Awad did not hear about Gandhi till he was in his late twenties. He had to go all the way to Bluffton College in Ohio to learn from his professors about Gandhi. They were Mennonites, Christian peace activists like he would become. Back in Jerusalem in 1985, he rented a hall at the YMCA. He told the overflowing crowd, "We are under occupation because we choose to be under occupation. If we don't want to be under occupation, let's do what Gandhi did."
The next day, Israeli security forces threatened to close down the YMCA if Awad was allowed to give a second talk. The battle between the state of Israel and Mubarak Awad had officially begun. It was to end in a Jerusalem courtroom three-and-a-half years later, in 1988, when the Israeli high court sustained Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's order expelling him from the territory.