31 October, 2020

The Man Who Brought The Mahatma To Palestine

In between all the violence, Mubarak Awad has slowly brought the Gandhian way to bear

The Man Who Brought The Mahatma To Palestine
Mubarak Awad, a bear-like man with white hair now, used to drive in from Jerusalem into the West Bank, where he would set down in town centres his pictures of Gandhi, his pamphlets and books by the Mahatma, like a village woman selling her mint. Seeing him sitting all alone in the heat, Palestinians would take pity on him, offering him food and drink, a place to stay for the night. "People would say to me, 'You are a pacifist. We are not pacifists.'" I met him in his office on the American University campus, remembering the seventies. A Palestinian exile, Awad teaches a course on nonviolence. "I told them, 'It is you who are passive. You are under occupation, and you are doing nothing'."

Awad did not hear about Gandhi till he was in his late twenties. He had to go all the way to Bluffton College in Ohio to learn from his professors about Gandhi. They were Mennonites, Christian peace activists like he would become. Back in Jerusalem in 1985, he rented a hall at the YMCA. He told the overflowing crowd, "We are under occupation because we...


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