West Must Recognize Peaceful Palestinian Resistance Movement
West has been largely silent on Palestinian nonviolent resistance,
which is unifying groups like Fatah and Hamas. Unless the West
recognizes these peaceful initiatives, some Palestinians may question
whether civil protest is any better than its violent alternative.
By Sarah Marusek / June 7, 2012 , the Christian Science Monitor
border police detain a Palestinian demonstrator during a protest June 5
in the West Bank city of Hebron, marking the anniversary of the 1967
Middle East War. Op-ed contributor Sarah Marusek observes: 'While in
the past many Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon have supported the
path of armed resistance to fight for their rights, today they are
peacefully taking to the streets.' --Darren Whiteside/Reuters
Some ask why the Palestinians seem to have been left behind in the so-called Arab Spring. In fact, they have not.
in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and throughout the Middle East
region have been engaging in nonviolent resistance over the past year.
But the Western media have been largely silent in their coverage of
this remarkable movement, which is unifying groups as disparate as
Fatah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and The Popular Front for the Liberation
Unless the West recognizes these peaceful
initiatives, some Palestinians may question whether nonviolent civil
resistance will be any better than its violent alternative.
current nonviolent resistance movement in the region – known as the
Arab Spring or Arab Awakening – can, in fact, be connected back to the
struggle that started in the Palestinian territories in 1987.
American University of Beirut Professor Rami Zurayk notes, “the Arab
uprisings have of course taken their inspiration from the [first]
Palestinian intifada.” However he clarifies that the reverse is also
true: There is “a constant feeding in from the Arab uprisings to
Palestine and from Palestine to the Arab uprisings.”
Lebanon, the diplomatic Israeli-Palestinian peace process embraced by
the West has never been very popular. According to the leaked
“Palestine papers,” Palestinian negotiators were willing to concede the
right of return, recognized by UN Security Council resolution 194, to
all Palestinian refugees but a select 10,000. One should not be
surprised that this concession was unpopular here; over 400,000
Palestinian refugees are registered in Lebanon alone.
reaction to this and other developments has shifted in recent months.
While in the past many Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon have
supported the path of armed resistance to fight for their rights, today
they are peacefully taking to the streets.
The new wave of
Palestinian non-violent civil resistance in Lebanon started last year
on the anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” to commemorate the
expulsion or fleeing of around 700,000 Palestinians from their land in
1948. On May 15, 2011 more than 50,000 Palestinian refugees
gathered in a non-violent demonstration near Lebanon’s southern border
with Israel. Since then, Lebanon’s Palestinians have been regularly
organizing peaceful sit-ins and demonstrations, demanding civil rights
in Lebanon (which they lack) and the right to return to their homeland.
while the Palestinian Authority’s recent bid for statehood at the
United Nations generated a lot of Western media interest, that same
media are not reporting on the Palestinians’ peaceful protests in
Lebanon, and were mostly silent when Hamas leaders in Gaza issued a
declaration last December that “violence is no longer the primary
option” for the party’s resistance against Israeli occupation.
around the same time, the Western media also largely ignored
Palestinian Khader Adnan’s hunger strike to protest against the Israeli
policy of “administrative detention” – holding Palestinian prisoners
indefinitely without trial or charge. Reports about the hunger strike
only started to appear in February when Mr. Adnan was close to death.
Subsequently, at least 1,600 more prisoners joined the hunger strike,
with several approaching death.
Richard Falk, the UN special
rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, criticized the lack
of response from Western governments, media, and even the UN itself.
Since then, Egyptian mediation negotiated a deal where Israel agreed to
meet some of the prisoners’ key demands, ending the hunger strike for
most, although several prisoners have continued their protest.
the spring, there was a frenzy of non-violent events in the region
showing solidarity with the Palestinian hunger strikers. On March 30 an
unprecedented series of peaceful demonstrations were organized in the
Palestinian territories and the neighboring countries of Egypt, Jordan,
Lebanon, and Syria, under the banner of the Global March to Jerusalem.
And then on May 15, people came out into the streets once again to
remember the Nakba.
All of the major Palestinian parties are
coordinating these activities, including Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad,
and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The US considers
the latter three terrorist groups.
As with the hunger strikes,
the Western media are largely ignoring the remarkable fact that these
three parties are now actively embracing non-violent resistance to
achieve their political goals. But even when Hamas recently leaked to
the press that the party is conducting secret talks with several
European governments, the Western media barely noticed.
danger is that Western silence – in the media and in government – on
this peaceful movement will undermine the effectiveness of the
Palestinian protesters. What good is peaceful protest if it is not
recognized or engaged?
In a recent op-ed, Nobel Peace Laureate
Mairead Maguire and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan argued that the
international community must give Palestinian non-violent resistance a
chance. They are right. The only problem is that we first need to know
that it exists before we can encourage it.
Sarah Marusek is a
member of the International Central Committee of the Global March to
Jerusalem and is a social science doctoral candidate at the Maxwell
School of Syracuse University. She is in Lebanon on an International
Education Graduate Fellowship for International Study to research
is a partial list of organizations that have endorsed the Global March
to Jerusalem. It includes those that are based or have a significant
presence in North America, and are either participating in the
organizing of the North American contingent of the GMJ or have been
invited to do so. If your organization wishes to endorse and/or
participate in the organizing, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For organizations outside North America, see www.globalmarchtojerusalem.org.
- A.N.S.W.E.R-Act Now to Stop War & End Racism - Coalition
- Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
- American Indian Movement - West
- Bay Area Women in Black
- Birthright Unplugged
- Canada Palestine Association
- Canada-Palestine Support Network
- Canadian Arab Federation
- Canadian Boat to Gaza
- Canadian Peace Alliance
- Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
- Centre for Research on Globalization
- Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
- CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine & Israel
- CODEPINK Women for Peace
- Existence is Resistance
- Freedom Socialist Party
- Free Palestine Committee, National Lawyers Guild
- Free Palestine Movement
- Friends of Sabeel - Hawaii
- Friends of Sabeel - North America
- Friends of Sabeel - Northern California
- General Union of Palestinian Students - San Francisco State University
- Global Exchange
- Hamilton Coalition to stop the War
- Hilton Head for Peace
- Independent Jewish Voices
- International Committee, National Lawyers Guild
- International Socialist Organization
- International Solidarity Movement Bard College
- International Solidarity Movement Northern California
- Intifada Tent - Occupy Oakland
- ICAHD USA
- Leadership Team of Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, MN
- Middle East Childres's Alliance
- Middle East Crisis Response
- Middle East Study Group
- Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA) York University
- Muslim American Society Immigrant Justice Center
- North Coast Coalition for Palestine
- Our Neighbors in Palestine
- Palestine House
- Palestinian American Congress
- Palestinian Association of Brantford
- Palestinian Association of Hamilton
- Resource Center for Nonviolence
- San Jose Peace & Justice Center
- Science for Peace
- South Alameda County Peace & Justice Committee
- Students for Justice in Palestine - UC Berkeley
- United Progressives
- U.S. Dominican Palestine Coordinating Committee
- Voice of Palestine
- Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club
is a list of indivduals who endorse the Global March to Jerusalem.
Additional endorsements are welcome and may be sent to email@example.com.
- Dr. Amir M. Maasoumi
- Ann Wright, United States Army colonel, ret.
- Benjamin Monnet, World Assembly Member, USA/Korea
- Clayborne Carson, Professor & Director, Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University
- Cornell West, Professor of African American Studies, Princeton University; Philosopher, writer and Civil Rights Activist
- David Hartsough, Director, Peaceworkers, San Francisco
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu
- Rev. Dr. Dorsey Blake, Presiding Minister, Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, San Francisco
- Edward Peck, Retired US Ambassador and career US Diplomat
- Professor Francis A. Boyle, University of Illinois College of Law
- George Galloway, British Member of Parliament
- Dr. Ghada Karmi, Co-Director, Centre for Palestine Studies, University of Exeter
- Dr. Hatem Bazian, Senior Lecturer in Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley
- Izzet Sahin, International Affairs Secretary, IHH
- Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Pastor Emeritus, Trinity Church of Christ, Chicago
- Joe Meadors, Veteran and Survivor of the 1967 Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty
- Dr. Judith Butler, American philosopher and Professor, University of California, Berkeley
- Lauren Booth, English broadcaster, journalist and pro-Palestinian activist
- Fr. Louis Vitale, Order of Franciscan Monks; Pace e Bene; nonviolent resistor
- Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, American rabbi in the Jewish Renewal movement
- Mairead Maguire, , Nobel Peace Laureate
- Marcy Winograd, Los Angeles teacher, peace activist and former candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives
- Medea Benjamin, Co-founder Code Pink and Global Exchange
- Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian democracy activist and former presidential candidate
- Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor and Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT
- Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University
- Roger Leisner, Radio Free Maine
- Ronnie Kasrils, South African ANC leader and cabinet minister
- Samuel F. Hart, U.S. Ambassador, ret.
- Susan Abulhawa, Palestinian-American author and Founder of Playgrounds for Palestine
- Tariq Ali,
British Pakistani military historian, novelist, journalist, filmmaker,
public intellectual, political campaigner, activist, and commentator