Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I am in no position to comment on what the most effective form of resistance to occupation should be in Palestine, but I'm always disgusted with the adulation that the Western press give to "non-violent" forms of resistance. "Turning the other cheek" has long been the tool of the missionaries who justified the occupation of the dark mans land, whilst resistance is frowned upon as "irresponsible" somehow. This theme is buried deeply in much Western discourse and always emerges when required. Martin Luther King is the first 'hero' we are conditioned to think of when we think of the civil rights struggle in the United States, but Malcolm X is given a darker air, he's called extreme, because he spoke to the oppressor in a language that was understood.


boxthejack said...

Why? Because violence brutalises the perpetrator, and begets only violence; because nonviolence can involve the vulnerable and 'weak' rather than excluding them; because violence humiliates the oppressor; because nonviolence levels the playing field and avoids a cycle of injustice.

What has violent resistance achieved in Palestine, or even arguably in apartheid South Africa, other than a realisation that nonviolent direct action works better? Seeing as you linked it, just look at the profile of Nil'in just now. Compare this to the bulldozer attack. Which achieved more?

Check out MEND and Ciaron's blog for more.

"Turn the other cheek" was not a statement of "lie down and die". On the contrary, it was compelling the Imperial soldier who had just backhanded you to highlight their insult by coming again. You could, alternatively, punch the soldier in the face, and in so doing you'd 'lose'. An interesting article on this here.

Wassim said...

It is in punching the imperial soldier, knowing what will happen to you regardless, which is the victory, not in turning the other cheek. The person who would be ashamed to hit you again would also be ashamed to hit you the first time. Believing otherwise is not only naive, but criminal when faced with occupation and aggression.

boxthejack said...

I disagree (with a certain humility born of living in Scotland amidst the plunder of centuries of imperialist violence).

But it's not about shame - it's about how victory is best achieved. Victory is a peace comprising two things: justice and a lack of violence.

Violent resistance feels better, and is easier (providing you have a weapon), but is in itself defeat of sorts. It is an outcome of oppression. It is certainly a surrender of one's dignity and humanity, and therefore hands victory to the oppressor.

I lived briefly in Nablus where this was borne out by the facts: those who craved revenge were the worst off of all; those who extended a middle finger to occupation by replanting a bustan or opening their shop during a curfew - these people had already won.

What's more it's empirically hard to argue that violence is more effective than nonviolence. You talk of a straw man nonviolence: passive and impotent. I talk about a victory hard won, wherein the medium is the message.

To say the oppressor chooses the nature of the struggle is to be half defeated already.