Violence as Methodology in Palestinian Armed Resistance and Revolution

By Jennifer Mogannam
Submitted to Session P4946 (Articulations of Struggle in Transnational Palestinian Resistance Circuits, 2017 Annual Meeting
Lebanon; Palestine;
Arab Studies; Colonialism; Cultural Studies; Diaspora/Refugee Studies; Pedagogy; Transnationalism; Zionism;
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was based in Lebanon between 1970 and 1982, the years preceding and the first half of the Lebanese civil war. In order to create space in Lebanon to operate as a governing body for Palestinians, the PLO used political and economic power to gain clout in the Lebanese landscape and allied itself with the front seeking revolution for Lebanon, the Lebanese National Movement (LNM). The relationship between the PLO and the LNM became one of dependence in fighting their respective struggles, struggles they both supported. While this support was socially and ideologically upheld, the internal power struggles of this alliance eventually led to its destabilization as a result of mismanaged acts of armed resistance (among other things).

Information will be drawn from oral history interviews with active participants in the struggle, both in leadership positions and as members of popular bases and will be coupled with discursive cultural texts. The active participants of both the PLO and LNM labeled this time as revolutionary and as the most liberating time in the struggle against Zionism. As such, this paper seeks to understand notions of revolutionary and liberatory praxes through the eyes of those active participants in the struggle.

This paper will intervene in questions of revolution in different colonial contexts, one being settler and the other manifesting through imperialism, to develop a notion of armed struggle in liberatory praxis. Specifically, it aims to analyze the question of armed struggle in revolutionary praxis in both the Palestinian and Lebanese contexts jointly and individually. This paper will debunk notions of a violence/non-violence dichotomy by situating armed struggle practices within spatial and temporal realities and drawing upon the context in which violence is enacted, as well as what is labeled as violent to begin with. As opposed to approaching violence as a binary, this paper will look at violence as a decolonial pedagogy and seeks to understand the stakes for such a methodology within the larger question of revolution. This paper works to juxtapose the question of armed resistance as it relates to revolutionary praxis and will work to theorize through and expand upon Frantz Fanon’s notion of colonial violence. As such, this paper will take up the question of the use of armed struggle as a tool for decolonization, exploring the question of militarizing resistance practices as modes of survival and sustenance in the context of statelessness.