Rajmohan Gandhi ended his two-day visit to the West Bank on Monday, with a public lecture and discussion at the Friends Boys’ School, Ramallah. Gandhi, who is a research professor at the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Illinois, spoke on various issues related to Israeli occupation, which he had been able to witness firsthand whilst visiting. In particular, he spoke of the need to awaken the international community to the reality of life in the Occupied Territories.
“I cannot disturb the Almighty”, he said, “but I can disturb the sleep of the international community.”
A key theme running through his lecture was patience. He exhorted the Palestinian people not to become disheartened if occupation is not immediately overcome. “The Soviet Union crumbled, South African apartheid crumbled, and the occupation of Palestine will also crumble”, he said. He added that one must remember that it was not merely non-violence, but “non-violent struggle, non-violent resistance”, a difficult and time-consuming process.
He stressed the need for a positive process of development by the Palestinian people in the long term, as well as the short-term goal of ending the occupation. “With one hand, you must be fighting the occupation”, he said. “With the other, you must be rebuilding civil society.”
The grandson and biographer of Indian leader and peace activist Mahatma Gandhi, he reflected also on the parallels between the Palestinian cause and the Indian struggle for independence. In particular, he emphasized the need to unite the fragmented factions in Palestine, as his grandfather had done with the different castes in India. He also extended this theme of unity to those Israelis and Jews who are against the occupation. “I salute the people of Israel who support your fight,” he said. He later added that there was a pressing need to “rouse a sense of justice in Judaism”.
Also speaking at the meeting was Palestinian National Initiative leader Mustafa Barghouthi. Barghouthi, a key figure in the non-violent resistance movement in Palestine, echoed the visiting professor’s calls for non-violent resistance. In particular, he stressed the need to continue with the strategy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). He added, “Right is always stronger than military might. Justice is always stronger than oppression.”
The meeting was introduced by Mohammad Jaradat from the Badil Organization. After the speeches, questions from the audience were chaired.
Gandhi gave a press conference on Monday morning. He spent the previous day touring the West Bank with Mustafa Barghouthi, visiting Hebron and Bethlehem, and the villages Nilin and Bil’in, both epicentres of the popular resistance in the West Bank.
In Bil’in he was received by members of the local village council and the Popular Committee, and listened to a speech by committee member Muhammad al-Khatib highlighting its achievements. A short video showing the village’s non-violent struggle was also screened.
In comments to Maan News, Gandhi stated that “the whole world knows of Bil’in’s activists, and it is a model for modern popular resistance. There will come a day when the Israelis learn that their settlements and separation wall will vanish and will be destroyed as a result of the injustice and tyranny they practice.”
The above article was written by The Palestinian Monitor;entitled: “Rajmohan Gandhi Commends Non-Violent Resistance“.The article can be found on Palestine Monitor.