Palestinian pacifist Mubarak Awad gained international attention when he was deported from Israel to the United States in June 1988. Awad was deported for advocating nonviolent civil disobedience against the Israeli occupation during the Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, in the West Bank and Gaza. Since the uprising began in December 1987, Awad's ideas about nonviolence and civil disobedience have become increasingly popular and have been used in Palestinian protests for self-determination.
Awad was born in Jerusalem in 1943. His mother is a Christian who always stressed that to love Christ meant loving your enemies. He attended a Mennonite high school in Beit Jala on the West Bank before coming to the United States in 1969 to study at Bluffton College, also a Mennonite school, in Ohio. Awad became a United States citizen in 1978. In 1983 he returned to Jerusalem and worked with the Center for Counseling until 1984, when he returned to the United States.
During his years here, Awad studied the writings of Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Gene Sharp, a scholar at Harvard University's Einstein Institute. Initially, Awad says, he had trouble believing in nonviolence. But he was won over by the Quaker concept that there is a part of God in everyone and that to kill someone was to kill a part of God.
Awad is married to Nancy Nye, an American Quaker, who is the principal of the Friends Girls School in Ramallah on the West Bank. Nye was in the United States with her husband after he was deported, but returned to Ramallah to resume her duties there in July. The couple has two children.