The Inalienable Right to Resist Israeli Occupation( UN charter 51)


By KIM PETERSEN


Israeli Jews are massacring Palestinians again. Zionists are pinning the blame on the elected representative of the Palestinians: Hamas.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni demonized the Palestinian movement: “Hamas is a terrorist organization and nobody is immune.”

Complicitly, the Whitehouse blamed Hamas, as did Canada’s government. Government officials in the US, Canada, and Europe spoke the same lame phrase, “Israel has a right to defend itself,” as if the slaughter being carried out by a world military power against a starving population could be construed as some kind of defense. Israel, the world’s most frequently cited violator of international law, a racist state, an occupation state built through violence and slow-motion genocide is being acknowledged as having the right to defend its criminality. This is preposterous; there is no right of an occupation regime to defend its occupation. Palestine, however, has a right to resist occupation!

Israeli writer Gideon Levy called Israel’s actions a war crime, but he also blames Hamas: “In its foolishness, Hamas brought this on itself and on its people, but this does not excuse Israel’s overreaction.”1

Hamas chooses to stand and resist occupation rather than getting down on its knees to Israel. It seems for Levy that resistance is foolish.

Levy implied that Israel had a right to react — just it went too far. Thus, Levy depicted Israel as the reactor and Hamas as the provocateur. This is false.2 Levy attempts to present Israel as blameless for Hamas’s firing of rockets — as if all the violent crimes he reported against Palestinians had never happened before the rockets from Gaza.

What the critics of Hamas are alleging — without showing evidence — is that Hamas (or any Palestinian, for that matter) is behind the launching of rickety rockets from Gaza. However, even if Hamas is behind the launching of the rockets, so what!? Hamas, is the elected representative of Palestinians. Palestinians have the legal right to self-determination. They have the moral right to resist occupation. However, the right to resist must also be recognized as a legal right.3 It is absurd to argue that there is no legal right to resist the illegal act of occupation — a prima facie denial of the right to self-determination. History bears this out. Did the early Americans not claim a right to resist British colonialism?4 Did the Europeans not have a right to launch guerrilla attacks on the Nazi occupation regimes? Why does Levy deny this right to Palestinians?

Whether the tactics of Palestinian resistance are in their best interests is debatable. Nonetheless, the Jewish state has never been at a loss to conjure pretexts for its criminal acts.

Demonizing Hamas

In a recent article,5 I took exception to Levy demonizing Hamas. As a “benign” or moderate Israeli voice, Levy, wittingly or unwittingly, fortified a pretext for the destruction heaped on Gaza.

One writer supportive of Palestinian rights rejected criticism of Levy’s writing. Paulo de Rooij wrote, “This portrayal of Gideon Levy is rather unfair, it fails to appreciate Levy’s courage, …”6

De Rooij sets up a hoop: before you analyze and criticize the content of someone’s writing, you must first acknowledge any courage. No, I did not say Levy was courageous but neither did I say he was cowardly. I made no portrayal of Levy. I focused only on what he wrote. When someone writes for public readership, one can usually expect that there will be some who disagree, and some people will express their disagreement. For these purposes, there are widely accepted guidelines for appropriate and rationale discourse.

De Rooij says that the article “fails to understand his value in the Israeli context, and it attacks one of the more benign Israeli personalities.”

Yes, Levy goes against the grain in Israel in that he reports that Palestinians are human and that they suffer. Israelis know about Palestinian suffering, and it certainly causes no massive outpouring of shame or sympathy for their Palestinian victims.

De Rooij often writes about language and how it is twisted in usage, yet he claims the article “attacks” Levy, although nowhere in the article have I criticized Levy the person; I have only dealt with the content of what he wrote. To criticize the written word is not to attack the person.

The writer suggests, “Maybe attacking some of the pernicious zionists would have been more fruitful.”

I submit that the more pernicious Zionists are obvious and do not need exposing; I am, however, concerned about those media types who come across as progressives and yet write Zionist propaganda. I took issue with Levy’s maligning of Hamas. He demonizes Hamas. Is this fair? Should Levy of the occupying Jewish state be criticizing resistance to the occupation?

The critic writes, “Despite the fact that Levy does exhibit some contradictions, he has rendered the Palestinian victims a great service. Primarily because of Levy’s (and Hass’) reporting, Israelis cannot say ‘we did not know’. Is it just because of some of his contradictions that anyone should urge readers to shunt his writings?”

Who suggested Levy’s writings should be shunted?

He argues, “Yes, Levy exhibits some contradictions — most of us do so too — but it is simply absurd to abuse someone who should be clearly considered to be on ‘our’ side.”

Clearly? Who decides what is “our” side? I submit that there are clear principles involved: (1) dispossession of an Indigenous people or other legitimate settlers is a crime against humanity, in its worst form – a genocide; (2) the occupation of the territory of an Indigenous people and legitimate settlers is criminal, and (3) the victims of dispossession and occupation have the right to resist and reclaim their territory and liberate themselves from their occupiers.

Levy fails on (1) and (3). If the dispossession of Palestinians from their territory was wrong in 1967, then why was it right in 1948? Why does Levy deny the inalienable right to resist dispossession, occupation, humiliation, and violence? Is this the side of social justice activists?

De Rooij alleges “abuse” against Levy in the article. If so, then he should point out an instance of such abuse.

He delves further into what appears to be innuendo. The nature of innuendo is that it is murky. He talks about activist posers, about “hurdles,” about “idiocy,” and about hoop jumping. I never imagined that calling for adherence to international law might be equated with requiring someone to jump a hoop, and if antiwar activists, if social justice activists can’t call for simple adherence to the norms of international law, then what can they ask for? Talk? Talk is important, but isn’t that what Oslo and the Roadmap were? Where did that get the Palestinians?

He agrees that Levy has contradictions, and I agree that Levy also does fine reporting. It is not the fine reporting that I am at odds with. I am concerned with the Zionist-serving writing of Levy that defies Palestinian aspirations. To wit, Palestinians voted overwhelmingly for Hamas. By demonizing Hamas in his writing, Levy gives succor to the Israeli extremists strangling Gaza, even though he does not agree with the criminal methods. Militant Israelis could point to his writings and say that even Levy is against Hamas. How benign is that? How does that help Palestinians?

It appears that de Rooij’s attack is based on his contention that the writings of certain people are above criticism. I am obviously not one of them. This is fine because I reject the notion that the writings of anyone are beyond logical analysis, rebuttal, and criticism.

Progressivism is grounded in principles. When progressivist writers waver on principles, when they surrender to lesser evilism of a sort, the danger of the slippery slope presents itself. The equality of people(s) is a fundamental principle. All writers are equals. Every writer’s word must be open to scrutiny and questioning — and where the writing is suspect, it must be open to challenge.

Although progressives may have disagreements, in the end, what is important is solidarity for the rights of the oppressed. Palestinians are being slaughtered again. Palestinians have the same rights as all other peoples have, and these rights must be upheld. Among these rights must be the right to resist all forms of oppression.

  • Gideon Levy, “The neighborhood bully strikes again,” Haaretz, 27 December 2008. How accurate is his characterization of the Jewish state — “neighborhood bully”? Would calling the Nazi state a “neighborhood bully” have been appropriate? []
  • Israel violated the cease-fire on 4 November. This allowed it to escalate the situation to its present massacres. “Israel Breaches Gaza Ceasefire: Invades, Kills 7, Seizes Many,” From Occupied Palestine, With Love, 5 November 2008. []
  • Diakonia, a Swedish church-based sustainable development organization, recognizes the right to resist with non-violent means, but finds that under international humanitarian law there is no explicit mention of the right of an occupied people to resist an occupation. Ingela Karlsson, “Resistance to Israeli occupation – a right?” Diakonia, 24 October 2006. []
  • Of course, resisting British colonialism did not give Americans the right to dispossess the Indigenous peoples of the land. []
  • Kim Petersen, “Talk Is Cheap, Human Life Is Not: Justice and Freedom for Palestinians Now!Dissident Voice, 22 December 22 2008. []
  • Paul de Rooij, “Commentary on Talk Is Cheap, Human Life Is Not,” Palestine: Information with Provenance. []
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