Author promotes non-violent action for Middle East

Sean Brady, Contributor Ω

Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta spoke to TRU students twice last week, revealing a history of non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Her book, Refusing to be Enemies, is a compilation of more than 100 interviews with people and organizations whose goals are to use non-violent resistance to end the occupation that began in 1967.

“I don’t so much bring a variety of perspectives so much as a variety of voices from one particular perspective,” Kaufman-Lacusta said.

Kaufman-Lacusta spoke to students twice last week, first in the Clock Tower Alumni Theatre on Jan. 28, and again as guest lecturer in POLI 3640, an introductory Middle East politics class instructed by professor Derek Cook.

“Last term we had an Israeli fundraiser, a member of the Israeli military intelligence at one point, he gave us his point of view,” Cook said. “The university likes to sponsor a variety of points of view and that’s why we have sponsorship from the dean of arts, the dean of law, the Equity Committee of the Faculty Association, the Human Rights Committee and the Council of Canadians.”

In the presentation, Kaufman-Lacusta put forth a selection of stories of those she interviewed for her book.

“Some of my interviewees were former supporters, or even practitioners of armed struggle,” Kaufman-Lacusta said.

She told the story of Ali Jeddah, who was a high school student when the Israeli occupation began in 1967.

“He was planning to become a lawyer but he had to quit school and go to work because of the fallout from the occupation,” she said. “He got swept up in what he described as a circle of violence at the time. He got involved in militant politics, placed a bomb in a busy street which injured nine Israelis.”

Jeddah was captured and spent 13 years in prison, where he adopted non-violence as a way of resisting the occupation, Kaufman-Lacusta said. “He told me that while he was in prison, he’d come to the conclusion that his main allies should be the actual Israelis themselves.

“He had also become a father,” she said. “He saw his children, the Palestinian children and the Israeli children as being psychologically destroyed by the occupation.”

Non-violent resistance is often overshadowed by the violence in the region, Kaufman-Lacusta said.

Nathan Sharp, who attended the presentation as part of his POLI 3640 class, agreed.

“I don’t get that information that this is actually happening,“ he said. “I’m absolutely going to get involved – as much as I can.”

Kaufman-Lacusta also distributed a handout listing ways students can get involved. More information can be found on her website at http://refusingtobeenemiesthebook.wordpress.com/