A Smoother Pebble


Gandhi in Gaza

In the war between Israel and Hezbollah, I am with Israel. Hezbollah stands for cruelty, atavism, fanaticism and tyranny. Hezbollah is the antithesis of all that is good and true. This is the barbarism that we have been fighting since 2001; Israel stands for civilisation and liberty.

Just think how rare, how fragile, how precious, how hard won is this civilisation that you and I have the luck to live in. Are you envious of lottery winners? You and I have already won a lottery with a much bigger jackpot. The couple of million dollars that separates you and me from a Powerball winner is nothing compared with the gap between us and most of mankind throughout history, even most of mankind today. Israel is one of the tiny number of societies that have climbed out of the primeval darkness and into the light. I’m not talking about mere wealth and the technological sophistication of a society here. Saudi Arabia is barbarous no matter how many satellite dishes and fast-food restaurants it has.

Reasonable people can differ over tactics and strategy, how far the Israelis should go in avoiding civilian casualties, whether their responses are ‘proportionate’ (yawn) or not. But if Hamas and Hezbollah are on one side, all reasonable people must be on the other.

Though I would criticise some Israeli actions, in the face of the Islamists I am pro-Israel by default. I suspect many others are as well. Islamist terrorist groups hurt the Palestinians, pushing many who could perhaps be more sympathetic to their cause to line up behind Israel. If the Palestinians desire peace there is an obvious solution.

Israel occupies Palestine because the Israelis believe their security requires it. The Palestinians have it in their power to end the forced evictions, checkpoints, roadblocks, collateral damage, all the undeniable hardships caused by the occupation. If the Palestinians were really interested in achieving a peaceful two-state solution rather than in destroying Israel, then they should adopt Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘passive resistance’ that he used in the 1930s and 40s against British rule in India.

If the Palestinians renounced terrorism and launched a massive campaign of strikes, civil disobedience, all the stunts that Gandhi pulled, then they could easily get Israel back to the 1967 borders. Instead of young men with suicide belts, AK-47s, Molotov cocktails and stones, people of all ages and both sexes chanting, singing, condemning all violence and not hitting back when arrested or beaten or water-cannoned.

Gandhi’s ‘passive resistance’ will not work against a government that executes dissidents and controls the news, as the opposition is exterminated before anyone knows it even exists. For example, when Gandhi and his followers lay in front of a British train, the train would stop. If the Jews had lain in front of a train driven by the Nazis, the train would have driven over the lot of them, then reversed back over.

Israel already labours beneath the condemnation of the EU, the UN and the chattering classes everywhere, while faced with an enemy as foul and merciless as a viper. If a ‘Palestinian Gandhi’ emerged, the international pressure to negotiate would become irresistible. Few Israelis ever wanted a Greater Israel, and most would embrace any prospect of a genuine peace.

The Palestinians have the luxury of facing a civilised, conscientious enemy, the only kind on whom Gandhi’s techniques can work. I think that the failure of the Palestinians to even try this ‘civil disobedience’ shows the Palestinians will be satisfied only when they have swept the Jews into the sea.

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