What exactly does he mean by this? He explained yesterday:
"A massive peaceful march of Palestinians to the locations of their ancestors’ homes in Israel would shock the world into taking notice if Israel ended up killing a couple hundred marchers," he told an audience in Ramallah. “Maybe the Israeli army would shoot and kill several. They may kill 100. They may kill 200 men, women and children. And that would shock the world. The world will get up and say, ‘What is going on?’... “That is the kind of electrifying action that needs to be taken.”In other words, Arun Gandhi is encouraging Palestinians to become Shahids. Probably not what most of us associate with the words, 'non violent'; but that hasn't stopped half the world jumping on the Arun Gandhi bandwagon.
If I were looking out for the Palestinians' best interests, however, I'd think a thousand times before paying as much as lip-service to Arun's rhetoric. It's not dissimilar, after all, to the advice his grandfather gave to the Jews in Palestine during the Mandate, about how to react to Arab pogroms:
...if only they would “discard the help of the British bayonet” for their defense, and instead “offer themselves [to the Arabs] to be shot or thrown into the Dead Sea without raising a little finger,” the Jews would win a favorable “world opinion” regarding their “religious aspiration.”We all know how well that would have worked out.
And it's not dissimilar, either, to the advice Gandhi gave to the Jews of Germany before WWII (summarized from the same excellent article in the NRO):
Were he a German Jew, Gandhi pronounced, he would challenge the Germans to shoot or imprison him rather than “submit to discriminating treatment.” Such “voluntary” suffering, practiced by all the Jews of Germany, would bring them, he promised, immeasurable “inner strength and joy.” Indeed, “if the Jewish mind could be prepared” for such suffering, even a massacre of all German Jews “could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy,” since “to the God-fearing, death has no terror”....We all know how well that worked out, too.
Through their strength of suffering, he promised, “the German Jews will score a lasting victory over the German Gentiles in the sense that they will have converted [them] to an appreciation of human dignity.”
The fact is, Arun Gandhi's message will bring more violence, not less, to the region. Whereas the Arabs and the Nazis were committed to destroying the Jews either way, Arun seems to be suggesting the Palestinians actually goad the Israelis into violence that they would not otherwise commit. If Arun Gandhi really wanted to help the Palestinians in a 'non-violent' way, he would not be urging them to physically sacrifice themselves where no sacrifice is necessary.
What he could have done is ask the Palestinians to lay down their weapons, prepare to make some real concessions, and return to the negotiation table. That way, we could avoid bloodshed altogether; which might not be what Arun means by 'non-violence,' but which sounds like a much better option for all parties involved.