More on violent/non-violent means of resistance

Felson offers a further comment on the controversy he started on this site about nonviolent resistance:
Jimmy Carter writes briefly about this in his new book, recounting his visit with Hamas leaders in '08:
"We pursued the concept of nonviolent resistance with Hamas
leaders and gave them documents and video presentations on the
successful experiences of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and
others. However, they do not believe that the Israeli occupation can be
ended through such means, because of the lack of positive response by Israel during the relatively nonviolent early days of the first intifada."
I wonder: Would the experience of nonviolent resistance (and how
it would be portrayed in the media) be different for Arabs living in
Israel, as opposed to those in the occupied lands? And would it
even matter?
Posted in Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 15 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. anon says:


    Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.

    The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French. If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the national home affords a colourable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews.

    But the German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history. The tyrants of old never went so mad as Hitler seems to have gone. And he is doing it with religious zeal. For he is propounding a new religion of exclusive and militant nationalism in the name of which any inhumanity becomes an act of humanity to be rewarded here and hereafter. The crime of an obviously mad but intrepid youth is being visited upon his whole race with unbelievable ferocity. If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe in any war. A discussion of the pros and cons of such a war is therefore outside my horizon or province.
    And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart. They can offer satyagraha in front of the Arabs and offer themselves to be shot or thrown into the Dead Sea without raising a little finger against them. They will find the world opinion in their favour in their religious aspiration. There are hundreds of ways of reasoning with the Arabs, if they will only discard the help of the British bayonet. As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them.

    I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.

    Let the Jews who claim to be the chosen race prove their title by choosing they way of non-violence for vindicating their position on earth. Every country is their home including Palestine not by aggression but by loving service. A Jewish friend has sent me a book called The Jewish Contribution to Civilization by Cecil Roth. It gives a record of what the Jews have done to enrich the world’s literature, art, music, drama, science, medicine, agriculture, etc. Given the will, the Jew can refuse to be treated as the outcaste of the West, to be despised or patronized. He can command the attention of the world by being man, the chosen creation of God, instead of being man who is fast sinking to the brute and forsaken by God. They can add to their many contributions the surpassing contribution of non-violent action.
    More Gandhi

    “The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife,” he said. “They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs.”

    Even More

    But, in my opinion, they have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves on Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the aid of naked terrorism. Their citizenship of the world should have and would have made them honoured guests of any country. Their thrift, their varied talent, their great industry should have made them welcome anywhere. It is a blot on the Christian world that they have been singled out, owing to a wrong reading of the New Testament, for prejudice against them. "If an individual Jew does a wrong, the whole Jewish world is to blame for it." If an individual Jew like Einstein makes a great discovery or another composes unsurpassable music, the merit goes to the authors and not to the community to which they belong.

    No wonder that my sympathy goes out to the Jews in their unenviably sad plight. But one would have thought adversity would teach them lessons of peace. Why should they depend upon American money or British arms for forcing themselves on an unwelcome land? Why should they resort to terrorism to make good their forcible landing in Palestine? If they were to adopt the matchless weapon of non-violence whose use their best Prophets have taught and which Jesus the Jew who gladly wore the crown of thorns bequeathed to a groaning world, their case would be the world`s and I have no doubt that among the many things that the Jews have given to the world, this would be the best and the brightest. It is twice blessed. It will make them happy and rich in the true sense of the word and it will be a soothing balm to the aching world.

  2. David F. says:

    I think nonviolent resistance only works if the tide of popular opinion is shifting AND the media is sympathetic (these two conditions go together). If the media is unresponsive, the resister can simply be ignored, arrested, tortured, or quietly disappeared.

    The world was basically content to let the Palestinians starve on the West Bank, as long as they were quiet and nonviolent. Certainly that pleased US politicians, who could mouth sweet nothings about a "just settlement" and "two state solution," as they have done for decades.

    Sadly, Hamas' violent resistance and huge death toll and destruction of "Cast Lead" is the only reason the Palestinian question is once again in the public eye.

  3. tree says:

    Kafr Kassem(1956), Land Day in 1976, and October 2000 pretty well sum up the expected Israeli police reaction to any sign of Israeli Arab protests. It ends with dead Arabs and no real accountability imposed on the officers who do the killing. They are all well-aware of those historic events, even though we might not be.

    As I said before, there are active non-violent protests going on right now in the West Bank. Something like ninety-nine percent of Americans aren't aware of that because no mainstream news covers it. The first intifada started out as a non-violent protest. Few are aware of that, or that Israel responded with massive violence against the tax revolt in Beit Sahour and expelled one of the non-violent leaders of that revolt.

    As courageous as MLK was, the civil rights movement would have gone nowhere until the US government, and many whites, were willing to face the problem of racism. The integration of the US Army, and Brown vs Board of Education both predated Selma by over a decade. If the civil rights movement had tried to make any headway in, say, the 1920s, when the KKK was in resurgence, it would probably be more analogous to the conditions in Israel today for the Israeli Arabs that may want to pursue their civil rights there.

  4. Thom says:

    Oh, brother. Not more Gandhi bullshit. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Gandhi was a stopped clock. By him, non-violent resistance was the answer to every problem. It's like Republicans and tax cuts.

    Nazis coming to kill Jews? Gandhi's answer: The Jews should let the Nazis kill them.

    Nazis trying to invade Britain? Gandhi's answer: The British should let the Nazis come in and kill them.

    These aren't hypothetical either. Gandhi actually advocated exactly those positions, as seen in the quote about butcher knives in the anonymous pasty post above.

    Gandhi's answer is to let the thugs and murderers take over the world rather than lifting a finger to stop them.

    "I wish people would give up violence forever… If no one else was violent, I could take over the whole stupid planet with just a butterknife" – Dogbert

    Gandhi got lucky. He was up against one of the only kinds of people that his "non-violence no matter what" idea would work on. That is, a people that wanted to control India, but would rather let India alone if it couldn't control it. If it had been Hitler that Gandhi was up against, the Indian continent would have been a bloodbath until the Indians gave up on either the non-violent part or the resistance part.

    Sad thing is, the stopped clock that is Gandhi's answer would work for the Palestinians. They are also up against a kind of people that non-violence works on. That is, a people who don't want anything to do with the Palestinians and would be happy to leave them to go to hell in their own way if it weren't for the fact that the Palestinians keep trying to kill Israelis.

    The Israelis OTOH are up against a people who non-violence would not work on. That is, people who would be happy to exterminate the Jews if they didn't face any violent opposition.

  5. Thom says:


    ROFL. The first Intifada started with the following sequence of events:
    1) An Israeli shopping in Gaza (weird, I know, but times change) was stabbed to death (one reason why times change).
    2) Four Palestinians died in a traffic accident.
    3) Someone of the ilk of Barbara Lubin or Phil made up a story that the four traffic accident victims had been deliberately killed in revenge for the stabbing.
    4) Riots in Jabalya started when a Palestinian threw a Molotov cocktail at Israeli soldiers and was shot dead in self defense.

    Where exactly is the non-violence in that?

  6. Citizen says:


    Yeah, and an accidental match tossed down on a green forest burns like one tossed down in a dry brown forest. Here's some info with footnotes to sources with which to cast a light on Thom's dark Hasbara:

  7. Citizen says:

    Oops, I forgot to include the link. Here it is: link to

  8. Citizen says:

    @Thom's first comment above

    As the link above shows, and since those first Intifada peaceful protest days, the Israelis have not acted like the Brits in India, but rather like Nazi Germany. The Palestinians are up against a people who non-violence have not work on. That is, people who would be happy to exterminate the Palestinians, and do so under any pretext whenever the USA is preoccupied, such as last Nov 4th, when Israel executed its pre-planned Gaza massacre. Israel's validation by the gentile nations has always depended on the good will of the gentile nations, especially the western ones, and as well, on their financial support. PR is important, the most important thing to Israel. But Israel underestimated the ever growing ability of people across the world outside the power elite in their nation to see beyond Israel's hasbara.
    It's trying to stage a propaganda come back as public opinion rubber-stamping Israel right or wrong wans, hence the influx in recent
    weeks of hasbar agents on this blog. Judge for yourself how the standard Israeli canards are doing on this site. Israel created an open public forum on Twitter last January–it folded in one day due to being overwhelmed by protests against Israeli actions in Gaza.

  9. Colin Murray says:

    Israel shoots peaceful protesters with live ammunition. If there had been no violent resistance by Palestinians in Gaza, the colonies would still be there. Peaceful protest will only work if colonist and IDF criminality is fairly covered in the MSM, and can influence state policy in Israel and the rest of the world. There is a crystal clear temporal correlation between Israeli-PA 'peace talks' and acceleration of Israeli creeping ethnic cleansing and colonization. The ugly reality is that, thus far, Israelis have had zero interest in serious peace talks and won't until they have finished ethnically cleansing and colonizing all the land they want. Palestinians have few tools to slow the rate of their dispossession. Impartial external intervention, e.g. by a non-Zionist American government enforcing its own laws, is a pre-requisite to reducing or nullifying the utility of violence.

  10. Thom says:

    ROFL. If the Israelis were trying to exterminate the Palestinians they would be doing a lousy job at it. Given the birthrate in the Palestinian territories, their population went up during the recent war.

  11. LanceThruster says:

    If the Israelis were trying to exterminate the Palestinians they would be doing a lousy job at it.


    The secret is to do it more slowly over time. It's as if their position is, "Don't go away mad, just go away."

    When you take Palestinian land, turn it into Bantustans, and put a complete chokehold on all activity there; it prevents most opportunities for the people and region to prosper.

  12. Tom A. says:

    They aren't trying to exterminate the Palestinians. They're trying to completely eradicate the cohesion of Palestinian society so that they can no longer put up any serious resistance against Israeli belligerence.

  13. Thom says:

    Uh, Tom A. Have you been watching the news lately? The Palestinian society can't put up any serious resistance against Israeli attacks. Whether belligerent or otherwise. More than a fifty-to-one kill ratio for Israelis killed versus Hamas soldiers killed while the Israelis were bending over backward to reduce civilian casualties and giving up the element of surprise in order to warn civilians to flee. Exactly how serious a resistance do you think that is?

    How to put this…

    Most rational people realize that when someone with the power to destroy you doesn't destroy you, that means that he doesn't want to destroy you.

    The Palestinians look at it backward. They start from the assumption that Israel wants to destroy them, so they conclude that Israel doesn't have the power to destroy them. It must have come as quite a shock to get humiliated like that.

    Hamas claiming victory is like the pulped guy in the corner telling the big guy that just pulped him and is now laying off out of mercy "yeah, you better run".

  14. Citizen says:

    Ratio was 100:1. 400 of the dead Pals were babies, children, and women.

    Rational people realize that unlike Hitler's Germany, Israel is not free to do what it wants all the time. Israel is dependent on the continued good will (and money and oil guarantee of the USA, hence for PR purposes only it has not gone quite as far as Hitler did.

  15. Shirin says:

    "400 of the dead Pals were babies, children, and women."

    That is incorrect. Around 400, that is, one third, of the dead were babies and children. The women killed were in addition to that.