Civil Disobedience Is The Palestinians’ Best Option

By Dr. Alon Ben-Meir

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
January 15, 2015



Image by Sam Ben-Meir

The use of violence to end the occupation has not served the Palestinian cause well, instead making matters worse as it hardened the resolve of successive Israeli governments to deal with violent extremism with an iron fist. The current bloody clashes, often referred to as the ‘Knife Intifada,’ and the killing of innocent Israeli bystanders outraged just about every Israeli regardless of their political leanings (and for good reason), when in fact the Palestinians need to draw the Israelis to support their cause. It is time for the Palestinians to seek other means by which to convey to the Israelis and the international community the intolerable conditions and misery under which they have been living for decades. They must do so through persistent and collective civil disobedience and irreproachable non-violent non-cooperation.

Notwithstanding their suffering and despair under occupation, the Palestinians have been led astray by their own leaders, as they have failed to mobilize the majority of Israelis who seek peace to support their legitimate cause. On the contrary, through their acrimonious narrative and acts of senseless violence, they have managed to alienate this critical segment of the Israeli population whose support they need the most.
Though civil disobedience is not alien to the Palestinians, they often resorted to violence as their first choice. After seven decades of largely violent conflict, the Palestinian people must now come to the conclusion, if they have not already, that violence against the Israelis is counterproductive and only plays into the hands of the extreme right and weakens moderate Israelis.

Moreover, no matter what kind of violence the Palestinians employ, Israel will prevail now and for the foreseeable future. This leaves the Palestinians with a single option - civil disobedience - which requires immense courage, patience, and inner strength, and will prove to be far more potent than any violent act, provided they never resort to violence regardless of intimidation and even violence used against them by Israeli forces.

Past violent confrontations between the two sides offer a telling story. The first Intifada (1987-1993), which started as a non-violent mass demonstration, was transformed into violent resistance where more than 1,000 Palestinians were killed. The second Intifada (2000-2005) was violent from the start with armed attacks, fire bombs, and suicide bombings, which led to an Israeli counter-offensive inflicting massive destruction in the West Bank, with a death toll of nearly 4,000 Palestinians and more than 1,000 Israelis. This deeply disillusioned every Israeli and deepened their distrust of the Palestinians.

Remaining passive to the occupation is entirely unacceptable to most Palestinians as they continue to suffer with little or no hope for the future. Many Palestinians believe that Israel will happily settle for the status quo by maintaining the occupation and expanding the settlements, all while making the Palestinians’ lives unbearable in order to force them to leave.

The current clashes seem intended, from the Palestinian perspective, to engage the Israelis in a low level of violent resistance to prevent massive retaliation. It also sends a clear message that the occupation offers no security if only a handful of Palestinians can create such havoc throughout the country.

What has not been given much attention is civil disobedience, which is perhaps the most effective way to change the dynamic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is no better time than now to embrace non-violence to make their case.

To be effective, civil disobedience must take the form of collective peaceful resistance. The narrative and actions of Palestinians should be focused on their state of affairs, but there must be no preaching of violence, incitement, nor reacting to violence with violence, which can only bestow a strong moral component to their cause.

The 1960s US civil rights movement offers a close parallel to what the Palestinians could adopt as their framework of resistance. The injustice in this context is the occupation itself, governed by military laws which by their very nature are discriminatory and abusive; thus, peaceful defiance of the laws of the occupation is called for.

Martin Luther King Jr. put it succinctly when he said: “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

Civil disobedience includes many measures geared toward raising the Israeli public conscious because ultimately, the Palestinians’ best weapon is to mobilize the Israelis themselves to demand from their government an end to the occupation, which best serves Israel’s national security interest.

Such tactics include: engaging in silent protests in front of checkpoints and along the separation barrier, burning Israeli-issued ID cards, ‘Freedom Rider’ style protests (riding on buses normally used by settlers), peaceful demonstrations especially by Palestinian women, large solidarity marches, occupying strategic public places, ‘die-ins’ (where a large number of people lie down and refuse to move), chaining oneself to objects and to one another, defying curfews and laws that ban the flying of the Palestinian flag while strictly prohibiting the burning of Israeli flags, and filling Israeli jails by peacefully surrendering to the Israeli security forces, which is extremely costly, burdensome from a security perspective, and demoralizing to the Israelis.

As Mahatma Gandhi observed: “An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law of nonviolence says that violence should be resisted not by counter-violence but by nonviolence. This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment.”

During all peaceful demonstrations and marches, the Palestinians should carry banners featuring slogans such as “we want peace,” “we want justice,” “we want a two-state solution,” “we respect Israel’s right to exist,” “we want peaceful coexistence,” “enough hate and enough pain,” etc., which would challenge deep-seated notions among Israelis that Palestinians want to destroy Israel rather than make peace.

As Mubarak Awad, one of the Palestinians’ foremost pioneers of civil disobedience during the first Intifada, eloquently stated: “When you are willing to sacrifice everything for your freedom—without arms, even without stones—even if the government attack you, the Israeli public will have to see you in a different way. We have to make them choose what kind of people they are.”
This type of civil disobedience would strengthen the hands of the Israeli peace movement and encourage them to engage in similar non-violent non-cooperation in solidarity with the Palestinians, which would be a game-changer.

More importantly, engaging in civil disobedience will have a psychological effect on the Palestinians themselves as they will discover that persistent non-violent resistance is the most powerful way to positively impact the peace process and set the tone for peaceful coexistence.

Even after seven decades of bloody conflict, neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians can afford to resign themselves to the status quo. They have the solemn duty to pass on to the next generation the lessons of the futility of violence, and that peace will come only in the absence of violence.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for
Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and
Middle Eastern studies.                             Web:

Paul Jeebah Albert
Thanks Dr. Alon Ben-Meir.

I wish that the Palestinians had realized long time ago, that the violent path to achieving their goals from Israel is futile. They would have avoided those deaths and miseries as you aptly stated in your essay.

The prevailing internal politics of Israel always puts pressure on the prime minister to make security as one of her top priorities. Therefore, much resources are given to the buying and development of lethal weaponry, and the planning and training of its military forces. Any prime minister who would do the contrary is seen as weak and eventually booted out.

From what I gathered after reading the essay is that the ball is now in the Palestinians' court to begin the process of a non-violent struggle; and this will not be an easy road given the history of a people whose pscyhe has been entrenched in a gotterdammerung or a doomsday kind of style for effecting social change.

Moreover, non-violent social change would mean a new way of thinking. The Palestinian leader or group of leaders will have to embrace its principles and be willing to translate them into the Palestinian culture. This arduous task will entail walking on a tight rope as radicals could misinterpret it as a sell out to the Israelis and threaten assassination.

Whatever the case, violent approaches have always been suicidal for the Palestinians as you eloquently put it. Israel is aware that she exists in a hostile environment and it makes her hyper-vigilant. The non-violent approach will be long but it is the right thing the Palestinian authorities can do to ensure the peace, integrity, and prosperity of their culture in time to come.

Paul Jeebah Albert at 09:40AM, 2016/01/18.
Even if you have a slow network, you can easily change the video quality settings to watch videos without any buffering.
showbox at 11:54AM, 2016/10/14.
An internal video player is made in the recent update, therefore, we don’t need any external video player to play videos.
Xender at 01:12PM, 2016/10/21.
showbox app
I really like your blog articles. Thanks for the insight you provide the readers!
showbox app at 08:27AM, 2016/11/24.
Showbox movies online
Thank you! All well-written and interesting. I look forward to exciting new blog!
Showbox movies online at 02:25AM, 2016/12/05.
To your attention a very good app to watch movies online on Android devices Showbox for PC Broadcast of the films is from several sites. Loved the rich array of themes movies. The films are presented in different quality, it is very convenient.
Showbox at 12:21AM, 2017/01/15.
Alexandr Lukin
PokeMesh in almost no time has grabbed a large amount of population across the globe. The more you use it the more you get addicted to its features, especially if you are a Pokemon fan
Alexandr Lukin at 06:13AM, 2017/01/18.
Alexandr Lukin
There are quite a few Android emulators available on the market that work on iOS devices like iPhone or iPad. Terrarium
Alexandr Lukin at 10:01AM, 2017/04/01.
Check more beautiful and busty Delhi escort girls and cheap Escorts in delhi with delhi high class escorts services.

best call girls in Dwarka
Anamika at 07:20AM, 2017/04/04.
Thank you so much for visit such an interesting post. I am happy to visit here.
steve at 04:22AM, 2017/05/06.
Lukin Alexander Vasilievich
The app has a clear-cut graphical user interface to make sure this app could be quite fast used by anyone away at house. showbox app download for tablet
Lukin Alexander Vasilievich at 12:32PM, 2017/05/07.
Lukin Alexander Vasilievich
Update: Android 6.0 Marshmallow users are facing some issues to download movies from megabox hd APP to on their mobiles. Those users follow the below step to download movies.
Lukin Alexander Vasilievich at 10:32AM, 2017/05/23.
Escorts in Delhi
Hello, I am independent escort in Delhi girl and I am 22 year old. I am an open minded girl from childhood. I have spent my life in high society.
Escorts In Delhi
Delhi High Profile Escorts
Dwarka Escorts
Connaught Place Escorts
Aerocity Escorts

Escorts in Delhi at 12:35AM, 2017/08/15.
Black magic Specialist in Delhi at 02:39AM, 2017/08/16.
Without going to the hassle of torrents or downloading, you can directly stream all the content to your iOS device. In this case, you can bring all those movies into your iPhone or iPad screen.
MovieBox at 10:10AM, 2017/08/19.
Lucky Patcher
Easy controls, intuitive interface options taken by developers. The scanning of the applications takes a minimum of time, as the use of a patch.
Lucky Patcher at 05:40AM, 2017/09/10.
showbox for pc
The aging parents NIL Toula, friends and cousins always find it difficult to deal with things and take out time for her.
showbox for pc at 10:40AM, 2017/09/27.
Independent Escorts in Delhi
I will remember you whole life with my heart and I will remember you all the time. I have been living in Delhi since childhood. I know every area here, in every corner of the corner I have roamed in Delhi. I want to work as an independent Delhi escort before the heart

independent escorts in Delhi
High Profile Escort Delhi
Independent Call Girls Delhi
Dwarka escort services
Connaught Place Escorts
Lajpat nagar independent escorts
Call girls in south ex
Aerocity Escorts
Independent Escorts in Delhi at 01:29AM, 2017/09/29.
Call girls Delhi
Welcome to my comments, the most popular Delhi escorts! Ideal girl for initiates romantic relationships are available 24/7.
escort service in Vasant Vihar
Indore escorts service
Dehradun escorts
escort girls in Aerocity
Call girl in Ahmedabad
escort service in CP
Call girls Delhi at 01:54AM, 2017/10/04.
Amritsar Escorts
Appear to Amritsar Escorts Agency. We supply escorts companies in Amritsar to a assortment of consumers, alternative from tourists who are excursion our nation on your own, specialised country checking out Amritsar for commerce rationale, right remaining to couples hopeful to get far better their association with the use of escorts. In any respect your determination for human currently being below, we undertake a stirring and remarkable link when you choose one particular of our incredible moderately priced Amritsar Escorts.
Amritsar Escorts at 12:34AM, 2017/10/08.
Lucky Patcher app
The potential of this program is just huge, ranging from a cut of advertising to complex hacks games for money and other useful resources.
Lucky Patcher app at 07:07AM, 2017/10/15.
Black magic specialist
[url=]Best Astrologer in India[/url]
Black magic specialist Astrologers have grown in large best quantities in India today, people make big promises, mislead people, talk about doing good, they will bring lost love back, but trusting those people may have come very tragic.
Black magic specialist at 12:42AM, 2017/10/27.
gurugram champ
gurugram champ playschool and daycare
gurugram champ at 04:09AM, 2017/11/01.
Mobdro for Android
The up-to-the-minute rendering 2.0.48 is released few days ago with around new activated changes. Developers changed the interference and scheming of this app in this update. Now you wickerwork sorting the channels by alphabetical logical, languages and besides set parental lock in case your kids are victimization this app.
Mobdro for Android at 01:06PM, 2017/11/01.
Bhopal Escorts
I Liked This Blog Thanks for sharing for information. pease visit my website.
Bhopal Escorts at 05:39AM, 2017/11/03.

Post your comment

You can use following HTML tags: <a><br><strong><b><em><i><blockquote><pre><code><img><ul><ol><li><del>

Confirmation code:

Comments script

© 2016 by The Perspective
To Submit article for publication, go to the following URL: