Founder of the Academic University for Non-Violence and Human Rights – AUNOHR
Gaza, Now! 8 points.
Beirut, 15 October 2023
Under the weight of suffering, and without introduction, I present you with 8 points upon which to reflect together. It is more than a plan of action, above the moment of urgency. It is more than an innovative strategy much needed in this historic conflict. This is a reflective text written in the first week of the war of October 2023.
- Our humanity, our humanism, above all.
According to the words of Bertrand Russell: “Remember your humanity and forget the rest.”
It is about our morality, our ethics. Politics is ethical and efficient at once. As efficiency steers away from ethics, the more it falls into violence to justify itself.
It is about our conscience. The conscience, “the higher law” in the words of Henri David Thoreau, the pioneer of the concept of “civil disobedience”, is radically incompatible with violence. Therefore, it is the position of facing violence, all violence, that is the fundamental question of our humanity.
- An immediate ceasefire. Urgent common goals.
An immediate ceasefire, including lifting the siege of Gaza, – and more than the introduction of aid -, at the same time, the return of the kidnapped hostages of Israel along with the remains of those killed, and the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.
Urgent objectives, in common, as “one”, before it’s too late. We must insist on both camps showing good intentions, not just to bring an end to this battle, but to be able to continue working on a just final solution.
Israel, the United States and their allies want to free the hostages, and, in principal, this exceeds all expectation. They will enter Gaza, as a father in search for his son, with the right of no other, set everything ablaze as such do the heroes of ruthless Hollywood movies, coming back with the hostages, and the world justifies this oppression while turning a blind eye.
Hamas, the Islamist Jihad and their allies say they want to save Gaza and that it is their duty to do so inasmuch as a Palestinian resistance, and to evacuate the Palestinian prisoners from the prisons of Israel, over and above all other consideration. Wisdom dictates to block Israel’s path in its objectives of destruction, to prevent the continuation of crushing civilians, arresting new prisoners and displacing the population of Gaza: Gaza, of which its objective has gone from breaking the siege to merely surviving.
Our role is to transform the goal of finding the kidnapped, and to free the prisoners, these human targets, that currently serve the purpose of justifying a war, into a cause to stop the war.
Insisting on a ceasefire, without any conditions, because peoples lives everywhere are more important than any conditions. Stop the evil. It is about the capacity to seize the moment. The moment is not to lift the standard of violence… Basically, victory cannot be achieved over the piles of human bodies! Louis Lecoin, the non-violent French militant was in the habit of saying: “If it were proved to me that making war, my ideal had a chance of being realized, I would still say ‘No’ to war. For one does not create human society on mounds of corpses.”
- Let’s not forget that the root cause is occupation.
The occupation of Palestine is the problem. We are at the beginning of the eighth decade of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to stir things worldwide, and which has no solution nor justice until now. Nelson Mandela said: “We all know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians…Palestine is the greatest moral issue of our time.”
The supporters of the Israel project, ever since it was offered the “gift” to become an entity, to be implanted “above” Palestine, its land and its people, with the “generosity” of supporting its expansion, stripped of its status of occupation, and further, this “State” has constantly been “cajoled” by the West and its allies, including numerous Arab countries, with a huge denial of justice. This entity was imposed by the wrong-doing of colonialism and their political and economic interests, and also by the west’s attempt to atone for its sin of persecuting the Jews creating a supposed solution leading to problems in every sense of the word. What a shameless and arrogant policy! While claiming to render justice to the Jews, they extended injustice to Palestinian, offering something which didn’t belong to them, this “gift” provided by the “plunder” of the Palestinians at their own cost, with displacement, murder, fragmentation, theft of basic human rights, humiliations, arrests, and biased decisions…up until Gaza today!
Therefore, the only solution is by going to the root of the problem.
The date of the conflict of the 7th of October, is not a military breech, a new group of prisoners or a hospital’s groans that shook the world, neither “Hamas” nor “Gallant” nor “Netanyahu”, neither the siege of Gaza…The occupation is the fundamental cause of distress.
Whereas the horror of today’s violence, has become clear to the point that violence breeds violence and pulls everyone under, and of which it imposes each time further decline to the solution and a fragmentation of the problem. Have we not seen that the solution is yet to be found, since 1948 and the perpetuation of conflict and its violence?! It is an existential and strategic question.
- The war on and by civilians.
The scene is lost between the thirst for violence, exploitation of violence and aversion to violence. Unfortunately, with everything that has happened, the thirst for violence and its investments continue and increase till today.
Thankfully, and maybe due to the horror of what happened, the aversion to violence and its attitude towards it have lost in vigor.
In the logic of war, civilians are used as tools. Humans are no longer humans, but mainly “arms” and targets that the adversary seizes, no matter their destruction, they become “Things”. In the non-violent French philosopher Simone Weil’s words: “Violence is that which makes a thing of whoever submits to it. Exercised to the extreme, it makes the human being a thing quite literally, that is, a dead body.”
There exist supporters of just cause all over the world, only left is to sustain the struggle of non-violence, or else we will be complicit in the strategy that renders civilians as Things. “Violence believes it destroys evil, but it is in itself an evil” according to the words of the French philosopher of Non-Violence Jean-Marie Muller.
- The political result is the question.
The political result is the question and the goal. In the struggle for non-violence, “The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree”, like Gandhi used to say. While in violence and Machiavellian politics, all is permitted and cruelty is at its height.
The supporters of Israel affirm its right to self-defense, to strike and destroy Hamas as some continue to present them as the Islamic State (IS). They promote this as the political issue of the battle, despite similar and scandalous propaganda upon which the blood hasn’t dried yet (the invasion of Iraq, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, September 11th, ISIS, etc.)
The supporters of Hamas and their allies, as well as those of Hezbollah, affirm that they draw once again the lines of power between the main actors, the USA and Iran, with Iran’s blessing, and they have effectively brought the Palestinian question to the forefront in an unprecedented manner and so victoriously. The reality is that Gaza loses every day, more and more horrible losses that determine themselves the political issue at hand. It is true that the Palestinian question fills our screens, but at what price and whose gain?
As to Iran and the USA, we looked over the “flirting”, the parallel declarations and the shared tune, as well as the rhythm of exchanged strikes. “They are in an existential partnership, within a crossed fertilization of evil”, according to the words of non-violent Arab thinker, Walid Slaybi, in his book “Forces of Death, Forces of Life”.
We are distrustful of violent parties, and we are unsure of the true objectives of all the violent forces.
The political result to which we aspire measures in the restoration of rights, justice and peace for the oppressed people.
- Two violent camps, based on religious ideology, currently lead the ring of combat.
Two camps of violence are leading the war of October 2023 from now on, and with them included are the two great camps of USA and Iran.
In this context, we don’t have only war and violence, but we are confronted with an additional dilemma, represented by the political nature of violent theocratic sources of those that are the leaders of the current arena from now on, at the light of the rise of extremist forces in Israel, the control of extremist Palestinian forces of resistance in Palestine. This is an obstacle in itself to any solution of justice and peace.
For our part, we reject violence coming from all parties, we reject terrorism of all parties, we reject the ideological violence in the name of religion or other doctrines, and we reject the perverse manipulation of peoples and their just cause by hegemonic countries, from western and non-western countries alike.
- We cannot equate the violence of the oppressor to the violence of the oppressed. And we do not justify any violence whatsoever.
As Walid Slaybi says, who wrote and advocated a lot for a non-violent resistance in Palestine:
* “By using violence, the oppressed looks ‘equal’ to the oppressed.”
*”I do not think that violence yields a desired just goal, for a simple reason, it’s not because it cannot win over the bearer of the unjust scheme, but because it defeats the bearer of the just cause.
And you can say that the moment of the peak of the military victory over the adversary is the moment of the peak of the militant’s defeat.
The adversary is defeated militarily, the militant is defeated humanely; violence has won.”
*” The violence of the oppressor serves the cause of the oppressor. The violence of the oppressed serves the cause of the oppressor too.”
*” YES TO RESISTANCE. NO TO VIOLENCE.”
- We are not doomed to unilateral violence. The responsibility of the non-violent.
Violence exists. Non-violence exists. We are not condemned to unilateral violence. There is hope.
All logic is lost if we describe each party as though they follow one absolute direction: “Everyone in
Israel is made up of violent racists who reject peace, thrive on occupation and the elimination of the
people of Palestine.” “Everyone in Palestine is made up of violent extremists, who reject peace,
thrive on militarization and the elimination of the other party.”
Our prime duty is to gather non-violent forces, individuals and groups, in Palestine, in Lebanon, in Israel, throughout the world, to highlight their voices, and thus accelerate, in order for the image broadcast to be over and above violence. We know that the majority who await solutions other than through means of destruction, including those who are currently suffering the destruction, prefer a non-violent solution, and at least, disfavor a violent solution.
From now on, it is a crucial moment, we are on a hinge, and not pessimistic. Walid Slaybi used to say: “We are not in a world where violence has won, we are in a world where Non-Violence has not won enough yet.”
The Palestinian cause continues to sway, even to regress. “Occupied” Palestine which remains its name until now, is not just Palestine, but a name and nickname, awaiting its nickname to be eliminated and resolved. What the Palestinian people have the right to do, is to revolt against injustice. Of course, we want it to be non-violent. As Albert Camus said: “I rebel, therefore we exist. The rebellion is limited to refusing humiliation for the self without asking for it for the other.”