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Middle East Dialogue

Militarizing the Resistance

By Sari Nusseibeh, 10/23/2003,


What can militarizing the resistance bring us? We must address this question if we are to act responsibly. Otherwise we will allow events to control our destiny and will be no more than mere bystanders, observing events and developments as they bring forth disasters into our lives, blaming others for them.

If our goal from militarizing the resistance is to prove our solidity, it is firm through our steadfastness and rejection of what they try to dictate to us. Experience has shown that the logic of intensified retaliation as a preemptive measure can also be used by them, and they will retaliate in the same manner. If our aims are to get rid of their tanks and roadblocks, it has been shown that these weapons have been replaced by what is worse. If our aim is to elicit more flexible political positions from them, the complete opposite has occurred, and they have become more frightened and extremist. If our aim is to force them to withdraw or implement agreements, events on the ground don’t indicate progress in this direction, rather they become more entrenched in their positions than before. Finally, if we are hoping for external help none seems to be on the way.

So what is left is simply to fight them indefinitely or to seek to cause them harm, and feel satisfied that they cannot enjoy what they are doing, but without achieving real political results. What remains, in other words, is not a political program or a strategy to achieve a possible goal or serve the interests of the public. What remains, in fact, is that we surrender to a bitter reality even as we fill the sky with our gunfire.

Does this mean that we surrender and lay down our banners?! No, it means we need to reevaluate and to act rationally. The first thing we should do is to look at the two sides of the formula. This isn’t between two armies, but between an occupying army and a defenseless people, the majority of whom are unarmed, with no strategic depth for resources or equipment. We are not Algeria or Vietnam. From this we learn that however courageous and daring a military confrontation can be, it is a confrontation with instruments in which they have superiority. Does it make sense to engage in a contest in which your competitor holds the advantage of possessing its instruments? And by accepting the instrument that your rival has chosen for this contest, and in which he is superior, have you not surrendered and submitted your will in the choice of the contest?

And have we forgotten the most important elements, namely, your indirect acceptance or marginalization of your main source of power? Namely, your unarmed population? This population has become an imprisoned victim incapable of initiative, while his public is in his power due to reasons of fear.

A political question arises. Do they really achieve victory by killing the unarmed people amongst us? Or can we achieve victory whenever they kill one of our people?! Can we transform their military power against them? Surely, the answer is positive, if we appear before them as we really are, as unarmed, non-violent civilians calling for our rights. If we do not surrender to their violent provocations and their attempts to make us react spontaneously in such a way that they can use these reactions as justification of their oppressive measures against us for themselves and the world. Non-violent resistance in liberation battles has already proven its success in South Africa, which is the closest example to us. We must not be blind to their goal. They don’t oppress for the sake of oppression. They plan what they do and we must not think for a moment that the walls of cages are being built in vain. Do they not follow the contours of Sharon’s political plan, which he had declared even before he entered our Noble Sanctuary?

Why allow them to plan, and refrain from planning ourselves? Can we resist without defining for ourselves where we are going?! Or do we hide, even to ourselves, those goals that are achievable, but whose achievements we are not confident of, by calls for non-achievable goals? Do we express our desire of the impossible because we do not dare to set our minds on achieving the possible?

Can we control our anger and our feelings and be guided by reason? Can we succeed in our plan and actions such that we become capable of defending our rights? Or do we become an unconscious instrument in the elimination of what is left of those rights? Do we say, let things be for something may happen, and it is not in our hands to do anything?

Is it not our responsibility, for our future generations, to try to plan for them a better life, as a preliminary step to “letting things be?” Must we not use reason, before acting? Are reason and non-reason the same?

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hagalil.com 12-11-2003



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