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Arabs need to try nonviolence

by Stanley Crouch Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 12:42 PM

Stanley is a program director for a Jazz center and the author of an upcoming biography about Charlie Parker.

Arabs need to try nonviolence

I have been thinking, yet again, about the Middle East since that Palestinian mother of two kids decided the time had come to blow herself up and take some Israelis with her.

This kind of violence has been gathering steam over the last year. Terrorism is no longer the business of only male Muslims. Now female terrorists also believe they can fly into the arms of Allah in bits and pieces. I wonder what the female equivalent of the 70 virgins supposedly awarded the male terrorist in heaven amounts to.

It seems to me that if the most extreme Palestinians were not so infected with their conventional attitude toward struggle - kill, kill and kill again - they might have considered the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s tactic: aggressive nonviolence.

Had they ever done that, there would have been a Palestinian homeland long ago. Israel would have had to make a deal with people who refused to spill blood but were quite willing to go to jail in large numbers - men, women and children - until they got their day at the negotiating table.

Men such as Ariel Sharon would not have become important in Israeli politics, because strongmen mean essentially nothing in the world of nonviolence. They can't make threats about using hit squads to kill terrorists, because the only weapons being used are nonviolent disruptions in the streets, the stores, the workplaces. Their tanks would mean nothing unless they were willing to give orders to run over the people seated on the road blocking them. Rubber bullets used on nonviolent people wouldn't play too well on television.

Due to a long and deep moral tradition, the Israeli people would begin to crumble and start to identify - with the women and children first, then the men. Eventually, the Israeli troops would refuse even to tear gas the nonviolent demonstrators. That is the nature of civilized societies - even those born and bred in a climate of hostility.

Though such an approach would have worked - and still would work - it has never seemed attractive to the Palestinian extremists. That's partly because it is unusual. And partly because, like Malcolm X and all the other fat mouths of King's lifetime, they've been influenced by the self-righteous fantasy violence that has been a staple of American entertainment, especially in the costume dramas, Westerns and gangster films that Hollywood has produced in great abundance for more than 60 years.

Nonviolence is the tactic of cowards, the anti-King contingent would say. A real man would stand up to the enemy with his gun in his hand - ready to die, if necessary.

Well, King won. That is something the Palestinians should consider. The human will of the people can always be stronger than the madness of the fools.

Originally published on January 26, 2004

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 16 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
A few questions for you. Anarchist Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 12:51 PM
put yourself in thier place Hex anon w/ encryption Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 1:02 PM
Excuse me Mama Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 1:38 PM
exposing troll bait means I suck ? Hex anon w/ encryption Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 2:44 PM
The Jenin "massacre"? lkjjkhhj Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 3:40 PM
out of the mouth of babes - the JCPA Hex anon w/ encryption Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 3:58 PM
fresca fresca Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 4:38 PM
Yup, I knew it. ';lkkljhlkj Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 4:40 PM
What the Pals do to those who are suspected of collaborating with Israel: ;lkjlkjhlkj Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 4:41 PM
What the Pals do to those who are suspected of collaborating with Israel: ;lkjlkjhlkj Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 4:42 PM
What the Pals do to those who are suspected of collaborating with Israel: ;lkjlkjhlkj Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 4:43 PM
"racist monsters like Hex" attacking the messager again ? Hex anon w/ encryption Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 5:06 PM
fresca fresca Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 5:50 PM
Gosh darn, Hex! ;lkjl;kkhl Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 at 6:14 PM
fascist more rational Thursday, Jan. 29, 2004 at 12:01 AM
more rational ';klkjlkj Thursday, Jan. 29, 2004 at 3:01 AM

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