Palestinian non-violence

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Tue Oct 24 09:57:21 PDT 2000

Doug Henwood wrote:

> Max Sawicky wrote:
> >It doesn't matter whether the Palestinians think what
> >they are doing is non-violent. What matters is what
> >others think. N-V is a political act aimed at changing
> >the minds of others. If others are not impressed,
> >you're doing it wrong.
> Does nonviolence depend in part on the exhaustion of your opponents?
> Wasn't the British empire near the end of its life in India? In the
> U.S. south, wasn't the local elite under attack from the federal
> government and national opinionmakers? Israel, however, seems in a
> most uncompromising mood, and has forever.
> Or am I reading history wrong?

Though Hannah Arendt may not be the best source for this, I think I remember her quoting various people (former British civil or military authorities) who said that the "non-violent" protests in India could have been defeated by selective use of administrative massacres. Arendt's particular point was that England did not have that strategy available because England was a democracy. The United States has proven over and over again its willingness both to use administrative massacres as a tactic or strategy *and* to provide cover for such use by its allies or dependencies. There is a more or less prima facie case that a *strategy* of non-violence (as with Gandhi or King) will be utterly useless to the Palestinians, though as a tactic non-violence is *always* potentially useful (it was used by the Vietnamese even at the height of the military conflict, and was one of the 'causes' of U.S. atrocities in that war.)

As a general principle, non-violence is worse than useless -- it is an evil.


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