This profile was published as part of Gandhi’s Be Magazine’s #ProfilesofChangemakers series, uplifting the stories, lives, and work of Changemakers who are being the change they wish to see in the world.
Mubarak Awad has been called “The Palestinian Gandhi” and he still believes nonviolence is the answer. As a young activist living in Israel-Palestine, Mubarak walked the talk: passing out leaflets on civil disobedience and translating the writings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. into Arabic to further promote nonviolent tactics in Palestine. As his movement gained momentum, though, the Israeli government arrested Mubarak. During the couple of months he was imprisoned, Mubarak followed in Gandhi’s footsteps, fasting in protest. He lost a total of 40 pounds during his imprisonment. Once he was released, Mubarak was deported by the Israeli government, but this did not stop his work for nonviolence in Palestine. Mubarak founded Nonviolence International and the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, and to this day he continues to teach nonviolence to young people at American University in Washington, D.C. and in Palestine when he visits there as a tourist now. Newsweek writer Jeff Stein captures the essence of Mubarak Awad’s lifelong work: “Israel kicked him out in 1988. Five years earlier, he had opened the doors of the Palestinian Centre for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the goal of fomenting mass resistance to the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.”
Mubarak lectured at Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, “Do not pay taxes. Consume only local goods, like the Indians who followed Gandhi’s movement against British colonial rule. Engage in peaceful protest. Plant olive trees on land coveted by Jewish settlers. Above all, do not pick up the gun. March, and sit down, like civil rights protesters in the American South in the 1960s. Take the beatings, clog up Israeli jails.”
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