Over the past summer, Gaza suffered unprecedented devastation. “The wounds of this war,” Harvard political economist Sara Roy laments, “could prove too severe to heal.” In the meantime, Israel continues its illegal and inhuman blockade of Gaza, while it also aggressively pursues illegal settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem.
But the picture is not unrelievedly bleak.
The British House of Commons overwhelmingly expressed support for a Palestinian state. The Swedish government just formally recognized it. An increasingly deranged Israeli government has even managed to alienate its faithful benefactor in Washington. And, most important, Palestinians continue to resist the dismemberment and destruction of their country.
The Chinese character for crisis also denotes opportunity.
Indeed, we have a unique opportunity to shape the political debate on Palestine’s future. The public now perceives that Israel has not just thwarted but also actively sabotaged a just and lasting peace. It is ready to give Israel’s critics a fair hearing.
In my new book, Method and Madness: The hidden story of Israel’s assaults on Gaza, I provide the critical background to Israel’s cynical bloodstained policy. I document Israel’s recurrent resort to brutal force, not in retaliation against Hamas violence but, on the contrary, to preempt Hamas’s “peace offensive.” I show that the dual purpose of Israel’s periodic assaults on Gaza has been, on the one hand, to provoke Hamas violence, in order to justify its continued occupation and, on the other, to use Gaza as a punching bag in order to restore Israel’s “deterrence capacity”—that is, the Arab-Muslim world’s fear of it.
However, my book does not just reconstruct and analyze the hidden facts. It also proposes a concrete political strategy. I argue that only mass nonviolent Palestinian resistance synchronized with the Palestinian people’s biggest asset—the solidarity movement abroad—can achieve a resolution of the conflict based on international law.
What if, I suggest in the conclusion, the quantum of time, energy, creativity and ingenuity channeled into building the tunnels (a wondrous feat of civil engineering), were instead invested in Gaza’s most precious resource: the people? What if they organized a mass nonviolent demonstration demanding an end to the blockade of Gaza? What if 1.8 million Gazans marched on the Israeli crossings under the banner, STOP STRANGLING US! END THE ILLEGAL BLOCKADE OF GAZA! What if Gaza’s one million children stood at the head of the march? Yes, children. Wasn’t it the “children’s miracle” in Selma, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement that broke the back of segregation, when Black children, positioned in the front lines, fended off police attack dogs and high-velocity fire hoses? What if Palestinians found the inner wherewithal to stay nonviolent even as Israel fired murderously on the crowd? What if the vast reservoir of Palestine’s international supporters simultaneously converged, in the hundreds of thousands, on UN headquarters in New York and Geneva, enveloping and blockading the buildings?The best that can be said for armed resistance is that it has been tried many times to break the siege but failed. The worst that can be said for mass nonviolent resistance is that it hasn’t yet been tried. Shouldn’t it at least be given a chance?
If we master the facts and interpret them correctly, and if we match the courage and conviction of the people of Palestine, I remain convinced that justice can yet triumph. Method and Madness is intended as a small contribution to that noble end.