On the New York Times Op-Ed page Thursday, Mustafa Barghouthi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, cleverly shifts the linguistic terms of the Palestinian national struggle, casting it as a battle for freedom (as opposed to "statehood," which freedom implies), invoking the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King and Gandhi. He writes:
When, precisely, is a good time for Palestinian freedom? I call on Mr. Solana’s replacement, Catherine Ashton, to take concrete actions to press for Palestinian freedom rather than postpone it.
If Israel insists on hewing to antiquated notions of determining the date of another people’s freedom then it is incumbent on Palestinians to organize ourselves and highlight the moral repugnance of such an outlook.
Through decades of occupation and dispossession, 90 percent of the Palestinian struggle has been nonviolent, with the vast majority of Palestinians supporting this method of struggle. Today, growing numbers of Palestinians are participating in organized nonviolent resistance.
In the face of European and American inaction, it is crucial that we continue to revive our culture of collective activism by vigorously and nonviolently resisting Israel’s domination over us…
A new generation of Palestinian leaders is attempting to speak to the world in the language of a nonviolent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions, precisely as Martin Luther King Jr. and thousands of African-Americans did with the Montgomery bus boycott in the mid-1950s.
We are equally right to use the tactic to advance our rights. The same world that rejects all use of Palestinian violence, even clear self-defense, surely ought not begrudge us the nonviolence employed by men such as King and Gandhi.
I’m not sure how Barghouthi settled upon his 90 percent figure, but the omission of what the other "10 percent" has been about — airplane hihackings, suicide bombings, rocket fire from Gaza at civilians, stabbings, bulldozer rampages, etc. — omits more than half the story, and the reasons for Israel’s restrictions of certain Palestinian liberties.