Palestinians Try Nonviolence; Will They Stick With It?

Two articles recently, one in the Wall Street Journal and one in the NY Times (by Thoughtbasket plagiarist Nicholas Kristof), both discussed nascent efforts by Palestinian activists to use non-violence as a tactic against Israel, departing from the usual Hamas trope of violence against Israeli civilians and military targets.

As the WSJ article notes, violence clearly hasn’t worked for the Palestinians. “‘When we use violence, we help Israel win international support,’ said Aziz Dweik, a leading Hamas lawmaker in the West Bank.” Well, duh. The amazing thing is that Hamas is still using the same violent tactics that have clearly proven ineffective. It’s as if they’ve never bothered to examine their own history. Or, frankly, any other history. Because generally speaking, violent separatist movements don’t work very well. Why doesn’t Hamas go talk to the folks from the Tamil Tigers, or the Shining Path, or FARC, or the IRA? Those guys tried violence for decades, and it mostly got them killed or jailed. None of those movements achieved their aims.

Or, the Palestinians could look at political movements that did work, in India or Poland or South Africa or the American south. These movements were all built on non-violence. Moreover, they were all led by paragons of non-violence: Gandhi, Lech Walesa, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, respectively. Who do the Palestinians have? Yasser Arafat. You can see their problem. Had the Palestinians spent the past 15 years sitting peacefully in front of Israeli bulldozers instead of throwing rocks and shooting rockets, they would probably have their own state now. Instead, Hamas is the worst enemy the Palestinians have.

And yes, I know all these situations are more nuanced than I make them out to be. The ANC did use violence, and the IRA now has seats in Parliament. And the greatest independence movement of all, the American secession from England, was indeed violent. Of course, nothing is black and white. But the general trend is clear. For the past century, non-violent movements have been more successful than violent ones. If they Palestinians really want a state, rather than just wanting power, or wanting to kill Jews, they should follow Gandhi’s lead, not Arafat’s.


One response to “Palestinians Try Nonviolence; Will They Stick With It?

  1. Will they stick with it?

    Those practicing nonviolent tactics will stick with it, and some more will join them. This is a newer movement, that will grow somewhat before plateauing.

    And it’s safe to predict that many of those using violence will continue using violence. Like some Israelis do.

    And some will be conflicted, wavering between both tactics. That’s how transitions to nonviolence usually happen.

    A problem will arise when violence is used to declare that “the Palestinians have given up nonviolence.”

    Violence by Israeli settlers is almost never used to declare that “the Israelis have given up nonviolence.” We have no trouble remembering that there is a peace movement in Israel.

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