Written by Neve Gordon Neve Gordon
Published: 01 April 2018 01 April 2018
The Passover massacre in Gaza was by no means an exception in the long history of Palestinian resistance.
For decades Zionists have blamed the Palestinians for Israel's ongoing colonial project. "If only the Palestinians had a Mahatma Gandhi," many Israeli liberals have exclaimed, "then the occupation would end."
But if one truly wished to find Palestinian Mahatma Gandhis all one needed to do is look at the images of protesters on Friday night's news broadcasts. An estimated 30,000 Palestinians joined the nonviolent March of Return, which aimed to set up a few camps several hundred meters from the militarised fence surrounding the Gaza Strip. Their goal was to protest their incarceration in the world's largest open-air prison as well as the massive confiscation of their ancestral land - after all, 70 percent of Gaza's population are 1948 refugees whose families had owned land in what became Israel.
As Gaza's residents marched towards the militarised fence, I sat with my family, reciting the Haggadah for the Passover holiday, which tells us that "In every generation, it is one's duty to regard oneself as though he or she personally had gone out of Egypt". In other words, while the soldiers shot live bullets at the peaceful demonstrators, these soldiers' parents were being asked to imagine what it means to live in Gaza and what it would take to liberate oneself from such captivity. And as my family went on to sing, "No more shall they in bondage toil, let my people go," news sites reported that the number of Palestinians killed had reached 17, while several hundred had been wounded.
The accusation that Palestinians have failed to adopt non-violent methods of resistance, and therefore share responsibility for Israel's ongoing subjugation and dispossession, not only completely disavows the vast asymmetry in power relations between the coloniser and colonised, but, just as importantly, fails to consider the political history of anticolonial struggles, not least the Palestinian one itself. Indeed, it completely ignores the fact that Israel's colonial project has been upheld through attritional, protracted and widespread violence, and, despite what certain Western media outlets might present, the Palestinians have developed a robust and long-standing tradition of non-violent resistance. Moreover, the demand to adopt a non-violent ideology completely elides the history of other liberation struggles: from Algiers to Vietnam and all the way back to South Africa.
Read more: Gaza's Passover massacre