One like Marx, uses logical arguments to
One of the most long-drawn-out and continuousstruggles in the contemporary world is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thisstruggle for internal and external authority by Israel and the struggle for controlof an Arab state by Palestine is perhaps the most evident example of theconflict perspective in the field of International Relations. It is also one ofthe most obvious examples of the use of economic, political, cultural orreligious pressures to control or influence other countries in today’s world. Frantz Fanon and MahatmaGandhi are two individuals who have developed a significant body of theoreticalwork on the subject of colonization.
Fanon’s viewpoints on violence and the mindsetof the colonized can be significantly applied to the case of theIsraeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israeli colonization in the region has causedand brought large-scale violence and turmoil, and the ongoing war between thetwo sides, according to Fanon, is the inevitable result of the political andsocial oppression of the Palestinians by the European Jewish populations. Amidstthis violent conflict, however, people believe a Gandhi approach to thesituation might be the solution: a non-violence resistance. Fanon,like Marx, uses logical arguments to present the inescapable contradiction thatthe two classes of colonial society, the colonist and the colonized, have.
Fanon argues that the efforts at decolonization “set out to change the order of theworld,”(Fanon, 1965) and therefore “are clearly an agenda of disorder” (ibid). The Palestinians havecaused disorder by resisting and attempting decolonization to Israeli’s attempts to control the regions ofits West Bank and the Gaza Strip. To add to it, the two sides were unsuccessfuland failed to agree on the peace agreements for the reason that the conflictand contradictions are not resolvable within the current Israeli state. Even thoughthe Oslo accords required recognition of both groups and their states, the truthof the situation is that neither one recognizes the other: “the Palestinians, have not, in factrecognized the legitimacy of the national rights” of the Jewish state (Kuperwasser , 2011).
Fanon writes that the only way for the colonized to overcometheir oppression is to have the determination “to smash every obstacle encountered” (Fanon, 1965). Therefore, thereason for failure for groups such as Fatah, who support the two-state solution,is because they do not seek to solve the conflicts and problems throughviolence and the dissolution of Israel. Therehas been dissatisfaction with political groups such as Fatah for takingmoderate approaches. One example of such moderate approaches would be the riseof Hamas, after the 2005 parliamentary elections, as the prominent governmentalbody in the Gaza Strip.
There has been a loss of power for “moderate” Palestinian political parties sincethey have not been able to form and create an internationally recognizedPalestinian state. This has led to the resurgence of more radical parties suchas the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the Popular Front for theLiberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hamas, and Hezbollah. The violence has onlyincreased and intensified as the Palestinian majority is continuously oppressedpolitically, socially, and economically by the Israeli minority. The lack of representationof the Palestinians in the Jewish Knesset denies the Palestinian constituency tohave a sufficient voice in Israeli politics. Similarly, during the Algerianrevolution, Fanon documented similar radicalization. Fanon observed that parliamentarygroups with more nationals were defeated by the popularity of radical groupssuch as the National Liberation Front. Fanonis different from Marx and his Marxist theory because Fanon believes thatviolence is not only a “midwifeof history”(Kebede, 2001). To Fanon, violence is not just a method to steer in the nextsocial order, but he believes that violence also serves as a catharsis for the suppressed,or the colonized.
Fanon believes that the masses suffer psychologically ofinferiority when a gradual approach is taken for the colonial situation. Fanonrecommended violence for reasons surpassing the necessity of self-defense orthe removal of a rotten social system. He sees violence as a necessary therapyfor a cultural disease brought about by colonial subjugation” (ibid). For Fanon, violence againstIsrael is not only inevitable, but also therapeutic and beneficial.
Institutionalizedracism is something which Fanon believes is developed by colonialism. This iswhy Fanon believes that decolonization is always certainly violent. The onlyway the colonizers oppress and take away the humanity of the colonizedpopulation is by looking at them through a racist lens. The Israelis have theirown idea and belief that they are superior than the Arab populations and theIsraeli “occupationhas bred an aggressive ethnic nationalism that privileges the interests ofIsrael’sJewish citizens over those of its Arab citizens” (Krebs, 2011). It is through thisideology that the oppressed become truly “wretched” (Fanon, 1965). This is the reasonthat Fanon believes in the catharsis of violence. It is the only way for thecolonized to rid themselves of their oppressors and view themselves as humanonce more.
This allows the colonized to begin the “restoration of their dignity by a reevaluationof their history and cultural legacy which have been exposed to a systematicmisinterpretation and debasement” (Kebede, 2001). In this instance,the Palestinians have produced an ideology of violence and seek to restore itshumanity through the eradication of the colonized force and destruction ofIsraeli statehood and institutions. BothGandhi and Fanon argue that colonization is established and maintained throughviolent means.
But, Mahatma Gandhi asserts that “thosethat wield the sword shall perish by the sword”(Gandhi, 89). In other words, Gandhi believes that violence always leads to theperpetuation of further violence. Instead, Gandhi encourages colonized subjectsto embrace the practice of passive resistance or Swaraj. A lot of people feel that the answer to thePalestinian problems is having a Gandhi of their own. And there are a lot ofPalestinians who realise this as well and have used non-violence movements, andcontinue to do so to fight against the Israeli occupation.
But this group of people who take thenon-violence route almost always fail. The reason of their failure is thatthese people are either ignored, pinned down and oppressed by the Israelisecurity forces, or because they cannot keep up and lose momentum. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, thePalestinians attempted a non-violence protest with everybody coming together. Theychallenged the Israelis using protests, strikes, and other mass demonstrations.They continued to take the non-violence route until after a point of time inthe early 2000s the Palestinians had a second uprising, which challenged theIsraelis using widespread violence, including terrorist attacks against Israelicivilians.This whole sequence of events of aPalestinian non-violence movement can be seen in the documentary Five Broken Cameras.
The documentary was filmed by a Palestinian man in a time whenhis village was trying to stop the Israelis from building a wall that would havecut off the villagers from their olive groves. It shows us a non-violentPalestinian campaign take place and fail right before our eyes.The problem here is that somePalestinians are non-violent but the rest of the other Palestinians are violent.A non-violence movement can and will only succeed and be effective if only allPalestinians adopted it. “Even if most Palestinians wereconvinced of the virtues of non-violent resistance, it’s likely that there will be small groups who are stillcommitted to violence and will take the opportunity to act on a provocation” says Hussein Ibish (Stein, 2014). Gandhi had managed to bringa majority of people to follow him and his ideas. They all bought into hisideas and obeyed him and thus were able to sustain their non-violence movementfor a long time. Unlike violence, Swaraj requires profound self-controland the desire to understand truth.
While violence is motivated by fear, Swarajis rooted in fearlessness. Havingsaid this, people argue that India also did have independence movements whichused violence so it is not always one or the other. India had Gandhi’snon-violence movement and a violent movement side-by-side. Additionally, thereis no guarantee whatsoever that if all Palestinians were to drop violence, thewhole conflict and all the problems would be solved. “Observers often point out that Gazan leaders choseviolence, and they got a full Israeli withdrawal in 2005, but West Bank leadershave chosen peaceful compromise, and their reward has been ever-expandingsettlements and occupation” (Fisher, 2015). TheIsraeli-Palestinian conflict is undoubtedly a very delicate issue and ofsignificant importance. The debate still continues on whether to take theviolent road or the non-violent one to resolve the issues.
Some argue that theconflicts and issues can be solved peacefully but incidents such as “the Gaza-based militant group Hamas,by launching rockets and other attacks at Israelis, has only deepened the isolationand suffering of Gazans” (Fisher, 2015). The violence has only accumulatedover the years and that has left the Palestinians in even worse conditions. Non-violenceis certainly the path to take but there are not just enough Palestinian Gandhi’s to end the conflicts. Frantz Fanon’s theory that the colonized willfight back using violence is holding true in this case.
Fanon writes thatviolence is inevitable and is also very necessary if the colonized want todevelop their own new identity. The only way for the Palestinians to get theirown identity, according to Fanon, is by destroying the old culture andeverything that comes along with it. The only way they can overcome their oppressionis by creating and forming their own new social order. The outcome of the Israeli-Palestinianissue, through the lens of Frantz Fanon, looks very gloomy yet inevitable.