RAMALLAH, January 18 (JMCC) - The popular uprising in Egypt ended a thirty years long Presidency in eighteen days, and with relatively few casualties. It sets a new, unprecedented, benchmark of success for non-violent movements in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
“We are seeing a democratic revolution in the Middle East. This is only the beginning, not an end, to the uprisings,” I was told last Saturday by Mustafa Barghouti, a former Palestinian presidential candidate and head of the Palestinian Initiative, whose popular resistance coalition garnered 20 percent of the votes in the last elections.
Certainly, the conditions would be ripe. Peace negotiations are in shambles; a quarter of the population is unemployed, and Palestinians are incensed by the continuing settler violence, with two Palestinian villagers killed just in the past two weeks. Mr. Barghouti said that if the people do not see results from nonviolence soon, they would resort again to the use of force. Even so, two-thirds of Palestinians in the West Bank support a nonviolent approach, says Sami Awad, the head of Holy Land Trust, a Bethlehem-based organization focused on nonviolence.
Consider the message carried by local nonviolence heroes such as Sami Awad, Ali Abu Awwad, and Ayed Morrar – Palestinian Christians and Muslims who talked to me more about the need to assuage Israeli fear, trauma, and suffering than about Israeli occupation and brutality. Astonishingly, Mr. Awad, a Palestinian son of a refugee, told me, “We, the Palestinians, must do for the Jews what the international community failed to do – heal the trauma they have experienced. This would free both them and us.”
It simply does not get more compassionate and powerful than that, with leaders who are able to prioritize healing the trauma of the Jewish people in the face of so much immediate suffering in the Palestinian community. It’s amazing to see that these same movements are being sidelined – their leaders imprisoned, demonstrations shut down, and many protesters injured or killed. Since 2004, 21 have died in peaceful demonstrations against Israel’s separation barrier.
The winds of change are indeed in the air, and the whole region is being swayed by them
. With American encouragement, Israel should boldly engage these groups and reward their consecrated dedication to nonviolence, instead of sidelining them. Peace requires it.
Read more at the Christian Science Monitor...