counterviolence

Take forgiveness. Two levels here. One level: forgiveness means you shouldn’t develop feelings of revenge. Because revenge harms the other person, therefore it is a form of violence. With violence, there is usually counterviolence. This generates even more violence—the problem never goes away. So that is one level.

Another level: forgiveness means you should try not to develop feelings of anger toward your enemy. Anger doesn’t solve the problem. Anger only brings uncomfortable feelings to yourself. Anger destroys your own peace of mind. Your happy mood never comes, not while anger remains. I think that’s the main reason why we should forgive. With calm mind, more peaceful mind, more healthy body. An agitated mind spoils our health, very harmful for body. This is my feeling.
—  The Dalai Lama and Victor Chan, The Wisdom of Forgiveness

On the whole we have a severely underdeveloped conceptual understanding of violence. Failure to differentiate between oppressive violence, passive and active force, and resistance is common. They all get lumped together and treated as equal. This is a great disservice to the oppressed and our oppressors know it. They purposefully conflate oppressive violence with resistance in an effort (quite effectively) to decouple the oppressed’s natural right to self defense from the conditions which incubate militancy.

In part this decoupling is possible because we cannot always see the slow moving violence of the oppressor that’s right in front of us. It has been so thoroughly normalized that it takes on the camouflage of everyday reality.

Take homelessness as an example:

Aside from the fact that we can literally see it everyday, somebody, somewhere advocated for, funded, and made laws whose direct consequences proliferate poverty under the conditions of capitalism. This is perfectly legal, and since legality is the measure by which we have come to derive the moral value of what rules govern our lives, few see the inhumanity of institutionalized poverty and homelessness BECAUSE it is legal. It must be made obvious then that mass murder does not always require bullets – many do it efficiently with pens.

Certainly this isn’t new. From the constitution, with its “peculiar” dealing with slavery onward, injustices in America have been institutionalized.

We have to understand that this is where the violence is initiated. Reactions to it, forcibly defending ourselves from it by taking homes or food for our survival, no matter legality, by any means necessary, is the reinstatement OF morality in a system that is bankrupt of it. We cannot conveniently start the conversation at the point of self defense or resistance and call that the initiation of violence. Such is playing the oppressor’s game. It gives them the power to control the narrative and define our fight.

anonymous asked:

I'm Jewish and I'm quite conflicted about your messages. For one, you sort of lump all Jewish people as Israeli, which is not the case. (Not all Jewish people in ANY country feel the same about this issue) But, you ignore Israeli being harmed by groups like Hamas & legitimate concerns of Israeli people. That being said, I do NOT agree with what is occurring, but I don't see this problem as entirely one-sided as you seem to. This is a cyclical problem. I wish you more addressed it as so.

First, thanks for voicing your opinion. I don’t think I lumped all Jews in together when I said “The inability of Israel’s government and the Jews who support its actions to see the hypocrisy of what they’re doing is deafening” because not ALL Jews support the Israeli government, a point I thought was rather implicit in my phrasing. If it is not, then I’ll clarify now: I am aware that not all Jewish people align with the current actions taken by the government of Israel.

As for Hamas, I thoroughly disagree. The so-called terrorism Israel says it is fighting, in reality, is the counter-violence created by the terrorism it commits. As I have said before, there is a difference in violence and counter-violence. The former is oppressive, the latter is the retaliatory reaction to oppression and is absolutely vital to the liberation of a peoples ruthlessly subjugated. If Israel is really concerned with the alleged “terrorism” of Hamas, its most prudent action would be to immediately cease participating in the terrorizing of Palestinians. This is the nature of cyclical violence, but it is by no means equivalent when one party has the 4th largest military in the world and the backing of United States military might and the other has Soviet era rockets. 

To better understand Palestinian resistance, I offer the words of Jeff Sluka:

”The condemnation of liberation movements for resorting to violence or armed struggle is almost invariably superficial, hypocritical, judgmental, and unfair and tends strongly to represent another example of the generalized phenomenon of “blaming the victim.” The violence of the situation, the per-existing oppression suffered by those who eventually strike back, is conveniently ignored. The violence of the oppressed is a form of defensive counter-violence to the violence of conquest and oppression. In no armed national liberation movement I know of in history has this not been the case.”

— National Liberation Movements in Global Context

After decades of war on Palestinians and the occupation of their land, Israel has threaded through itself a clearly defined and widely accepted, yet often unarticulated, acceptance of violent oppression. It is, within the dissonance they abide, a fully rationalized phenomenon for its government, with full confidence of Israeli Zionists and the United States government, to carry out odious acts of state-sanctioned terrorism against Palestinians. Yet when those murdered, so clearly revealed in the scope of recent events, grow weary enough to fight against occupation, their counter-violence is totally fetishized, their humanity dehumanized. 

I can’t listen to the colonist’s narrative and take it seriously. 

Resistance. Counterviolence. Self-Defense.

These mean similar things. However, our culture, more often than not, purposefully confuses them with oppressive violence, attack, and a general notion toward chaos, all of which are methods to delegitimize and fetishize a people’s right to freely exist. You have to practice seeing this fallacy for a while, but when you get it your world turns completely. 

In the scope of unfolding events in Gaza, this “terrorist” mumbo-jumbo is meant only to derail the legitimacy of Palestinian resistance and give the veneer of legitimacy to Israel. This is little more than victim blaming.

“Gaza has no army, air force or navy. Israel is the fourth largest military power in the world. Resistance to occupation is allowed under international law. Israel’s occupation, siege and collective punishment of Gaza is not.”

“Terrorist” in this framework is a convenient epithet created by Israeli occupiers to decouple the counterviolence created by state-sanctioned murder of Palestinians. If Palestinian “terrorism” is real, it is closer to reality to call it counter-imperialism, only without the institutions and war-machines of the Israeli government to directly fuel it. 

Remember the definition of the word terrorism: the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. Let’s label Israeli settlers, their supporters, and their government terrorists. They actually fit the bill.