This article was first published by Jewish Ideas Daily and is reprinted with permission.
Protests, marches, sit-ins, boycotts – all these nonviolent techniques have been
employed in support of the Palestinian cause, but violence has remained at the
core of the enterprise.
For decades, well-meaning people have suggested
that a wholehearted embrace of nonviolence would do more for the Palestinians
than their continuing resort to terrorism. Now comes word of the Global March to
Jerusalem, scheduled for March 30.
Don’t look to the event as the
long-sought beginning of a Palestinian commitment to a strategy of
The March, say its organizers, will be a “renewed true
effort towards ending the occupation through peaceful national movements
inspired firstly by our convictions, secondly by the justice of our cause, and
thirdly by the spirit of the Arab Spring revolutions and the determination of
young people who were able to overthrow dictatorships.”
The stated goal
of the March is to bring “millions” to Israel from around the world to “demand
freedom for Jerusalem and its people and to put an end to the Apartheid, ethnic
cleansing, and Judaization policies affecting the people, land, and sanctity of
Jerusalem.” The plan calls for massive marches on Israel from Jordan, Egypt,
Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, all in the direction of Jerusalem, as
well as coordinated protests in world capitals.
And the day scheduled for
the March is “Land Day,” long a date for anti-Israel rioting across the
Most of the March organizers are members of Muslim Brotherhood
organizations in Britain, Egypt and Gaza, including Hamas, and Islamist groups
in Pakistan, India, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada and South Africa. The
funding appears to come mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.
effort is supported by a large network of Palestinian NGOs, including the BADIL
Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (which awarded a
prize to a cartoon of a caricatured Jew standing over a dead Arab child holding
a bloody pitchfork) and the International Solidarity Movement, “committed to
resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.” These groups are
supported by Western foundations and individuals.
The European and
American organizers include Code Pink, “working to end US-funded wars and
occupations,” and include well-known anti- Israel campaigners like Gretta
Duisenberg, Paul Larudee, Mazin Qumsiyeh and Huwaida Arraf (Mrs. Adam Shapiro).
Most of the individuals are veterans of the International Solidarity Movement
and have participated in various flotillas and “fly-tillas.” They are true
believers in Israel’s destruction.
Individual endorsers include the
Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Princeton Professor Cornel West and Rabbi Lynn
Gottlieb, all of whom would doubtless deny that the goal of the March is
Israel’s destruction. But the organizers assert that the “occupation of
Palestine” began in 1948. It is fatiguing to have to point out again that to
support this claim and the claim of a Palestinian “right of return” (never mind
the organizers’ denunciation of “Judaization”) is, simply, to support the end of
The Global March to Jerusalem is a transparent, self-evident
To pretend otherwise would be risible – were it not for the
real possibility that the marchers will actually provoke, or directly cause,
Indeed, for the March organizers, such a result would be the
very definition of success: They will say, as Monty Python has put it, “Now we
see the violence inherent in the system.”
As with the Gaza flotilla, the
Viva Palestina convoy, the weekly separation barrier protests and the Boycott,
Divestment, and Sanctions movement, there is a fundamental asymmetry between the
positions of the Palestinians and the Western participants in the March. For the
Palestinians, nonviolence is merely another tool on a spectrum. Violence is
almost never completely disavowed.
Indeed, stone-throwing is not regarded
as violence at all, just free speech; and the “absolute right of people under
occupation to resist” is inevitably paired with the phrase “by whatever means
necessary,” making protestations of nonviolence unpersuasive.
case, the demand for a “right of return” carries the explicit threat of violence
at all levels – personal, legal and cultural.
But the logic of Western
supporters of the March and other such “nonviolent” protests remains puzzling.
Once in Gaza or the West Bank, these “nonviolent” Westerners typically consult
and consort with Hamas leaders who espouse genocidal intent toward
When in gay-slaying Iran, they modestly don local garb to show
respect for local sensibilities. They remind us again of the red-green alliance
between the Western Left and Muslim groups, a complete unity of vision and
method at whose core is the determination to see Israel destroyed.
why the continued attraction of the Left to fascism? Why do staunch secularists,
Christian universalists and a few Jews fawn over clerical fascists who are both
forthright and experienced in their oppression of other religions and of women?
Why do staunch anti-imperialists eagerly follow the black banner of Islamists
who loudly proclaim their pursuit of a global Islamic empire? Stupidity no
longer suffices as an explanation; perhaps only deep-seated self-loathing and
desire for self-annihilation will do. Metaphorically, this is accomplished
through the submergence of the self in the whole, or literally through
extinction of that which is different. There is also the pursuit of strident
ideological conformity, and there has been a continuing Western romance,
somewhere between a dalliance and an embrace, with “revolutionary” violence. All
are features of fascism.
That Israel is the first target of this impulse
toward revolutionary self-rectification is wholly predictable. At one level,
there are no contradictions in attacking Israel for being both theocratic and
“ethnocratic,” for both its capitalist modernity and cosmopolitan
post-modernity; Israel is the universal villain, and the March supporters are
just classical anti-Semites. At another level, we see again that when there’s
annihilating to be done, self- or otherwise, Jews are expected to go
That anti-Israel protesters do not lift their voices against
Syria, or Iran, or Hamas need only be mentioned in passing; such sanctimonious
hypocrisy killed the concept of “human rights” long ago. A decade after
philosopher Michael Walzer asked, “Can there be a decent Left?” the Global March
to Jerusalem shows how hard it is to answer in the affirmative.