The Right to ResistNarrowing the argument over Palestine to an inner circle of Israeli Jews would give us a better chance of choosing our favorite champions of justice without risking the charge of anti-Semitism. But we must break out into risk and freedom. If we are digging for truth, Haneen Zoabi deserves a wider hearing.
Truthdig contributor Scott Tucker prompted assistant editor Alexander Reed Kelly’s July 13 column on Israeli legislator Haneen Zoabi. Here, Tucker expands on Zoabi’s significance to the Palestinian struggle.
We, the people, are not expected to be experts in weapons of mass destruction when we vote and act against war. Nor are we expected to be climate scientists before we take action against corporate polluters. Very few of us follow the demographic statistics of each country south of the U.S. border, yet we must still make up our minds to help when thousands of refugee children cross the same border. So like most people, I am free to confess wide areas of ignorance. But I am not free to resign myself to passivity, unless I am willing to abandon all civil liberties and freedoms. We face the same problems when we respond to the entanglement of the U.S. government in the brutal colonial regime that exists in Israel. For example, do I get a “proxy” vote only through a person who can claim direct experience of living in Israel, as can my husband, Larry Gross? The mere 10 days I spent in Israel hardly counts as a full education in the “facts on the ground.” I can learn and study by many other means, including paying attention to dissident scholars such as Noam Chomsky and Gideon Levy, and to Palestinians engaged in open resistance such as Haneen Zoabi. I am, however, a public citizen. On that ground I take my stand.
Colonial oppression exists in the very assumption that everyone else “in good standing” gets a vote on the freedom of Palestinians, other than the Palestinians themselves. We can argue till kingdom come about their methods of struggle, their commitment to peaceful or violent resistance, their temperate or zealous language. That belongs in our realm of freedom. But any people under daily assault and deprivation also gets a collective vote in determining their own path of struggle. Consider the abysmally self-serving “evolution” of career politicians in regard to the struggle against the racist regime in apartheid South Africa. Was that struggle a nonviolent trajectory from first to last? By no means, yet people such as President Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton — in other words, people who are among the architects of state terrorism — edit out the episodes of armed struggle when they heap Nelson Mandela with laurels. Was Mandela a lone hero? By no means, and he acted in concert with people such as the members of the South African Communist Party, including Joe Slovo, who had been a leader of the armed resistance. Ruth First, his wife, was later assassinated by a letter bomb sent by the South African security agency. In remembering Mandela, let’s not forget his own real history. And his many comrades, both armed and unarmed. Let’s extend such honesty to all history of resistance.
When I was very young, in my early teens, I made up my mind that “I shall not cease from Mental Fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, Till we have built Jerusalem In England’s green and pleasant Land.” I borrow the words of Blake, and then by analogy, of course. When I was very young, I made two binding moral and political vows: I will never put on a military uniform for any cause or country, and I will not lie about my values and desires simply to put any mob of bigots at ease. Back then, my vow had a religious (quasi-Quaker) bias toward pacifism. Today I still incline to nonviolence, though not to any formal religion. And in certain circumstances, such as the Warsaw Ghetto (God forbid that experiment should be repeated), I would fight. In self-defense, I have sometimes fought in street confrontations with bigots determined to harm my comrades and myself. So I defend the right to self-defense, though I detest war and militarism. All people on earth have the human right to stand their own ground, to resist the call to arms of the ruling class and to defend their own lives when necessary.
What have we learned from this recent administration of “hope and change”? Never again, I would hope, will we ever give our votes or confidence to the career politicians of the capitalist parties. Any politician who refuses to condemn the Israeli colonial regime and to defend the right of resistance among Palestinians loses my vote and my confidence. Make up your own minds on that subject. Because Hillary Clinton will be asking for your votes, if you are still inclined to vote for a party of war and empire. Of course, here we have “only one issue” among many others of public importance. But it remains an issue of international importance, not least because it underscores the continuing imperial reach of the United States. So Hillary Clinton must not be asked, in the most general and idealistic manner, if she gives “equal support” to the human rights of Israelis and Palestinians. Any calculating politician would answer yes, unless he or she belongs to the Christian apocalyptic branch of Zionism. The real question Hillary Clinton must answer is whether she opposes the colonial regime in Israel and supports the right of resistance of the Palestinians. All other questions — the drawing of borders, the right of return for Palestinians, a two-state solution, or even one secular and democratic state for all people — follow in due course, but honesty begins by affirming the right of resistance.
“The overall context of Israeli action is that of occupation and terrorism. The overall context of Palestinian action is a legitimate struggle against occupation.” I agree with the words of Haneen Zoabi. Though it may be tempting to narrow this argument to an inner circle of Israeli Jews, since that gives us a better chance of choosing our favorite champions of justice without risking the charge of anti-Semitism, we must break out into risk and freedom. Zoabi is an elected representative in the Knesset who is regularly shouted down, manhandled and threatened. If we are digging for truth, she deserves a wider hearing, even if she may sometimes speak a word that pains us or take some line of action that gives us pause. The regime in Israel has created a ghetto for the Palestinians, while continuing to rob the land that might one day form an independent nation. A people under colonial occupation has the human right and political duty to resist.Wait, before you go…
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