Barghouti’s call to popular resistance- echoes from Gandhi and the freedom struggle in India!
Marwan Barghouti’s call to initiate mass resistance does not sound too different from the call to civil disobedience that Mahatma Gandhi issued during the Indian struggle for independence. India’s freedom struggle underwent a paradigm shift under Gandhi’s leadership in the 1930s. Eschewing violence but stubbornly refusing to cave in to the oppressive and barbaric British rulers, Gandhi infused new notions into the struggle against British rule – non violent in nature but with an ever greater political potency. To Gandhi, popular resistance in the form of non-co-operation was the most compelling tool at hand. Civil disobedience swiftly stirred up and rallied the masses into a unified movement. Gandhi’s call to freedom was a shift from the hitherto moderate proportions that the freedom movement had acquired under the liberals, and the extremist dimensions it had threatened to be trapped by. Gandhi had taken the moral high ground. He sternly warned the British that his means were non-violent by preference. But he warned the colonizer that if they did not heed the language of peaceful resistance and non-violence, there were other means available! At the end of the day, the British left India not because they finally realized that it was wrong to rule India as colonizers. Gandhi had made India ungovernable for the British. It simply did not serve their purpose to linger on and not benefit. Ruling India had become untenable.
Marwan Barghouti’s call to mass resistance echoes the principles around which Gandhi centred his call during the freedom struggle in India. Barghouti contests the occupation authorities as well as those in the Palestinian political class. He alerts the leaders: “Stop marketing the illusion that there is a possibility of ending the occupation and achieving a state through negotiations after this vision has failed miserably,…It is the Palestinian people’s right to oppose the occupation in all means, and the resistance must be focused on the 1967 territories”.
Barghouti is not calling for violence but for ways that will cripple the occupation. Each of Gandhi’s tactics is not going to work with the same impact and effect in Palestine. The Palestinian struggle for freedom will find its own sense of identity as the struggle grows and matures into a large scale movement of popular resistance. If sticks and stones could bring the Israelis to their feet in some sense, and awaken the international community (The First Intifada), surely, the compliance of the masses of Palestinian people with Barghouti’s call to resist and ‘serve the cause of our people’ will set things on a different course.
For certain, the mainstream media will conveniently twist the message of Barghouti and attach connotations to it that suit their interests. But the records show that Barghouti was a man for peace, who was also fooled by the so-called peace process. What is important here is to recognize and acknowledge Barghouti’s core argument: There is no one to talk to in the Israel ruling classes.
And then Barghouti asks for abandoning cooperation. He is right because it is obvious that the coordination with Israel is merely proving counter productive whilst at the same time offering illusions that progress may be happening and solutions may be around the corner. The regime of settlements under aggressive pursuance by Israel is proof of Israel’s non-intentions to find a permanent peace. In fact, there is not a single ground on which progress can be counted. So, why coordinate and cooperate with Israel when it is unwilling to concede anything of substance? His unequivocal inclination is for the reconciliation of the Palestinian political divide which, by extension, is an expression of a united Palestinian resistance to the occupation.
Speaking to the BBC, Barghouti avers: “It is the Palestinian people’s right to oppose the occupation in all means, and the resistance must be focused on the 1967 territories”. It sounds all very well to pursue peace through various formulae but peace in the way Israel understands it at its very best is a Bantustan State that will not provide a way out from the main bones of contention in the essential demands of the Palestinians.
Peace will need to be the end product of any settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Justice must, however, serve as the foundation of that peace. Towards that end, Barghouti’s is a call that must be heeded. Hopefully Barghouti’s new strategy will eventually result in a situation when the occupation powers will have to withdraw because the occupation will simply be proven flawed and unsustainable.
Read: What Marwan Barghouti Really Means to Palestinians, By Ramzy Baroud
(Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).