Peace builders and figures of Resistance against Israeli occupation in Palestine


The Jewish community has given the world great spiritual men and women, scientists, inventors, psychologists, sociologists, pedagogues, writers and artists.

Throughout their history, the Jewish people suffered unjust persecutions (accused of spreading the Black Plague, discriminations, evictions, expropriations, torture, executions) by the Catholic Church starting in the 4th Century, and namely during the crusades and the Spanish Inquisition; by the Muslims, the Orthodox, nationalists (Russian pogroms in 1880-1920 : 60 000 dead, in Lithuania, Syria, etc.), and by the communists.

Hate and folly hit their paroxysm during the Holocaust (“catastrophe” in Hebrew) that took place during the Second World War : the Nazi regime massively exterminated 6 million Jews (representing 2/3 of European Jews and circa 40% of Jews worldwide).

How is it possible that the State and majority of Israelis (75% Jewish) can treat the Palestinian people with so muchcontempt and inhumanity ?

Israelis have taken over most of Palestine’s territory :

  • first, upon the creation of the Israeli State in 1948, whichdid not respect the plan drawn up by the UN in November 1947 ( the Nakba : Arabic for “catastrophe”)
  • later, during the 6 day war in 1967.

Israel continues to evict Palestinians from their land, implanting Israeli colonies in Palestinian territories (see maps below), rounding them up in ghettos or behind walls, depriving them of access to water, from their freedom of movement, has established a maritime blockade on Gaza and teats Palestinians living in East-Jerusalem as second-class citizens.

In this context, it is remarkable to observe the absence of hatred and the globally nonviolent attitude of Palestinians, except when called to act violently by their leaders or parties, for instance during the second Intifada.

Of course, there are Palestinian extremists who negate the Holocaust, who refuse the Israeli people’s right to exist, who commit suicide bombings, rocket attacks.

But foreign visitors are struck by the patience and hope that inhabits this despised population, by mothers who ask their sons not to throw stones at Israeli soldiers, by farmers who replant the olive trees pulled out by Israeli troops, who rebuild their destroyed houses, by old wise Men who say “There is enough room for two people.”

This Palestinian nonviolence also worries the hardest of Israeli leaders, who do not hesitate to evict nonviolent Palestinian leaders (for ex. Mubarak Awad).

The Israeli assassination, on 22 March 2004, of Hamas spiritual leaders Sheikh Ahmed Yassine (image above), as he had been multiplying particularly constructive declarations compared to the traditional speech held by his organisation, probably had for objective to multiply more and more deadly Palestinian kamikaze operations, that would justify the military occupation.

Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell supports that Israeli secret services help set up Hamas, in favour of military action, to tarnish the authority of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), open to dialogue.

In front of one of the most powerful and trained armies in the world, Palestinian rebellion has, for the last 60 years, both failed and been a mistake.

Nonviolence implies not only refusing committing attacks and using of weapons (be they rockets sent on Israel by Hezbollah or bombings), but also refusing the throw stones.

This “tension releaser” – understandable, namely for young people – is a sign of resistance. But it also a danger for the police and army men aimed at. It can only reinforce the victims’ and Israeli population’s adherence to the security-driven governmental politics. It gives Israel the justification to violently repress and enclose in ghettos.

What to do then? The Palestinians are the ones who will find the solution, together with their Israeli allies opposed to this occupation and the established apartheid.

Regular campaigns for civil disobedience (a day every 3-6 months), gathering Palestinians and Israelis in Palestine, Gaza, Neguev Bedouins : for instance, thousands of demonstrators attempting to pass check-points in a nonviolent way.

These campaigns, articulated with a BDS campaign (Boycott, Disinvest, Sanctions) could be powerfully mediatised by the press and Palestinian and Israeli Diasporas throughout the world.

They would contribute to balance the powers on both sides of the scale, and to make an equal negotiation possible for both parties.

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The people presented in these slides are in favour of comprises that allow for a peaceful cohabitation of both communities, and are opposed to anything that would make discussions difficult or impossible, such as new colonies.

Many of them are in favour of nonviolent action, to put pressure and eventually force to rebalance the powers and make a negotiation possible.

  1. Introduction : What strategy?
  2. 1900-1949
  3. Since 1950