Here are several items that are right on the mark about the present situation here:
(1) Thanks to a link on Dion Nissenbaum’s blog, Checkpoint Jerusalem, one can find a gem of a paragraph posted on 30 March on Richard Silverstein’s blog, taking serious issue with what he calls a “fantasy” of Gershom Gorenberg, who tried in an article entitled “The Missing Mahatma” to conjure up the image of a Palestinian Ghandi who could solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by stopping the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory through non-violent resistence.
But first, a bit from Gorenberg, who is co-author of the South Jerusalem blog here, and who wrote about a non-violent march of Palestinians from Ramallah who were intent on passing The Wall to be able to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of East Jerusalem [ I don’t think this is a new story by Gorenberg. I remember reading it (or something quite like it) a while ago]: “They filled the road to Jerusalem, a long procession of men, women, and children wearing white robes to show they were on a pilgrimage and that they had no pockets in which to hide weapons … The river of marchers streamed forward. From the troops came the voice of another megaphone, proclaiming ‘Halt!’ in Arabic and Hebrew. Al-Masri answered, ‘We come in peace to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque, as is our sacred right’. Soldiers lifted their guns. The sound of the first volley was dull thuds. Tear gas canisters fell on the asphalt. The wind scattered the white plumes. Gasping, the marchers kept advancing. Again came thuds, and rubber bullets showered the marchers … Lying on the road, the sheikh whispered to a follower, who spoke through the megaphone. ‘We will fast here’, he said, ‘until we are allowed to go on. We will testify to our faith’ … The number of journalists grew almost as quickly as the number of soldiers. Provided a laptop from the Palestinian neighborhood next to the road, a young marcher began a blog whose address showed up in agency reports … Al-Masri, whispering on the air in Hebrew he’d learned in prison, demanded free access to Al-Aqsa as the first step toward Palestinian independence alongside Israel … [After international intervention at the highest levels] Early on the third morning, a Friday, the Israeli cabinet met. Afterward, the brigade commander got orders to let the march proceed. Trucks arrived with food. Al-Masri’s followers lifted him onto a stretcher. At Qalandiya checkpoint, where the road passed through the Israeli security wall around Jerusalem, soldiers stood aside, watching the procession pour into the city. It reached Al-Aqsa in time for the sheikh to speak at noon prayers. News websites reported that the Israeli prime minister would address his nation before Sabbath began at sundown, amid rumors he would offer to meet the wounded sheikh to begin negotiations”. Gorenberg then goes on to discuss Mubarak Awad, and his disciple Nafez Assaily, and his nephew Sami Awad, and more. Mubarak Awad advocated non-violence, then became an activist: “he agreed to lead the villagers in taking down the fence, if they agreed not to bring guns or throw stones and not to run away even if shot at or arrested … By one account, 300 people showed up, confronting armed settlers. ‘We refused to run. We turned numb. We were hugging each other’, Awad says, recalling the strange ecstasy of the moment. The military governor arrived–and allowed the Palestinians to remove the fence”. In 1988, Awad was deported. The Gorenberg “fantasy” then turns into an interesting analysis of the first and second Palestinian intifadas and the Iranian revolution and the early Fatah and the more. He concludes by writing that “The first Israeli reaction to his [the future Palestinian Ghandi’s] acts of defiance could well be massive force. Yet if he stuck absolutely to nonviolent means, he could awaken a political storm in Israel. Today’s radical Islamicists would attack him, but Islam itself could provide the language to move people. His greatest challenge would be to redefine what it means to be a Palestinian. In a time of despair, like the current time, that might be possible”. This story can be read in full here.
Silverstein in his post, wrote that Gorenberg’s “fantasy” doesn’t have “half a chance in Hell of coming anywhere close” to being true. He says that “There is unfortunately no longer (if there ever was) an Israeli conscience regarding Palestinian rights or ending the Occupation. The Israeli left is either dead or in suspended animation. The values it used to represent are no longer ones embraced (at least consciously) by most Israelis. In short, it is simply impossible to rouse Israel’s conscience to the justice of the Palestinian struggle. As hard as it is for me as a progressive Zionist to write this, such a non-violent march as the one described by Gorenberg would be met with massive and lethal force. Scores, if not hundreds would die. Demonstrators would be scattered to the winds. The Israeli government would call them rabble-rousing Arab scum who entered a closed military zone in order to deliberately provoke the IDF to act. They’ll say they got what they deserved. And hardly anyone but the usual suspects within Israel will raise a peep in dissent”. This rebuttal can be read in full here
In today’s Haaretz, Gideon Levy wrote that “Our own Barak, Defense Minister Ehud, who used to be considered at least as brilliant as Obama, told Etgar Keret in an interview with Haaretz yesterday: ‘Where does the [Palestinian nation] live? In a cage? A jail? A swimming pool?’ And Barak’s own answer to this question: ‘It lives in its country’. After the prime minister’s top diplomatic adviser determined that two states is a childish solution, along comes another statesman and determines that we’re all children. Stupid children, it must be said, to whom you can sell any bit of nonsense, including all the nonsense in that interview. The Palestinians, who cannot travel from one village to another without permission from Israel, who have no basic human rights and who have been trampled underfoot, humiliated and imprisoned without any sign of sovereignty, are already living as a free people in their country. If the defense minister really thinks so, then there is grave cause for concern: Mr. Security is deranged and has lost touch with reality. If he doesn’t think so, then he’s messing with us. Which is worse? … An attempted attack by Palestinians on horseback, or maybe muleback, is depicted in the media as a prevented mega-terror attack, a consequence of the smuggling of sophisticated and advanced Iranian weaponry through the tunnels, which we are being told about in horror day and night. El Al is apologizing for having called the fence a ‘separation wall’, as though it were a department of the Foreign Ministry; the prime minister is saying that the demand to freeze natural growth in the settlements is ‘not fair’, as though it were possible to talk about fairness when discussing the settlements … [And] Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled (yes, he too is a minister) is proposing that Israel impose sanctions on the United States …” This piece can be read in full here.