A small group of Arab Christians is leading a movement among Palestinians in the occupied West Bank to seek justice and freedom through nonviolent resistance. Using Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., as models, their labors are bearing fruit.

“What Gandhi did in India, can we do in Palestine?” asks Mubarak Awad, an American-trained psychologist and leader of the Palestine Center for Non-Violent Resistance, based in Arab East Jerusalem. The movement’s legal counsel is Jonathan Kuttab, son of a Nazarene minister in Jerusalem and a graduate of Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.

Much of the group’s work takes place on the West Bank, an area captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and occupied by the Israeli military ever since. About the size of Delaware, the West Bank has a population of about 800,000 Arabs. Since the war, an estimated 50,000 Jews have moved into the West Bank, living in more than 100 new settlements. The Palestinians complain that the Israelis deprive them of justice in their day-to-day lives and the right of self-determination.

Actions and reactions

Some Palestinians react to the situation by throwing stones at passing Israeli vehicles. But Awad’s Palestine Center for Non-Violent Resistance is setting an example of taking action without resorting to violence. Since the beginning of last year, the center has been involved in several efforts:

• In January 1986, about 20 Jewish settlers moved a fence to encroach on five acres of Arab land. More than 200 of Awad’s followers, including Palestinians, leftist Israelis, and foreign volunteers, appeared in a show of nonviolent resistance. The few Israeli soldiers who showed up did not intervene, and the settlers ...

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