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National Prayer Network

GAZANS SHOULD COPY GANDHI'S "PASSIVE RESISTANCE"

By Rev. Ted Pike
26 Nov 12

In 1947, yearning for independence after nearly two centuries of British colonial rule, the people of India were nearly at the breaking point. Should they violently revolt, as in the 1857 anti-British rebellion?  At that time Indian soldiers discovered British bullets they had been issued were greased with pork fat.  This insulted both Hindus and Muslims and helped unleash bloody nationwide insurrection and loss of many lives.

Fortunately, Indians were now led by a philosopher: London-educated lawyer and statesman Mahatma Gandhi. He rejected violence. Influenced by Hinduism and Jesus’ doctrine of turning the other cheek, he urged resistance through passivity and non-cooperation. Eventually, the British, wearied by this unconventional and virtually unopposable response, abandoned claims to India. In fact, they left India so abruptly that a terrible bloodbath took place. Muslims and Hindus went at each other’s throats as the two religious groups fought out where they would live. The result is present-day Muslim East (Bangladesh) and West Pakistan.

Today, the unfortunate people of Gaza are not led by a strategist like Gandhi. Hamas officially abides by its 2008 agreement to cease sporadic rocket fire on southern Israel but is clearly unable or unwilling to suppress such attacks by its own militants.  Charlie Rose interviewed a Hamas leader who disavowed Hamas rocket attacks but as quickly expressed interest in buying long-range, more accurate missiles that could reach Israel’s northern cities. Gazan leadership is bankrupt to provide effective restraint; it basically supports rocket attacks as resistance to Israel.

Few military strategists have been as misdirected as Hamas in turning a blind eye to rocket attacks on the civilian population of southern Israel. Such terrorism has created no appreciable damage to Israel or significant lessening of her military and economic oppressions of the imprisoned Gazans.  Instead, these futile attacks give Israel all she needs to justify further embargoes and periodic military poundings of the Gazans. The world, accepting Israeli propaganda that she is under incessant rocket attack by Hamas, stands back and indulges Israel’s “right” to destroy Gaza – again and again.

Judaism and Islam Don't Teach Passive Resistance

Part of the problem is that Islam, like modern Judaism, is not a religion that emphasizes turning the other cheek. Christianity from its beginnings bent backward to be inoffensive to the most imperfect governments (Rom. 13).  But the state of Israel was birthed in frightful Irgun/Stern Gang acts of terrorism and assassination of the British and Arabs. (See, Israel: On the Way to Empire in the Mideast)  Islam was conceived in "holy war" and conquest. Gandhi’s or Christ’s remedy of passive resistance is extremely counterintuitive to Hamas/Muslim leadership of Gaza. Yet it is the only solution to the vicious cycle of hit and hit back that has gone on for nearly a century between Palestinians and Israeli usurpers. If Hamas disciplined its fighters to end rocket attacks and nurtured an international image of passive innocent suffering, as did the entire Indian subcontinent under Gandhi, world sympathy would come toward them and against Israel. Already, the world is ready and willing to give sympathy and even billions in economic aid to the beleaguered Gazans – if Israel ends her embargo.

Instead, the Muslim “shoot ‘em up” cowboys in control of Gaza perfectly satisfy Israel’s desire for justification of destruction of Gazans. Such desire to utterly destroy Gaza has been vocally expressed in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv recently.

  • Interior Minister Eli Yishai said, "The war in Gaza must be so painful and difficult that the terror groups will not think twice but a hundred times before they fire missiles into Israel again.” “Destroy and damage infrastructure, public buildings and government buildings.” “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages, only then will Israel be calm for the next forty years.”
  • Journalist Gild Sharon, son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, says, “We need to flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough – so they hit Nagasaki too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing.”
  • Knesset member Michael ben-Ari said, “There are no innocents in Gaza . . .mow them down!”
  • Israel Katz, the country’s transport minister, called “for Gaza to be bombed so hard the population has to flee into Egypt.”
  • Avi Dichter, minister of Home Front Defense, urged the IDF to “reformat” Gaza – to wipe it clean with bombs.
  • A prominent Israeli rabbi, Yaakov Yosef, son of former chief rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, urged IDF soldiers to “learn from the Syrians how to slaughter the enemy.”
  • "Incitement to kill by Israeli rabbis is nothing new. In 2007 Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safad, urged Israel to kill a million Palestinians to stop the rocket fire from Gaza."
  • Such incitement from leaders is echoed by Israelis in the streets. Demonstrators in Tel Aviv shouted, “They don’t deserve to live, they need to die.” “May your children die.”

    (RT News, rt.com, "Bloodlust in Israel: 'Flatten Gaza, send it back to Middle Ages, they need to die!'")

 

Hamas is losing moral high ground in a situation which could have created a testimony of heroic suffering in the eyes of the world. Now, as never before, anti-Zionist groups and human rights activists are eager to believe and assist Gazans in their plight. Yet Hamas' terrorism makes it very difficult for such idealists to remain sympathetic. Hamas needs to abandon an impossible bloody dream of eviction of Israelis which, like rocket attacks, only provides Israel opportunity to vilify them to the world. Clearly, Hamas' strategy of make-believe war against the world’s fourth greatest military superpower is not working. This is a time when literally doing nothing would accomplish much more than continuing its failed military/terrorist agenda.

Hamas, of course, is aware of the alternative of passive resistance.  It replies simply that if favorable world opinion is all to be gained from such a policy it isn't worth it; Israel doesn't care about world opinion.  As a result, Hamas considers only one goal feasible: eviction of Israel from Palestine and full restoration of property to heirs of Palestinians driven out in 1948 and imprisoned in concentration camps.  (See, Israel's Founding: Miracle or Land Grab?)

If military eviction of the Israelis is an attainable goal, then clearly, Gandhi's approach is undesirable. The British were responsible enough to accede to Indian and world opinion.  Israel isn't.  Therefore, Hamas insists, violence is the only way to regain Palestine.  But Israel is so militarily superior that a violent approach simply can't succeed.  Also, Jews are so densely in possession of most of Palestine that removing them violently is almost as unworkable as removing white Americans from former North American Indian lands.

Passive Resistance Can Work in Different Cultures

Of course, there are dramatic differences between Indians under the British and Gazans under the Israelis.  Indians played a vital role in the economic, military, and even political structure of their country.  Gazans, by design, are excluded from such a role in Israel.  But just because Gazan passive resistance would not affect Israel in the way Indians under Gandhi impacted the British does not mean it could not be devastatingly effective.  It would create what is of utmost importance to the Gazans: massive international sympathy.  Such sympathy can spawn boycotts, embargoes and every other kind of embarrassment and restraint upon Israel.  The basic principle of nonviolent resistance is universal in application to a wide variety of circumstances where oppressed people have no other recourse.  Certainly, the "Free Gaza" flotillas, passively provoking IDF violence on the high seas, tarnished Israel's image and brought world support to the Gazan plight.

If the embargo is lifted, Israel fears that Gaza, infused with billions in world aid, will become a militant center for terrorism against Israel and a model of Arab progress and power to other Palestinians.  However, if unnecessary violence against Israel is demonstrably ended and world sympathy for the Gazans eventually mounts to massive proportions, Israel, despite her abhorrence of the idea of a prosperous Gazan community and culture, may have to relent. 

But there is little time.  The Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem describes how, in the nearly half century prior to the statehood of Israel in 1948, many Palestinian political parties that could have created a constructive program for slowing Zionist takeover of Palestine failed because of disunity.  Today, here in Portland, buses feature a pro-Palestinian poster dramatically revealing how Palestinian territory has shrunk during the century Palestinians have been mired in disagreement.  If a broad policy of passive resistance were put in place immediately, it would be some time before the credibility of Gazan leadership was accepted by the world.  But a worldwide surge of sympathy and righteous indignation against Israel could soon follow.

Gazans must accept the consolation that at least they still own and inhabit Gaza.  Israel's record of violence and theft reveals the possibility that she might yet take Gaza from them.  Gazan leadership should accept the demonstrated fact of what has not worked and cannot work and implement policies that lead to attainable goals.   Such a goal for Hamas is promotion of world sympathy through abandonment of demands that the state of Israel cease to exist. 

It is true, having obtained the land by theft and violence, Israel as a nation does not have a legitimate right to live in Palestine.  Scripture affirms that a believing remnant of Jews possess a covenant going back to Abraham, granting them ownership of Palestine forever. (See, The True Meaning of God's Covenant with Abraham) However, in dozens of the clearest passages the Old Testament warns the Jews that as a nation they cannot ever occupy God's holy land in unbelief. (See, Conditional Occupation Verses) This is especially true since Israel has oppressed the native Palestinians so grievously in direct disobedience of God's command that they be "kind to the stranger in the land."  (See, Israel: Founded on Terror) The modern Palestinians hold the same right to temporarily live in Palestine that God gave the Samaritans in the time of the Babylonian exile in the sixth century B.C. (See, Almost Anyone Can Occupy Palestine) This is why every Christian should support the right of Palestinians to continue to enjoy God's sanction for them to dwell in the land as long as the Jews continue in disobedience and injustice.  Nevertheless, Palestinians are not entitled, as Hamas is attempting, to wrest the land from the Israelis by bloodshed. To obtain world support, Gazans must attempt to implement policies of peaceful coexistence.

Summary

Hamas should stop playing at terrorist war and contemplate, as did Gandhi, the enormous power Gazans could exert upon the heartstrings of the world if, like Jesus before His crucifixion, they suffered injustice without hitting back. The spectacle of such a people innocently suffering under the bombs and tank tracks of a cruel oppressor holds staggering potential to rain down infinitely more wrath on Israel than any number of rockets or misguided military offensives.

One of the most frightening facts about the recent siege of Gaza is that the world has largely regressed to tolerance of IDF near-saturation bombing, such as occurred during the attack on Lebanon in 1983.  Over the past 30 years Israel’s callous misbehavior and oppressions, including Sharon's invasion of the West Bank, Operation Cast Lead, and Israel's massacre of pro-Gaza flotilla activists, took from Israel any right to command the admiration and idealism of an indulgent world. Public disapproval of Israel could have continued and increased, with great damage to Israel's power, if Hamas had not proved so offensive to worldwide moral sensibilities. Now, with Hamas having given Israel the propaganda moral high road again, the prophesied “Great Harlot” Israel (See, 'Babylon the Great' is Israel) is sure to make use of it to the fullest. The propellant of homemade Gazan rockets may help project Israel's military might as far as Tehran, and beyond.

 


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Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization. 

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