The Palestinian Intifada against Israeli occupation has been raging for the last 19 months and the Palestinian People have endured so much pain and suffering. They have stood tall and put up heroic resistance against the brutal war machine of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) or more correctly the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces). The Palestinian People are now facing the darkest times during the last 19 months, but no one has any illusions that those people are going to bend to Mr. Sharon and will accept the continuation of the Israeli occupation. No matter how long the occupation will last , the Palestinian people will persist in their struggle, and determination to achieve independence and be on equal footing as Israelis and any other free people on earth. I feel very proud of my People and of their heroic steadfastness and I am confident as much as they are that they will become free .To move forward towards freedom however requires that we adopt a new strategy the cornerstone of which is non-violent resistance.
Some ask why should the Palestinians accept a nonviolent struggle when the UN CHARTER proclaims that people under occupation have the right to struggle “by any means necessary”. Are the Palestinians any less than any other people? The answer to that is simple. The leadership of a people has to study the objective and subjective conditions of its struggle very carefully and decide the strategy and tactics of the struggle. This should be done on a continuous basis because a political struggle is a dynamic thing and conditions change over time. Mistakes will be made but eventually a just struggle will triumph. In the case of the Palestinian struggle I am now confident that we have to follow a nonviolent strategy. Based on the world situation and the particularities of our struggle ,nonviolence is our best choice, and this is not because we are sub-humans but because we are called upon to be superhuman. We have to take the high ground in our struggle. Besides, this is the best and most effective path. The justice of our cause has become crystal clear worldwide, and the forces we can mobilize have become huge and will continue to grow and be very effective. Nonviolence is a liberating force to us and to the Israelis, and it has been very effective in recent times. I remember listening to speeches many years ago by the late Eqbal Ahmed, an eloquent speaker and a charismatic personality, originally from Pakistan who came to the US and became a professor and a peace activist during the Vietnam war. I heard him speak several times over many years and his advice to our struggle , to which he was very committed ,was to take the path of nonviolent resistance. Now his ideas ring true and loud in my mind.
Most people especially in Palestine will find it now very difficult or even impossible to accept the idea of nonviolent struggle after their experience during the last 19 months ,and especially the last few weeks. Also I have heard arguments that the Israelis will not allow a nonviolent struggle to develop. Some mention the experience of Mubarak Awwad a Palestinian who tried to start a nonviolent movement in the early eighties but the Israelis deported him and he ended up in the US. All that is true, but my answer is that there was never before a serious nonviolent struggle, and a serious nonviolent struggle has to be adopted by not one person but by a movement. A Palestinian nonviolent struggle requires the Palestinian leadership to adopt it and actively mobilize the Palestinian People to follow it. This means that hundreds and thousands of Palestinian political cadres have to be trained and involved in nonviolent action. To some, nonviolence may mean sitting at home and doing nothing ,but as I see it a nonviolent struggle is one that can organize and mobilize masses of people, thousands and then millions of people doing all kinds of protests and disruptions against the occupation according to carefully laid plans. Needless to say that a spirit of democracy has to reign at all levels. . Building such a movement which will ally itself with the Israeli peace movement and all truly democratic and peace movements across the World will insure the triumph of the Palestinian People for a viable state of their own and it will also be a triumph for the Israeli People and all Peoples in the region and all the forces of peace and justice everywhere.
I really have great love and admiration for those brave people in the Israeli peace movement who stand steadfast (regardless of their small numbers at this time), against the criminal policies of Sharon. I also feel the same towards the hundreds of people from Europe, the US, and other countries who travel to Palestine and Israel to act as human shields and defend human rights. A Palestinian nonviolent resistance will bring a new and strong life to both the Israeli and International peace movements and we will be able to see hundreds of thousands, marching and protesting in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Paris, London, Washington DC and other cities.
I appeal to the Palestinian leadership to lead the way. I know it is not easy, but we have to overcome the pain and bypass the hate and move forward proudly towards building the independent democratic state of Palestine.
Mr. Waleed Husseini contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from El Cerrito, CA, USA.