In Defense of Non-Violence

I’m writing this in response to an article in last week’s Haaretz entitled ‘Palestinians’ doomsday weapon, non-violence, fails test’. It’s a better article than the title might lead one to believe and accepts an important underlying premise: that non-violence from the Gaza Strip would be a serious blow to the Israeli government. However, the article does make a couple of significant errors which I hope to correct now:

  • The article wrongly suggests that the increased rocket fire out of Gaza last week was in response to the non-violent protest at the border. In fact Israel’s General Yadlin has pointed out that rather it was a direct result of assassinations of several key Hamas military experts
  • The theme of the article is that we have no clue what the Israeli military strategy to counter non-violence is, and that they probably don’t even have one

It is this later claim that I wish to discuss, because it is this later claim which misinterprets the entire strategy of non-violence and leads to the article’s false conclusion that non-violence has simply failed of its own accord.

Rather, we know precisely what strategy the Israeli military employs in response to non-violence, because it is the only strategy available to it. Indeed it is the only strategy militaries ever employ in response to non-violence, and we saw it clearly this weekend.


Seeing the path of non-violence to its necessary conclusion is not easy for precisely this reason: that every act of non-violence defiance is met with an act of increasingly disproportionate violence in the hopes of realizing a violent response and vindicating the claim that the posture of non-violence is an insincere one.

Today, Israeli ground forces begin their pullout from the Gaza Strip. The mainstream press treats this as a response to international condemnation for the large civilian death toll. Hamas sees it as vindication of their violent resistance and claims ‘victory’. But both of these are mistaken. Israeli troops are leaving the Gaza strip because they achieved their goal: they provoked a response.

It takes a very special brand of determination to see non-violence through in the face of attacks on soccer-playing children and troops marching through suburbs killing civilians. Yet it is precisely this determination which must follow, if those deaths are not to be in vain.

The people of the Gaza Strip must hold firm in their resolve for non-violence. They must make it clear to the Israeli military that they will not be swayed, nor will they respond violently. They must leave the Israeli government with only two choices: acquiescence or committing genocide. And despite what Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister or anyone else may say, they must remain confident that Israel cannot choose the latter.

This weekend may have been a setback for non-violence, but it is nothing resembling failure. Non-violence remains not just an option for the Palestinians in the face of occupation, but at the end of the day, the only one.

49 thoughts on “In Defense of Non-Violence”

    1. Hamas tried the non-violence approach for over a year and they were offered nothing.

      1. Israel is lot like Adolf’s Germany.
        Orgy of genocide over helpless Palestinians will go on until new Evil Empire destroys itself and is unable to finance crusade against Muslims any longer.
        Palestinian Liberation Army has the right and DUTY to RESIST genocide against its people INMHO.

  1. Excellent post.

    I would add that, in the history of the world, it would appear that many often yield to the temptation to use violent resistence when nonviolence would be far better.

  2. I contend that if the Palestinians had adopted a plan of non violent civil disobedience, similar to Gandhi or the Rev. Martin Luther King, they would have had a state of their own long ago.

    So why don’t they do that? Because unlike Gandhi or Rev. King, they look to a holy book, the Quran, that tells them violence is just fine and dandy. They look to radical Nazi like leaders that think the killing of innocent people is a virtue that gets you into paradise. They are brainwashed and immersed in a death cult. A cult so perverse, so deviant, that mothers are more than happy to see their children immolate themselves and die in an effort to kill others. Until we can get rid of this mentality, how can there be peace?

    1. Tim,

      Your comments fly in the face of the history of religion-associated violence. I will skip the horrors of the crusades or the inquisition and come to a more fundamental aspect of Judaic belief. To find one of the earliest and most ruthless examples of using religion for acts of wars, aggression, genocide, and ethnic cleansing, one has to go no further than the Book of Joshua in the so-called Holy Bible! It is the story of one massacre after another by a supposed God’s “chosen people”, a supremacist racist concept if ever there was one. Unfortunately, both Christians and Muslims have adopted this alien potentate who is by his own description, intolerant, jealous, vindictive, ruthless, genocidal and goes by the name of Yahwe or Jehovah, as their God.

      1. Stanley Laham raises an excellent point. He says the Islamic faith is no more violent than the Jewish or Christian faith and uses the book of Joshua for evidence.

        Let me say this, I find the massacres in the book of Joshua to be appalling and morally repugnant. With that being said, however, the massacres committed by Joshua in the Old Testament were limited in time and scope and were committed by a primitive people over 3,300 years ago. Sadly, such things were not so uncommon back then. And yes, Christians did some awful things during the Crusades–although the crusades were really a response to Muslim aggression. But my point is that Jews and Christians have progressed a great deal since the time of Joshua or the time of the Crusades.

        Also, if you read the words of Jesus and compare them to the words of Muhammad, the difference is most striking. The Quran talks about acting with “hardness” towards enemies and attacking them until they are killed or subjugated. Jesus tells us to love our enemies, pray for them, turn the other cheek. You don’t see a distinction here?

        The fact is, Jews and Christians have come a long way. Catholic priests don’t burn people at the stake anymore, and Orthodox Rabbis don’t stone people to death for being gay. Can the same be said of many Muslims? Have they similary progressed? And, indeed, how can they progress when liberal multi-culturalists say there is nothing wrong with their outlook?

        The Quran basically says, “convert to Islam, be subjugated to Islam, or die.” Those are your three choices. Do Jews and Christians say that today? You don’t see any distinction? How can Muslims modernize and progress if some folks don’t even want to admit that they continue to believe in some truly barbaric things?

        For more on Islam today, see “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam,” or “The Truth About Muhammad” both by Robert Spencer.)

        1. In answer to your question, yes, many Muslims–most, in fact–have ‘progressed,’ if by this you mean ‘do not hold the extreme views held by past generations of their religious tradition.’ You consistently lump social and political violence with religious zealotry, and then overgeneralize from the result. Of course there is a distinction to be made between the teachings found in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. But the inference from that difference to the real world behavior of Muslims and Christians is tenuous at best.

          The validity of your read on what the Quran “basically says” notwithstanding, its contents are no more of an index to modern Muslim beliefs and practices than the Bible is to modern Christian beliefs and practices. Even if Islam were an inherently violent religion–and most actual scholars of Islam disagree with that interpretation–it doesn’t mean that most Muslims are violent. Just like the inherently humble nature of Christianity doesn’t mean that some Christians aren’t hateful bigots. (bigot, n., a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.)

        2. Weston writes:

          “Even if Islam were an inherently violent religion–and most actual scholars of Islam disagree with that interpretation–it doesn’t mean that most Muslims are violent.”

          Correct, it does that necessarily mean that. However, when you look at the themes of depravity, violence, torture, homophobia, racism and blood lust that appear throughout the Quran, and then you couple that with the fact that over 90% of all terrorist acts are committed by Muslims, a logical inference can be drawn. Moreover, when Bin Laden and the Islamo terrorists themselves, in their OWN words, use the Quran as the justification and motivation for violence, is it not logical to began to wonder whether or not this religion is as “peaceful” as it purports to be?

          And one more question: Why is it so politically incorrect for me to even inquire as to what I see as the correlation between violence and Islam? Why can’t people ask questions and have a debate without being called all sorts of names? It is interesting that some people resort to insults rather than having an honest debate.

        3. Tim, your “logical” inference neglects the fact that 90% of all terrorist acts being committed by Muslims is consistent the most Muslims being non-violent. All you have to see is that all those terrorist acts might be committed by a very small group of extremists.

          This also explains what is “politically incorrect” about your screed. No one, at least no one here, believes that you shouldn’t “inquire” into whatever correlation you so desire. But your foolish inference from the claim that “Muslims are responsible for most terrorism” to the claim that “most Muslims are violent,” coupled with your failure to recognize other possible causes for the alleged correlation, alongside your refusal acknowledge present and historical Christian violence, indicates, among other things, that you are less interested in discovering actual correlations than you are in attacking a particular ethnic group.

          Sorry if the definition of the word “bigot” hurts your feelings.

        4. And on a less civil note, you f*ing hypocrite, I find it a little irritating that when I use the term “hateful bigot” to describe people who are “utterly intolerant” and, well, “hateful” towards others, I get the “aww, why can’t we all just have a civil debate” line from the guy who goes around saying Palestinians are “brainwashed,” “barbaric,” and “immersed in a [perverse and deviant] death cult.”

        5. Weston, by the way I never said that most Muslims were violent. Re-read my posts, I NEVER said that. I think most Muslims are not violent. Most Muslims are not terrorists. However, most terrorists are Muslim. See the difference?

          And by the way, let’s say that 90% of Muslims are peaceful, loving and decent people. What about the other 10%? Do the math. A small percentage of a large number is in itself a large number. 10% of 1.2 billion is 120 million. That means by conservative estimates there are about 120 million radical violent, Bin Laden loving, Muslims running around. To give you some perspective: That is twice the entire population of France, four times the poplulation of Canada, or six times the population of Australia. A pretty signifcant threat if you ask me!

        6. Tim,
          I wonder why so many christians have continued to live in many muslim countries,their churches still standing to this day even after the attrocities of the Christian crusaders.Why were not they forced to convert as you would have us believe.Your sources are very suspect and have no interest in truth.But no matter what the facts are ,that would not stop you and the people you base your information on from presenting falsehood as fact.Truth to you is what you wanted to be not what it is.

        7. In October 2007, Robert Spencer attended a controversial conference in Brussels, Belgium entitled “Counterjihad Brussels 2007”.[28] The conference was sponsored and attended by far-right and Nazi-inspired European political parties, including the Vlaams Belang and Sverigedemokraterna. Vlaams Belang is the successor party to the Vlaams Blok, a political party that was completely banned by the highest court of Belgium for being racist.[29] The Sverigedemokraterna has been considered a fringe party too close to neo-Nazi parties in Sweden.[30]

          After receiving criticism, Spencer said he disavowed all neo-Nazis and racists present at the conference, and claimed he was unaware of their presence,[31] although sponsors and speakers at the conference were clearly identified.

        8. Salem,

          Do you deny that according to strict Sharia law, a non-Muslim has three options: Convert, be subjugated to Islam as a “Dhimmi” and pay tribute, or die. Do you deny that?

        9. Tim R. said, “However, most terrorists are Muslim. See the difference?”

          Tim McVeigh, Eric Rudolf, the Unibomber, the KKK, the Army of God, the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, the SLA, the IRA, the Contradoras, the Shining Path, FARC, Irgun, Stern Gang, Haganah, the Bush-Cheney cabal, etc. None of the above are Muslim terrorist groups. There are many more non-Muslim terrorist groups, but I think I’ve made my point.

        10. I need to add that the point of my post above is not to defend Islam, but to dispel the notion that the US was targeted by terrorists because of their religion. The US was attacked because of the actions of our amoral, meddlesome, murderous and greedy government.

        11. Tim, if you are not making the claim that most or even a significant percentage of Muslims are terrorists, then I don’t see how anything you’ve said supports the view that Islam in general, rather than the violent interpretation adopted by a minority of extremists, has anything to do with terrorism. Perhaps you were not saying that most Muslims are violent. Here is what you did say:

          let’s say that 90% of Muslims are peaceful, loving and decent people. What about the other 10%? Do the math. A small percentage of a large number is in itself a large number. 10% of 1.2 billion is 120 million. That means by conservative estimates there are about 120 million radical violent, Bin Laden loving, Muslims running around.

          I realize it’s a hypothetical. But you’re using it to support the view that the threat posed by… who? All Muslims? Clearly not. The religion of Islam? The remains to be seen. Muslim terrorists? That’s not a controversial point. Let’s do the math. Consider another hypothetical.

          Suppose, contrary to fact, that 1 million acts of terrorism are committed every year (that would be about 2800 per day, which is insanely high, but I’m inflating the numbers to make your argument even stronger than it would otherwise be). Suppose, also contrary to fact, but in line with your assertion, that 10% of all Muslims are terrorists. This would mean that on average, every single one of those acts of terror would involve at least 120 Muslims who were not also involved in other attacks.

          In reality, the number of terrorist attacks is much smaller, which means that in order to make anything like the claims that you are, you’d need either to posit that each act is carried out by separate consipiracies comprised of hundreds of Muslims, or you need to reduce the percentage of all Muslims you think are involved in terrorism.

          The numbers turn out to be only slightly less ridiculous, by the way, if you assume that even 1% of all Muslims are involved in terrorism. More likely–to the point of certainty–given the actual number of attempted and successful terrorist attacks that happen, and given that many terrorists probably participate in multiple attacks, the percentage of Muslims involved in terrorism is vanishingly small. Certainly nothing like the number you’d need to support your “pretty significant threat.”

          The point is this. Nobody denies that there are Islamic terrorists. Few deny that there are more Islamic terrorists than other kinds of terrorists. But to generalize from that to the idea that Islam, as it is actually practiced by actual Muslims, is a violent religion is simply false.

    2. So Tim R thinks Muslims are messed up coz their “mothers are more than happy to see their children immolate themselves and die in an effort to kill others”. This could refer to the US armed forces too. Oh no wait a minute…when “civilised” nations do it it’s called “nation-building” or “planting the seeds of democracy”.

      ps. I would like to see a cessation of all violence in historical Palestine but I’m sure MANY more Palestinians (not all muslim too) would die because it is in Israel’s interest to keep the conflict going and avoid settlement (but continue building “settlements”).

    3. Tim,

      Christians are a vital part of the Palestinian violent movement. From leaders like George Habash (the pioneer of Palestinian violence) to the schoolchildren who started the original intifidah, Christians have been on the anti-Israel front lines.

      Most Palestinian priests also openly support the “resistance” — have you heard any condemnations of Palestinian violence and support of Israel from Bethlehem, or even the Vatican for that matter? The Catholic Church has been quite supportive of their Palestinian flock, and Palestinian rights in general, over the years.

      That’s aside from the question of how a Nazi-like death cult can grow to 1.4 billion members, contribute significantly to science and mathematics, shelter Jews during the Crusades and the Inquisition, and even have a Congressman from their ranks. But then, true believers like you can always rationalize away reality and justify the one side of the violence.

      Please, continue to post. Your views represent a tiny minority of Americans that we hardly ever hear from nowadays, having even been rejected by George W. Bush and John McCain.

    4. What about the US Marine or US Army death cult?

      I see ads on TV from alleged parents of new marine or army recruits, talking about how “proud” they are of their children’s (possible) self-sacrifice.

      Look in the mirror before labelling others!!

    1. I was referring to the original post, of course.

      To reply to Tim R.’s post, it is true that religion can give one the moral right to conduct violence. However, it is no way Islam’s fault that Palestinians lost their homeland. And Islam is no more or less “death cult” than Christianity is. Comparing the number of deaths and aggressions over history, Christians have been far more bloodlusty than Muslims. How many times Muslims have invaded the West? And vice versa?

      1. George asks: “How many times Muslims have invaded the West?”

        Well, the followers of Muhammad began a period of wanton aggression around the year 632, just after their prophet’s death. They marched on and invaded many lands over the next hundred years. They went all the way into Spain and even France before the aggression of this “peaceful” religion was finally stop by Charles Martel and his army in 732.

      2. Just like you would expect, that neocon troll “Tim A” refers to an event from 1300 years ago.

        Nothing gets in the way of human civilization and advancement than these phony intellectuals who can justify today’s policy based on the actions of strangers who died 1300 years ago.

        The fact is that the “Christian” world has shown incredible barbarism to all brown, black, yellow-skinned peoples who have had the temerity to assert that they should not be subjugated to the white man. Africans, american indians, vietnamese and koreans and chinese, and for 60+ years now, Arabs.

  3. @Tim R

    you would do many of us here a wonderful service and just go away somewhere else with your posts given your anti-reality views — PLEEEAAASSEE do us this favor and JUST GO AWAY – you are sick and need professional mental help with your paranoid delusions

  4. I don’t think it was careless that an Israeli deputy defense minister threatened a holocaust in Gaza. That was meant to alarm and provoke Hezbollah into doing something that will–like in 2006–give Israel an excuse to bombard Lebanon again, this time with US warships off the Lebanese coast. This time, as Justin Raimondo points to in his latest column, the goal won’t be to destroy Hezbollah so much as to provide an excuse for going to war against Syria and then Iran with the US providing the firepower.

    Am I mistaken? I’m interested in others’ views on this.

    1. How I wish you were wrongFan of Raimondo and Garris. I still crazily fear that April, or a bit earlier, will the time IsraelUSA attacls Iran. Now, my question is, how many of us humans will respond. Speculation, anyone?

  5. Hey!I’ve got a sensational idea.

    If every commenter who disagrees with our resident idiot Tim R (Not to be confused with our other resident idiot Army Wife)stopped responding to his absurd comments, he just may tire of sending them! and perhaps go away forever.

    Give it a go! It may just work.

    1. Maybe he has a history here that I am not aware, but it seems harsh to call him an idiot. I don’t agree with his post, but I thought there were some thoughtful and informed replies to what he wrote.

    2. I like people like Tim because I derive amusement from his long-winded responses to very simple queries. This only highlights the intellectual vacuity of what he’s trying to say.

      I’ve suspect that his day job may depend on the government, on the continuation of conflict, or both. Or he may just he a computer, given his predictability. Don’t let him bother you — his type is simply in the last throes, if you will, of mainstream hate.

  6. Just as a matter of interest,

    In the next 24 hours or so the “Cost Of War” will tick over to


    Five hundred thousand million dollars (American)

    You have to ask youself how much health care to the lower income earners, the disabled etc. could have been provided with just a portion of that obscene amount.

    Half a “Trillion” dollars!!!

    Wake up America “kick the bastards out!

      1. By Ralph Nader of course. Let’s see how he compares with the other candidates we’re left with. What has he done for us?

        Better air to breathe, cleaner water to drink, safer beef and chicken to eat, seat belts and collapsible steering shafts to survive car accidents, freedom to seek information from government, the indictment of a corrupt FTC, and innumerable other services to the public. But most important, most crucial, most refreshing, most different from all the others is that he has been INCORRUPTIBLE for 43 years!!! And he has never double-talked. That is something in the USofAs.

      2. Any One exept the current administration. It could not be any worse can it?

        I repeat “just kick the bastards out”

        It’s just that simple!!

    1. That is a vast underestimate. At this point, at least two trillion in direct costs (the money has already been borrowed) and perhaps three trillion. Plus the dollar is collapsing.

      With indirect costs perhaps twenty trillion, if it stops tomorrow.

      Further the war in Iraq was directly responsible for the collapse of sub-prime, through high fuel and food costs,and that is just the canary in the mineshaft.

      The economy has been in recession for at least three years.

      As leading economists now begin to admit recession, it is already much closer to a full-fledged depression.

      1. Every official admission of a pimple masks a boil, and every admission of a boil that of a cancer.

  7. Palestine was the most peaceful place for centuries, Palestinians didn’t even know how to fight and were easily driven off by zionist terrorists from their homeland. It is Israeli occupation and the coercive techniques used by Israel that has taught the Palestinians to be strong and stand up for their rights. Compared to Israel’s violence — bombing, firing, bulldozing — whatever the Palestinians are doing is really not much violence at all.

    1. For many centuries it was a place where Jews, Christians and Muslims lived in peace. Hard to imagine now, isn’t it?

  8. If Martin Luther King or M.Ghandi were Palistinians, they would have been killed long ago by the Mossad.

    1. You know jack, there is a possibility that King was terminated by the FBI and Ghandi by MI6. The Brtish, for all their phoney admiration of Ghandi, were adamant in dismembering India into three pieces, something he was as adamantly opposed to and may have prevented had he survived. The founder of Pakistan was as British as you could get.

  9. In his above piece, Jason Ditz is very naive about the resolve of Israel to racially cleanse itself of the non-Jewish in it or its occupied properties. I am sick to heart at the refusal of the rest of the world to properly respond to evil Israel.

    1. I could scarcely agree more with this comment. Humanity’s collective capacity for rationalizing, even extolling, the suffering and destruction of its own never ceases to amaze me. No wonder extraterrestrial life has avoided contacting us thus far. Just what is wrong with Homo Sapiens?

  10. Tim,
    you keep brinning up sharia law ,a very immense body of laws open to many interpetations as any law,and hardly can find any muslim country that is following now days, and do not tell me about Iran or suadi arabia.I tried very to find a muslim country nowdays where christian are forced to choose either to convert ,pay jizzia,or be kiled but I could not find any!But in the bible people were not given a choice at all. In Samuel 15:2-3, the Lord orders Saul to kill all the Amalekite men, women and infants.
    In Numbers 31, the Lord tells Moses to kill all the Midianites, sparing only the virgins!
    In Deuteronomy 13:6-16, the Lord instructs Israel to kill anyone who worships a different god or who worships the Lord differently!
    In Luke 19:22-27, Jesus orders killed anyone who refuses to be ruled by him.

    you need to broaden your mind and stop basing you informationonly on dishounest sources that have clear baises aginst Islam.This would be like garbbage in, garbbage out.

    By the way,Do you have a choice between paying taxes or not?

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