Saturday, March 14, 2009

American citizen critically injured after being shot in the head by Israeli forces in Ni’lin

American citizen critically injured after being shot in the head by Israeli forces in Ni’lin by International Solidarity Movement.

For those who might not know, the International Solidarity Movement is a group of people from around the world who journey to Palestinian lands occupied by Israel in order to stand with the Palestinians in non-violent resistance to the occupation. In this case, several members of the ISM were with members of a Palestinian village that is having the Israeli wall built right through the middle of it.

This raises the question of how much can be accomplished by non-violent resistance. A couple of posts below, you'll find Dr. Martin Luther King's famous quote about violence. And that is a philosophy that I agree with. But, there also seems to be limits to what can be accomplished with non-violence.

In order for non-violent resistance to succeed, it appears that one of two things must occur. One is that the opposition must respect it and not respond with violence of its own. If you read this article, you'll find that four residents of this village have already been killed by Israeli forces. Also, over the years, this is at least the fourth member of the ISM to be either killed or to suffer serious injuries from Israeli violence.

The other way in which non-violence might be successful, even in the face of violent suppression, is if the citizens of the country or the world see the violence and object. This was the result of Ghandi's march on the salt mine. The marchers were violently beaten by the English military. But the citizens of England couldn't tolerate the news that their soldiers were viciously beating unarmed protesters. Likewise, Dr. King was successful with his non-violent resistance in the south because Americans of the 1960's objected to the images of police dogs and fire hoses being used on non-violent demonstrators.

Today, this has two problems. The independent news media that used to report on the violence used against non-violent resisters is no more. When hundreds of thousands of people go into the street to peacefully protest, it is ignored or derided in the corporate press. In this case, a visit to CNN shows stories like what Prince William feels on Mother's Day without Diana, but nothing about this story. A search on the name Tristan Anderson shows no stories on CNN at all about this.

And when the news does get through, like with Rachel Corrie, another ISM voluteer murdered by the Israelis while peacefully protesting home demolitions in Gaza, the people of both Israel and the United States seem not to care about the murder that is committed in their name.

What to do? Well, first off, the rest of us can try to raise our voices in protest. Even though its officially ignored, we must trust that it really isn't. One thing that is for certain is that the day before our final victory, the corporate media will be failing to report on that coming victory and it will be telling us that our cause is hopeless and doomed to defeat. Only after we win will we see the magnitude of our cause and our victory. We must continue to act trusting that what we do will be effective, and ignore the corporate voices that tell us its hopeless.

But beyond that, there rises a question of submission or violent resistance. If non-violent resistance is met with violence and murder, that's the only choice left. When people are pushed so far that their very survival is threatened. Or when people have strong moral beliefs that they must oppose evil, then submission is not a valid alternative. The only course left then is violence.

In some ways, that's what Dr. King is saying, but from the other side of the fence. When a government decides to meet non-violence with violence, it starts or continues a death spiral that leads to more violence on all sides.

If the governments of the US or Israel of the rest of the world expect the Palestinians to end their violence, then they must give the Palestinians non-violent alternatives. When non-violent demonstrators are shot down and killed, then violence becomes the only alternative.

Meanwhile, we must try to do whatever we can to let our governments know that this is not acceptable.

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