Palestinians Have the Right to Resist Occupation by Any Means, Even Non-violent Ones

The Violence Debate

As a Western supporter (non Muslim/Arab) of the Palestinian cause, I have always find it rather difficult to talk (let alone to advocate) about how best Palestinians can resist occupation, especially when this occupation is usually extremely violent and genocidal at times.

Ramzy Baroud’s restrained criticism of Western and some other willing peace teachers, has prompted me to introduce a different point of view, which probably is much more common amongst Westerners than the Palestinians themselves would believe, although the mainstream media, as it happens with many other issues, have successfully managed to keep under a lid.

War in Iraq and Afghanistan are just two outstanding examples. It does not matter how many Westerners speak out and demonstrate against Western intervention (read aggression) in those countries. It does not matter that international law (let alone pure and humble common sense and humanity) prohibits wars of aggression and occupation. The fact is that Western presidents and parliaments “democratically” invade and withdraw as they see fit, “democratically” they are not held accountable in court for these crimes, and their victims are either dead of left to their own devices, also “democratically”.

As Westerners are almost daily fed by the media with news and “analysis” about Palestinian violence, any social sciences high school student who hits the street and asks pedestrians if they are against Palestinian violence, will find that 90% of the interviewees answer yes.

If the question changes to: if you were under a most violent military occupation, would you defend your family and countrymen with an appropriate resistance? If interviewing in France or Yugoslavia: would you consider the anti-Nazi resistance fighters criminals or heroes? In Spain: were the Spanish guerrillas who fought against Napoleon invading army national heroes or bandits? Of course do not ask Vietnamese, Algerians or Lebanese about their own heroes unless you want your homework to fail.

Those who agonise under the occupier know better than any Western politician, member of a non-governmental organisation, visitor to Palestine, peace lover, and obviously undercover Israeli/US agent in peace-conversations disguise, how to survive and overcome a criminal occupation.

Only Palestinians (as any other victim of a similar aggression) are entitled to decide how to resist and to get rid of Israel (or any other occupier).

The role of the Palestinian supporter and indeed of the human rights and democracy supporter, is to side with the oppressed and oppose the oppressor.

Any other position is tantamount to siding with the oppressor against the oppressed and hence to share some of its responsibility in the crime.

Palestinian supporters should never fall in the Zionist — and its Western supporters — traps, amongst them what they call the Palestinian “violence”. There is not Palestinian violence after more than 60 years of ethnic cleansing and the appropriation of Palestinian land, 40 years of military occupation, almost 20 of peace conversations with the result of thousands of Palestinians killed, maimed, robbed, imprisoned, while the whole international community keeps on condoning the aggressor and twisting the Palestinians’ arm to make them accept all that and be prepared to live on charity until they abandon their cause for good.

What Palestinians do is to defend themselves. What others should do is to support their right to defend themselves in a way appropriate to the magnitude of the aggression they are being subjected to for generations and with no end in sight.

Of course this right applies to any other people under aggression and occupation in this criminal and cruel international political system of the XXIst century.

What about international law? Should Palestinians be encouraged to disregard it?

First of all, it is rather shocking to see that well-known international ngos, think tanks and other groups are strict about Palestinians complying with international law, peace conversations regulations, truces and so on so forth. Of course, they also demand the same to Israel, what else could they do while dealing in a “balanced” way with a much more powerful side?

It is shocking because not a single UN resolution, international convention, treaty, covenant, peace process or whatever, has been able to prevent an Israeli soldier to freely shoot at a Palestinian child, demolish his/her house, expel his/her family, steal his/her land… during the last 63 years. I very much doubt that if the advocates of complying with international law whatever happens were the parents of that child, they would be so keen of international law.

The problem for the supporter of justice in the Middle East — and indeed in the world — should not be that the Palestinians could be disregarding it while defending themselves against the Israeli occupation, but that this law has proven useless for the victim, or rather lethally detrimental.

Because of this, it is totally unfair to tie the Palestinians with it, because it is like placing a rope around the neck of the black trying to escape from a white gang lynching.

It is high time for Westerners to shake up the Zionists propaganda and to call a spade a spade. There is violence in Palestine and it is Zionist violence. Palestinians have every right to fight against this violence with any means appropriate to the aggression they undergo and without interference from peace (although obviously not justice) lovers.

* I borrowed from my friend Santiago Alba the sentence “the Palestinians have a right to resist occupation by any means, even non violent ones”. This shows the trap which Westerners have fallen into while dealing with the Palestinian conflict.

Agustín Velloso is Professor of Education Sciences at the National Univeristy of Education in Madrid. His English version of this article was revised by toni solo. Read other articles by Agustín.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Mireille Parent said on October 26th, 2010 at 7:26am #

    Thank you Agustin. I always know I’ll hear something honest from you.

  2. bozh said on October 26th, 2010 at 7:30am #

    Augustin, yes to ur thoughts. very briefly: amounts to sensationalism sans causationalism; thus not only not contributing to an elucidation, but, in fact, having a vitiating effect; thus, allowed and welcomed by the greatest criminal minds.
    Will such behavior ever end? In allowing this, what does modern mafia know that i don’t? But am forced to guess it: It being a + to their cause!

  3. Rehmat said on October 26th, 2010 at 6:38pm #

    Palestinian, Kasmiris, Chechen, Lebanese, etc. all has the right to resist the foreign occupiers of their lands by every possible means available – under the teachings of all major religions and the international laws.

    On June 1, 1947, when Mahatma Gandhi in response to the question, “What do you feel is the most acceptable solution to the Palestinian problem?” – had replied: “The abandonment wholly by the Jews of terrorism and other forms of violence” – quoted in Dr. Norman Finkelstein’s new book This Time We Went Too Far.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/2010-international-conference-on-palestine/

  4. hayate said on October 27th, 2010 at 12:04am #

    “It is high time for Westerners to shake up the Zionists propaganda and to call a spade a spade. There is violence in Palestine and it is Zionist violence. Palestinians have every right to fight against this violence with any means appropriate to the aggression they undergo and without interference from peace (although obviously not justice) lovers.”

    Exactly.

  5. mary said on October 28th, 2010 at 1:54pm #

    Shimon will not be happy.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/africa-mideast/israel-shedding-allies-as-government-goes-from-bad-to-worse/article1762791/

  6. mary said on October 28th, 2010 at 3:16pm #

    Haneen Zoubi the outspoken member of the Knesset is shot in the back with rubber bullets.

    http://www.redress.cc/palestine/jcook20101029

    ‘Jonathan Cook reports on the shooting in the back of Israeli Arab
    MP Haneen Zoubi by Israel police who used special paramilitary forces against an Arab demonstration provoked by ultra-right-wing Jewish extremists staging a march through an Arab town in northern Israel.’

    Q. Why do Redress use the word Arab and n0t Palestinian?

  7. mary said on October 30th, 2010 at 8:50am #

    US Palestinians converging to help shape homeland’s future
    Andrew Dalack, The Electronic Intifada, 29 October 2010

    When activists from across the United States convened in August 2008 for the US Palestinian Community Network’s first Popular Conference, few people knew what to expect. …

    USPCN realizes that there are elements of our community who desire to separate — politically and physically — Palestinians in the West Bank from those living everywhere else. Such an attempt represents a betrayal of the Palestine liberation movement, the Arab national struggle and the trust of millions of Palestinian refugees anxiously awaiting the opportunity to return to their homeland freely. “Peace” negotiations that exclude not only specific Palestinian political parties, but also the voice of the majority of our people, have always failed, and will continue to fail as long as such talks undermine Palestinian unity by propping up an undemocratic Palestinian Authority that works virtually at the behest of Israel. This year’s slogan — Palestine: One Land. One People. One Destiny — challenges us to recognize that our organizing in the US is essential in achieving the Right of Return for all refugees and their descendants, the end of Israeli occupation and colonization and self-determination and liberty for the Palestinian people.

    http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11596.shtml

  8. mary said on October 30th, 2010 at 8:52am #

    US Palestinians converging to help shape homeland’s future
    Andrew Dalack, The Electronic Intifada, 29 October 2010

    — popular.palestineconference.org —

    When activists from across the United States convened in August 2008 for the US Palestinian Community Network’s first Popular Conference, few people knew what to expect. The energy at the conference was palpable as organizations, individuals and families from our communities across the country, as well as solidarity forces allied with our cause, came together to participate in healthy discussions, necessary debates and to study our victories and failures to help strengthen the ongoing movement to realize justice in Palestine.

    This weekend in Chicago, the second Popular Conference for Arabs and Palestinians in the US promises to continue to push our movement forward. After more than six decades of colonization, forced dispossession, home demolitions, occupation and apartheid, Palestinians remain steadfast in their refutation of the Israeli assertion that “The old will die, and the young will soon forget.” Students, youth, elders, women, men, professionals, artists and workers will convene in order to continue to build strong institutions that represent all Palestinian and Arab social sectors. Through these institutions, the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) continues to develop a representative national body of Palestinians and Arabs capable of and empowered to unify our voice and affirm the right of the Palestinians in exile to participate fully in shaping Palestine’s future.

    This conference has dozens of leading Palestinian and Arab grassroots organizers, activists and educators leading workshops and panel discussions. It includes tracks and Palestinian Movement Assemblies (PMAs) for women, civil and national rights, and students and youth, respectively; as well as a focus on boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) organizing and the institutionalization of our work. These will culminate in a participatory General Assembly, in which a USPCN plan of action for the next period will be drafted.

    In an effort to create an environment that encourages conference participants to explore and celebrate the Arab and Palestinian culture, the conference also features an evening of music and song with the world-renowned Marcel Khalife, poetry from Tahani Salah, hip-hop from Excentrik, a bazaar with merchandise and literature from and about Palestine, and a children’s track with educational activities and a performance by the Olive Tree Circus. We will also hear from Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Knesset and survivor of the vicious Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla’s Mavi Marmara, and Ghassan Ben Jiddo will broadcast Al-Jazeera’s Hiwar Maftuh (Open Dialogue) live from the conference.

    USPCN realizes that there are elements of our community who desire to separate — politically and physically — Palestinians in the West Bank from those living everywhere else. Such an attempt represents a betrayal of the Palestine liberation movement, the Arab national struggle and the trust of millions of Palestinian refugees anxiously awaiting the opportunity to return to their homeland freely. “Peace” negotiations that exclude not only specific Palestinian political parties, but also the voice of the majority of our people, have always failed, and will continue to fail as long as such talks undermine Palestinian unity by propping up an undemocratic Palestinian Authority that works virtually at the behest of Israel. This year’s slogan — Palestine: One Land. One People. One Destiny — challenges us to recognize that our organizing in the US is essential in achieving the Right of Return for all refugees and their descendants, the end of Israeli occupation and colonization and self-determination and liberty for the Palestinian people.

    http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11596.shtml