Cross-posted by Gary Fouse
Martin Luther King
In response to my last peace on "Pacifism and Peace", one of my co-respondents has pointed out the examples of Martin Luther King and Mohatmas Gandhi, two apostles of peace and non-violence who achieved great success in bringing reform to the United States and India respectively. I think his point is worthy of a longer response, so here goes.
The point of my original article is that pacifism in the face of evil does not bring peace. As examples, I used Code Pink and Adolf Hitler. The implication was obvious given world events. I was equating Hitler to Hamas. In terms of degree, perhaps not a fair comparison, but I consider Hamas evil because they use terror as a tactic, desire no negotiated settlement and want to destroy the State of Israel. My point was that pacifism toward Hamas and their terror tactics is useless.
As for Gandhi and King, that is a different situation. Both men led protests against injustices in India (a British colony at the time) and the US. Their efforts were anything but futile. India gained independence, and King (though assassinated) inspired a nation to end segregation and protect the rights of black people. The important difference here is that both men were operating in countries and systems that were fundamentally civilized, decent, and grounded in the idea of equality (even if not always practiced). Both nations were able to reform their inequalities peacefully within the system without the need for a violent revolution.
My co-respondent, in his retort, points out the lynchings of blacks that occurred in the US South. Indeed, those were barbarous practices, often carried out with the acquiescence and/or participation of local law enforcement officers. Yet, never did they represent something that was legal, nor were they approved of by the United States Government. Beginning in the Civil Rights era, the Federal Government began investigating such crimes. True, many local all-white juries often acquitted defendants, but even today, state murder charges or federal civil rights charges are being brought against those men who did these crimes decades ago. (The civil rights charges are a tool used by the US Government when state prosecutions have been thwarted.)
Let me turn to the Palestinian issue. Since Israel is a democracy and a civilized state, I firmly believe that had the Palestinians emulated the practice of Gandhi and King, they would have reached a settlement with Israel and had their own state decades ago. Indeed, all they had to do was accept the 1948 arrangement, which would have set up two states. Instead, the whole Arab world rejected it and turned to war. Then, unable to defeat Israel by force of arms, the Palestinians turned to terror-killing innocent civilians, not only of Israel but other nations as well.
So can the Israelis practice pacifism in the face of those who hate Jews and want to wipe their country off the face of the map? I say no more than they could have with Hitler. Sadly, Martin Luther King and Mohatmas Gandhi would have achieved nothing against Hitler and the Nazis. They would have been arrested and never heard from again. (Yes, I know that both men were arrested in their own countries, but for very short periods, and they were quickly released. Let me also point out that their assassinations were not orchestrated by the American or British governments.)
In short, people like King and Gandhi are usually successful in decent countries when their cause is just and the population sees that changes are needed. When they are dealing with corrupt, brutal governments or other entities that want only their death and destruction, they can accomplish nothing except garner international support (which Israel has little of). The only solution for a government like Hitler's was to overthrow it. The Germans were unable to do that; thus, it took a horrific war to remove Hitler. And yes, tragically, millions of innocent Germans (and Japanese) had to die because of their evil governments.
People like Hamas, Hezbollah, the radical Islamic terrorist organizations, and the government of Iran are not interested in negotiated settlements unless as a ruse or to provide a needed temporary respite. Their ultimate goals remain unchanged-to eliminate Israel and spread Islam world-wide even by force if necessary.
In dealing with people like Hitler, Hamas and Islamic-terror, there is only surrender or fight.