Ayad explains that the goal of these efforts is to live as normal human beings, with justice, peace, and freedom between equal people. He understands that Netanyahu wants peace between a slave and a master and he will never accept that. The popular committee also understands that the struggle needs everyone. In Budrus, the committee reached out to the women of the community, “We opened the doors” to the women and discovered they didn’t need much encouragement. Most of the demonstrators were women and the media focused on them because this was so strange and because they were so brave and strong. People would ask, “Where are the men?” The women inspired their men both to outdo them and also to protect them from the IDF, (this being a conservative culture in the men not touching women department).
Ayad tells us that at first the women wanted to march alone, but Ayad felt very responsible and decided to accompany them. It was pouring, one woman carrying a child in the rain. He urged them to go back, “You’ve made your point,” but the women claimed they were as brave as the men and kept marching, soon reaching bulldozers and workers. Again he urged them to go home, but they said, “Let us stop that truck,” which was filled with stones. The women ran and jumped in the way and ultimately the truck gave up and all the bulldozers followed him. I think of the film, Budrus, and Ayad’s daughter standing directly in front of a massive bulldozer, putting her body and her life on the line. She is now studying abroad to become a physician and he is proud.
In this part of the world, darkness comes suddenly and we walk to Ayad’s graceful house, lit up at the end of a dusty road. At first I think it is a school or municipal building with its elegant, arched windows and dramatic lighting, but he explains that he is an engineer and he and his family have been working on the house for seven years. The outdoor garden looks like a little Garden of Eden, with limes, lemons, pomelos, grapefruit and other lush fruit trees, a palm tree in the middle, lower branches trimmed to create an arched canopy of wide fronds, bougainvillea, and splashes of flowers, another family project. A welcome coolness settles in and we can see a Jewish settlement lighting up on the next hill. There is a call to prayer and later boisterously loud wedding music nearby.
More older Palestinian relatives and friends pull up chairs and the smell of smoke and roses permeates the air. Ayad explains that to be organizer, he must be responsible and strategic, must know the details of the culture. The people are full of anger and oppression. It is not enough to choose nonviolence “because we are polite; it is a more useful tactic and more powerful and it will stress the enemy more.” It is not easy to snake through the sensitivity of different partners, and factions, but strong leader believe in partners. He sees the role of Israelis, (a relationship which is fraught with difficulties), must be based on trust between people and leadership. In the popular committees, the people must trust each other, to work in solidarity. Palestinians know Israelis are settlers and soldiers; they know there are others but don’t see them. Ayad decided to take a risk and open the doors to Israeli solidarity and he immediately knew how useful and how welcome they would be. When the Israelis were deeply upset after their first demonstration, they did not want to return home, he knew that he had made a good decision; this would be a strong alliance.