The Flotilla and Nonviolence

[tweetmeme] I am a firm believer that any Palestinian state will be the result of a powerful campaign of non-violence and that resistance through violence is only going to justify brutal Israeli policies aimed at maintaining peace in Israel.  The Flotilla of aid ships that tried to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza (one of those brutal policies) was certainly aimed at being a display of non-violent resistance and it generally had the desired effect: the world is now questioning the blockade.  The actions of the activists defending the ship against the IDF certainly wasn’t non-violent – and Israel is more than happy to point this out (even though there are report varying reports of who shot first).  If sticks can threaten the legitimacy and power of the Flotilla, imagine what a larger violent actions could do.

What must be avoided at all costs is a violent response by any party as it would only serve to undermine the cause of the Flotilla.

That said, I was disheartened to see an editorial in the Kuwaiti Al Qabas paper (via Nick Noe) wondering why Nasrallah and Hezbollah are not using their powerful missiles to defend the Palestinians – or at least retaliate for the Israeli attack.  An attack by Hezbollah over the Flotilla would be a tragic strategic blunder in so many ways.  It would take international attention away from the disproportional use of force on civilians by the IDF; it would completely undermine the peace process (if that process is still alive); and it would turn international anger away from Israel and onto Hezbollah.  Oh right, and it would start a regional war.

From the editorial:

“When a disaster takes place, we find that Hassan Nasrallah and his likes do not defend the Palestinian people. Days ago, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah appeared with his threats against Israel saying that he will destroy the Israeli battle and commerce ships with his missiles…when a disaster occurs, we find that Nasrallah and his like do not defend the Palestinian people and do not dare to confront  Israeli aggression and do not use the weapons and missiles that they pretend to own and that can hit the depth of Israel. These are empty words and a trade on the part of Hassan Nasrallah of the type “the elephant went into labor and gave birth to a mouse.”

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3 thoughts on “The Flotilla and Nonviolence

  1. Very true, far from being a PR coup for the Palistineans, the violence is a total gold mind for Israel.

    Whats the need for propoganda about violent lying terrorists masked as activists when you can make a real life video of it with a horrible soundtrack?

    1. I am not sure the events last Sunday can be considered a PR coup for the Palestinians or a gold mine for Israel. There are competing reports about what actually happened. What is clear is that the activists used violence (perhaps retaliatory, perhaps throwing the first stone) and the IDF over-reacted.

      As far as Israeli actions, the situation should have never unfolded as it did. The IDF should have planned an entirely different approach to the boats – following standard naval protocol of a shot across the bow and disabling the engines. Dropping commandos from the helicopters was an unnecessarily dramatic and risky operation that backfired. The result of which has brought the world’s attention to the Israeli use of force (disproportional response) once again and has lead many to question the morality and effectiveness of the blockade.

      On the activists side, obviously using wooden clubs and plastic chairs to fight the IDF goes against the tenets of non-violence. If they had remained non-violent and, for example, physically prevented the commandos from reaching the cabin in order to redirect the ship, the IDF would have an even worse black eye.

      As events actually transpired, I would be inclined to say that despite the IDF video, there is enough anger and enough skepticism of the Israeli narrative to that the activists probably ‘won’ this PR battle.

      That being said, I have tried to use relatively neutral language in my posts – refraining from calling the activists ‘terrorists,’ the events ‘a lynching’ or the killings ‘a massacre.’ By using such charged language (as you do), you are removing yourself from actual debate surrounding what happened and what should happen. Using ‘violent, lying terrorists’ to describe the people aboard the boat, for me at least, removes all credibility from your argument. I agree that the fighting by the activists gave Israel some political cover, but outside of that I feel as though we are on two different wave lengths. You are resolutely pro-Israel and (it seems to me) will refuse to even entertain the idea of Israeli error. I completely support the right for Israel to defend itself, but it should not have to resort to rhetorical distortions to justify itself.

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