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    Re: Text of the 'October Declaration' Archived Message

    Posted by Ian M on November 2, 2023, 12:45 am, in reply to "Re: Text of the 'October Declaration'"

    DTJ said: 'It really is strange that some types of killing are labeled 'terrorism' and ar therefore an abomination before the world; whilst another type of killing, which greatly outnumbers the first type and also involves the deaths of children and civilians, doesn't qualifiy as... 'terrorism'. '

    It's called the State's Monopoly on Violence, somewhat well summarised by Wikipedia:

    As was once put to me by a green party wonk, violent resistance by palestinians wasn't legitimate because they didn't have 'designated combatants wearing insignia that follow international humanitarian law', therefore you couldn't justify sending them arms to defend themselves the way the UK state saw fit to do in other situations under the guise of Responsibility to Protect:


    IM: Where is the R2P crowd every time Israel moves to brutalise the populations in Gaza and the West Bank? No imposed no-fly zones, no training of resistance fighters, no military or diplomatic aid worth speaking of. It sounds ridiculous to even mention it as a possibility, doesn't it? Same goes for other client states where 3rd world leaders are doing what the West wants, eg: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen. No problem when +they+ massacre protestors and violate human rights norms left, right and center. [...]

    GPW: I would tentatively be in favour of establishing no-fly zones over the Palestinian territories and certainly for pursuing an international accord that breaks the Israeli naval blockade, but training of resistance fighters? You want to arm Hamas? This is not a peaceful or sustainable solution. We should be working to disarm Hamas just as we should refuse to arm the IDF. Regarding state aid and reconstruction, the situation is that these things happen post conflict and once a state has been established, which is not the case. [...]

    IM: [...] re: Israel/Palestine my point was about the hypocrisy of R2P advocates, not a recommendation of policy towards that particular conflict. If they were to follow the same principles, as with Official Enemies like Gaddafi in Libya, when Israel decided to once again 'mow the lawn' (their description not mine) in Palestine they would be urging a no-fly zone, preventive attacks on Israeli offensive forces, sanctions or even regime change in Tel Aviv, and Palestinian fighters would be swimming in funding, arms and warm nods of approval for any number of atrocities they committed. Instead, silence. Or even blaming the victim. Which to me indicates they're puppets, or worse, active shills for western foreign policy goals rather than the principled moral agents they make themselves out to be.

    'We should be working to disarm Hamas just as we should refuse to arm the IDF.'
    - Not working to disarm the IDF? That leaves them with a considerable arsenal as you know... Why shouldn't the elected government of Palestine have a military? And what gives us outsiders the right to decide that they shouldn't have one when they so obviously need it? FWIW I wouldn't argue in favour of supplying them with arms, when there is so much good Britain could do by +not doing anything+ for a change (ie: stop supporting Israel). [...]

    GPW: 'Why shouldn't the elected government of Palestine have a military?'
    - They absolutely should be allowed to have a military. That is to say, designated combatants wearing insignia that follow international humanitarian law. That's not what Hamas do though. There is no military, they arm civilians and launch attacks from civilian buildings (such as the al-Arabiya building

    IM: [...] Talking about the latest Israeli assault last summer the Palestine Solidarity Campaign stated that it:

    'does not support the firing of rockets on civilian Israeli targets. However people living under military occupation are allowed under international law to resist that occupation, using violence under certain circumstances.'

    I don't know what circumstances those might be and I'm no expert on humanitarian law, but I imagine mitigating factors like the occupation, blockade, economic strangulation of Gaza coupled with the routine, often unprovoked violence by the Israeli military and settlers would figure strongly in any honest judgement of Hamas' actions (although not all militant resistance comes from them). It's important to note that, despite what the Israeli propaganda apparatus says (always faithfully relayed by the major international media platforms) rocket fire and other military actions from the Palestinians almost invariably come as a response to Israeli provocations, and the ceasefires are almost always broken by the Israeli military - see:

    Personally I refuse to condemn desperate acts of resistance when all other options have been closed off. Surely Hamas have been +reduced+ to arming civilians and firing rockets 'indiscriminately' - because they have no guidance system - since they have no access to the kinds of resources necessary to create the kind of fighting force you would find acceptable? It seems like you're the one now suggesting that we provide them with the funds for this! I think a lot of people, and probably a majority of Palestinians view international/humanitarian law as a joke, seeing as the major powers routinely violate it when it's in their interest to do so. Some say Israel's very existence is against international law - certainly the settlements are, although debating this in public is apparently verboten - . When a succession of US, UK and Israeli leaders are behind bars then maybe the laser-like focus on Palestinian rocket fire will be justified, as opposed to a deflection from Israel's far greater crimes. Chomsky put it this way in a recent interview:

    'Itís very easy to recommend to victims, ďYou be nice guys.Ē Thatís cheap. Even if itís correct, itís cheap. What matters is what we say about ourselves. Are we going to be nice guys? Thatís the important thing, particularly when itís the United States, the country which, quite rightly, is regarded internationally as the leading threat to world peace, and the decisive threat in the Israeli case.' (

    Anyhow, I think this all supports my original argument about double standards. Western govts had no qualms about the FSA not being an official military. Ditto the rebels in Libya and any number of other examples through recent history, eg: the contras, the mujaheddin, the death squads under Pinochet and Suharto. Hamas are routinely referred to as a religious-fundamentalist terrorist organisation, not as the elected government of Palestine; the contras were described by Reagan's speechwriters as 'the moral equivalent of our country's founding fathers' even as they were going around decapitating people they suspected of supporting the Sandinistas (the elected govt of Nicaragua). One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, and vice versa...

    GPW: 'people living under military occupation are allowed under international law to resist that occupation, using violence under certain circumstances - This is very much not a standard of international law, even considering the Martens Clause - , and indeed the status of those who do use violence under such circumstances is very much open to interpretation, hence the wildly different perspectives on how to justly address terrorism. If someone asserts this, ask them to point to the exact article of the convention.

    In any case even if there were such a right, it would still not be permitted for those using violence to target civilians (aka protected persons in the legislation) or attack indiscriminately in such a way that civilians would probably be harmed. Both of these are very definitely features of Hamas attacks, and war crimes just as much as Israel's actions that you correctly identify as such.

    IM: Interesting, thanks. I've seen various writers independently assert the legality of palestinian militant resistance, but not point to a specific clause as far as I can remember. Presumably it's based on something, albeit maybe not a majority interpretation. Will query it as you suggest and/or do some more research... So it's not even legal for them to defend themselves directly against military incursions if they don't do this as part of an officially recognised military of their own? Seems like a travesty of justice to me.

    Thanks also for the Martens link. Was fascinating to read the history behind that and some of the related wiki articles. I enjoyed this quote on the 'Francs-tireurs' from G.K. Chesterton responding to German general Erich Ludendorff's defense of the German army's treatment of French guerrilla fighters in WW1:

    "It is astounding how clumsy Prussians are at this sort of thing. Ludendorff cannot be a fool, at any rate, at his own trade; for his military measures were often very effective. But without being a fool when he effects his measures, he becomes a most lurid and lamentable fool when he justifies them. For in fact he could not have chosen a more unfortunate example. A franc-tireur is emphatically not a person whose warfare is bound to disgust any soldier. He is emphatically not a type about which a general soldierly spirit feels any bitterness. He is not a perfidious or barbarous or fantastically fiendish foe. On the contrary, a "franc-tireur" is generally a man for whom any generous soldier would be sorry, as he would for an honourable prisoner of war. What is a "franc-tireur"? A "franc-tireur" is a free man, who fights to defend his own farm or family against foreign aggressors, but who does not happen to possess certain badges and articles of clothing catalogued by Prussia in 1870. In other words, a "franc-tireur" is you or I or any other healthy man who found himself, when attacked, in accidental possession of a gun or pistol, and not in accidental possession of a particular cap or a particular pair of trousers. The distinction is not a moral distinction at all, but a crude and recent official distinction made by the militarism of Potsdam." (

    Also interesting how dependent the legal distinctions are on indefinite notions of 'the principles of humanity' and 'the dictates of the public conscience' - these are clearly not set in stone and can change over time, whether through consciousness raising (eg: dark-skinned people recognised as fully human) or deliberate manipulation of narratives by propaganda campaigns (eg: Afghan 'freedom fighters' in the 80's when they were fighting Soviet invader-occupiers vs. Afghan 'terrorists' when they fight US/UK invader-occupiers). I'd say the 'public conscience' is v. malleable, and can be directed to feel a certain way about certain people regardless of the reality of their situation. G.K. Chesterton is at liberty to defend the Franc-tireurs because they were allies in a fight against a common enemy. Would he have been so magnanimous towards people fighting their own similar resistance battles against the British empire of the time, and as such being subject to constant vilification in the press and popular culture? Somehow I doubt it...

    (Full exchange from back in 2015 posted here fyi: )


    Anarchists wisely reject the state's monopoly on violence (well, some do it unwisely because they just like violence), and clearly resistance movements in colonised countries are obliged to operate outside the monopoly because it's either that or be eradicated. But look at what manifests in reality and the words melt away. Blokes with guns go around taking stuff by force and killing people who get in the way. States are just mafia gangs that wanted to feel good about themselves so they dressed up their predatory behaviour in fancy uniforms and hifalutin' words about God and Law and Freedom and Democracy etc etc etc. They would be fine with Hamas violence if they used it to conquer and subjugate a neighbouring people rather than out of some quaint notion of trying to achieve justice for the chronically downtrodden.


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