The most blatant and obvious manifestation showing western hypocrisy about violence and human rights remains in Palestine as millions remain refugees and massive land and resource theft continues supported by Western Governments who hypocritically still speak of human rights and international law (elsewhere of course). I warned repeatedly over the past 20 years that unless human rights and international law are observed uniformly, the “Middle East” (Western Asia) and the whole world would be at risk of continuing down the path of mayhem and killings (“might makes right”). I repeatedly explained that we must choose the different path of justice and coexistence. This is not a new revelation as many have previously warned of the same choices as observed by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King (we either live together as equal or perish together as fools), Desmond Tutu, Edward Said and many others.
In September 2011 at the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001, I wrote:
On this sad anniversary, there are a lot of “what if” scenarios being discussed and healthy reflections around the world. For example, what if the US and Israel obeyed international law? What if we did not illegally invade and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan? What if Israel was forced to comply with UN resolutions on withdrawal from illegally occupied areas and forced to allow the ethnically-cleansed Palestinians to return to their homes and lands? In short what if we did not send the message that might makes right but rather that rights make things right? Would that not have been the most rational response to extremists whether they are wearing Turbans or wearing Kippas or wearing crosses?
The painful events happening throughout the area today (in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine etc.) are just a reminder of these missed opportunities. Some over the years knew the dangers we faced if we stayed down that path (e.g. see letter from George Salzman in 2008 http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/s/2008-12-15.htm
Today, we see mayhem in Iraq and Syria as militias funded by US proxies fight to create an Islamist state in the same way the US funded the Taliban. Today we suffer collective punishment to millions of Palestinians (already living under apartheid laws) because three army-enlisted Israeli colonial settlers went missing. Israel punished the whole population including blaming the Palestinian authority even though the settlers are in the area of the West Bank that has no Palestinian authority presence. Gaza was sealed further, over 120 Palestinians were kidnapped in the past 24 hours, and we Palestinians in the West Bank are prevented from freedom of movement. Those under 50 are denied the right to even leave the country. If these brain-washed settlers living on stolen Palestinian land were taken by Palestinian resistance, this could be in response to the starving Palestinians in Israeli jails. 5000 kidnapped Palestinians are held in Israeli jails including hundreds of children. Many of those are held for months without trial (called “administrative detention” but is a war crime per international law), Many are on a hunger strike for the past 50 days. Some are near death. The US administration calls for the release of three Israelis who are illegally squatting on our land but has not called for the release of thousands of Palestinian civilians held in inhumane conditions in Israeli jails.
International law is very clear on the rights of people under occupation including the right to resist. Most of our resistance was by hundreds of forms of non-armed resistance. See my book “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment”. Oslo was meant and succeeded in creating a local (subcontracted) “security force” to make this the most profitable occupation in history (at no cost to the occupying power). But this would not work. It did not work before: the Vichy regime in occupied France and Buthalesi regime in Apartheid South Africa. What will work is a known path untried since Zionism was founded and created mayhem throughout the Arab world.
Solutions are in our hands and they can only involve justice and coexistence. This certainly must not involve continuing the path of “might makes right”. It is time to think and act on rights as the path to our collective salvation. Tribalism, factionalism, sectarianism, Zionism must be ended and we must pursue humanism. There cannot be winners and losers only all losers or all winners. Let us all be winners by acting for peace and justice.
In my book “Sharing the Land of Canaan” published 10 years ago, I implored people to shed the notion that violence solves their problems. It only creates more violence. I ended the chapter on Violence and Terrorism by quoting Howard Zinn:
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, (and) kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many - where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand Utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”