I note with dismay the correspondence provoked by my commentary last week (“Nonviolent protest offers little hope for Palestinians”). My critics fall into two camps. The first accuses me of excusing or justifying violent Palestinian attacks on Israelis. This is a gross misrepresentation. I simply explained why Arun Gandhi’s message of nonviolence is likely to fall on stony ground in the occupied territories. Sadly, the suicide bombing in Beersheba on the day my commentary was published appears to confirm my point.
“I am coming to speak about peace and non- violence,” Arun Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, told the Jerusalem Post newspaper shortly before he arrived in the Middle East to preach a message of mutual respect, love and understanding to two conflict-weary publics, Israeli and Palestinian. At his first rally in East Jerusalem last week, Gandhi led thousands of Palestinians, including Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, and a handful of Israeli peace campaigners on a march against the wall being built across the West Bank. Under the banner “No to violence, yes to peace”, the protest was designed to promote the path of Palestinian peaceful resistance to Israel’s military occupation.