I have spent my life advocating for Palestinians and Israelis to use nonviolent means to resolve their conflicts. Because Israel feared Palestinian unity and mass nonviolent action, I was expelled by the government in 1988. Since then, I have, on several occasions, personally advocated with Hamas leaders to abandon armed struggle and embrace nonviolent campaigns. Yet, today, Palestinians and Israelis are once again killing each other.
I grieve for the unspeakable deaths in Palestine and Israel. I weep for the injured and the captured, particularly the children. In this century alone, until last week, more than 12,000 Palestinians and 2,600 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. Why can’t we stop this cycle of violence?
I urge Hamas and the Israeli government to agree to an immediate ceasefire, including an immediate halt to rocket attacks towards Israel and Israeli military attacks on Gaza. Each party must stop using violence and must commit to living and working with each other as neighbors. Human life and dignity are precious. Vengeful attacks only deepen hatreds and mistrust. Here are some practical nonviolent steps:
For Israelis: Stop killing Palestinians. End the siege of Gaza. Reverse the land grabs in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which breed hopelessness and outrage. End apartheid and stop seeking Jewish supremacy. Support a right of Palestinian return and reparations. Stop the pogroms and the threats to the Al Aqsa mosque.
For the international media: Cover this conflict the way you would have liked to have seen slave rebellions and or anti-colonial massacres covered in previous centuries. Stop using the word “terrorists” to describe actors on either side. Both are motivated by perceptions of security and historical identity and are not simply trying to create fear, i.e. “terror,” in the other.
For Americans: There is no military solution. Stop supplying weapons. Let’s support Israelis and Palestinians equally. Show a positive example by improving our treatment of Native Americans and ending the vestiges of our domestic racial apartheid.
For the international community: The two-state solution, unfortunately, is no longer an option. Support solutions that provide rights to all peoples in the region. Keeping Gaza as an open-air prison is criminal. Therefore, have it declared as such, by international and political bodies. Provide humanitarian aid and denounce apartheid. Work for justice and equality.
Humanitarian aid organizations: Urgent humanitarian action is needed, including the establishment of a humanitarian corridor both within and outside of Gaza, for the safe movement of people and the delivery of essential supplies.This includes opening Erez and Kerem Shalom/Abu Salem crossings to allow for the movement of people and goods and remove the ban on access to the sea.
Soldiers and armed actors: Don’t cut another’s life short. Don’t cut your life short. Don’t seek revenge. I applaud Israelis who are refusing military service to engage in a senseless attack on Gaza. Arms are for hugging, not for harming others. We can do this.
This article was originally published on Waging Nonviolence.