In this interview ICNC speaks with Ayed Morrar, a leader of the nonviolent movement in Budrus who organized the first Popular Committee Against the Wall in the West Bank by uniting all local Palestinian political factions, including Hamas and Fatah, and encouraging hundreds of Israelis to cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories and demonstrate in support of his village. When challenged by his teenage daughter, he welcomed the launch of a women's contingent that quickly moved to the front lines. Ayed and the successful popular nonviolent struggle are featured in Just Vision's recent film, Budrus. (Just Vision).
What kind of nonviolent tactics have been successful in your movement?
Ayed Morrar (AM): Against the wall we were demonstrating we tried to stop the bulldozers we tried to “arrive” (I think he may be saying the word “awry” which could apply in this context…) the bulldozers. It’s a long and complex process to try and stop them. There were more than more than 100 soldiers that were trying to stop us. We used many tactics to try and “arrive” (stop) the bulldozers. They are growing their effort to stop us they’ve declared a curfew upon our village many times and we managed to break through the curfew and “arrive” the bulldozers. Many times we managed to make a line and split the soldiers and to sneak through spaces between them to keep going we were advancing forward from their tear gas, rubber bullets and from their “threat pumps” (maybe water cannons) but a big number of the people, woman, children, old people, we were together. In Budrus, we managed to get to gather and involve all the components of the Palestinian people. Budrus is a small village and we have a conservative education like many other villages in Palestine but we discovered in Budrus that the women of the village don’t like to wait in the kitchen to prepare food for the men for when they return home from the battle but they want to be struggles themselves we just open the doors in front of them. So I think Budrus is like many other villages but the leadership can understand the scene and they let all the components play a role in the demonstrations. We believe that also, in Palestine we have no mahatmas we have no profits we have no symbol. If you want to gather the people in one activity you need to make the people feel that they’re your partner not your follower no one can follow the other especially in the Palestinian community they must feel like they’re your partner these tactics were used to rally the people around one issue and one target which was to stop the bulldozers I think we made the best and we succeeded and the first time we succeeded in pushing the route of the wall closer to the gray land and we saved our land.
What kinds of nonviolent tactics are introduced in your training with other Palestinian villages?
AM: We are coordinating together all the popular committee leaders in the west bank and in each village they has a special tacit c to achieve their target because some of them are against the wall others are against the check points some against the settlements and some against the road blocks and they all have a special tactic to use in order to achieve their goal. If the Palestinian people target the means of the occupation than the occupation everywhere the occupation will end. And in a grove in the Joradn Valley, Palestinian Jordan valley we helped the Palestinian people exist in their land we made voluntary troops to held build homes from them. We have social work to help the farmers in the hebru rejoin to help them make electricity from the sun and from the air to help them exist tin their land. Because the settlers threatened them and tried to push them away so we think that that to exist on your land in Palestine is a struggle and we must care for that.
What kinds of qualities does a successful leader of a nonviolent movement need to possess?
AM: I think popular resistance is different than armed resistance because the armed resisters need an order. The leader must have power and money and can order his followers and pay for them like soldiers. But nonviolent struggles need a high level of trust. I think Gandhi, when he made his salt demonstration millions of people followed him because he only had a goat, if he had a cow, maybe half of the million would ask him why he got his cow, start to complain, and trust him less. So to encourage the people to gather and to participate they must trust you fluently even though they will not for you. If not you will have no power to force them to make a demonstration to participate.
And I think that the difference between a successful example and the not so successful is a difference between the committees and the leaders and themselves because I told you we have a small community we have many equal things we have the same culture, education, environment, suffering, same occupation but why did Budrus manage to involve “fattha and hamas” and make a good unity and “nalin” couldn’t and why the woman in Budrus get involved and the “minomar” not? It belongs to the leadership themselves. The leaders must know how to deal. The leaders must be more confident. The strong one, he can accept the others, because he feel like no one threatens him. But a weak one is afraid of the competition and is afraid for anyone to join him because he’s afraid to take his responsibility or his role or he becomes afraid of the other participants. So I think that the leader ship is the cause of success or fault.
What message do you have for those who join you in the nonviolent struggle against the occupation?
AM: As long the occupation continues the Palestinian people will keep struggling. If they fail this time, the second time they will not but no one will keep silent against the occupation. We must keep going this is a long way, a heavy way, a complex way but we have no other alternative and even our enemy’s will not respect us and will not apologize to us if we keep silent against the occupation. We must keep going we must keep struggling against it till we achieve normal human targets of freedom, justice and real peace. That’s what we need, we aren’t against anybody, we aren’t against the Jews we aren’t against Israelis we’re just against the occupation. And our issues arnt recognized as a human rights issue as Netanyahu speaks about the economical peace; it’s a peace between a slave to his master and we will refuse this kind of peace what we need is a peace between equal people and free people this is real peace this is what we need in Palestine. Even if we were living in a paradise under the occupation we would refuse this paradise. We just want our freedom.
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