As Palestinians, we lack a moral leader in the likes of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela or Mohandas Gandhi. And because we lack this type of moral leadership, our cause, although moral and just, has not been elevated into a global mass movement powerful enough to shed the injustice of the Israeli brutality, occupation and apartheid perpetrated against us. We need a moral leader.
The nonviolent movements of King, Mandela and Gandhi exposed the inequality of the laws that subjugated the African-Americans, Black South Africans and the Indians to that of third class citizens. We need a Palestinian moral leader in the image of those great moral leaders who will present a picture to the world that will reveal the horrors of the Israeli occupation and by so doing finally shed the bondage that has dominated our lives and the lives of our ancestors for over 400 years.
Looking for a moral leader means that we accept peace. However, seeking the high moral ground and seeking peace does not mean that we should compromise our principles. We still demand an independent, democratic state with Jerusalem as its capital. We still demand the right of return for our refugees. We still demand the dismantling of the settlements. We still demand the release of our political prisoners.
There is a moral majority within the Palestinian community, in and outside of Palestine, which needs to be energized into speaking out for peace; to challenge the Israeli peace camp into joining forces; and to confront the right wing extremists on both sides of the conflict who have stolen the Middle East agenda. The need for a Palestinian moral leader is great and is needed more now then ever before.
While I believe that we have every right to resist occupation with all means at our disposal, including the right to throw rocks at the occupiers of Palestinian land, we need to discuss differ alternatives of resistance. One of those alternatives is to gain the moral high ground, to discuss ways and means of organizing nonviolent resistance activities to capture the minds of peace loving people everywhere much like the South African anti-apartheid movement did.
We need a moral leader who will march from Nablus to Khaleel (Hebron), defying the Israeli checkpoints in a nonviolent manner, just like the Salma to Montgomery Freedom March orchestrated by Dr. King to raise the issue of the right to vote for African-Americans; and just like the 230 mile (320 km) march in India to extract salt from the sea led by Gandhi to protest against the British government’s salt tax.
We need a moral leader who is willing to take risks, to galvanize the masses within Palestine, to speak up for peace and to call for nonviolent actions against the Israeli military occupation. We need a moral leader who will confront the Israel tanks with the moral courage of righteousness just like the famous picture of a very young Palestinian youth confronting an Israeli tank with nothing but a stone.
We need a moral leader.
(Mr. Fadi Zanayed, is an attorney practicing in Chicago, Illinois; a writer and poet (author of “Cycles of Frustrations” a collection of his poems about Palestine. He is currently working on a poetic fictional novel of a Palestinian born in Palestine in 1948 under an olive tree as his mother dies. The story is all in rhyming poetry which will tell the story of the plight of the Palestinians.)