Of Hobbes, Tibet and Palestine


‘… a defeated population, for fear of death, will authorize all the actions of the sovereign “that hath their lives and liberty in his power.”1 The defeated groups surrender should be unconditional and it should be signified as a relationship between the master and the servant. This “dominion” is then acquired to the victor when the vanquished , to avoid the present stroke of death, covenanteth, with in express words or by other significant signs of the will, that so long as his life and the liberty of his body is allowed him , the victor shall have, the use thereof at his pleasure.”2

Jabareen is referring to absolute surrender by the Palestinians to Israelis upon formation of the first Knesset and territoriality that was imposed on them through Israeli Parliamentary procedure, that exists to this day. There is the obvious comparison to Tibetans and the occupation by Chinese authorities that remarkably, covers an almost identical period of time and offers no sign of resolution in either case. Moreover, one can say with probable cause, the existence of an Islamic rebirth in the 20th century that had much to do with the subjugation of Islam to the new colonial powers beginning in the 18th century.
If, Tibetans, prima facie, were to exhibit the same tactics to avenge their occupiers mistreatment, Tibetans prima facie can expect little to no support from the international community, and may find themselves constantly ensconced in periods of renewal and rebuilding from the onslaught of Chinese munitions. Therefore, to draw a similar comparison to our Palestinian friends, is frankly, not very invigorating because, given the overcrowding and poor living conditions of Palestinians, they (Palestinians) still control some of their territory through their elected government. Tibetans cannot claim this right nor the right to freedom of speech or expression that we sometimes take for granted in the developed world.
Similar tacts by the international community and the United Nations in a post WWII universe; one stricture saw the formation of an Israeli state; the other, the absence of any meaningful dialogue with Peking regarding conditions inside Tibet. Israel’s management of the situation with Palestine echoes Hobbesian ideology in that obeisance to the state is based on “surrender and humiliation.” The international community lay witness to the carnage on Palestinians by Israel, and in an indirect manner, those nation-states that support Israeli Zionist policy. Further, it is apparent for all to see the backlash against Zionism that has been ruinous to Israeli security beginning with the First Intifada from 1987-1993; the Second Intifada from 2000-2005, and a Third Intifada, which occurred in 2014 around Jerusalem. In addition, the “Arab Spring” that began in Tunisia on December 18, 2010 can be considered a regional uprising and not a case of racial turmoil, that exists between Israel and Palestinian Arabs.Similarly, Tibetans are being marginalized by their Asian occupiers, despite a lengthy historical – geographical linkage.

Given the nature of Apartheid in Israel and the Occupied Territories, the similarity between Tibetans and China and the former remain mired in illegitimate support from the international community and those agencies that support those nation-states. It doesn’t take a wry economist to acknowledge the financial windfall of promoting trade with Beijing. Not so for Israel, that is surrounded by neighbours who would be quite happy to see it disappear from the Near-East. The crux is that the Palestine “state” has been granted reasonable recognition to file clams against the state of Israel through the ICC (International Criminal Court) for war-crimes; uprisings have seen a disproportionate number of casualties that Palestine has borne the cost of throughout both periods of unrest and peace. Tibetans, by comparison, and through mostly non-violent measures, resort to self-immolation to express dissent against their Chinese occupiers, and are not of a maudlin persona. The question is: why not? First, Palestinians have an elected government, that, while not given widespread credibility, does provide elections and support, if only token. Tibetans, by contrast, have a government – in – exile located in Dharmsala, India that provides a voice to the international community through its spiritual leader, The Dalai Lama and Political Leader or “Sikyong,” Lobsang Sangay. In 2008, during the 2008 Summer Olympics, Tibetans found a vehicle to express their disdain for treatment by Chinese officials through the mass media that was foisted upon Beijing . There was a good deal of unrest that resulted in vandalism and casualties to both sides; casualty figures comparable to Palestinian and Israeli recent conflicts. China’s response: shut down communication inside Tibet and take a hard-line against the Buddhist community, which continues in 2015. Barring a complete economic melt-down by China, the status quo seems most likely for Tibetans; the international community recognizes Tibet as part of China. In order to create a fair opportunity for Tibet, a strong presence by the United Nations (an expanded Security Council) combined with recognition by the ICC of the Tibetan Government in Exile, may provide vigour to Tibet’s hope for democratic reform. For now, Palestine, has a comparative advantage, yet, the “war of everyman against everyman” persists in Tibet and the Near-East.

1 Hobbes, Leviathan. 122

2Jabareen, Hassan. “Palestinians and Hobbesian Citizenship.” Multiculturalism and Minority Rights in the Arab World. Kymlicka Will and Eva Pfostl. Oxford University Press. 2014. 192.




Author: Kevin Kieswetter

Hello, I have continued studying part-time with an interest in the political situation in Tibet, and North America. I have a varied educational background as my cv illustrates. I hope that some on the blogosphere will have a look and leave a comment.

2 Replies to “Of Hobbes, Tibet and Palestine”

  1. Kevin

    When you refer to apartheid in Israel, I assumed you were meaning Israelis and Palestinians but what about the nature of the internal conflict between displaced Jews and natural Israelis I would be interested to hear your thoughts on that conflict.


    1. It seems that there is a conflict between Palestinians who are seeking Israeli citizenship, in recent times. Those Jews that may be displaced by Palestinian -Jews may result in further backlashes against the Palestinian state and further land grabs (any excuse would do for the Jewish state.) So, I am not sure of the conflict that you speak of between displaced Jews and natural Israelis. Any Jew from abroad has the right of return to the homeland and can receive Israeli citizenship, that could be displacing natural Israelis who have pre-existed before landed Jews return home.

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