“If only there was a Palestinian Gandhi” has been a common refrain in recent years. Yet in reality, Palestinians have a long history of relying on nonviolence. However, this nonviolence has received no constructive response from either Israel or the international community. The failure to acknowledge and welcome the Palestinian nonviolent movement serves to prolong the conflict and its negative effects, and lays bare the refusal of the international community to address the rights abuses at the heart of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. This article narrates Palestinian use of both violence and nonviolence in their struggle to achieve national self-determination and other basic rights, and assesses the potential of nonviolent action to enable a just resolution of their situation.
Within Palestinian society, the term shahid refers to anyone killed by the enemy. In the West, however, the term is used for those who undertake “martyrdom” operations (such as suicide bombings), individuals Palestinians call istishhadi .
Indeed, the reality of Israel's expanding settler colonialism has led a number of commentators to argue that the two-state solution is no longer feasible and that only a “one state solution” remains. This could comprise a single democratic and secular state across Israel, the West Bank and Gaza with equal rights for all citizens – an option which Israel refuses to countenance as it would require the Jewish state to relinquish the religious identity of the State and its largely ethnocratic system of governance. Others fear that if the current reality continues, the future could witness an Israeli incorporation of presently occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem with the consolidation of apartheid for Palestinians. These two options ultimately pose the choice between democracy and the extension of apartheid. For wider discussions on these issues, see Abunimah ( 2006); Tilley ( 2005); Faris ( 2013).
For an in-depth discussion of the blockade, see UNOCHA ( 2015).
See, for example, discussions in Beaumont ( 2015).
For a more detailed discussion on the situation facing Palestinian universities, see Bekhradnia ( 2009).