeli towns didn’t do it so now we have Barghouti’s latest brainchild “non-violent resistance”. If slaughtering people doesn’t work, let’s try “non-violent resistance”. Barghouti thinks it is working, after all the Germans like him. True the US isn’t helping but we will convince several million Jews in the US and Israel’s non-Jewish friends to switch sides, presumably because they will have forgotten about the mass slaugther the suicide bombings caused.
      Of course, all of this is designed to make sure the Palestinian leaders don’t really have to negotiate and make compromises in order to reach an agreement. We will eventually get the American Jews to come to our side and they, alongside the Germans, will force Israel to accept our terms. All we need is more publicity stunts. Just a few more and the Palestinian revolution will succeed. Just like Barghouti says the 1936 (violent) non-violent resistance worked then. Yeah.

      Reply to Comment
    3. the other joe

      So, let me get this straight, xyz. If the Palestinians use violence, they are terrorists and they should be discounted – even if their position has some merit.
      But if they declare non-violence, it is just another tactic and they should be ignored as they’re just using PR stunts.
      Please tell us all what tactics should be used when you feel that your rights have been abused, because frankly I don’t think you’ve really thought about it.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Anonymous

      He’s not going to get much public support. You can’t destroy a country non violently.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Matt

      But…but…if the Palestinians don’t use violence, how will they destroy the racist Zionist entity and free Palestine from the river to the sea?

      Reply to Comment
    6. aristeides

      So XYZ admits that US Jews are complicit in Israeli ethnic cleansing. It doesn’t seem to occur to the world’s Xs that, if Israel had agreed in the first place to a Palestinian state, there would have been no intifada. But no, X always lays the blame on the Palestinians for insufficient complicity in their oppression.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Anonymous

      Aristeides, who accepted the Partition Plan of 1948 and who did not? Who presented peace plans in 2000 and 2008 and who did not?
      Please, don’t insult everyone’s intelligence here by trying to make the claim that Israel has never agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state.

      Reply to Comment
    8. the other joe

      @anon – it is possible to overthrow an oppressor non-violently, though. Has been done several times in the 20 century.

      Reply to Comment
    9. the other joe

      @anon – if Israel agreed to a Palestinian state, how come they have settlements in disputed land? They could have accepted partition and de-facto created a Palestinian state in the remaining land, but no, they wanted to inhabit that land too.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Anonymous

      Joe: We’re not talking about ending the occupation. How can the Palestinians destroy Israel and deprive the Jews of their rights “nonviolently?” Because that is what they want.
      And why does the Palestinian state need to be Judenrein? Arabs live in Israel. Why can’t “settlers” live in “Palestine?”
      Do you agree that Israel accepted partition though?

      Reply to Comment
    11. XYZ

      Other Joe-
      My point is that the only way an agreement will be reached is by give and take negotiations in which both sides compromise. However, what we hear from many, if not most, pro-Palestinian advocates is that the Palestinian people will not accept such a thing..they have a shopping list of grievances against Israel that must be satisfied. Recall when the Wikileaks publicized the supposed compromises that Abbas made in his talks with Olmert. He was called a traitor and a sell-out, not only by Arab commentators but by many Israelis and Jews who claim to have Palestinian interests at heart. Here at this site, Abbas and the FATAH-controlled Palestinian Authority are routinely denounced as supposedly betraying Palestinian interests.
      Barghouti seems to think by making demonstrations and publicity stunts, somehow world public opinion is going to force Israel to give in to the Palestinian demands. This is simply not going to happen, so all Barghouti is doing is pushing real chances for peace based on a contractual peace further and further away, by emphasizing Palestinian grievances rather than by pressing for real negotiations.

      Reply to Comment
    12. XYZ

      Arabs live on both sides of the Green Line. In any conceivable peaceful relationship between Jews and Arabs in Israel and the Palestinian territories, then there also have to have a situation where Jews also live on both sides of the Green Line. The modalities of how this can work must be worked out in the peace negotiations between the sides. Jews lived in the West Bank and Gaza before 1948 so it is unnatural to demand that Jews be removed from those areas. To do so is to ensure that there WON’T be peace because it will leave the impression that Jews can be forced out even from the area of pre-67 Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Jack

      I appreciate Mustafa because hes an intellectual and thats what the leadership in palestine needs. Especially when it comes to making deals with Israel. Mustafa knows the legal system, he is a descent rhetoric speaker and he wont accept being played around with by the US and Israel.

      However I am not sure non-violence is the way to follow. While I am against violence myself one just have to look back and see that when there have been violence it has advanced palestinian goas, that is to end the occupation and that goes for other violent conflicts too in the world. Syria, Libya gets attention because the use of violence on both sides, Bahrain and some other non violent protests movement get no attention and get no help.

      Reply to Comment
    14. max

      War, terror, (direct) negotiations, non/low violent resistances… are tools to achieve a goal.
      The ‘justness’ of the goal is of no relevance to either side (apart from the self-commitment to the struggle) – it’s all about the effectiveness of the tool.
      Obviously, a non-violent tool, especially when confronted with a violent reaction – has a higher probability of getting support from the world = effectiveness, and Israel doesn’t have the power of China… regardless of their respective merits.
      This is an example of the ‘other means’ in von Clausewitz’s “War is the continuation of Politik by other means”.

      Reply to Comment
    15. the other joe

      @anon – no Palestinians do not want to destroy Israel and deprive Jews of their rights – otherwise as you point out, non-violence would be an ineffective tactic. And no, I do not accept that Israel accepted the Partition plan.
      @xyz Palestinians have been forced to compromise since the partition plan. If Israel moved back to the line of partition, they’d be no case to answer. Compromise does not involve one side pressurising the other until they get everything they want, it involves everyone getting something that they want. Israel wants settlements and control in the West Bank – tough it can’t have it. Palestinians want all of historical Palestine – tough, they can’t have it. Rights for everyone means exactly that – rights for everyone. Not just those who are in the position of power. If you wanted to negotiate from the baseline of the Partition plan, that might be fair, but to negotiate from the position of power and illegally held settlements is plainly not fair.

      Reply to Comment
    16. aristeides

      The Zionist response to any likelihood of peace is “Jews will never do that.” “Jews will never agree to that.” And then they claim that Palestinians are the problem.

      Anonymous claims that Israel has agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state. Which they have. As long as it is not a state. Or Palestinian. Or ever actually comes into being.

      Reply to Comment
    17. the other joe

      @Jack this is stupid counsel. You can’t fight an overwhelming force.

      Reply to Comment
    18. the other joe

      @Max – I don’t believe that, sorry. If you have a good case, prove it to me with your good tactics. If your tactics suck, I am unlikely to be impressed with your case.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Jack

      The other joe,
      One can indeed fight them, and that will lead to more focus on palestinian cause (which will lead to more global effort to solve the crisis).

      Reply to Comment
    20. max

      @the other joe: sorry, I don’t understand what is it that you don’t believe…

      Reply to Comment
    21. the other joe

      @Jack – I’m not disputing that it is possible, I’m just saying it is unwise. Violence against a powerful oppressor rarely achieves anything. Non-violence is far more powerful.
      @Max I don’t believe “The ‘justness’ of the goal is of no relevance to either side”

      Reply to Comment
    22. Jack

      The other joe,
      I mean, often when there has been a relatively major clash between palestinians and israelis palestinian caused have often been advanced and more pressure have been put on Israel.
      But I understand your point and non violence gives palestinians more cred around the world.

      Reply to Comment
    23. max

      the other joe,
      If you’re a ‘person of principles’ you’ll engage in what seems to you to be a just cause; others will engage where they see a potential benefit.
      For both, however, the result will depend on the effectiveness of the tools, not the reason for engaging.
      In practice, in most cases you’ll decide what’s a just cause based on a perception that will be provided via yet other tools. For many other causes, you may be personally engaged and blind to an ‘objective’ justness, whatever it means.
      This – I think – is how we manage our lives

      Reply to Comment
    24. Rodrigo

      Oh well, it is better than calling for suicide bombings I suppose, though equally ineffective. The only thing that nonviolent action can do is bring the nonviolent side to the negotiating table with slightly improved terms of reference assuming it can garner international support. That presumes the ability to sustain nonviolent protest and to put forward a reasonable unified negotiating position that achieves international support. The capacity of the Palestinians to do either of these things is questionable given the historical worship of violent resistance, the very strong cultural appeal of revenge, and the utter lack of likelihood of the emergence of a unified negotiating position that can garner more than token international support.

      In practice the Palestinians only real option for improving their lives is to have patience and eventually to accept an offer from a future Israeli government. Odds are good however that the terms of such an agreement will be significantly worse than those suggested by the Olmert government in 2008 due to changes on the ground (read more settlers) and the changes in the Israeli voting patterns.

      Reply to Comment
    25. the other joe

      @Max – the British in India thought they had a just reason to be there. Gandhi’s campaign of satyagraha was actually designed to prick the conscience of the Raj so that they couldn’t justify their behaviour to themselves. At that point, all their power dissolved.

      @Jack – I totally dispute that violence has ever advanced the Palestinian cause. I believe that is a drastic misreading of history.

      @Rodrigo – You are making totally unfounded statements about what non-violence can do, what Palestinians will/will not do and what they will ‘have’ to accept. The strong cannot just impose their will on the weak, that isn’t how just conflict resolution works.

      Reply to Comment
    26. max

      the other joe, did you ever ask yourself why Gandhi’s achievement is so hard to replicate? Or would he have been able to do it 100 years earlier?
      The loss of ‘justification’ was directly related to the cost (=effectiveness of the tool). Not even slavery was voluntarily abolished where the cost was too high.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Rodrigo

      @TheOtherJoe, conflict resolution works in whatever way conflicts get resolved. A smaller Palestinian state can also resolve this conflict.

      Nonviolent protest stands no chance of reversing the settlements, removing the wall, forcing Israel to annex the territories or grant citizenship to the Palestinians or to allow any semblance of a RoR. In other words, it can not change the facts on the ground. It is also unlikely to find much support within Israel outside of the extreme left given then next two problems.

      The Palestinians have a terribly record on non-violence and the use of Barghouti of 1936 as an example of nonviolence is stunningly laughable considering that it started with an attack on a convoy of trucks which killed two Jewish drivers and only went downhill from there. In every ‘non-violent’ campaign eventually a Jew gets lynched or stabbed. Even during the last series of protests that Barghoutti seems to be proud of there was throwing of rocks and molotov cocktails. This is not non-violent and eventually either an Israeli or a Palestinian will get killed which inevitably leads to violent escalation.

      A unified Palestinian position that can get international support is equally unlikely given that it is likely to be based on the expectation that the Jewish state will cease to exist. I say this because that is the only possible position that can unite the Arabs of the Palestinian diaspora, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fateh and the Arabs of the Galilee and the Negev. A unified call for the elimination of a UN member state is unlikely to gather much international support considering that it is useless as a framework for resolving this conflict.

      So, it can’t work. The only thing left to the Palestinians is to negotiate and accept a compromise that Israel is comfortable with. Your argument that the strong cannot impose their will on the weak is naive. This is the way of the world and always has been.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Jack

      The other joe,
      Clashes/violence from both sides have advanced the position in my opinion. Take for example the Flotilla attack by Israel, which led to renewed focus on the occupation, obama raised a state on 1967 borders (however, if he was sincere is very doubtful), many states upgraded their relationsship with palestine in the west and some 10 states mostly from Latin America recognized Palestine as state. These developments were a direct cause by clashes and violence in the conflict.

      Reply to Comment
    29. max

      Jack, I half agree – Clashes/violence from both sides have changed the position. Advanced? Hard, if not impossible to tell; I’d say impossible today.
      But what’s as important is: do the people who suffer understand and agree to be used to ‘advance the cause’? Do they understand the tradeoffs and risks being played with their lives and well-being?

      Reply to Comment
    30. The Alleged Palestinian Genocidal War of 1948

      The Zionist leadership was quite aware that without ethnic cleansing, Jews would have been a minority in the Jewish state carved out of Palestine within a decade or maybe even within 5 years.

      Zionists lie when they claim:

      “1948: Palestinian Arabs attack nascent Jewish state; several Arab states eventually join in. Zionists/Israelis win, and approximately 700,000 Palestinians are expelled or flee from the new Jewish state.”

      In point of fact, simultaneously with accepting the November 1947 UN GA Partition Proposal, the Zionist leadership green-lighted the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population and put out a false story through Jewish gatekeepers and facilitators in the US and British newspapers.

      From the names of the Zionist military operations, (e.g., biur hametz, burning of the [ritually impure] leaven), I believe mass murder of the native Palestinian population was intended.

      While Palestinians remembering the Special Night Squads of the 30s organized defensively, Palestinian leaders, who were in exile or jail, were in no position to accept or reject the proposal (they did not get their act together until January), and the Palestinian population adopted a wait and see attitude because the Palestinian leadership had already accepted a 55% Palestinian 45% Jewish population ratio as Rafael Medoff, who is admirer of Jabtinsky as well as a modern Jabotinskian Zionist, points out on pp. 93-94 of his book entitled Baksheesh Diplomacy.

      If all 300,000 Jewish DPs had joined the 600,000 Jews already resident, the Palestinian-Jewish division would have been a 57:43 ratio, with which Palestinians had no problem in a single democratic state.

      Palestinians simply could not accept a partition of the country

      1. that divided families and clans,
      2. that separated farmers from their lands, and
      3. that put so many Palestinians under the control of Zionists, who had a record of violent bloodthirstiness since the 19-naughts.

      The Palestinian position was hardly unreasonable.

      The commonly believed narrative of the Palestinian rejection of the UN Partition Proposal constitutes the Second Great Zionist Fraud.

      Reply to Comment
    31. caden

      I guess since they hung Julius Streicher at Nuremberg Martillo is the closet thing to a bona fide Nazi your going to come up with. Besides the sainted Gunter Grass

      Reply to Comment
    32. caden


      Reply to Comment
    33. Rafael

      I’m not aware of any nation that has become independent without taking arms. (No, India is not an exception). Dr. Barghouti’s is the liberal-Pollyanna mindset. This is good for PR, though, as the US media considers only Israeli violence as justifiable.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Rafael


      Satyagraha’s effectiveness vis-a-vis armed resistence is not clear. Moreover, you shouldn’t trust Israelis to have pangs of conscience you attribute to the Brits. The British intelligentsia sometimes justified the colonization of India as being beneficial also for the colonized, promoting their development. Israelis, on the other hand, don’t even pretend the the military occupation and land theft somehow promotes any Palestinian interest. They justify the colonization either by claiming a religious right over Palestinians’ rightful properties or by demonizing Palestinians, saying they would be a security threat for Israel even if given independence. In other words, Israelis can’t be moved the way some think the British were.

      Reply to Comment
    35. aristeides

      Rafael – on the contrary, I often see Zionist apologists claiming how much better off the Arabs are under Israeli domination.

      Caden – I believe that the last person around here who compared other posters to Julius Streicher was banned. Unless he has returned under a different name.

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    36. max

      aristeides, show me 1 place where Zionists claim that PA Arabs are better off under Israeli domination.
      Or are you referring to Israeli Arabs and distorting the discussion?
      Or just voicing your preference for no Jewish state anywhere?

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    37. XYZ

      The Palestinians in the West Bank have a higher standard of living than most Arabs in non-oil-producing countries. Gaza’s standard of living is lower than the West Bank, but considerably higher than that of the average Egyptian. When Israel took over the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 much of the population had no access to electricity, sewage and water and health care was poor. All this this was changed for the better after 1967. Before the Oslo Agreement of 1993 when the area was under complete Israeli occupation, it had one of the fastest economoic growth rates in the world since a lot of money was pouring into the area by business dealings with Israel which didn’t exist before 1967 and many Palestinians were working in Israel. The Oslo Agreements, by enabling large-scale terrorism emanating from Arafat’s Palestinian territories greatly restricted this economic development.
      I am aware that during the occupation period, Israeli business interests did put restrictions on Palestinian businesses to prevent competition, but there is no doubt EVERYONE, at all levels of society benefitted from the economic growth of that period.
      Now, I am well aware that many Palestinians say they resent all this, they would rather be “a poor free man than a rich slave”, etc, etc, but the facts I laid out here are undeniable.

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    38. XYZ

      Gandhi’s satyagraha campaign, in the end, had nothing to do with the British decision to pull out of India in 1947. They would have done so even if Gandhi had never existed. Gandhi’s “Quit India” campaign in 1942, at the time when the Japanese were threatening the British position in the Far East was completely crushed by the British. Britain left India because it became to expensive to maintain the Empire and most Britons lost interest in it. Gandhi’s main “contribution” was to exaserbate intercommunal tensions between Muslims and the Sikh and Hindu communities which led to the bloody partition of the country and the ongoing tension between India and Pakistan which has lasted to this day. Mohammed Ali Jinnah was a completely secular Muslim who was an enthusiastic member of the Congress Party and he opposed the satyagraha campaign, warning that it would lead to violence, it would give the British the excuse to crack down on Indian political activity and it would lead to religious extremism. He was right on all counts, he was forced to leave the Congress Party and he went to the Muslim League and the demand for an independent Muslim state, Pakistan. Gandhi’s legacy is largely a negative one, in spite of the romantacism attached to his image. I won’t even go into his antisemitism.

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    39. the other joe

      I’m pretty sick and tired of all you people pontificating about what non-violence can or cannot do when you’ve clearly not spent any time reading, thinking and studying it.
      @Max – Gandhi has been replicated in the 20 century many times. Go away and read Ackerman and Duvall http://amzn.to/HU6vuk
      @Rodrigo – I’m sorry, I don’t accept your characterisation of what non-violence can or cannot do. Just repeatedly asserting something does not make it true – there is good evidence of effective non-violence which has been extensively documented. I believe that ANY violence destroys the effectiveness of a non-violent action, therefore I don’t see that there has been a non-violent effort in Palestine since the first intifada. I suggest you go away and take this course at Berkeley before making any other uneducated comments about non-violence: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=D9592FA7CAC67331&gl=GB
      @Jack – I don’t accept that analysis of history. Palestinians are no better off today than they were in the past despite decades of armed resistance. I suggest you look into studying non-violence from a Palestinian perspective as discussed by Mubarak Awad and the Holyland Trust http://bit.ly/HPCGLS
      @xyz – drivel. Have you even read anything that was said by the British about the Satyagraha campaign?

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    40. Rafael


      Please tell me how the occupation, the dispossession of farmers, their reduction into penniless dwellers, and the monopoly Jews have over natural resources, enable development in Palestine. I’m not knowledgeable of living standards among Palestinians in the decades before occupation – I can’t either confirm or refute your likely self-serving presentation of it. But I do know that much of what you say about Palestine now is BS. You compare Palestinians to Egyptians, not taking into account that Egypt is a nation of 80 million people and that has been constantly flooded by waves of poor African refugees. That Palestinians supposedly enjoy better living standards than them may be due to factors not at all related to Israel’s colonization.

      A more apt comparison to Palestine – in terms of both population and culture – would be Lebanon, which isn’t among the ranks of oil-rich Arab countries. Palestine’s per capita income – of 2,300 dollars – is below Bolivia’s, the poorest country in South America. And Lebanon’s – of 15,000 dollars – is twice that of China and on a par with Chile’s, the most developed country in Latin America. Palestine’s per capita income is below even that of such a basket case as Sudan. In another sensitive development measure – infant mortality – neither the West Bank nor Gaza stand out from related countries such as Lebanon, Syria or Jordan. As such we have no reason to believe that Palestine would’ve been in a worse situation than it is now if it weren’t for Israel’s colonization.

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    41. max

      @the other joe, sure, “how Danes outmaneuvered the Nazis” is an apt example 🙂
      I’d propose that you could do better than adopting like-minded ideas.
      You may also want to re-read my post earlier, including “Obviously, a non-violent tool, especially when confronted with a violent reaction – has a higher probability of getting support from the world = effectiveness”.

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    42. Jack

      “But what’s as important is: do the people who suffer understand and agree to be used to ‘advance the cause’? Do they understand the tradeoffs and risks being played with their lives and well-being?”

      Like any other armed/violent conflict, if they think they could advance their position they probably will.

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    43. the other joe

      @Max I suggest you’d do better to read the book (and the whole host of other texts on non-violence) than simply picking apart the contents page.

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    44. max

      Thanks, I’m afraid that the subject is too rich with advocates for both sides that I’ll skip your proposal 🙂
      Just google “the failure of nonviolence” or any similar search string…
      Here’s a quote that reflects my (and others’ earlier in the posts) skepticism where you seem so sure of the social and historical ‘truth’: “Non-violent protests were ostensibly successful in producing regime change in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, one should be careful not to confuse the manifestations of a change already taking effect, and the causes of such a change, or the forces which allow such a change to take place. “

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    45. max

      @Jack, I added a short qualification to your statement: “Like any other armed/violent conflict, if they think they could advance their position – for a reasonable cost – they probably will.”
      Knowing what the alternatives and cost are is essential to a meaningful free choice (even when the cost is death), and I strongly doubt that this knowledge is freely available and published

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    46. Jack

      Do you imply that israel and palestinians doesnt understand the cost/benefit of their actions?

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    47. the other joe

      @Max – I find your position baffling. First you (and others) claim that it is obvious that non-violence doesn’t work as if that was an inarguable fact. It isn’t. Then you suggest it cannot be true because it isn’t. Then you suggest the presence of alternative theories and ideas means that it isn’t worth examining.
      I suggest to you that violence has been tried over and over and over again. At best it has very mixed results. What is so scary about trying something which would not kill people? Why are you so intellectually against the idea that it might work? What, really, is the worst that could happen if the Palestinians chose to use non-violence?

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    48. Rodrigo

      @Theotherjoe, haha, you are going to be sorely disappointed. The Palestinians are incapable of sustained non-violent action. Even in the first intifada Palestinians killed 160 Israelis and another 1000+ Palestinians were killed by other Palestinians. Palestinian society is so divided and decentralized that it is only a matter of time before violence breaks out. Somebody gets shot, their clan members feel obligated to take revenge and on and on and on. Some political group feels that it is being ignored and demonstrates its power by shooting at Israelis. Israelis respond, somebody gets shot, and then see above. Some foreign power has an interest in the failure of whatever leader or organization leads the non-violence campaign, pays some Palestinian clan or criminal to carry out a shooting, somebody gets shot, and then see above. Every. Single. Time.

      Additionally even the premise of non-violent resistance has no chance of working here. Gandhi just had to convince the British that they are not wanted and that their control of India has no practical benefits. You are not dealing with the British here who are six thousand miles away sending their administrators and soldiers to control India. Here you are dealing with people who are literally next door or one hill over and think they have the full right to be there. They already know that the Palestinians don’t want them there and couldn’t care less. They also need no practical benefits, just controlling the land is in itself a reward. Their response to non-violence will be the same one as their response to violence – build and settle.

      I think you should go away and think about how non-violence could work in this scenario. Alternatively, perhaps you should just stick with taking Berkeley classes as opposed to thinking about how things work in the real world.

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    49. max

      @TOJ “@Max – I find your position baffling. First you (and others) claim that it is obvious that non-violence doesn’t work as if that was an inarguable fact”
      Not true. I never claimed that non-violence doesn’t work.
      I claimed that it’s a tool like any other, more effective – under some context – than other tools, and its use is of no indication of the justness of the cause using it.
      I also mentioned – that was already in an exchange with you – that its effectiveness isn’t so easy to judge (back to ‘context’).
      As we’re at it, I also never claimed that Gandhi’s achievement can’t be repeated but rather pointed out how difficult it is to repeat (even when considering that his success was partly/largely due to other factors).
      Sorry if I didn’t lay it all out in a structured way earlier

      Reply to Comment
    50. Jack

      The other joe,
      Why dont you accept that analysis?

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