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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The myth of Palestinian Arab non-violent "resistance" (updated)

In Foreign Policy, Yousef Munayyer writes about "Palestine's Hidden History of Nonviolence."

He implies that the first organized violence done by Palestinian Arabs was only in 1935:
It wasn't until nonviolent protests were met with severe repression that Palestinian guerrilla movements began. After the 81-year-old Husseini died a few months after being beaten, a young imam living in Haifa named Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam (the namesake of Hamas's military wing) organized the first militant operation against the British mandatory government. His death in battle with British soldiers sparked the Arab rebellion that began in 1936 and lasted until 1939.
Amazingly, Munayyer doesn't say a word about the 1920 Arab riots (5 Jews killed), the 1921 Arab riots (43 Jews killed) and the 1929 Arab pogroms (over 100 Jews slaughtered) - riots that were planned and coordinated by the infamous Mufti of Jerusalem.

Was this an oversight, or purposeful deception on Munayyer's part? Well, let's look at how he describes the Arab revolts of 1936-1939, which Arabs call the Great Rebellion:

The first phases of this revolt began with nonviolent resistance in the form of more strikes and protests, and the economy ground to a halt for six months when Palestinian leaders called for a work stoppage. This was put down harshly by the mandatory government, according to British historian Matthew Hughes, including the bombing of more than 200 buildings in Jaffa on June 16, 1936. The repression of both violent and nonviolent Palestinian dissent significantly destroyed the capacity of Palestinian society, paving the way for the depopulation of Palestine and the establishment of the state of Israel a decade later.

The idea that the first six months of the revolt were non-violent is a complete falsehood. As I have proven previously, Arabs were killing Jews from the very beginning of the revolt, in April 1936. On April 22, 7 were killed in Jaffa. Later that week some 6000 Jaffa Jews evacuated their homes from fear of the "nonviolent" demonstrations.

In May, three were killed at a bomb thrown at the Edison Cinema, and three more were shot dead in Jerusalem.

The "Great Revolt" was violent through and through, and ended up with the murders of not only many Jews and British, but also Arabs killing hundreds of other Arabs who they felt were not sufficiently supportive of the cause.

Munayyer then goes on to come up with a new definition of non-violent resistance:

In reality, even though the majority of the native inhabitants were depopulated during the Nakba, thousands of Palestinians practiced nonviolent resistance by refusing to leave their homes when threatened.
Here he turns history on its head. Many, if not most, Arab communities were not directly threatened by the Zionists - in fact, there were major communities like Jaffa where the Zionists called for the Arabs to stay, yet those who stayed were threatened by other Arabs for "collaborating" with the Zionists. Now, Munayyer is saying that the ones who stayed in fact were practicing resistance against the Zionists!

His lies don't end there.

The first and second intifadas were very different. In the first intifada of the late 1980s, Palestinians employed various nonviolent tactics, from mass demonstrations to strikes to protests. Even though the vast majority of the activism was nonviolent, it is the mostly symbolic stone-throwing that many remember.

In fact, there were some 164 Israelis killed during that "non-violent" intifada. Not only that, but about 1000 Palestinian Arabs were killed - by other Palestinian Arabs, who claimed that they were "collaborators'!

Yet, only 12 of the 70,000 Israeli soldiers regularly posted in occupied territories during the intifada died in the four-year uprising, clearly demonstrating the restraint with which Palestinian dissent was carried out.
Notice how he frames his statement, that "only" 12 soldiers in the territories were killed. In fact, in total, some 60 of Israel's fatalities were soldiers.

The only conclusion is that Munayyer is knowingly being deceptive towards his audience, banking on the fact that most people do not check "facts" that are stated so unequivocally.

Munayyer is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the readers of his column. Will anyone call him on it?

(h/t Omri Ceren via tweet)

UPDATE: The very knowledgeable Yisrael Medad adds that Al-Qassam's organized terror group started around 1930, and that the first violent act of the 1936 Arab riots occurred a week earlier than I stated, on April 15th, with the murder of two Jews near Nur Shams.