Selective Support for Nonviolent Resistance

There has not been too much inspiring news coming from the American political establishment lately.  Obama throws in the towel on stopping settlements, Clinton announces to the world that the US will try nothing new, the House passes a resolution condemning unilateral Palestinian moves for recognition, and, of course, the shameful silence on the Israeli crackdown on nonviolent resistance leaders.  The last issue, of course, has to do with America’s inability or unwillingness to follow the rest of the Quartet in denouncing the unjust and illegal treatment of nonviolent resistance leaders.  This issue resurfaced once again recently when Mathew Lee of the AP pushed State Department leaders for days on why the US has said nothing on the issue (video above).

[tweetmeme] My favorite line? “Why is it beneath the United States to come out and say something about this person who is a practitioner of nonviolence?”  Of course, this is a legitimate question.  Why does the US treat Israel differently than, say Iran or China.  All three of these countries are actively trying to silence nonviolent resistance and opposition and the US only criticizes the first two.  While Lee deserves applause for his persistence and dedication to the issue (a dedication that could be damaging for his career), the silence of the US government is truly shameful.

I turn to Yousef Munayyer to put more articulately the hypocrisies in the American silence on the issue.  How can the US condemn violent resistance, encourage nonviolent resistance and still stand silent when those who take up nonviolent resistance are shot, beaten, imprisoned and silenced?

When an Iranian protester, Neda, was shot and killed last year, the world knew her name – so did President Obama. But most would be hard-pressed to name one of the many non-violent protestors in Palestine who have been arrested, beaten, shot or even bulldozed to death.

The international community has an obligation to Palestinian nonviolent activists. Leaders cannot simply call on Palestinians to abandon violence in the face of Israeli occupation and remain silent when the non-violent activists are politically repressed. This only reinforces the ideas that the use of force reigns supreme, and that Palestinians have no choice but to accept hardships at the hands of their Israeli lords.

Sadly, the same leaders who call on Palestinians to abandon violence have been silent in the face of Israeli repression. By condemning violent Palestinian resistance while remaining silent in the face of Israeli crackdowns and political arrests, they are simply endorsing violence against civilians by one side instead of the other.

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