Khader’s Victory

Khader Adnan did not die on hunger strike – after 66 days he accepted a compromise which involves him being guaranteed release on April 17th, with Israel promising not to renew his term of administrative detention. He did not achieve a full victory – Israel has not rescinded the practice of administrative detention. However, his example of resolute determination has rallied Palestinians from all factions in common cause, and has been heard around the world and been compared with Bobby Sands’ hunger strike in 1981, which is seen as an an important turning point in the history of the republican struggle in Ireland.

Perhaps what is most important is that Khader Adnan’s hunger strike drew world attention to Israel’s policy of administrative detention. This policy was reported as “controversial” even in major US media sources.

But it is not important to decide which aspect of the hunger strike is “most important”. What is promising about the hunger strike against administrative detention is that it is a form of non-violent resistance which can rally supporters of Palestine regardless of their belief about a solution or settlement, or about what forms of resistance are appropriate. If you believe in violence, than opposing administrative detention is a military tactic. If you believe in non-violence, then it’s a human rights issue. And whether you oppose Israeli Apartheid in all its forms, or you aim to establish a Palestinian state next to a racist Israeli state which will continue to prevent the return of refugees and oppress its Palestinian minority, you can still support the hunger strike against administrative detention.

Palestinians and activists standing in solidarity with Palestine must sustain the conflict with Israel. If peace in all its forms is the precondition to a peaceful settlement, then a peaceful settlement will never arrive, because Israel has nothing to gain from peace if it already has it. The question is then: how to conduct the most successful kind of war – and non-violent resistance must be understood as a tactic of war, the open use of symbolic force against the Israelis. Khader’s steadfastness and his achievement of release conditions may well be a symbol for the most effective form of symbolic resistance against Israel available today.

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