Many Palestinian Protestors Already Use Nonviolent Tactics

Israel is escalating its quiet campaign to round up and detain
nonviolent Palestinian protesters, from leaders to children, in
nighttime raids. And although these protesters remain committed to
nonviolence, the world continues to believe the Palestinian struggle is
mainly based on violence.

Israeli authorities have been detaining nonviolent protesters for
years under the media's radar, so it's not commonly known that
nonviolent actions happen every day or that Palestinian nonviolent
resistance has a long history dating back to the early 1900s.

Recent remarks made by Bono, New York Times columnist
Nicholas D. Kristof, and President Barack Obama, stating they hoped
Palestinians would find their Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi,
highlights the presumption that the Palestinian struggle is mainly
violent.

This presumption is inaccurate and the dismissal of the people
who have sacrificed time, money, and even their lives to fight injustice
with nonviolence is callous.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Palestinian refugees from camps in
foreign countries, seeing no resolution after decades of displacement,
chose armed struggle. More recent suicide bombings in Israel reinforced
the perception of violence.

Despite the continued use of nonviolence by different sectors of
Palestinian society, several factors have hindered a cohesive civil
disobedience movement from blooming.

Israeli policies are repressive and brutal. The use of live
ammunition, beatings, destruction of property, rejection of building
permits, constant threats, repeated administrative detentions, and the
escalation in arrests is discouraging and has been effectively
obstructive.

Members of foreign nongovernmental delegations who are perceived
as critical of Israel or sympathetic to Palestinians are increasingly
denied entry or proper work permits for the Occupied Territories.

Sami Awad, Coordinator for the Holy Land Trust, a not-for-profit
community support organization committed to nonviolence and the
teachings of MLK and Gandhi, says "Nonviolence is not something that
happens overnight. It's not a means to end the conflict tomorrow. It's
something that evolves over long periods of time."

Complicit too is the media's tendency not to cover nonviolent
actions that completely ignores the vital nonviolent struggle and
committed activists.

Palestinian leaders like Ghassan Andoni, Mustapha Barghouti,
Jamal Juma', Abdallah Abu Rahme, Mohammed Othman, and Jean Zaru, among
others, continue to speak publicly and organize actions to nonviolently
protest injustices.

Israeli and Jewish activists join Palestinian initiatives
regularly. Neta Golan, Jeff Halper, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, and Ezra Nawi
are just a few. "Internationals" from other countries also participate,
facing beatings, arrest, bullets, and teargas from Israeli forces.

Many Palestinians have been killed while taking part in
nonviolent protests. Basem Abu Rahme, a charismatic and popular leader,
was killed during a protest in Bil'in. Foreign protestors have also been
killed, such as Rachel Corrie from Olympia, Washington, and Tom
Hurndall from Great Britain. Israeli soldiers killed them both in Gaza
during two separate nonviolent actions. Tristan Anderson, an American
from Oakland, California, lies in a coma.

Navigating children through militarized checkpoints, attempting
to harvest crops while being attacked by Israeli settlers, and living in
a tent near the home recently taken over by settlers are all forms
of nonviolence resistance or as the Palestinians call it, "sumoud,"
meaning "steadfastness."

The millions of Palestinians who struggle against daily obstacles
peacefully, choosing blogging, boycotts, and creating YouTube videos to
nonviolently protest, should not be discounted.

To find the Palestinian Gandhi or MLK, the first step is to look
in Israeli detention centers. The next step is to let them out. A
sustainable peace is only possible when it is based on respect for each
other's humanity. Nonviolent protesters recognize this fact and may be
the catalyst to a long term solution.