Palestinians need to follow Gandhi Doctrine?
by, Mujahid Hussain
When world was divided into two blocks and each block was trying to attract other countries into its gambit, things were different. A cold war doctrine allowed use of militancy as a legitimate means for movements busy in fighting for their rights and independence. After the fall of Soviet Union, this narrative began to change. It touched its conclusive peak after the sad events of 9/11 and world decided that all kind of militancy in Islamic region will be condemned. It had a huge impact on the freedom movements that were active in different parts of this globe. Kashmir is a classic example of this change of heart where armed struggle had to be abandoned after 9/11. Even Russia and China silently became part of this new international consensus. This was end of using weapons and guerrilla warfare as a strategy for the freedom fighters in Muslim World. In this all-important historic backdrop, Hamas began its horrifying onslaught with suicide bombings in Israel.
There is another factor that every Muslim movement must take into account while working out its strategy. We are part of a chapter of history where things happen only when West wants it happen. Whether we like it or not, this is an irrefutable reality. Western democracies are always sensitive towards their public opinion but after 9/11, the fear of militant Islam has taken deep roots into the Western societal fiber. This is why if we want to gain sympathy from a common man who is able to compel his government for some action, we must re-consider our strategy. Militancy will find little favor and smaller protests in Western society.
Before proceeding forward, let’s have a look at the situation in Palestine’s neighboring countries which are ruled mostly by either hereditary monarchies or military dictators. Both forms of government are always sensitive about any ideology that has capacity to overthrow them. Political Islam is the worst nightmare for these kings and dictators. Unfortunately Hamas supports The Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that has always been a threat for all Arab countries due to its aggressive ideology. Its sympathizers are spread throughout the Arab society. The fact that Hamas is affiliated to Muslim Brotherhood bars Arab rulers from showing real support for Hamas, despite public pressure and discontentment. They will rather stand with Israel to crush Hamas than supporting an organization that clearly states it preference for democratic style of governance. We have already seen Egyptian government proposing a ceasefire that meets Israeli demands and rejects what Hamas is fighting for. It is a known fact that other Arab countries have also favored these ceasefire proposals.
If we accept the above mentioned proposition, the next question to be asked is what should be the way forward for Hamas or any other organization busy in a legitimate struggle? The answer lies in the philosophy presented by Mahatma Gandhi; a public uprising that uses non-violence as their weapon. Intifada was a popular movement which refrained from indulging into militancy. But still it forced even USA to use its influence over Israel and find a solution to this conflict. Now time has come that Palestinians should study the technique and strategy that Gandhi used during the independence movement in the Sub-continent and change its strategy accordingly. It will be a huge surprise for Israel and the states supporting it. It will change the perception of Western public opinion about Hamas position in this chronic conflict and a powerful wave will emerge among common people that will compel their governments to play an active role to safeguard Palestinians rights. It will not become possible overnight but still Israel will not be able to stand it for more than a few years. There is a strong possibility that public pressure within Israel will force the government to solve this humanitarian riddle of suffering on one side and constant sense of insecurity on the other side. In today’s scenario, if a movement uses weapon as a means to achieve some valid objectives, world accepts the use of force from government in retaliation and despite all brutal handling by state power, you can’t earn sympathy of the world.
The dilemma of Arab rulers’ nonchalant attitude to this issue can also be fixed because they can’t resist international pressure. If powerful countries from West and East agree to find a peaceful and workable solution, they have the capacity to force Israel as well as Arab countries to accept it.
This will also become a model for other militant movements that have so far failed to attract sympathies of international community for their cause.
(Written a few years back when Hamas and Israel were engaged in a fierce war)