A Memoir from a Palestinian Human Rights Lawyer

by | Oct 26, 2023 | What I'm Reading | 4 comments

I was only about 50 pages into The Truth Shall Set You Free by Jonathan Kuttab, a Palestinian human rights lawyer, when Hamas began its attacks. Kuttab, a Christian Palestinian, has been working for justice for decades, employing both legal strategies and nonviolent direct action. I believed these attacks would mean a setback for all the progress that had been made through methods such as Kuttab’s.

I had heard Kuttab speak and was very impressed with him. His Christianity is generous and expansive, in case you, like I, worry about that perspective. He is also the author of Beyond the Two-State Solution. You can obtain a free PDF of that book in English (also available in Hebrew and Arabic) here.

The suffering of Palestinians under what many have called an apartheid system is horrifying. So are the attacks on civilians by both sides in the current situation. Yet I can’t deny that the plight of Palestinians has come to the attention of greater numbers of people as a result of the Hamas attacks. Does this meant that nonviolence, despite my firm beliefs, is not as effective as violent tactics?

I still hold to my beliefs. No conflict is ever “settled” until everyone is happy. Slavery had to come to an end in the United States, and perhaps the Civil War was the only way to do it. Yet the military defeat of the Confederacy did not bring peace and equality. It brought Jim Crow, the KKK, and suppression of voting rights. It took the nonviolent tactics of the civil rights movement of the 1960s to make inroads against those institutions. And obviously, the conflict is not over.

These are thoughts written rapidly on a Thursday morning. I am not a scholar of this history, though I have read about it and followed it with interest for many decades. I would not have wanted to see slavery continue for another several decades or longer, and yet the war alone did not solve the problem.

I do not want the suffering of Palestinians to continue to be invisible to much of the world, nor do I want the Jews of Israel to be under attack. This is why for many of us, the fight for peace must always be intertwined with justice.

I finished reading Kuttab’s memoir. I recommend it to everyone. Reading such accounts is one small action we can take to combat ignorance and the violence it breeds.