NonViolence in Palestine


Bradley Burston is a consistently insightful writer. Publishing in Haaretz, the progressive Israeli newpaper and website, he brings fresh vision to the news. Here he reminds us of the power of militant non-violence which we have seen in Mahatma Ghandi and Br. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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  • Published 13:38 03.05.10
  • Latest update 13:38 03.05.10

A Special Place in Hell / A prayer for the Gazan armed only with a flag

In a place where war now claims many more civilian victims than military, it’s about time that the unarmed decided to fight back.

By Bradley Burston

To my friends in Gaza, with admiration:

God bless the Palestinian who, armed with nothing more than courage, plants a flag.

The Gazan who, week after week, marches to the front line and without a shred of cover, stands in the face of soldiers, gas guns, machine guns, threats and helmets, warning shots and shots to kill – armed only with conviction and a rectangle of cloth on a stick.

And who, in so doing, plants the seed of an idea.

God bless this new armed struggle.

We have declared a 300 meter wide swath of your land near our fences and walls, a No-Man’s Land. You, your flag, the reaction of our soldiers, all of it teaches us that the war between us has turned all of the Holy Land into no man’s land.

In acts of great bravery, there is great hope. In acts of non-violent resistance, there is unlimited might.

God protect you from us, and from your own people. You will be scoffed at even as you are shot at. There are people on both sides for whom non-violence causes a sense of unease, a sense of being, forgive me, emasculated.

Teach us to grow up.

Teach us what we have lost. Our sense of shame.

In a place where war now claims many more civilian victims than military, it’s about time that the unarmed decided to fight back.

Not with bullets and rocks or warplanes or rockets. Not with bomb belts or drones or missiles or sieges.

Not now, years from now, when we will all have matured, when we will feel shame, when we take responsibility over our killings, as we now feel fury over our dead, history will show that violence was the tool only of those who cannot bear to share this land. Those who make this land unlivable. Those who prefer No Man’s Land to a place of life.

Someday, because of you, Gaza will be what it was meant to be. The pearl of Palestine.

And we will be what we were meant to be. Neighbors.

There is no defense against true non-violence.

God bless the villager, the schoolchild, the mother, the hero, armed with nothing more than a flag.

Stand fast. No rocks. You will change every soldier you face. You will change history. You will be the end of this occupation. You will give all of us, life.

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