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Billy King


Nonviolence News



June 2007

[Go back to related issue of Nonviolent News]

'Readings in Nonviolence' features extracts from our favourite books, pamphlets or other.

Confronting oppression
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 oppression.

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.

1. Nonviolent Struggle in the Middle East: The Druze of Golan: A Case of Nonviolent Resistance and Nonviolent Resistance: A Strategy for Occupied Territories (Paperback).
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."

2. Guns and Gandhi in Africa: Pan-African Insights on Nonviolence, Armed Struggle and Liberation.
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 private contradictions".

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

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