An interview with Palestinian activist Ali Abu Awwad.

By Ray Suarez, The Nation

Ali Abu Awwad is a Palestinian activist who has been an advocate of nonviolent action for 20 years. He was recently awarded the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2023. He spoke with Ray Suarez, who has covered international affairs for nearly four decades and is now the host of the public radio program On Shifting Ground. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Ali Abu Awwad
Ali Abu Awwad (photo by Michelle Phillips)

Ray Suarez: You’ve been on the ground in the West Bank for decades, fighting for a peaceful solution for Palestinian freedom and Israeli security. Did the October 7 Hamas attack push people away from where you want them to be?

Ali Abu Awwad: I think people concentrate too much on events. What have we been expecting from Jewish people who are living and spending hours of their lives in shelters because of rockets? Were we expecting them to become Nelson Mandelas, even before October 7? What are we expecting from Palestinians—millions of people locked in Gaza and the West Bank with no rights? These are the consequences of failed leadership. But they’re also the consequences of the engagement of so many fighters in this conflict.

I don’t want to resist the occupation—I want to end the occupation. I’m speaking as a Palestinian. We need a strategy that is not focused on what we’re against, but what we’re for. And we have to be for ourselves, for taking responsibility for ourselves.

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