A Palestinian’s Journey to Nonviolence

This week, Nonviolence Radio hosts Mubarak Awad, founder of the National Youth Advocate Program, which provides alternative foster care and counseling to “at risk” youth and their families. He is also the founder of the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem and of Nonviolence International, which works with groups and organizations all over the world. Michael asks Mubarak about his path from Palestine to the US, about his early work with kids in prison, about his long commitment to nonviolence (sparked by his mom), and about the recent violence in the MIddle East. Mubarak goes to the deep and entrenched roots of the problems between Palestinians and Israelis and finds clarity and hope:

There is always an alternative. It doesn’t matter what is the conflict, what is the problem, you have to create an alternative. Many times, people will come to [Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence] and they would say, “The Israeli soldiers, the Israeli settlers came and uproot all our olive trees that are hundreds of years old.” And I said, “Okay, so what do you want me to do? Is it to find those trees and bring them back?” They said, “No, we don’t know where they’re at.” I said, “Okay, let’s get groups together. Let’s get even Israelis with us and let’s go.” And they took 100 trees, 1000 trees. We’ll plant 4000 trees so that in years to come, we’ll have more trees than the original. And that’s how we start.

He highlights the need for both sides to listen and respect each other, however different their individual beliefs might be, “Our idea of understanding is first to respect other peoples’ beliefs. It doesn’t matter if you believe in it or not, they believe in it. That’s an important thing.” He stresses the need for equality amongst all people, “The Israelis have to see that they are not better or worse than the Palestinians, we are equal to them. That equality is important.” 

Creative solutions, respect and equality are all, according to Mubarak, essential aspects of living, active, effective  nonviolence.

Transcript is archived at Waging Nonviolence