settlements, walls and separating roads loom larger and more oppressively
than I had imagined. The settlements in trude everywhere and dominate the
The range of Palestinian non-violent activity against
occupation is larger, and richer in creativity, than I had imagined.
Non-violence is a superior strategy. (I gave examples from the lives of
Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.)
The work being done by Palestinians for strengthening
civil society – through educational and public health programs – is larger
than I had realized.
Many Palestinians I have met seem to hold both weapons in
their hands – in one hand the weapon of non-violent resistance and in the
other the weapon of constructive work, of strengthening civil society.
No matter how small, the victories achieved through
non-violent struggle and in strengthening civil society have enhanced
The spirit of the Palestinians I have met, including their
ability to laugh amidst hardship, is remarkable.
Faced by the looming settlements, I find it hard to
believe that the government of Israel is serious when it talks of wanting
an independent Palestinian state. The settlements, walls and separating
roads negate and nullify such a claim and will obstruct the creation of a
The government of Israel has used fear – genuine fear – to
pursue a policy of domination and expansion. This policy sees Palestinians
as an inferior race, less than human, not meriting equality or respect.
In fact this policy is interested in Palestinian land, not
in the Palestinian people. In the past, colonialists claimed that
colonialism was good for the colonized. No such claim is being advanced in
justification of Israeli policy.
Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Mandela said
that the liberation of South Africa is incomplete without the liberation
of Palestine. I would say the same about the liberation of India and
I become smaller in my own eyes if I don’t fight for
justice. Also, I will meet my Maker one day, who will want to know whether
or not I raised my voice for justice.
I salute the many in Israel, and the many Americans of
Jewish origin, who fight for Palestinian rights.
I have a question for the Almighty, who is also a God of
justice. I don’t know why a just cause remains short of victory for a long
Not long before his death (in 1988), Khan Abdul Ghaffar
Khan told me that the word that appears in the Qur’an more often than
almost any other word is Patience.
I cannot shake the Almighty to act. But I can disturb the
sleep of the international community.
On Easter Sunday, I had the amazing privilege of being in
two sacred places, the place of worship in Hebron at the grave of Abraham,
and the place of worship in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. In both places
I prayed silently for two things: for the liberation of Palestine and for
the well-being of my Jewish friends in Israel and in the USA.
Suggestions for Palestinians struggling non-violently:
1. Be patient.
2. Never give up your faith. The Soviet Union crumbled,
apartheid in South Africa crumbled, the occupation of Palestine will also
3. Be appreciative of one another. Instead of blaming a
colleague for what is not done, appreciate what is done. Live to make the
other person great. Then your team will become stronger, your cause will
prosper, and your greatness will also be seen. But if your concern is to
make yourself great, your team will weaken.
4. Continue the constructive work. Build the Palestinian
home. Make everything you do of the highest quality.
5. Continue to laugh amidst hardship.
6. Enlarge the non-violent struggle.
7. Strengthen the friendship and partnership of
Palestine’s Muslims and Christians. Let Palestine become an example of a
country where the rights of all minorities are fully respected.
What is the duty of the international community? It should
mobilize support for the just demands of the Palestinians. It should put
pressure on the government of Israel. And it should appeal to the sense
of justice in Judaism. It should rouse Judaism’s conscience.