pacifism has its limits

Dirk Gently always stressed the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, a philosophy to which I also adhere. This is why during the Martin Luther King Holiday, which commemorates a struggle by a people in the face of brutal oppression from without and extremism within, I am reminded of the Palestinians. Not because I am muslim and so are they, but because they are human and so am I. Some struggles have been lost, others mostly won - but at great sacrifice. And some continue into an uncertain future.

What makes a struggle for freedom successful? Is it pacifism? Many have vilified the Palestinians for not being like Ghandi, whose peaceful rebellion ultimately drove the British from India. Though Ghandi's methods were pacifist, the ultimate outcome of the political movement he sparked was the Partition, which was far from bloodless.

I was interested to see that Porphyrogenitus also had blogged about Martin Luther King, in relation to Ghandi:

Many have emphasized his pacifism today. That's quite appropriate. But in my opinion it's also right to emphasize the struggle for freedom. Contrary to what one may have been told, peace and freedom do not always go hand in hand. Not nearly. If Gandhi were up against a Stalin rather than a Churchill and a Atlee, he'd have been shot, along with as many of those who were in his movement as necessary to repress it.

Excellent point. Not to mention that the British people were ultimately sympathetic to the Indian cause, even though the cotton boycotts and other economic resistance caused great hardship in the UK.

Porphyrogenitus applies this to our impending "liberation" of Iraq. Fair enough. But when you think of the Palestinians in the same context - one has to wonder. How would Ghandi's peaceful rebellion have fared in the face of Ariel Sharon?

There were Ghandis and MLKs among the Palestinians, such as Sari Nusseibeh and Dr. Mustapha Barghoutibut they have been arrested, detained, and beaten repeatedly by the IDF. Marwan Barghouti, a popular moderate elected to the Fatah leadership (whom Arafat greatly dislikes as a challenger to his authority) has been arrested and is being tried by Israel for murder, accused of being a terrorist. Eventually, there won't be any moderates left to beat, exile, or jail.

UPDATE: Al-Muhabajah (who I sometimes call AM for short, no offense intended), has some insightful thoughts in relation to the topic. I should make it clear that I also support the right of the Palestinians to use violent resistance, even though I do not support Palestinian terrorists. Most anti-P pro-I readers may think this makes my position muddled rather than clear, I suppose.

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