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'Readings in Nonviolence' features extracts
from our favourite books, pamphlets or other.
Readings in Nonviolence uses the space this month to review
powerful books which face the challenges and contradictions
of non-violence when confronted with structural violence and
As this is being written, it is exactly 40 years
ago this week since the 6 days war. Israel and Palestine have
not solved their problems and the Palestinian people live
in horrendous conditions, which are caused by and a consequence
of the conflict, and the Middle East remains a boiling volcano
ready to erupt.
New Society Publishers in cooperation with Resource Centre
for Nonviolence, Santa Cruz, USA, 1985
by R. Scott Kennedy (Author), Mubarak E. Awad (Author
R. Scott Kennedy is an American peace activist
with significant experience in the Middle East.
Mubarak Awad is a Palestinian-American psychologist
and advocate of nonviolent resistance. Awad, who is also a
Palestinian Christian, was born in the eastern sector of Jerusalem
which was at the time, occupied by Jordan which invaded in
1948 and illegally annexed the city. He emigrated to the United
States in 1969. He was given the right to Israeli citizenship
in 1967, but refused and kept his Jordanian citizenship. He
later became a U.S. citizen.
In 1985, Awad traveled to Israel, where he established
the Palestinian Centre for the Study of Nonviolence. Prior
to the first intifada, Awad published papers and lectured
on nonviolence as a technique for resisting the Israeli occupation.
He wrote that nonviolence could be used as a means of resistance.
The Centre also sponsored a number of nonviolent actions during
the early months on the first intifada. Among the tactics
employed was the planting of olive trees on proposed settlements,
thereby taking advantage of the Israeli law forbidding the
confiscation of land upon which fruit trees are growing.
After permitting him to stay months beyond the
expiration of his tourist visa, Israel expelled Awad in 1988.
He returned to the United States, where he founded the organization
Nonviolence International. (Bio details taken from Wikipedia.)
The book combines two case studies, which each
author had published elsewhere. Both case studies focus and
base themselves on the belief that strategies to achieve either
justice or security in the Middle East can not be achieved
by violence, so the only way possible is non-violence.
In his chapter, Scott Kennedy cites Johnathan
Kuttab, a Palestinian lawyer who says: " Here is a modern
day example of a non-violent campaign, of a people very small
in number, facing incredibly powerful odds militarily, saying
"We do not have a military option. It does not pay us
to throw rocks or stones. We can never outviolence the Israeli
army. But we can - through unity, cooperation and taking a
principled stand, and accepting suffering - just refuse to
cooperate and withhold our consent, and reasonably come to
a solution that reserves and preserves our own rights and
interests, at least in some measure."
Mubarak Awad says in his piece: " Non-violence
is not an innovation in the struggle of the Palestinian people.
Palestinians have used non-violent methods since the beginning
of the 1930s side by side with the armed struggle in their
attempts to achieve their goals and challenge Zionism. The
six months strike of 1936 and the Arab boycott of Israel are
two prominent examples of the use of non-violence in the service
of the Palestinian cause."
By Bill Sutherland by Matt Meyer
African World Press, Inc., Asmara 2000
In its foreword, Archbishop Desmond Tutu says:
"Bill Sutherland and Matt Meyer have looked beyond the
short-term strategies and tactics, which too often divide
progressive people. They have begun to develop a language
which looks at the roots of our humanness beyond our many
The following review taken from the internet
captures well the book:
I finished this book a few weeks back. It is
excellent. Most of it consists of posing devil's advocate
type questions from a principled pacifist perspective to people
who led anti-colonial struggles and held state power in a
number of African countries.
It brings to the fore many questions regarding pacifism, nonviolence
and the state that today's anti-globablization activists need
to consider. The discussions with Kenneth Kuanda and Julius
Nyrere stand out in my mind. These were people who had to
deal with key questions of justice, power, compromise and
violence. (Incidentally I was not even aware these fellows
were still alive.) These are uncomfortable questions that
some folks in movements here in the North spend a lifetime
evading. Straight from primary sources it is a little rough
in places and better organized bibliographic references, perhaps
assembled at the end of the text with more information, would
be a big plus. But a great and important book nonetheless.
If you are serious about non-violent revolution you should
not ignore this book