By Agustin Velloso
(A contribution to Ramzy Baroud’s The Violence Debate.)
As a Western supporter (non Muslim/Arab) of the Palestinian cause, I have always find it rather difficult to talk (let alone to advocate) about how best Palestinians can resist occupation, especially when this occupation is usually extremely violent and genocidal at times.
Ramzy Baroud’s self-restrained criticism of Western and some other willing peace teachers, has prompted me to introduce a different point of view, which probably is much more common amongst Westerners than the Palestinians themselves would believe, although the mainstream media, as it happens with many other issues, have successfully managed to keep under a lid.
War in Iraq and Afghanistan are just two outstanding examples. It does not matter how many Westerners speak out and demonstrate against Western intervention (read aggression) in those countries. It does not matter that international law (let alone pure and humble common sense and humanity) prohibits wars of aggression and occupation. The fact is that Western presidents and parliaments "democratically" invade and withdraw as they see fit, "democratically" they are not held accountable in court for these crimes, and their victims are either dead of left to their own devices, also "democratically".
As Westerners are almost daily fed by the media with news and "analysis" about Palestinian violence, any social sciences high school student who hits the street and asks pedestrians if they are against Palestinian violence, will find that 90% of the interviewees answer yes.
If the question changes to: if you were under a most violent military occupation, would you defend your family and countrymen with an appropriate resistance? If interviewing in France or Yugoslavia: would you consider the anti-Nazi resistance fighters criminals or heroes? In Spain: were the Spanish guerrillas who fought against Napoleon invading army national heroes or bandits? Of course do not ask Vietnamese, Algerians or Lebanese about their own heroes unless you want your homework to fail.
Those who agonise under the occupier know better than any Western politician, member of a nongovernmental organisation, visitor to Palestine, peace lover, and obviously undercover Israeli/US agent in peace-conversations disguise, how to survive and overcome a criminal occupation.
Only Palestinians (as any other victim of a similar aggression) are entitled to decide how to resist and to get rid of Israel (or any other occupier).
The role of the Palestinian supporter and indeed of the human rights and democracy supporter, is to side with the oppressed and oppose the oppressor.
Any other position is tantamount to siding with the oppressor against the oppressed and hence to share some of its responsibility in the crime.
Palestinian supporters should never fall in the Zionist -and its Western supporters- traps, amongst them what they call the Palestinian "violence". There is not Palestinian violence after more than 60 years of ethnic cleansing and the appropriation of Palestinian land, 40 years of military occupation, almost 20 of peace conversations with the result of thousands of Palestinians killed, maimed, robbed, imprisoned, while the whole international community keeps on condoning the aggressor and twisting the Palestinians’ arm to make them accept all that and be prepared to live on charity until they abandon their cause for good.
What Palestinians do is to defend themselves. What others should do is to support their right to defend themselves in a way appropriate to the magnitude of the aggression they are being subjected to for generations and with no end in sight.
Of course this right applies to any other people under aggression and occupation in this criminal and cruel international political system of the XXIst century.
What about international law? Should Palestinians be encouraged to disregard it?
First of all, it is rather shocking to see that well-known international ngos, think tanks and other groups are strict about Palestinians complying with international law, peace conversations regulations, truces and so on so forth. Of course, they also demand the same to Israel, what else could they do while dealing in a "balanced" way with a much more powerful side?
It is shocking because not a single UN resolution, international convention, treaty, covenant, peace process or whatever, has been able to prevent an Israeli soldier to freely shoot at a Palestinian child, demolish his/her house, expel his/her family, steal his/her land, during the last 63 years. I very much doubt that if the advocates of complying with international law whatever happens were the parents of that child, they would be so keen of international law.
The problem for the supporter of justice in the Middle East -and indeed in the world- should not be that the Palestinians could be disregarding it while defending themselves against the Israeli occupation, but that this law has proven useless for the victim, or rather lethally detrimental.
Because of this, it is totally unfair to tie the Palestinians with it, because it is like placing a rope around the neck of the black trying to escape from a white gang lynching.
It is high time for Westerners to shake up the Zionists propaganda and to call a spade a spade. There is violence in Palestine and it is Zionist violence. Palestinians have every right to fight against this violence with any means appropriate to the aggression they undergo and without interference from peace (although obviously not justice) lovers.
– Agustin Velloso is a university lecturer in Spain. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.