By World BEYOND War, October 9, 2023
Needless to say, the horrors underway in Palestine and Israel did not just begin and trace their roots to the Nakba and to the criminal violence that has not ended since then. It’s very necessary to add that nothing excuses the violence committed by Hamas. The Israeli government has not chosen to learn that its violence may produce more violence. Hamas has not chosen to learn that its violence may produce more violence. It’s very necessary to be mature enough to know that those two obvious facts do not somehow make far larger violence “equal” to far smaller violence.
In the first Palestinian intifada in the late 1980s to early 1990s, much of the subjugated population effectively became self-governing entities through nonviolent noncooperation. In Rashid Khalidi’s book The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine, he argues that this disorganized, spontaneous, grassroots, and largely nonviolent effort did more good than the PLO had done for decades, that it unified a resistance movement and shifted world opinion, despite co-option, opposition, and misdirection by a PLO oblivious to the need to influence world opinion and utterly naive about the need for applying pressure on Israel and the United States. This contrasts sharply with the violence and the counterproductive results of the Second Intifada in 2000, in the view of Khalidi and many others. We can expect counterproductve results from the latest attacks on Israel as well.
The threats from Israel and the United States are not of police actions or justice or defense, but of escalations of the ongoing, illegal, genocidal assaults that never end on the people of Palestine. Everyone from Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch to Israel’s B’Tselem has concluded that Israel is engaged in enforcing Apartheid. A new escalation in the attacks on Gaza will benefit no one at all. Attacks on populations violate the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter, the Kellogg Briand Pact, and much else. Were the United Nations to have listened to the President of Ukraine a week ago and tossed out the veto power, then that body would be able to act in protection of Palestinians’ rights. Instead, it is permanently prevented by the permanent veto threat of permanent Security Council member, the U.S. government.
The U.S. government does a lot more than provide legal and diplomatic cover for the brutal occupation. It provides the weaponry, and it does so for free, as a massive gift to the Israeli military and to the openly racist rightwing government of Israel. That government has now threatened to tighten its seige on the world’s largest concentration camp, Gaza. And the U.S. has announced plans to send more of its own military to the region.
The challenge to everyone on Earth in these moments is to not think childishly, to not figure out which side to entirely condemn and which to entirely praise. The enemy, as always, is not a group of people, not the people of Gaza, not the people of Israel, and not any government. The enemy is warfare. It can only be ended by advancing superior alternatives. The challenge falls first and foremost on the people of the United States and of every nation whose government falls in line and does the bidding of Washington. It is time for us to say NO to any more weapons and any more support for the occupation.
Instead of starting more wars around the world in the name of “democracy,” the U.S. government needs to nonviolently support the establishment of democracy in its own country and in Israel, as well as in Ukraine, and in all the nations of the world. Here are tools with which to begin the process of coming to a wiser understanding of war: