Sunday, June 06, 2010

"Operation calamity" and nonviolent resistance

The Sunday Times has a detailed report on what they call "Operation calamity" - the disastrous encounter between the Mavi Marmara and the Israeli commandos. (I'm rather suspicious of this report, however - some of the information clearly comes from public sources; they quote by name people who were on the Marmara and the other boats, and what they say matches the earlier reports. It's the other stuff that makes me suspicious - supposedly from the leader of the commandos, from commandos themselves, and inside information on the working of the Israeli command post during the seizing of the Marmara, as well as some psychological interpretation of the relationship between Ehud Barak and Bibi Netanyahu).

Bob Cargill has a really interesting blog post on what real nonviolent resistance is - Flotilla the Hun. He writes:
So what is to be done? How does one advocate for social justice in a place where the people are governed by terrorists? The answer is a nonviolent, humanitarian protest. It brings attention to Israel’s blockade policy, and delivers much needed aid to Gazan Palestinians, without allowing arms into Gaza. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do a nonviolent protest. Here’s a general rule of thumb:
If you’re going to participate in a nonviolent, humanitarian protest, it had better be both “humanitarian” and “nonviolent.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. did not attack the police officers who came to arrest him. Mahatma Gandhi did not beat the British soldiers who attempted to arrest him with metal pipes. The whole point of a nonviolent protest is to use your body in a peaceful protest to draw attention to a cause and to shame what the protester believes to be the offending party into rethinking and ultimately changing its policies. Reverend King’s nonviolent protests were instrumental in the American Civil Rights movement in the 60s. Gandhi’s protests helped bring about the departure of the British from India. Closer to my home in Fresno, César Chávez led nonviolent protests to bring attention to often invisible migrant farm laborers in the central San Joaquin Valley of California. Nonviolent, humanitarian protests must be just that: nonviolent and humanitarian.

1 comment:

  1. Rebecca,

    Regarding Mr. Cargill's statement, I think he is advancing contradictory propositions. It does no good merely to block Hamas rockets if Hamas remains committed to its agenda.

    Consider: the Israelis have two goals: (1) to keep Gazans from attacking Israelis and (2) to get rid of Hamas, because Hamas is an eliminationist, genocidal movement. How can a person who favors social justice fail to see the utility of a policy directed towards not only the first aim but the second aim? I do not get it. How does undermining part of the blockade advance the cause of peace? I think it does the opposite. It preserves the status quo ante, with Hamas free to poison the atmosphere of any rational effort to resolve the dispute.

    The evidence I know of showed and, may well still show, that Hamas's popularity has been plummeting. At least, that is what is shown in the polling I have seen. Presumably, part of the reason for that turn in popularity is that the Gazan know that their misery is tied somehow to the existence of Hamas rule. They certainly know that life in the West Bank is improving while their is not. And, presumably, the reason that Hamas operatives are trying to break the blockade is that such helps Hamas.

    Now, the Gazans may see hope with Hamas, thanks to so-called peace activists and Israeli incompetence. If, however, the Israelis keep to their original policy, the popularity fortune of Hamas may suffer further, since the hopes of escaping the blockade may be shown to be false, which would, as occurs in most political situations, tend to undermine popularity - hope dashed.

    So, I see a turning point here. If Hamas's strategy prevails, then Hamas could be seen as the hero and its popularity might skyrocket. If Hamas fails, the Hamas movement could suffer a serious blow.

    What is missing in the thinking of these so-called humanitarians is that Islamism is a revolutionary, eliminationist ideology. The demise of that ideology is, I think, a whole lot more important for the peace of the world than whether the Gazans have their day to day life eased. In fact, the demise of the Islamist movement could greatly improve the lives of Palestinian Arabs, not to mention the rest of the Muslim regions and the rest of the world.