Friday, November 12, 2004

 

Mark LeVine, on point once again

Mark LeVine has another great guest editorial on Informed Comment, in which he discusses what he calls the "myth of new beginnings" after the death of Yasir Arafat. Specifically, LeVine calls out the American pundits lauding this "opportunity" for the growth of a new Palestinian non-violent movement and leadership. LeVine writes:
As the Bush Administration and America’s pundocracy search for a new generation of pragmatic and non-violent Palestinian leaders, they should be heartened to know that they won’t have to look very hard to find them. But that’s because so many are either in the hospital, jail or exile. And like Arafat shriveling away in his besieged Muqata’a (which will now be his tomb), the Palestinian peace movement will continue to wither as long as Israel is more comfortable confronting Hamas than Ahmed Awad.
Ahmed Awad, whom LeVine refers to, is the founder of the non-violent Committee for the Popular Struggle against the Separation Fence. Recently he has been jailed by an Israel military court
on the accusation he constituted a “threat to security.” The judge who handed down the order hoped that his detention would lead him to “turn away from th[is] bad road with its unhappy ending,” although its hard to see whom his stated goal of “letting the world understand that there can be coexistence between us and the Jews” threatened.
It is vastly ineffective, defeating, and a bit hypocritical, for American pundits to call for a non-violent movement to emerge in Palestine, while refusing to support in any way those non-violent movements, groups, and activists that do exist. Non-violence doesn't exist in a vacuum. It is a tool to influence those with power to exert pressure on the source of oppression. If those with power do not wish to exert this pressure or, even, do not see the source of oppression as doing anything untoward, then non-violence in and of itself is of no use. Anyhow, read LeVine, he is more eloquent than I.

Comments:
Non-violence doesn't exist in a vacuum. It is a tool to influence those with power to exert pressure on the source of oppression. If those with power do not wish to exert this pressure or, even, do not see the source of oppression as doing anything untoward, then non-violence in and of itself is of no use.You're absolutely right. Non-violence only works when it brings attention and sympathy to a situation. It worked for Gandhi in India, Mandela in South Africa, and Martin Luther King in America because the world looked on in anger at how other human beings were treated.

Unfortunetly, too many western nations look at Muslims and Middle Eastern people as less than human. That's why Abu Ghraib happened, and that's why, when people see Palestinians running from helicopter fire with dead children in their hands, they are utterly indifferent. It's sad that we can simply write these people off as inhuman, evil, hate filled, terrorists and change the channel, so to speak.

People need to begin to understand their suffering and their pain, before they pay any attention to their struggle for non-violent change.

Hopefullly, that happens sooner rather than later.
 
Definitely. I agree 100%. The other thing that strikes me is that these pundits call for non-violence without acknowledging at all why it is that there needs to be a non-violent struggle. They do not acknowledge that Israel is doing anything wrong. Essentially, they are not calling for non-violent resistance, but non-violent obedience.
 
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