Nonviolent Peaceful Alternative
for Proceeding With
Father Raed Awad Abusahlia
A myth says that a giant sent a letter threatening another competing giant in a neighboring land. When the latter received the message, he tore it, cursed the sender and rushed for revenge, the ground was shaking under his feet. When the sender heard the footsteps, he was scared to death. His wife cooled him down and advised him to lie down in bed and hide so that she could handle the matter using the “brain” mechanism rather than the “muscle” mechanism. She then covered him with a blanket, leaving out his huge feet. When the furious, roaring giant approached, she expressed her regret at the absence of her husband and begged the giant not to raise his voice so that her “son” would not wake up. When the giant looked and saw the protruding feet, he said to himself, “If this is his son, how would the father look like!” He was frightened and ran away.
I did not narrate this story
at the outset with the intention of foiling the extraordinary efforts being
exerted in resisting the occupation, despite the fact that we are fighting a
giant boasting of his strength. I narrated it so as to put forward a new idea
that is not based on the mechanism of the “muscle power” but on another
mechanism based on the “brain power” and the “Power of Truth” derived
from rightfulness and UN resolutions.
I will call this alternative
mechanism “nonviolence” in the Gandhian sense of the term Satyagraha,
which means “Power of Truth” or the “Power of Love.” It was used by that
skinny man, with the great spirit, the Mahatma Gandhi, who was able to defeat
the “Empire on which the sun never sets”, drive away British occupation of
the Indian subcontinent and force the greatest power in the world at the time to
grant his country its independence. Likewise, his student, Martin Luther King
Jr., used the same method to liberate blacks in America from slavery and racial
discrimination on the basis of color, and achieve equality and full civil
rights. The contemporary Nelson Mandela, as well, was able, while in prison for
27 years, to defeat the government of South Africa which, for over a century,
practiced the Apartheid policy against blacks. The voice of reason and truth
finally prevailed in all the above cases.
Our case is no less
complicated than the above cases, and is not of a lesser justice and legitimacy
at all. In our struggle, we have used some nonviolent means, especially during
the first Intifada with the freedom fighter, Mubarak Awad, who established The
Palestinian Center for Nonviolence Studies. However, when the Israeli
authorities realized the danger of such techniques, they put him in prison and
released him after three months provided he leaves the country. He now lives in
Washington and heads Nonviolence International. I visited him two years
ago while preparing my Ph.D. dissertation on Violence and Nonviolence in
Islamic Thought. I pleaded with him to come back and resume his struggle.
But his many obligations there and the unsuitable atmosphere here prevented him
so far from coming back. This does not mean that his ideas have died and become
forgotten. They are still useful and could be effective and efficient.
Therefore, I call upon my
Palestinian brethren to adopt the Nonviolence Strategy that is based
on the following clear principle, “The Palestinian people, possessing the
force of truth and UN Resolutions, is stronger with stones than with arms, and
still even stronger with olive branches than with stones.” Nonviolence
attempts to seek civil, nonviolent, defensive means that enable people to
organize real resistance for averting any aggression, instead of doubling
condemnations that—experience has taught us—are useless and ineffective.
Consequently, it is essential to have historical courage, lay down arms and
stones, and raise again the olive branch that President Arafat raised in his
famous speech in the United Nations in 1974 when he said, “I have come here
carrying an olive branch in one hand and a gun in the other. Do not let the
olive branch fall down from my hand.” Yes, the olive branch alone will be
I am very much convinced,
for very valid reasons, that this period necessitates choosing the olive branch
I outlined above my idea and
the driving forces behind it. However, I call upon the political, religious and
the people’s leadership to study the idea and develop it as soon as possible.
It will be advisable to consult local and international specialists in this
field, especially academics who conducted relevant research.
I end my letter with a verse
from the Bible: “Love your enemies and pray for those who hate you.”
For loving our enemies does not mean submission and weakness or
relinquishment of our rights, but rather claiming those rights with the force of
I know very well that these
strategic ideas require knowledge and understanding, education and preparation,
time and leadership. But I also know that it is good to start now before it is
too late and before more blood is shed.
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