Experiments with Truth: Analysis

‘I am not your normal human rights campaigner’

Two years after the start of the second intifada the Israeli army designated the Palestinian Polytechnic University a military zone and sealed all its gates. At that point I was in the final year of a five-year engineering degree. I had dreamed of being an engineer since I was six years old, and I knew I couldn’t let this happen. After four years of hard work, just at the moment that I was on the cusp of graduating, my university had become another casualty of the occupation.

I decided to organise sit-ins to get the university reopened. I convinced fellow students that we had to resist this. For six months we moved into classrooms, organised protests and demonstrated. We would conduct lessons while surrounded by soldiers. We agreed that it had to be peaceful and non-violent, and in the end we won. The army moved out and the university reopened. After so many defeats against the occupation, that one campaign was a great moment.

 This experience was important for me because I learned about the importance of tactics and became convinced about the value of non-violence as a way to resist. I read books by Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. I became convinced that their non-violent method was the best strategy for community resistance. Furthermore non-violence meant that there was a role for every Palestinian, as it is not the job of some vanguard in fighting the occupation; we can all do something. This is particularly important if you are fighting a professional army as it is the only realistic way in neutralising their power. They don’t know what to do in the face of this.

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