Howard Zinn died five years ago today. This classic essay on nonviolence is adapted from his speech on May 2, 2009,...
It is with the greatest sadness, mixed with frustration, and a sense of helplessness, that many people around the world, myself included, have watched on television the horrific scenes of death and destruction perpetrated, yet again, by the latest Israeli military assault on Gaza and its besieged, mostly young population.
The question on many people lips is: "When is the Israel government going to stop this bombing and continual wars and threat of war, against the Palestinians, and its neighbors, admit that there will be no military solution to the Palestinian Occupation, and begin to talk seriously with their enemies, in order to solve the problems for the sake of the Palestinians, Israelis, and indeed the whole of the middle east and world?"
Watching Israeli bombs landing on Gaza and hearing the death toll rise, with hundreds of people injured, many of the world's people realize -- in spite of all of Israeli and Western media propaganda -- that this is Israel's continuation of its illegal policies toward the Palestinians: war, occupation, the siege of Gaza, the building of illegal settlements and the confiscation of Palestinian land.
The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, argues Israel's 'right to defense' and the Obama Administration continues, yet again, to support this bogus claim, and pledges to oppose those who would question Israel's illegal policies.
The Israeli government and military do not have a right to carry out indiscriminate bombing and killing of Palestinian civilians, nor under international law. Israel has an obligation to abide by international law and uphold the rights of occupied Palestinian people, and since it refuses to do so, third-party governments have a legal responsibility to take action and see to it that Israel is not allowed to act with impunity.
The retaliation of Palestinian militants with rockets (at the moment, little more than projectiles as I witnessed one day whilst at Eretz crossing in Jerusalem when one flew overhead from Gaza to drop in the field beside me, and simultaneously an Israeli Jet Fighter flew into Gaza to drop bombs on cities) is a crime against the Israeli people, and serves to create terror and fear in the Israeli families living along the Gaza border. These actions are illegal and counter-productive setting back the efforts for a peaceful solution.
Many Israeli/Palestinians know there is a non-military solution, which can break the continuing vicious cycle of violence. What is missing is the serious political will of the Israeli government, to be brave, have courage, and move away from militarism and war. And the Western powers must insist that Israel upholds international law.
The Israeli/Palestinian people can lead the way, by their own nonviolent movements, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns, to bring about real political change, and give peace a chance.
We can all do something for peace in the Middle East.
Mairead Maguire won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.
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