Sunday, July 11, 2010

Challenging the "Non-Violence" Narrative

A considerable amount of ink has been spilled, of late, in promoting a perceptible shift in Palestinian tactics against Israel, from violent aggression to non-violent resistance. From the WSJ to the NYT (and NYT blog), Palestinian non-violence is being hailed as a legitimate weapon in the ongoing conflict with Israel, as though the form of aggression is more important than the outcome that aggression is designed to achieve.

In addressing this shift in Palestinian tactics, and Western media reportage, pro-Israel activists have countered that Palestinian rock-throwing and the occasional stabbing and shooting do not constitute non-violence. However, in accepting the premise that the discussion is about the legitimacy of Palestinian tactics, and not Palestinian intentions, they have abandoned the central point - Palestinian aggression or resistance, of any sort, violent or otherwise, to the existence of the State of Israel, and the security of its citizens, is inimical to peace, and thus unacceptable.

Growing Palestinian enchantment with non-violent tactics has less to do with their bloodless consequences than failure to achieve results through traditional violent means. Having failed in rallying the Arab and Muslim worlds to destroy the State of Israel, militarily defeated in two Intifadas and last year's disastrous war in Gaza, and with no realistic prospect for challenging the IDF for another century, the Palestinians could be excused for exploring alternative avenues of remaining at war with the Jewish State.

Yet, the goals have not changed - victory over Israel, rather than a revelry in the success of non-violence. If it had been violence which succeeded, then violence would be cheered in the streets of Ramallah. The focus on the methodology of Palestinian “resistance”, and not its goals, is irresponsible. Yes, non-violence is infinitely preferable to bloodshed. Does that mean that those who preach the non-violent destruction of Israel are to be supported, merely because they choose one methodology in achieving unjust aims over another? Do non-violent tactics legitimize sinister intent?

For true advocates of a two state solution, the ultimate goals should be an end to Palestinian rejectionism to partition, an end to outstanding claims and final settlement. The only thing we’re witnessing is a shift from a violent war, which has decisively failed for the Palestinians, to the non-violent, legal and political challenge to Israel’s security, and ultimately, its existence. Those now egging the Palestinians on to find their inner Ghandi are wrong to qualify a Palestinian shift in tactics, but not objectives, as progress towards peace.

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