None Too Soon
Jonathan Freedland suggests that for Palestinians the power of mass non-violence would be undeniable.
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Charles Johnson - 2/21/2008
It is not as if this has never been tried before.
When the First Intifada broke out, the PLO was in exile in Tunis, and in the absence of their militaristic posturing, the small-scale, freestanding popular committees that coordinated most of the anti-Occupation activism spent the first few years of the Intifada focusing overwhelmingly on nonviolent forms of resistance, among them burning identification cards, opening schools in defiance of military curfews, boycotts, general strikes, and refusal to pay taxes. The response from the IDF was relentless and punitive, with many of the committee leaders thrown in prison on sentences of up to ten years, and their money, land, and property confiscated. (Not surprisingly, the attacks on tax resisters, such as the committees based out of Beit Sahour, were especially harsh.) And, at the end of it all, here we are.
I think that the virtues of nonviolent resistance are very often underestimated or flatly ignored, while the effectiveness of violent resistance is all too often overestimated, and its terrible costs either ignored or, worse, romanticized. I think that more focus on nonviolent civil disobedience and direct action would probably make a worthwhile contribution to the Palestinian freedom struggle. But we should certainly remember that these strategies have already been used in the past, on a mass scale, and they didn't make victory actual, let alone undeniable, then. We should not not pretend that nonviolent strategies would make even moderate success undeniable now, either.
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