Sunday, March 8, 2009

Non-Violence in Palestine and Israel

I often hear questions like: "why don't the Palestinians choose non-violence as a strategy?" This always stimulates a lot of thinking since I don't know of any people who have. Indians didn't. Ghandi did and achieved a huge following -- until the Pakistan-Indian split and his own violent death. Americans didn't either. Ever. Even African-Americans. MLK did and achieved a huge following -- until his own violent death. Both those landmark movements gathered critical mass and made history. But none was the choice of an entire people. So the answer to the question above is simply, "because no people ever do - we're just to dumb for this as the human race."

A more interesting question then becomes, "how are non-violent movements and efforts faring in Palestine and Israel?"

Here are two stories from yesterday about non-violence in Palestine (click here and here); and one link to an exciting Israeli group in Sderot (click here) - I visited them yesterday and will tell you more about it soon. (Finally, you can access Sami Awad's blog through the links on this page -- always a mine of inspiration about Palestinian non-violent struggle.)


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1 comment:

Alexis said...

Ya Elrig, this is perhaps the crux of the disconnect between your idealism and reality: (re: choosing non-violence) "...I don't know of any people who have". You posit that the basis for this apparent oversight of billions of people and an eon of time is being "too dumb for this" as a general race. Obviously, being stupid, uneducated or dumb is a condition that can generally be fixed. It is natural to see, then, that the solution to this ill is education, involvement, and most importantly government intervention by the elite smart people - the educated who know better, and have chosen a path of non-violence.

I remember reading a novel when I was a kid. At some point, one of the characters proclaims that "Christ came to save people from their ignorance". Semantically you might be able to pull an orthodox understanding of human nature and Christ's mission from that line, but it would require mental gymnastics I'm not limber enough for. Point being, the fatal human condition is not ignorance, it's a base sin nature. By logical extension, there thus exists evil in this world; sometimes that evil is not satiated by contrite prose or a friendly handshake.

It is this basic understanding of human nature that colors your response to a myriad of the world's problems. If our chief condition is ignorance, then that condition can be fixed and man quite nearly perfectible - those who can't be fixed can be controlled for the betterment of society. If "fixing" is possible, why not opt for social constructions and governmental structures that strive to create what has never before existed: so-called cosmic justice? Why not relegate to the dustbin of history capitalism, which has its antiquated, foundational understanding of the nature of man in self-interest? Educate, perfect and replace.

History did not end in 1991. Rather, it resumed again just as it has since the dawn of time. As humans, we can fix certain problems. Mitigation of human nature is the best we can hope for.