October 14, 2010

Birmingham, Israel

Dallas Darling writes at today's World News Network about the sentencing by an Israeli military court of Palestinian nonviolence activist Abdullah Abu Rahmeh to one year in prison along with a fine of $1,400 (which is more than the average Palestinian annual income). He compares the situation to Martin Luther King's arrest in Birmingham, adapting King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" ... (click on the title of this post for the complete piece)

Israel is probably one of the most thoroughly segregated and intolerant nations. Its ugly record of police brutality and military incursions are known in every section of the Middle East. Its unjust treatment of Palestinians and Arabs in the courts is a notorious reality, as are the numerous false imprisonments of men, women and children. There have been more unsolved bombings and bulldozing of Palestinian homes and attacks on mosques in Israel than any nation in the Middle East. There have also been unsolved killings and a complete disregard for basic human rights and civil liberties.

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches, etc.? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are exactly right in your call for negotiation. Indeed, this is the purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a nation that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. I have worked against violent tension, but there is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth. It is the kind of tension that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and unity.

Nations and groups are more immoral than individuals. We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was "well timed," according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation and religious intolerance. For years now, I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Palestinian with a piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never!" We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that justice too long delayed is justice denied. ...

Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured as long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its pus-flowing ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must likewise be exposed, with all of the tension its exposing creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of global opinion before it can be cured.