Israel only respects resistance

This week I was a guest of Zeinab Saffar on the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen network’s program The Proximate Aspect.

You can watch the episode in the video above. Saffar introduces the program in Arabic, but the discussion is in English with Arabic subtitles.

In much of what used to be known as the Third World, Palestine is understood as an anti-colonial liberation struggle. In the West, by contrast, the dominant idea – which is nonetheless weakening – is that Israel is the victim, a poor little “Jewish state” that is being picked on just because Arabs hate Jews and Palestinians are “terrorists.”

We talked about how Palestinians are standing up to Israel, both through armed resistance and a global solidarity and boycott movement, and why the struggle for the liberation of Palestine remains central in geopolitics.

We started off by looking at the history of Zionist collaboration with the Nazis – against the broader interests of European Jews and in violation of the boycott of German goods called for by Jews in response to Adolf Hitler’s anti-Jewish policies.

Our discussion then moved to more contemporary issues. Palestinians have tried every tactic and method in their struggle but are still regularly lectured by liberals in the West that they should only use “peaceful” and nonviolent means – advice that is rarely given, say, to Ukraine.

The latest figure to offer such advice – after we recorded the episode – is none other than UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who was asked last week at a press conference prior to the opening of this year’s General Assembly session if Palestinians have a right to take up arms.

“Does the Palestinian people have the right to resist occupation, similar to any people who fell under colonial powers, foreign intervention, foreign occupation?” asked Abdelhamid Siyam, of the Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

Guterres didn’t answer the question, but admonished Palestinians – in the style of such New York Times columnists as Thomas Friedman and Nicholas Kristof – to “not forget the example of Gandhi.”

But as Guterres knows very well – and as I told Saffar – whenever Palestinians have tried such tactics, Israel’s response has been merciless and lethal.

During the 2018 Great March of Return – the unarmed mass mobilization by Palestinians besieged in Gaza – Israel sent snipers to maim and murder defenseless civilians, including children, in cold blood.

As Sara Hossain, a member of the UN commission of inquiry appointed to look into the systematic killing of unarmed protesters in Gaza has stated, Israeli forces “have intentionally shot children, they’ve intentionally shot people with disabilities, they’ve intentionally shot journalists, knowing them to be children, people with disabilities and journalists.”

Yet Guterres asserted, “I do not think that it is with violence that the Palestinians will be able to better defend their interests.”

But he failed to point out that 30 years after the Oslo accords, Palestinians have been completely unable to defend their interests through the UN-backed so-called peace process.

Decades of sterile “peace process” – which Guterres now wants to revive – only provided Israel with additional time and impunity to expand and further entrench its violent colonization of Palestinian land and persecution of the Palestinian people under a system now widely recognized as constituting the crime against humanity of apartheid.

Against this background, I told Saffar, the message that Palestinians have understood from Israel, is that the only method that Israel will respect and pay attention to is armed resistance – which perhaps explains the resurgence of such tactics not just in Gaza, but increasingly in the occupied West Bank.

Regionally, this is the case as well – as we also discuss – especially Israel’s major defeats at the hands of the Lebanese resistance in 2000 and 2006. These historic resistance victories punctured the myth of Israeli military invincibility, a development that I argue has checked not just Israeli, but American power too.

As the US gradually retreats from the region, the liberation of Palestine is coming within view.




Ali, you are, as usual, totally right about the need for forceful resistance. What other conclusion can one reach after decades of duplicity, suppression, annexation, and unrestrained violence? In the international community, there are no disinterested third parties, rather an array of alibi artists —USA, England, Germany, the Netherlands— who abet their Zionists.