Yuval Noah Harari has emerged as one of 21st century’s most recognised public intellectuals. In the midst of the Israel—Palestine war in Gaza, it is useful to revisit his 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, published in 2018.
He writes that “terrorism” is a “strategy almost always adopted by very weak parties who cannot inflict much material damage on their enemies”. They resort to terror because spreading “fear is their main story.” Most important of all, “There is an astounding disproportion between the actual strength of the terrorists and the fear they manage to inspire.” He goes on to say that terrorists calculate that when the “enraged enemy uses his massive strength against them, he will, raise a much more violent military and political than the terrorists themselves could ever create”. He further underlines, “provoking the enemy to action without eliminating any of his weapons or options is an act of desperation taken only when there is no option.”
Although in 2018, when the book was published, Harari like more Israelis, took virtually no note of Hamas as like most Israelis, was totally complacent that Israel’s military and intelligence had the Palestinians completely cowed, his extraordinary accurate of “desperation” leaving the oppressed with little “choice” but resort to foredoomed violence is that “since they are very weak and have no military option, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.” That is why Hamas unleashed its limited stock of missiles in virtually one go, then broke through the Israel barricades to capture about 200 hostages to bargain for release of their own men and women—some 2000 of them locked in Israeli jails.
They knew, of course, that Israeli would retaliate—and retaliate inhumanly, viciously and disparately. As Harari has predicted, “Fear and confusion will cause the enemy to misuse his intact strength and overreach”. So that, “Mistakes are made, atrocities are committed, public wavers, neutrals change their stance and balance of power changes”. For again as Harari says, “Terrorism is a military strategy that hopes to change the political situation by spreading fear rather than by causing material damage”.
There can be no peace without justice. And it is justice of which Palestinians have been deprived. For 75 years, Israel has been driving Palestinians out of their millennial homeland. To do so, it was Israel that introduced terrorism to West Asia. Organs like Irgun, Palmach and Stern Gang secured Independent Israel. At least two of their leading men became PMs of Israel: Yigal Allon and Menachem Begin.
Yasser Arafat, in retaliation, set up the Palestine Liberation Organisation, but after failed, sent his team for secret negotiation in Oslo. It led to the accord that brought Arafat from Tunis to Gaza City but instead of Palestinian state got only panchayati raj in Gaza Script, solving nothing. In consequence, Hamas won a free and fair election over the PLO. Ironically, it was Israel that funded HAMAS to divide Palestine resistance. Now HAMS has shown its true mettle to morally defeat Benjamin Netanyahu, exactly in the manner predicted by Harari. Harari even foresees this when he links “Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Narendra Modi and Netanyahu as peas spouting from the same pod.
Hamas will fight and Israel will retaliate until and unless resistance turns Gandhian and shakes the world’s conscience as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela did by basing their liberation movements on relentless, determined non-violent resistance. (IPA Service)