Can nonviolence end the Israeli occupation? – Issa Amro interview


October 14, 2017

Late on Friday, Al Jazeera aired an interview with prominent Palestian human rights activist Issa Amro. As a part of the weekly UpFront- show, presenter Medhi Hasan asked Amro, who’s been recognised by both the European Union and the United Nations for his tireless work, about his persistent advocacy for specifically non-violent action.

Amro was asked if he could understand that many of his fellow countrymen, repressed for so many years, would rather fight back instead of using a peaceful sit-in or other civil-disobedience tactics. “If a Palestinian under occupation wants to fight back against an Israeli soldier illegally occupying their land, what is wrong with that in your view?” asked Hasan.

“It is not about what is wrong. It is not about armed resistance versus nonviolent resistance. On the contrary. The armed resistance is allowed under international law, to resist the occupiers. But it is about tactics, and what is possible. About what you win and how you will win. Palestinians practiced people’s resistance in the first Intifada and it went very well, we were achieving a lot. In the second Intifada, we lost a lot from [more violent tactics], and the price was very very high. So it is about tactics and strategies, and about what kind of resistance will make you stronger. […] Non-violence as a tactics now is just the best tool to end occupation.”

Where Amro has been dubbed ‘the Palestinina Ghandi’ by many, his views are not at all those of so called ‘principled non-violent resistance‘ grounded in religious and ethically based injunctions against violence. Rather, his adoption of non-violence is a strategic choice, simply waging the impact of both forms of strategy. “I simply think that civil disobedience will make the cost of the occupation higher.”

Rather than being embraced by political leaders on both sides, Palestinian security forces arrested Amro in September for a Facebook-post criticizing the Palestinian Authority arresting a journalist. Amro is also awaiting trial in an Israeli military court for a series of charges, dismissed by international rights groups as baseless.

“It is part of my struggle. To teach the international community, who is asking us day and night to do nonviolent resistance, to tell them who the occupier is, how they attack human rights defenders, […] how they will take me to jail for a few years for only using nonviolence resistance. […] There is no change without a price.”

Watch the full interview with this courageous acticist via this link on Al Jazeera (starting from 12.15).

Photograph: (interview PrtSc)