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The undeniable Palestinian right to resist occupation

Slingshot found on Palestinian protester Mustafa Tamimi (photo: IDF Spokesperson)

Following the killing of Mustafa Tamimi in his village Nabi Saleh, Spokesperson for the IDF presented pictures of a slingshot Tamimi had on him when he was brought to the hospital. This was to be the indicting evidence that the protester was taking part in hostile action against the army – i.e. throwing stones – and therefore responsible for his own death.

Only in the context of the occupation can throwing stones at a bullet-proof army jeep be seen as an offense deserving the death penalty, carried out on the spot (clearly, the soldiers weren’t acting in self-defense). Furthermore, as recent attacks by settlers on soldiers – including a brick thrown from close range on the IDF regional commander – demonstrated, the army’s treatment of Jews is very different (to be clear, I don’t call for shooting Jewish stone-throwers either). But there is a larger issue here, concerning the whole notion of “legitimate” resistance to the occupation.

Facts and context are important: Israel took over the West Bank and Gaza more than 44 years ago. Since then, the Palestinians have been under military occupation, which denies their basic human and civil rights. The Palestinians can’t vote. They are tried in military court, where the conviction rate is astonishing. They don’t enjoy due process. Their property rights are limited, and their lands – including private lands – are regularly seized by Israel. All this is well-known and well-documented.

As far as Israel is concerned, this situation can go on forever. Israel is not attempting to leave the West Bank – it actually strengthens its hold on the territory – and it doesn’t plan to give the Palestinians equal rights within the state of Israel.

The Palestinians therefore have a moral right to resist the occupation. It’s as simple as that.


Asked how what form of protest against the occupation Israel can allow, Peter Lerner of the IDF spokesperson unit wrote this tweet:

To start, this is simply a lie. Israel doesn’t allow any form of protest in the West Bank (well, except for settler protest). Military law demands IDF permission for any demonstration of more than 10 people. The IDF regularly declares the villages of Nabi Saleh, Bil’in and Ni’lin, where protests take place, as Closed Military Zones, and it charges Israelis who attempt to join those demonstrations with violating of this order. Palestinian protest organizers are tried for long prison terms in military courts.

But more important, the kinds of protest Major Lerner is suggesting are effective under civilian authority, not under military control. Major Lerner is part of Israel’s media war for the hearts and minds of Westerners, and the answer he gives is something that people in democracies can identify with. But this is not the situation in the occupied territories: For all Israel cares the Palestinians can have sit-ins and rallies until second coming; it wouldn’t affect Israeli policy one bit. It is worth remembering that in the two decades following 1967, strikes, rallies and general assemblies were the main protest methods in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel used these years of relative calm to introduce its massive settlement project. The only thing that made Israelis notice the Palestinians and start seriously discussing their rights is the the first Intifada.

In recent years, it seems that the West’s favorite sport is to tell the Palestinians what constitutes a “legitimate” way to fight for their rights, and what doesn’t – as if the Palestinians were full members of society and not subject to a form of control that Amira Hass rightly calls “Israeli dictatorship.” Nobody would denounce Egyptian or Tibetan protesters for such acts, but reports of unarmed Palestinian resistance are usually met with Israel claiming evidence of Palestinian “violence” – mostly stones thrown at soldiers, with the occasional Molotov cocktail. As if those could justify the occupation, while in reality they are the reaction to it.

The same goes for those organizations and Israeli propaganda units specializing in the hunt for “Palestinian incitement.” Any suggestions of the Palestinians not  viewing IDF soldiers in a positive light is presented as proof of the fact that “they are not ready” to enjoy their rights to justice, freedom and dignity – as if those are someone’s to give. What is the meaning of the word “rights,” if they can be denied collectively for half a century? Is freedom a trophy you need to win from your oppressor? What do people expect of a prisoner to think of his or her guards? Good relations and understanding can be built after the resolution of the occupation – not in the midst of it. Yet Palestinians are expected by the world not only to live under Israeli military control, but also to like Israelis.

Strange as it may seem, even critics of Israel repeat such demands, or ask, “Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?,” as though a failure to present one means that Palestinian demands are not to be taken seriously.

By the way, the Palestinians have their share of Gandhis – you can find them in Israeli prisons.

I oppose violence, in whatever form. More than anything, I oppose violence against civilians. I think that the Palestinian choice of unarmed resistance and of civil society campaigns against the occupation is both wise and heroic. But the real violence is the occupation, and all its victims are civilians.

It is not for Israel to tell Palestinians how to resist our occupation.

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    1. AYLA

      @Noam–thank you. Have you ever written anything about your process, as someone who grew up here, in coming to see things outside your own narrative? If so, I’d love to read. If not, I’d love to read.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Linah

      well thank God for this piece. This should silence those liberal zionists who pretend they have an inkling of what life under occupation is like but express their distaste and horror at those ‘barbaric’ Palestinians throwing rocks at heavily armed soldiers and their armored jeeps.

      Reply to Comment
    3. excellent op-ed piece!. clear, simple, direct. Congratulations.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Handala


      Reply to Comment
    5. Shua Frazer

      Nice piece Noam. As someone who opposes all forms of violence I’m uneasy about some of the resistance tactics employed by the Palestinians and the way the Israeli government responds to/engages with them.

      That said, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that it’s not up to Israelis to tell the Palestinians how resist the occupation.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Danny

      Noam, I’m surprised at you. Don’t you know by now that every people on the face of the planet have a right to resist oppression and dictatorship, EXCEPT for those unlucky few whose oppression directly serves the self interests of America’s political echelon? In the case of the people of Bahrain, their oppression is to be maintained so that America’s main oil supplier – Saudi Arabia – continue to pump out the juice without any interruptions a la “Saudi Spring”. While in the case of the Palestinians, well, when AIPAC is the one calling the shots in the 2012 elections, who wants to stand up to that? Certainly not a coward like Barrack Obama. Before Palestine can gain its freedom from Israel’s occupation dictatorship (the correct term for the regime in the occupied territories), America will first have to gain its freedom from AIPAC.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Holden

      Actually the truest understanding of the apparently still popular Palestinian “right to resist occupation” is that even ONE LIVING JEW in the area of “Palestine” is a non-negotiable occupation and therefore unacceptable.

      And that’s why Fatah/Hamas/ Islamic Jihad and most the other power factions in Palestinian Arab society these days continue to refuse to come to the table to negotiate a fair division of land and resources, borders, and an end to the conflict.

      A stone, if it thrown or used as a club is a deadly weapon. Someone throwing stones at another person is using potentially deadly force.

      Using deadly force against another who has been trying to make peace with you is pretty much an invitation to be killed first.

      It’s that simple.

      Reply to Comment
      • David


        In 1988, the PLO recognized Israel as a sovereign state within the borders of the 1947 recommendatory only UNGA Partition Plan, Res. 181.

        By signing the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PLO accepted UNSC Res. 242 and thereby agreed to recognize a sovereign Israel within the 1949 armistice lines, i.e., as of 4 June 1967 – 78% of mandated Palestine.

        The PLO also agreed to the US/EU/UN supported 2002 Arab League Beirut Summit Peace Initiative, which offers Israel full recognition as a sovereign state (per UNSC Res. 242, i.e., within its June 4/67 boundaries with possible minor, equal and mutually agreed land swaps), exchange of ambassadors, trade, tourism, etc., if Israel complies with international law (e.g., the UN Charter, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute.) Fully aware of Israel’s demographic concerns, the Beirut initiative does not demand the return of all Palestinian refugees. In accordance with Israel’s pledge given to the UNGA in 1949 and by signing the 1949 Lausanne Peace Conference Protocol to abide by UNGA Res. 194 regarding the then 800,000 Palestinian refugees as a precondition for admittance to the UN (after being rejected twice), the Arab League’s Initiative “calls upon Israel to affirm” that it agrees to help pursue the “achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem…”

        Along with all Arab states and the PLO, Hezbollah and Iran have also accepted the Arab League’s 2002 Beirut Summit Peace Initiative. (In its revised Charter, April, 2017, Hamas agreed to a Palestinian state based on the 4 June 1967 borders. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Israel promptly rejected the Hamas overture instead of using it to open a dialogue.)

        Regrettably, then Israeli PM Ariel Sharon summarily dismissed the Arab League’s peace overture, as did Israel in 2008 and thereafter.

        As for the much touted 2000 Camp David Summit, working in tandem, Barak and Clinton tried to shove a very bad deal down Arafat’s throat. It could only be rejected. Suffice to quote Shlomo Ben-Ami, then Israel’s foreign minister and lead negotiator at Camp David: “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.” (National Public Radio, 14 February 2006.)

        The “offer” made in 2008 by then Israeli PM Ehud Olmert was never seen as serious because it lacked cabinet approval, he was under indictment with only a few weeks left in office, had a 6% favorable rating, and, therefore, couldn’t have closed the deal, even if the Palestinians had accepted it. (Olmert was imprisoned.)

        Unfortunately, Israel’s response to every peace overture from the Palestinians and Arab states, has been an escalation of illegal settlement construction, dispossession and oppression in occupied Palestinian and other Arab lands.

        Reply to Comment
    8. Jalal

      I don’t think i could have said it any better, thank you Noam.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Aaron

      “The Palestinians therefore have a moral right to resist the occupation. It’s as simple as that. … More than anything, I oppose violence against civilians.”
      So it looks like it’s not “as simple as that” after all. How can you violently resist a *settler* movement without using violence against civilians? Were the American Indians unjustified in violently resisting European settlers, who were civilians? What if they had only used violence against US soldiers? If violence against civilians were ruled out, then Israel’s tactic would be simple: bring all the soldiers back home, and allow the settlers – civilians – to go live wherever they want.
      You oh-so-generously acknowledge the Palestinian right to violently resist Israeli soldiers. Fine. But if the Palestinians decided to play by Human Rights Watch rules, the whole war would be over in a matter of hours. Strategically, there are in effect only two choices: either purely non-violent resistance, or violence against Israeli non-combatants, i.e., terrorism.

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    10. directrob

      Aaron, was it not the Israeli high court that decided that settlers are securing the West Bank? (see: http://972mag.com/the-entire-occupation-in-140-characters/15549/ and link)
      I cannot hebrew but thanks to google:
      “But the point is that for pure security considerations there is no question that the presence of settlements in occupied territory – even “civilian” – which holds the power of citizens makes a significant contribution to security in that area and facilitates the army line of duty.”
      I must concludes that settlers help the IDF to secure the land. But for the children they are really soldiers …

      Reply to Comment
    11. Sinjim

      @Aaron: Nice bait and switch, there.
      In fact, Noam says nothing about resisting the settler movement. He says Palestinians have a right to violently resist occupation. Those two words aren’t synonyms. That’s point one.
      Point two, there are plenty of ways to violently resist occupation that has nothing to do with targeting noncombatants. For example, when a snot-nosed douchebag from Tel Aviv starts lobbing chemical weapons at a village, the villagers have a right to defend themselves with force. When a group of thugs from Yitzhar come to burn and deface yet another mosque, people have a right to defend themselves with force.
      That isn’t terrorism. That’s basic self-defense. And that’s what the residents of Nabi Saleh were doing two Fridays ago, when a soldier committed terrorism and killed a Palestinian civilian as an act of political intimidation. I very much doubt you’re going to insist on Israelis practicing “pure non-violence.”
      In any case, Yuli Edelstein thanks you for your services. The check will be arriving by mail in 4-6 weeks.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Aaron

      Sinjim, good point, the occupation is not the settlement movement. I often make a point of distinguishing between them, so it’s pretty inexcusable that I got them mixed up. That said, my point about “Human Rights Watch rules” does apply equally to resistance against the settler movement and to resistance against the military occupation.

      Self-defense is self-defense, but I said that non-violence and terrorism were the only realistic STRATEGIC options. The kind of self-defense you’re talking about is not a STRATEGY of resistance.

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    13. Danny Demiculo

      @Noam – didn’t your mother tell you not to call people liers ? espcieally when you lie by saying “Israel doesn’t allow any form of protest in the West Bank”.

      Had you searched google (invented by Netanyahu to look up picture of Anastasia Michaeli) you would have found quite a few Palestinian protests which were allowed because they were not violent. Here is one: http://kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=19310

      Reply to Comment
    14. Bosko

      The article and all articles like it ignores the elephant in the room. Israel offered and still does offer an end to the occupation.
      In 2001 in Taba Israel offered to return 97% of the West Bank with territorial offsets. It also offered a shared control of East Jerusalem between Israel and a newly created Palestinian Arab state. The offer was not taken up by Arafat because he insisted on the full right of return of millions of Palestinian Arabs into Israel proper.
      A similar offer by Olmert was ignored by Abbas in 2008.
      So what are we really talking about here when we talk of resistance by the Palestinian Arabs? We are talking about resistance to a solution that does not involve the right of return!!! And if that is so, they can resist to the end of times but they still won’t get the right of return. Alternatively, they can give up that unreasonable demand and the occupation would end. Pick your choice …

      Reply to Comment
    15. Bosko, what about before Taba, or before the 1993 Oslo accord, when, beginning in 1967, neither Eshkol nor Golda nor Rabin in his first term nor Begin nor Shamir in his first or second term nor Peres offered an end to the occupation – what, according to your reasoning, was unjustified about violent Palestinian resistance then?

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    16. Sinjim

      @Aaron: Actually, yes it is. What Palestinians have been doing is protesting peacefully at the sites of Israeli land theft, of which there are many to choose. When Israeli military thugs invade their villages and towns and begin to throw chemical weapons at them, they fight back as is their right. This is the strategy that they have chosen, and it is demonstrating for all honest observers the brutality of Israel’s actions and policies.
      If you want non-violence, go to the protests and put yourself bodily between the soldiers and the protesters. Demanding Palestinians put themselves in harm’s way from behind a computer is cowardly and hypocritical. Put your money where your mouth is, Aaron. Go out there and practice non-violence yourself.

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    17. I’ve always said that resistance to occupation is Palestinians right. However, I have also always said that non-violence is the best strategy to achieving their goal: an end to the occupation. Suicide bombings not only cause the international community to turn against Palestinians, but help portray them as terrorists who don’t respect life or love. Targeting civilians is cowardly, no matter who does it. What takes real courage is to be willing to die, but not willing to kill.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Danny Demiculo

      @Larry: That “resistance” was not aimed only at soldiers, but also at military installations cunnigly disguised as school kids, hotels (even when not hosting meeting which might lead to “normalisation”) and your run of the mill citizens (some of whom, i’m told, even read Ha’aretz unaided).

      Reply to Comment
    19. Bosko

      What about before 1967? Why did the occupation happen in the first place? Answer: because Nasser, who made no secret of his objective of wanting to eliminate “the “Zionist Entity” (Israel), dragged Jordan into the conflict and that’s how Israel ended up occupying the West Bank.
      But to answer at least one of your questions. Right after the 1967 victory, Israel offered direct face to face negotiations in which the two sides could resolve the conflict once and for all. What was the response it got at the time? “No Negotiations”, “No Recognition” (of Israel) and “No Peace”. The declaration was made by the Arab League and it is known as the three “NOs” of Khartoom.
      Israel at that stage declared that everything is negotiable (as far as the land) except Jerusalem. But by 2001 and 2008 Israel’s position softened about Jerusalem.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Bosko

      The overall answer to your questin is the same. Both before 1993 (Oslo) and after it, Palestinian Arab resistance is about their wish to eliminate Israel as the state for the Jewish people (nation). Before 1993, they openly admitted that as their aim (as it has been all along since 1948). After 1993, they tried to pretend that they gave up that aim but their continued demand for the so called “right of return” is proof that they have not given up that objective. They just changed their tactics. The aim of their “resistance” is still the elimination of Israel!

      Reply to Comment
    21. directrob

      I do not know what it has to do with the right to resist occupation but there is nothing “so called” about the ROR. From the (unfinished) taba summit:

      “Both sides suggested, as a basis, that the parties should agree that a just settlement of the refugee problem in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 242 must lead to the implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 194.”

      Reply to Comment
    22. Aaron

      I’m not trying to tell anybody what they should do. My politics aren’t +972’s, which is one reason I’m trying to stick to just analyzing the situation rather than preaching.
      I agree that the whole David-against-Goliath thing works to some extent, but that’s only because it has terrorism (attacks on non-combatants) to back it up – to do the real work, so to speak.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Bosko

      I am glad that you brought up UNGA Resolution 194. The Arab interpretation of it is that Israel is obliged to allow ALL Palestinian Arabs to return, including the descendants of refugees, who choose to “return”. Here, read the following link which explains the Israeli v the Arab interpretation of that resolution:
      “Article 11 reads:
      Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.
      The exact meaning and timing of enforcement of the resolution were disputed from the beginning.
      Since the late 1960s, Article 11 has increasingly been quoted by those who interpret it as a basis for the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees.
      Israel has usually contested this reading, pointing out that the text merely states that the refugees “should be permitted” to return to their homes at the “earliest practicable date” and this recommendation applies only to those “wishing to… live at peace with their neighbors”.[2] The one exception was at the Lausanne Conference, 1949, where a Joint Protocol was accepted by the Israeli government and the Arab delegates on May 12, 1949. After Israel had become a member of the United Nations, it offered to repatriate 100,000 refugees. This offer was rejected by the Arabs, and subsequently withdrawn by Israel.[2] David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, insisted in an interview with the members of the Conciliations Commission that as long as Israel could not count on the dedication of any Arab refugees to remain “at peace with their neighbors” – a consequence, he contended, of the Arab states’ unwillingness to remain at peace with the state of Israel – resettlement was not an obligation for his country.[3]”

      Reply to Comment
    24. Bosko

      Moreover, your own link confirms that there was no resolution on the issue of refugees. Here …
      “3.1 NarrativeThe Israeli side put forward a suggested joint narrative for the tragedy of the Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian side discussed the proposed narrative and there was much progress, although no agreement was reached in an attempt to develop and historical narrative in the general text”

      Reply to Comment
    25. Bosko

      Moreover, your own link confirms that there was no resolution on the issue of refugees. Here …
      “3.1 NarrativeThe Israeli side put forward a suggested joint narrative for the tragedy of the Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian side discussed the proposed narrative and there was much progress, although no agreement was reached in an attempt to develop and historical narrative in the general text”.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Bosko

      Rob: “I do not know what it has to do with the right to resist occupation”
      For the third time, they had an option to end the occupation. All they had to do was to drop their right of return demand. They chose not to do so, therefore what they are actually doing with their “resistance” is trying to enforce the right of return. And let me assure you Rob, that will never happen.
      Also, if they have the right to resist, then Israel too has the right to resist their insistence on the so called right of return.

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    27. Ben Israel

      “Legitimate resistance” is like a flavor of ice cream, some like chocolate, some like vanilla, some like legitimate resistance to throw the Jews out of the West Bank, some like legitimate resistance to throw the Jews out of Tel Aviv. People like Ze’ev Sternhell tell the Palestinians “anything goes UP TO THE GREEN LINE because I don’t like the settlers, but you had better not do your legitimate resistance at my house inside the Green Line because I like it. That is not legitimate resistance.”
      For others here, legitimate resistance is against the Jews of Hevron, but in Modi’in… FORGET IT. Someone else here at 972 lives there and the Arabs who want that land back are just going to have to forget about it. That is NOT legitimate resistance.
      As far as our “progressives” here are concerned, the line between “legitimate resistance” and “illegitimate resistance” is a matter of personal preference and taste, nothing more.

      Reply to Comment
    28. AYLA

      @Bosko–I’m waiting for Larry to answer your “What about before 1967and how the occupation started in the first place question” (to me, this logic–which is so common among Jews in Israel and the diaspora, is simply the product of a one-sided narrative)–but in any case, Bosko, I know you’re secular, but please consider that in the Bible, the reason Jews wandered for 40 years in the desert on a journey that could have taken something like ten days is that God knew that it took 40 years to forget one’s slavery. It’s been nearly 45 years! Think of how many Palestinians know absolutely nothing but occupation, and Israelis only as soldiers. Think of how the Palestinians old enough to remember what it was like before ’67 probably carry even more painful memories. Think about how the occupation, and the separation and lack of freedoms, has only gotten worse and worse in recent decades. And effing get over it! This is not okay. Period. Unless you get this, you are complicit in the daily humiliation and abuse of Palestinians. Many would say that even after “getting this”, or even more so, I am complicit, too. We have a very long way to go. Don’t be dead weight.

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    29. Mesho


      Drop their right of return demand? You clearly have no understanding about justice as the road to lasting peace.

      The reason why this conflict started was because Zionists robbed Palestinians of their ancestral lands and killed or forced them out of Palestine. Any solution that doesn’t address the refugees is fundamentally unjust. Those who propose dropping the right of return aren’t interested in peace or coexistence, but rather extending Jewish ethnocentric supremacy into perpetuity.

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    30. Mitchell Cohen

      Well said, Ben Israel!!!!

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    31. Bosko

      And those who insist that up to 5 million Palestinian Arabs have the right to settle in Israel proper rather than in the proposed Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and Gaza, insist on Israel’s destruction.

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    32. Bosko

      Oh and Mesho …
      This conflict started before there were any Arab refugees or any land was taken from the Arabs. It started as a result of a war that the Arabs STARTED against Jews who wished to settle in their ancestral home land, on land that they bought for a proper price. The refugees were created as a RESULT of that war and there were Jewish refugees too because of it. Not just Arab refugees.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Richard Witty

      I saw a video of a rational non-polemic Norman Finkelstein (at least for part of his lecture) describe the importance of clarification of goal as a component of resistance to occupation.

      Both as a moral concern and as a communication. That is, to the extent that resistance is not disciplined, and around a concise and limited objective that is capable of appealing universally to the world’s sense of right and wrong, that it will throw non-violent rocks at itself.

      Morality is constructed of “What does one do whether someone else is watching or not? What does one do when there is no danger of being caught?”

      He also said that one of difficulties of vagueness in the resistance movement is that without clear criteria, there is no clear identification of when to stop resistance.

      I personally experienced relative to South Africa four years ago, when as financial manager of a natural foods manufacturer, our very ethical purchasing manager asked me for my thoughts on whether we should buy South African raisins, 12 years after South Africa had reconciled, and after the boycott ended.

      I disagree with the demeaning ageist concept that loud and vigorous opposition is the only form of resistance. It was the Zionist reasoning that insulted non-resisting Eastern European Jewry that “willingly” walked to their annihilation.

      The idea that doing so was unmanly.

      The truth is that occupation is a psychological relationship between ones self and the other.

      There was a Gazan doctor who published a book stating “I will not hate”. (His message was oriented to the self-attack that hate of another represents.) I wish that he had gone further than even just the examination of what happens to a person that hates (is then controlled by their hate, a more intimate prison).

      Someone with the assertive conviction to not hate is free. The chasids that “willingly” walked into the ovens were free, as ironic as that sounds.

      After that conversion from resisting, one can genuinely non-violently assert by marching (not really by throwing rocks), or by farming, or by teaching their children, or by praying, or by taking care of the ill, or by burying one’s dead, or by creating a warm family home, or by creating a warm inviting hospitable family home.

      Free at last.

      Free from the affects of harmful relations. Free TO live mutually respectful relations.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Mikesailor

      While I wholeheartedly agree with the statement that it is not Israel’s right to tell the Palestinians how to resist the occupation, I must admit confusion over the many commenters who attempt to obfuscate and misstate the history of this mess. From Ben Israel and Bosko’s outright rewriting of history. Once again the Zionists, who only owned approximately 6-7% of the land prior to the UN partition, only ‘immigrated’ not to form a Jewish state or Jewish domination but only as altruistic ‘visitors’, bent on living ‘peacefully’ with their Palestinian neighbors. Why look at us, thsy cry. We offered to give back 97% of the West Bank which only comprised 22% of the land west of the Jordan River. Israel was so generous, they exclaim. Never mind they actively banned refugees from returning to their homes after both the ’48 and ’67 wars. They never attempted to pay compensation either all the while denying that their policies, Plan Dalet and the ethnic cleansing that ensued had anything to do with the Palestinians. They offer Taba, blaming the Palestinians when it was an Israeli government which scotched the negotiations. And they accept the building of settlements on Palestinian land as a ‘birthright’.
      Occupation doesn’t exist, is the mantra they promote. If only those pseky Palestinians would recognize and legitimate our theft then all would be well. Recognize Zionist dommination, never mind the soldiers and their guns or the ‘settlers’ and theirs. Never mind the discrimination, humiliation and brutalization visited upon you by these Zionist ‘masters of the universe”.

      Reply to Comment
    35. Richard Witty

      Not to agree with Bosko’s or Ben Israel’s conclusion, but Mike, your facts are confused (not just you).

      Of the 100% of the land from the river to the sea, 50% was the Negev, uninhabitable, incorporated in Israel only as a buffer between the populated areas further north and Egypt and then enemy Jordan.

      Of the 50% remaining, 50% of that was commons, unoccupied land.

      So, even though 7% compared to 18% (totalling 25% of the land that was then populated), is not equal, the 93/7 proportions are deceptively and intentionally misrepresentative.

      Be more skeptical please, of everyone, not just powers that be. There are FEW that regard truth as more important than their positions.

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    36. Bosko

      Mikesailor: “the Zionists, who only owned approximately 6-7% of the land prior to the UN partition”
      That is true, Mikesailor, the Zionists only owned 6% to 7% of the land in 1947. And that means that the Arabs owned 93% to 94% of the land, right? WRONG!!! Mikesailor, most of the land was crown land which was NOT owned either by Arabs nor Jews. Here read about it below. And if you don’t believe this reference, just give me the word, I can give you more references which say much the same thing.
      “Palestinians repeat a mantra: If Zionist settlers bought 6 percent of Palestinian real estate (a genuine statistic) the rest of Palestine – about 94 percent – must have been Arab land.139 This propaganda, that the Jews robbed the Palestinians of their land in 1948, grossly distorts reality. Most of the land belonged neither to Jews nor to Arabs. It was land in the public domain similar to government- controlled public land in the United States and Crown lands in England or Jordan. Public land was inherited by the British from the Ottoman Empire and upon independence was rightly inherited from the British Mandate by the State of Israel”
      Thank you Mikesailor for giving me the chance to refute this much used ploy by Arab propagandists to convince the unsuspecting that most of the land was Arab owned. I don’t know which category you belong to, Mike. Are you one of the unsuspecting? Or are you a propagandist yourself?

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    37. Bosko

      I know that you and I have very different opinions about this conflict. But at least you are honest. Or attempt to be honest to the best of your abilities. And I respect you for it.

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    38. directrob

      “Public land was inherited by the British from the Ottoman Empire and upon independence was rightly inherited from the British Mandate by the State of Israel”
      The British did not own Palestine they governed it, as a consequence they never inherited the land. As in all modern states the common land was owned by all its citizens (the Palestinians). When 80% of the state became Israel the citizens became Israeli (including the fugitives). Not letting those fugitive Israeli return, robbed them of their land.

      Reply to Comment
    39. Mikesailor

      For Richard and Bosko: read the post by Direct Rob. He is exactly right. Theft is the appropriation of property that you don’t own. It really doesn’t mateer who it actually belongs to, the thievery is taking something that doesn’t belong to you. Now you can disingenously claim that because it was ‘common land’ that it didn’t belong to anyone. The key is: It didn’t, and doesn’t, belong to you. The property was not abandoned, except by the use of force expelling those who had colorable title. So, why don’t the Zionists go back to the 6-7% of the land they actually purchased?

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    40. Richard Witty

      The majority of land from river to sea is still unsettled state land.

      It wasn’t stolen.

      The majority of land that is not state land is now titled, residences, some by freehold title, some by leasehold.

      For multiple generations.

      You can’t humanely or legally dispossess people en masse from their land. If you want justice, then you create a setting in which competing claims can be reconciled.

      Fascism is easy, both ways. Try for something better.

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    41. directrob

      Richard, Palestinians before 1945 included Jews new and old. Letting people return should not force others out, but some people could loose their house or land. The same was true for eastern Germany after the reunion. I am sure the Israeli government can allocate funds to help the unlucky.
      By the way, a lot of the land was owned by Palestinians.

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    42. Richard Witty

      There have been too many abuses going both ways to remedy the wrongs directed only at a political target.

      The otherwise noble assertion of justice, is not served by misrepresentation.

      Justice is served by accurate representation, and if not resolved by mediation, then judicial determination.

      1945 is long long long past.

      As few as possible should be displaced by any remedy. Please don’t advocate for the forced removal of a million today in protest of the prohibition of return of 700,000 63 years ago.

      A remedy in law would include at least restitution for individually provable cases, and some compensation for collective unprovable collective cases.

      A moral remedy would get everyone on their feet, without the zero-sum of ‘I stay, you leave’.

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    43. Bosko

      Mikesailor: ” Now you can disingenously claim that because it was ‘common land’ that it didn’t belong to anyone”
      Actually, that is not my claim. My claim is the claim of UN Resolution 181, the Two State Solution. It involved the division of the land (both crown and private lands) between the two main populations who lived in Palestine in 1947. The Palestinian Arabs and the Palestinian Jews.
      Now, can you please explain to me what is unfair about that, Mikesailor?

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    44. Routh

      There seems to be a lot of myths being repeated about land ownership in Palestine.

      Here is the situation that the British inherited. As described by them in the 1930 report to the LoN

      ” Most of the cultivable State lands had been in occupation and under cultivation by Arabs for generations. They had owned the lands before the Ottoman Land Code was enacted, and, although, comparatively recently the Sultan acquired the titular ownership, the original possessors were not ousted and their position became that of tenants in perpetuity. They were allowed to sell their tenancy rights, and those rights were transmitted by inheritance to their descendants. Their position vis-à-vis the Sultan and, on his deposition, vis-à-vis the Turkish Government, was in some degree analogous to that of owners of ordinary Miri land. ”


      What happened is that when the land code was enacted, the peasants were unwilling to register their land 1) to avoid more taxes 2) To avoid serving in the Ottoman military. As a result, all unregistered lad was at least on paper expropriated by the state. As described above the land became usufructs essentially held by the peasant farmers (generally communally) in perpetuity. The relevant land reform of the British was to break up these communally held usufructs into parcels for which they identified an individual owner.

      THE JUDICIAL PROCESS OF ‘SETTLEMENT OF TITLE,’ or ‘land settlement,’ constituted the core of British land regime reform in Mandate Palestine. This process, which relied on topographical and cadastral survey, exact mapping and extensive judicial investigation of land rights aimed at identifying an owner for every parcel of land in the country. British reformers sought to transform the traditional usufruct rights of the indigenous, majority Arab population and the minority population of European Jewish settlers into rights of ownership. They believed that the resulting security of title, in concert with comprehensive agricultural tax reform, would improve the position of small Palestinian Arab peasant farmers and revitalize Palestine’s agriculture-based economy.


      In effect, the Brits removed the titular state ownership the 1858 Land Code created. An early form of privatisation. There is no real dispute about this. The two major publications from the Mandatory government, the Survey of Palestine of 1945, and Village Statistics 1945, both make clear that the vast majority of usable land was held by the Arabs, as does the JNF and the Custodian of Absentee Property, The very fact of the latter’s existence suggests the vast majority of the land was owned by the refugees.
      ” In 1945, on the 26.4 million dunams of land in Mandate Palestine, 12.8 million was owned by Arabs, 1.5 million by Jews, 1.5 million was public land and 10.6 millions constituted the desertic Beersheba district (Negev). ”


      bitmap of primary scource (produced by British Mandatory Government) – http://www.palestineremembered.com/download/VillageStatistics/4-The%20Land%20And%20Its%20Ownership/Page-019.jpg

      UN map illustrating the above – http://domino.un.org/maps/m0094.jpg

      The Jewish National Fund, from Jewish Villages in Israel, 1949:

      ” Of the entire area of the State of Israel only about 300,000-400,000 dunums — apart from the desolate rocky area of the southern Negev, at present quite unfit for cultivation — are State Domain which the Israeli Government took over from the Mandatory regime. The J.N.F. and private Jewish owners possess under two million dunums. Almost all the rest belongs at law to Arab owners, many of whom have left the country. ”


      longer extract (about halfway down ) – http://www.palestine-encyclopedia.com/EPP/Chapter03.htm

      ” Manor held the title of Custodian of Absentee Property …

      In his possession were copies of almost every British mandate land registration document, file after file of papers recording in detail the Arab and Jewish owners of property in pre-1948 Palestine. …

      The Custodian of Absentee Property did not choose to discuss politics. But when I asked him how much of the land of the state of Israel might potentially have two claimants — an Arab and a Jew holding respectively a British mandate and an Israeli deed to the same property — he said he believed that ‘about 70 percent’ might fall into this category. ”


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