Amira Hass brings justification of stone-throwing against violent occupier to US

The uproar in Israel over Amira Hass’s column arguing that Palestinians have a duty to throw stones against the violent occupier is at last coming to the U.S., thanks to Amy Goodman, who brought the great Israel journalist on Democracy Now! yesterday. (I can’t wait for Hass to be paired up with Ben Ehrenreich and Noura Erakat on MSNBC to discuss this stone-throwing issue further– let’s hope).

The interview went beyond the stonethrowing issue to the matter of Israel’s political suicide, the blindness of Israeli society, and the resonance of the Holocaust.

Here are some key excerpts. Goodman introduced Hass by speaking of the controversy over her piece in Israel, not yet reported by our mainstream press:

Israeli journalist Amira Hass, has suffered a torrent of hate mail and calls for her prosecution after she wrote an article defending the rights of Palestinians to resist violent occupation.

Hass was asked to explain her argument, and her terms.

AMIRA HASS: I don’t like the term “nonviolent resistance”…. [T]the main thing was that the Israeli occupation is the source of violence. I mean, this is violence. The Israeli policies are institutionalized violence. Even when there is no physical force used, it is always violent. And then I was posing the question, how come that Palestinians schools do not teach kids to resist, forms of resistance?

[T]he fact is that Israelis—I mean, that we maintain our hegemony with the use of almost unlimited power—I mean, with unlimited institutional power against the Palestinians. And Palestinians have tried many ways—diplomatic ways and other ways—to resist this Israeli domination, and it has not succeeded. Stone throwing is a sort of a message, and the Israelis don’t listen to it. Twenty-five years ago, with the First Intifada, Israelis did listen to this message. I mean, they did understand that this is a message of—it’s not in order to kill, it’s not in order to hit somebody, but it’s in order to tell: “You are unwelcome visitors in our midst.”

NERMEEN SHAIKH: OK, so what accounts for the change? Why were Israelis more amenable or open to understanding stone throwing 25 years ago, during the First Intifada? What about now?

AMIRA HASS: I think the main—it’s the main, you could say, achievement of the Oslo process, that the benefits of the occupation have been much—have been really entrenched and reached larger segments of the Israeli society…

Democracy Now staffer Nermeen Shaikh presses Hass on why she doesn’t like the term “nonviolent” resistance.

AMIRA HASS: I’ll tell you why: because it puts the onus of being nonviolent on the occupied rather than on the occupier. And it has the ring of how we please the West in their demands of how to do.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: How is it that you phrase it? Is it “civil disobedience”?

AMIRA HASS: I phrase it “unarmed.”

NERMEEN SHAIKH: “Unarmed.”

AMIRA HASS: And “popular resistance,” “popular resistance.”

This is a great intervention by Amy Goodman, regarding the poverty of the U.S. discourse on the conflict:

AMIRA HASS: You see those kids going throwing stones, as I say, it’s their right. And then they’re being arrested by the hundreds every month. They should be equipped also with the knowledge how to face an interrogator, what are your rights, what lawyer to call when you are arrested. This should be part of the curriculum. Or, you know, going to the demonstrations against the separation wall shouldn’t be only the task of the villagers who suffered from the separation wall. Why not have one week or one day a month or one day in the week—I don’t know—each school going to work with the farmers who have land beyond the separation wall, insist on going—

AMY GOODMAN: You know, for most people who are listening to this… They have no idea what you mean when you say the separation wall.

AMIRA HASS: Oh. Even 10 years after?

AMY GOODMAN: You live in it—

AMIRA HASS: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: But I would say most people don’t.

Hass moves on to the politics, and Israel’s self-destructive course:

people who say that they care for Israel actually assist Israel and Israelis to nurture what I call their suicidal—suicidal character or instincts, because if people think that we can live in that region—we are a minority in that region—so to live forever, for hundreds of years, as a society which is taken as a foreign outpost and as a messenger of another—of a big power, and only rely on our military superiority, I think this is real shortsightedness. This is what I call the suicidal—this is how I see Israel as suicidal. Palestinians and Arab peoples have shown over the past 20 years their willingness to accept this society in the region, but provided it is not a hostile society.

Goodman asks about the legacy of the Holocaust. What a beautiful answer Hass gives, quoting her father:

AMY GOODMAN: You’re the daughter of a Holocaust survivor….You wrote a book about your mother.

AMIRA HASS: Essays, yeah, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Holocaust often used to justify what’s happening to the Palestinians?

AMIRA HASS: Look, our terrible tragedy is that we have two catastrophes, human catastrophes, clashing with each other. And each has its own pains and layers of pain, which do not vanish, even when—the only thing—and this is where I can quote my father, who is a survivor—

AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.

AMIRA HASS: The difference is, with the Palestinians, it continues and continues and continues.

Hass sees herself as a failure, when asked about a 2009 award for lifetime achievement:


AMIRA HASS: Yeah, I said it was lifetime failure.

AMY GOODMAN: Why?

AMIRA HASS: Well, writing for 20 years, and you realize that it doesn’t—these words don’t change and not—and the situation is only worse. And if I wanted to appeal to Israelis and to tell them—to be kind of a messenger and give them the facts, you know, not—it’s only lately that I started with op-eds—or not lately, but my main task is to give facts. And then you realize that people do not want to read. And I always say the problem in Israel is not institutionalized censorship. We don’t have censorship, or to a great—maybe some military, but not that serious. We can write whatever we want, and we have—we can exercise this right of information. But the people don’t have the duty to know. And that’s maybe the failure.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

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

  1. ritzl says:

    Hass is courage exemplified. Goodman is a treasure map of insight. And this interview is seafoid’s cogent cryptic-ness (insert smiley face here) expanded.

    Taken together, the shape of things to come. Bots beware.

    Thanks for posting this. Hass’s article needed to be expanded upon. As Goodman lead her to say, because people don’t get it here.

    Institutionalized violence is a great way to term the occupation. I realize it’s been routinely said here and at EI and elsewhere, but it doesn’t get filtered out too much as a succinct “two-word rebuttal” in MSM/C-Span, etc…

    I would add precipitating (instigating?) to Hass’s institutional violence term. Precipitating Institutional Violence. (i.e. C-Span callers say, “The precipitating institutional violence of the Occupation… and then comment.)

    Anyway, thanks for bringing Hass’s expansion here.

  2. RE: “[P]eople who say that they care for Israel actually assist Israel and Israelis to nurture what I call their suicidal—suicidal character or instincts, because if people think that we can live in that region—we are a minority in that region—so to live forever, for hundreds of years, as a society which is taken as a foreign outpost and as a messenger of another—of a big power, and only rely on our military superiority [e.g. Israel's 'Iron Wall' strategy - J.L.D.], I think this is real shortsightedness.“ ~ Amira Hass

    MY COMMENT: In essence, Amira Hass is saying that Israel’s ‘Iron Wall’ strategy is an example of “real shortsightedness”.
    Needless to say, I concur!*

    * Catch Me If You Can Movie CLIP – Do You Concur? (2002) [VIDEO, 01:53] – link to youtube.com

    FROM WIKIPEDIA [Iron Wall (essay)]:

    “The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs)” is an essay written by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in 1923. It was originally published in Russian, the language in which Jabotinsky wrote for the Russian press.[1]
    He wrote the essay after the British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill prohibited Zionist settlement on the east bank of the Jordan River, and formed the Zionist Revisionist party after writing it.[2]
    Jabotinsky argued that the Palestinian Arabs would not agree to a Jewish majority in Palestine, and that “Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population – behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach.”[1] The only solution to achieve peace and a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, he argued, would be for Jews to unilaterally decide its borders and defend them with the strongest security possible.

    • References
    1.^ a b Jabotinsky, Ze’ev (4 November 1923). “The Iron Wall”. – link to jabotinsky.org
    2.^ Zionist Freedom Alliance – Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky – link to zfa.org.il

    • External links
    Lustick, Ian S. (2007). “Abandoning the Iron Wall: Israel and “The Middle Eastern Muck””. Middle East Policy (Middle East Policy Council) (Fall 2007). – link to mepc.org

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

    ENTIRE ‘IRON WALL’ ESSAY: “The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs)”, By Vladimir Jabotinsky, 1923 – link to marxists.de

  3. seafoid says:

    Ritzl

    I am listening to this at the moment

    link to youtube.com

    Something about the repetition of the beats that makes me think of the assaults on the ideology of Zionism of which we are a small part. The countless iterations. All the energy that brings us here. And the replication across the world with people of like minds. And it’s so smooth. It doesn’t feel like work.

    Amira Hass is on the case too. She understands history. She understands her own family history. One of the very few public figures I admire.

    Zionism is fundamentally incoherent set against the values of any religion.

  4. seafoid says:

    “And then you realize that people do not want to read. And I always say the problem in Israel is not institutionalized censorship. We don’t have censorship, or to a great—maybe some military, but not that serious. We can write whatever we want, and we have—we can exercise this right of information. But the people don’t have the duty to know. And that’s maybe the failure.”

    Reminds me of a line from The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

    the issue is larger than “are there enough dollars to educate our children”. The issue is “DO WE WANT TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN”

  5. Amira Hass may be a “failure” in terms of the goal she set herself, but that does not mean her activity was futile judged by other criteria. I think that without her (and a tiny handful of others like her) the situation now would be even more hopeless than it is. Many of us set ourselves unrealistic goals and then unfairly blame ourselves for not achieving them.

    Some theoretical reflections about violence and its recognition.

    One distinction is that between the violence of individuals and the violence of institutions. Institutional violence is also inflicted by individuals, but by individuals acting as agents of institutions rather than on their own account.

    Institutional violence goes unrecognized to the extent that the institutions inflicting it are viewed as legitimate and therefore entitled to use violence that in their judgment is necessary to the performance of their functions. For the conformist only “bad” acts can count as violence. The acts of legitimate institutions are by definition good, so they cannot be called violent even if they are physically identical to “bad” violent acts. Just as there can never be such a thing as “state terrorism.”

    Another distinction is that between open and latent violence. Violence exists in its latent form when people submit to the demands made on them in an attempt to avoid suffering open violence. Sometimes the attempt succeeds, and then the violence inherent in the situation remains invisible. When the attempt fails, the situation contains both latent and open violence.

    • seafoid says:

      Hass is very hard on herself. She is quite self critical.
      But I think future generations will recognise her as ahead of her time.

  6. ToivoS says:

    The questions Hass raises reminded me of the political discussion during the height of the King led civil rights movement in Birmingham. Those demonstrations were incredibly violent. King was criticized at the time for deliberately provoking the whites because the violence was a predictable outcome and had to be considered a violation of non-violent principles. Some of King’s better essays address this question. Few people today realize how controversial King was at that time, especially among the LIBERALS from both north and south.

  7. just says:

    Thanks to Amira Hass, Amy Goodman and Mondoweiss.

  8. yourstruly says:

    “if they’re concerned about the jewish community, jewish americans should not support israel.”

    seems the suicidal tendency of jewish israelis extends to their jewish supporters in america.

    only justice for palestine can prevent this death wish from being realized.

  9. RJL says:

    Hass is a coward, as she doesn’t wish to defend her ideas in front of the little girl, and the child’s mother who invited Hass to visit them in the hospital, who was severely injured by large rocks throwing the family car off course, slamming into a parked truck. If Hass the “heroine” can’t defend her “courageous” support of stone throwing in front of its victims, because perhaps it IS painful to see this innocent child who did nothing but sit in a car, then she doesn’t understand neither the pain of the Palestinians, nor the innocent Israeli Jews who suffer from these attacks (or worse, like the Fogel family-would Hass defend their murderers?), and she certainly doesn’t understand the pain of the Holocaust, because comparing the rounding up, violent deaths of its victims, country by country, town by town, the “efficient” and largely personal contact with each victim as they were snuffed out, over 6 years (I’m ignoring the issue of targeted German Jews even earlier) to the misery that Palestinians experience under the occupation is like comparing cutting off a finger of one person to chopping off both hands and feet, while gouging out the eyes and private parts, of the other. And she’s a liar-the Holocaust survivors misery NEVER stopped; I lived it daily with my parents. It’s not other Israeli Jews who are suicidal, it’s the likes of Hass.

  10. Fritz says:

    I don’t think that it is a good idea to speak about stone throwing as a “duty” for Palestinians. The wording shows how “Israeli” (= in love with violence and tribal logic) even the wonderful Amira Hass is. The idea of institutional violence is important, but it should not be used to dehumanize people who are representatives of the institutions. It is much more helpful to distinct between violence against things and violence against human beings. Every stone thrown by a Palestinian against a soldier is a brick in the wall to secure the victimization of the oppressing force.

    • Fritz says:

      You’re missing the point. The argument about stone throwing is about resitance against armed soldiers and the whole mass-controll weapons arsenal of the IDF and border control police. You shouldn’t bring in single cases of tragic events in the discussion about the different ways of resistance.

  11. seafoid says:

    “Israeli journalist Amira Hass, has suffered a torrent of hate mail and calls for her prosecution… ”

    It would be interesting to compare the situations in Hungary and Israel now – Hungary has right wing antisemites who are destroying democracy and Israel has right wing semites doing the same .

  12. Citizen says:

    When will there be a movie about the little Palestinian David, who knocked out the Jewish Israeli Goliath? Maybe we already have it, but it must be more specifically regional than Beyond Thunderdome. In that movie, In Bartertown, electricity, vehicles, and functioning technology depend on a crude methane refinery fueled by pig feces. The refinery is located in the Underworld area beneath Bartertown and is operated by the diminutive Master (Aipac-Israel), who is carried around by his enormously strong bodyguard, Blaster (Uncle Sam). Of course the little Palestinian David in that movie, is–Mel Gibson.