[….] “A consensus has been building over the last few years that the Palestinians need to recover the First Intifada’s model of (largely) non-violent mass mobilisation: a model that led to the recognition of the PLO by Israel, and which was later applied with even greater success in the Arab revolutions. In the early days of the Second Intifada it was almost impossible to speak out against the armed struggle unless you wanted to be called a collaborator. Advocates of non-violence such as Mustapha Barghouti and Hanan Ashrawi, who pointed out that the armed struggle played to Israel’s advantage, appeared to be out of step with the people.
Things have changed now. Suicide attacks on buses and restaurants in Israeli cities made it easier for Israel to equate the Palestinian struggle with jihadi terrorism, and Palestinian society paid a steep price in lives and infrastructure. After the rocket attacks of 2008 more than a thousand Palestinians were killed under Israeli bombardment in Operation Cast Lead – a ‘victory’ Hamas can’t afford to repeat. Mass, non-violent mobilisation, meanwhile, has revealed its power, not just in Tunis and Cairo, but also in Palestinian villages, where local people organised into ‘popular resistance committees’ have been fighting the confiscation of their farmland by settlers and by Israel’s so-called security fence. The popular committees have given people a taste of their own power, and in a few places they have forced Israel to move the wall a little closer to the 1967 lines; the victories are small, and often fleeting, but to Palestinian farmers they make a difference. [….]
If you want to beat Mike Tyson, you don’t invite him into the ring, you invite him to the chessboard,’ Husam Zomlot, the brash young deputy of Fatah’s Department of Foreign Relations, explained to me. ‘On Nakba Day a thousand people marched to Qalandia. Once we manage to get 100,000 people marching there, let’s see what Tyson will do. Will they use a nuclear bomb? Will they use their F-16s?’ Zomlot, who grew up in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza before studying at Birzeit University and the LSE, talks about strategy as if he were a sports coach. The ‘time of negotiations’, he claimed with obvious (though perhaps premature) relief, is over: even Abbas, he said, has realised that negotiations can go nowhere so long as Israel refuses to reach a deal based on the 1967 borders. Having withdrawn from negotiations, Zomlot continued, the PLO’s plan is to pursue a long-term strategy of non-violent resistance on two parallel tracks: mass protests in villages and at checkpoints and settlements; and diplomatic and economic pressure tactics such as the statehood declaration at the UN and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, a movement launched in 2005 by a broad coalition of Palestinian NGOs in the West Bank. BDS, inspired by the boycott of apartheid South Africa, is aimed not only at Israeli products but at institutions ranging from companies that supply weapons to the IDF to – more controversially – universities and cultural organisations; it has attracted increasing support among activists in the West, particularly on university campuses. The Israeli government has responded with a fierce international campaign, claiming BDS is an effort to ‘delegitimise’ the Jewish state; in his speech on the Middle East, Obama adopted the same language.” [….]
Full article: Adam Shatz, “Is Palestine Next?” London Review of Books, Vol. 33, No. 14 (July 2011).
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See too Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi’s blog.