Category Archives: TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY

Nobel Women’s Initiative: Standing with Rohingya Women, Spotlighting Survivors for World Refugee Day

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

A press release received by email from web@nobelwomensinitiative.org

This World Refugee Day, we are spotlighting the plight of the Rohingya people with the ONLINE PREMIERE of our Standing with Rohingya Women short film. This five minute film follows our February delegation to Bangladesh with Nobel Peace laureates Tawakkol Karman, Shirin Ebadi, and Mairead Maguire, in partnership with Bangladeshi women’s right organization Naripokkho.


Video of the film

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Question for this article

The refugee crisis, Who is responsible?

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Our delegation visited the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar to investigate the situation of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, particularly the violence against Rohingya women— including high levels of sexual violence.

Upon meeting with brave Rohingya women survivors of sexual violence at the hands of the Burmese military, it became clear that the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people were part of a larger campaign of state-sanctioned genocide. Over 700,000 Rohingya people were forced to flee their ancestral land in the Rakhine State in August 2017 after a crusade of violence committed against them by the Burmese forces. The laureates are calling that the Burmese government be held accountable for these atrocities at the International Criminal Court. With the devastating effects of the monsoon season in Bangladesh, the Rohingya people are in critical need of international aid and justice.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Adopting Resolution 2419 (2018), Security Council Calls for Increasing Role of Youth in Negotiating, Implementing Peace Agreements

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from the United Nations

Recognizing the role youth could play in conflict prevention and resolution, the Security Council today urged the Secretary‑General and his Special Envoys to take their views into account in security‑related discussions, and to facilitate their equal and full participation at decision‑making levels.


Participants attend the Somali National Youth Conference held in Mogadishu, Somalia (December 2017). UN Photo/Ilyas Ahmed

Unanimously adopting resolution 2419 (2018), the Council called on all relevant actors to consider ways for increasing the representation of young people when negotiating and implementing peace agreements, recognizing that their marginalization was detrimental to building sustainable peace and countering violent extremism, as and when conducive to terrorism.  In that context, it noted the independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security, titled, “The missing peace”.

By other terms, the Council called on Member States to protect educational institutions as spaces free from all violence, ensure they were accessible to all youth and take steps to address young women’s equal enjoyment of their right to education.  It recommended the Peacebuilding Commission include in its advice ways to engage young people in national efforts to build and sustain peace, particularly urging appropriate regional and subregional bodies to facilitate their constructive engagement.

The Council went on to request the Secretary‑General to consider including in his reporting progress made towards young people’s participation in such processes as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and interlinked community violence reduction programmes.  He might also consider internal mechanisms to broaden young people’s participation in the work of the United Nations, the Council stated, asking him to submit, no later than May 2020, a report on the implementation of the current resolution, as well as resolution 2250 (2015).

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Question for this article

Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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Introducing the draft, Olof Skoog (Sweden) said it built on and complemented resolution 2250 (2015).  It underlined the contribution young people could make to peace and security if actively engaged, recognizing both their diversity and the need to counter any stigmatization or homogenization.  Further, the resolution highlighted that the youth, peace and security agenda was a crucial part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Indeed, it marked an advance in the collective determination to ensure youth could play their rightful and necessary role in the Council’s work and in building peace around the world.

Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru), speaking after the vote, said the resolution underscored the important role that youth were called on to play in the prevention and resolution of conflict.  Highlighting Jordan’s initiative to place the topic on the Council’s agenda in 2015, he said young people were crucial to forging an inclusive vision of a shared future.  The resolution represented a major contribution to the Council’s work and he underscored the importance of follow up on its provisions, and of combating stereotypes that perpetuated violence against women.

Karel J. G. van Oosterom (Netherlands) expressed hope that the resolution’s request for a follow‑up report would receive the attention it deserved.  The text welcomed the Council’s intention to invite youth organizations as briefers and encouraged the Secretary‑General to include information on youth participation in peace processes.  The Progress Study, meanwhile, had given voice to 4,000 young people who would not otherwise have had the chance to participate in a policy‑shaping exercise.  He expressed hope that the Council would continue to increase youth participation in issues of peace and security.

Elaine Marie French (United States), while commending Peru and Sweden for working to ensure the Council recognized the role of young people, nonetheless voiced regret that the resolution did not contain language on the prevention of violent extremism.  The concept was not new and should not be controversial, as its goal was to address the factors that motivated people towards violence.  The Council had missed an opportunity to ensure that youth were involved in action plans to prevent violent extremism.  There was no reason why it could not support such efforts.  She cautioned against rolling back language on technology and the Internet.  Instead, the Council should have used language contained in resolution 2396 (2017), which should be the baseline for going forward.

The Coming Wave of Climate Displacement

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article by Kumi Naidoo in Project Syndicate

Not since 1951 has the international community produced a treaty to protect the legal status of the world’s refugees. Now, two agreements are currently under discussion at the United Nations, and each offers a rare opportunity to protect global migrants from the biggest source of displacement today.

Governments around the world are engaged in a series of talks that could fundamentally alter how the movement of people across borders is managed. One dialogue is focused on the protection of refugees; the other on migration.

These discussions, which are being led by the United Nations, will not result in legally binding agreements. But the talks themselves are a rare chance to forge consensus on contemporary migration challenges. And, most importantly, they will offer the international community an opportunity to plan for the impact of climate change, which will soon become a key driver of global displacement and migration.

At last count, there were some 258 million migrants worldwide, with 22.5 million people registered as refugees  by the UN Refugee Agency. These numbers will be dwarfed if even the most modest climate-related predictions are borne out. According to the International Organization for Migration, climate change could displace as many as one billion people by 2050. And yet no international treaty covers climate-induced migration – a gap that must be addressed now.

Not since 1951 have international standards for refugee protection received so much attention. That year, with more than 80 million people displaced after World War II, UN member countries ratified a comprehensive framework to standardize their treatment of refugees. The Global Compact on Refugees  that is currently under discussion builds on this framework with strategies to empower refugees and assist host governments. Most significantly, it would commit signatories to protecting “those displaced by natural disasters and climate change.”

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(Click here for the original French version or here for the original Spanish version of this article)

Question for this article

The refugee crisis, Who is responsible?

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The second agreement is even more consequential for the management of climate-induced displacement. There has never been a global treaty governing migration, and past bilateral efforts have focused almost exclusively on violence and conflict as root causes of displacement. The proposed Global Compact for Migration  goes beyond these factors, and notes that climate change is among the “adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin.”

This type of regulatory language reaffirms what at-risk populations around the world already know: droughts, natural disasters, desertification, crop failure, and many other environmental changes are upending livelihoods and rendering entire communities uninhabitable. In my country, South Africa, a record drought is forcing major cities to consider water rationing. If water shortages persist, migration is certain to follow.

Resource scarcity is particularly dangerous in politically unstable states, where climate change has already been linked to violent conflict and communal upheaval. For example, disputes over https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/science/earth/study-links-syria-conflict-to-drought-caused-by-climate-change.htmlfertile land and fresh water fueled the war in Darfur, and even the current crisis in Syria – one of the greatest sources of human displacement today – began after successive droughts pushed Syrians from rural areas into cities. It is not a stretch to predict that climate change will produce more bloodshed in the coming years.

The two UN frameworks could serve as a basis for planning how to manage the coming climate-induced migrations. With scientific modeling to guide decision-making, states could draft orderly, dignified, and equitable relocation strategies. This is certainly a smarter approach than the ad hoc responses to date.

But history tells us that governments are reluctant to seek out collective solutions to forced migration. This failure is visible today in the haunting and inexcusable plight of refugees around the world.

As we enter the final months of the Compact talks, what should we expect of those negotiating the global plan for managing unprecedented movements of people? The causes and consequences of climate change demand close attention. Displaced people must be able to get on with their lives in dignity. The test of world leaders will be whether the global compacts on refugees and migrants can achieve this.

(Thank you to Paul Kimmel, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Uri Avnery (Israel’s peace movement Gush Shalom) on Israel’s Days of Shame

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article by Uri Avnery in Tikkun

The Day of Shame.

ON BLOODY MONDAY this past week, when the number of Palestinian killed and wounded was rising by the hour, I asked myself: what would I have done if I had been a youngster of 15 in the Gaza Strip?
 
My answer was, without hesitation: I would have stood near the border fence and demonstrated, risking my life and limbs every minute.
 
How am I so sure?  Simple: I did the same when I was 15.

I was a member of the National Military Organization (the “Irgun”), an armed underground group labeled “terrorist”.
 
Palestine was at the time under British occupation (called “mandate”). In May 1939, the British enacted a law limiting the right of Jews to acquire land. I received an order to be at a certain time at a certain spot near the sea shore of Tel Aviv in order to take part in a demonstration. I was to wait for a trumpet signal.
 
The trumpet sounded and we started the march down Allenby Road, then the city’s main street. Near the main synagogue, somebody climbed the stairs and delivered an inflammatory speech. Then we marched on, to the end of the street, where the offices of the British administration were located. There we sang the national anthem, “Hatikvah”, while some adult members set fire to the offices.
 
Suddenly several lorries carrying British soldiers screeched to a halt, and a salvo of shots rang out. The British fired over our heads, and we ran away.
 
Remembering this event 79 years later, it crossed my mind that the boys of Gaza are greater heroes then we were then. They did not run away. They stood their ground for hours, while the death toll rose to 61 and the number of those wounded by live ammunition to some 1500, in addition to 1000 affected by gas. 
 
ON THAT day, most TV stations in Israel and abroad split their screen. On the right, the events in Gaza. On the left, the inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
 
In the 136th year of the Zionist-Palestinian war, that split screen is the picture of reality: the celebration in Jerusalem and the bloodbath in Gaza. Not on two different planets, not in two different continents, but hardly an hour’s drive apart.
 
The celebration in Jerusalem started as a silly event. A bunch of suited males, inflated with self-importance, celebrating – what, exactly? The symbolic movement of an office from one town to another. 
 
Jerusalem is a major bone of contention. Everybody knows that there will be no peace, not now, not ever, without a compromise there. For every Palestinian, every Arab, every Muslim throughout the world, it is unthinkable to give up Jerusalem. It is from there, according to Muslim tradition, that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, after tying his horse to the rock that is now the center of the holy places. After Mecca and Medina, Jerusalem is the third holiest place of Islam.
 
For the Jews, of course, Jerusalem means the place where, some 2000 years ago, there stood the temple built by King Herod, a cruel half-Jew. A remnant of an outer wall still stands there and is revered as the “Western Wall”. It used to be called the “Wailing Wall”, and is the holiest place of the Jews.
 
Statesmen have tried to square the circle and find a solution. The 1947 United Nations committee that decreed the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state – a solution enthusiastically endorsed by the Jewish leadership – suggested separating Jerusalem from both states and constituting it as a separate unit within what was supposed to be in fact a kind of confederation. 
 
The war of 1948 resulted in a divided city, the Eastern part was occupied by the Arab side (the Kingdom of Jordan) and the Western part became the capital of Israel. (My modest part was to fight in the battle for the road.)

No one liked the division of the city. So my friends and I devised a third solution, which by now has become a world consensus: keep the city united on the municipal level and divide it politically: the West as capital of the State of Israel, the East as capital of the State of Palestine. The leader of the local Palestinians, Faisal al-Husseini, the scion of a most distinguished local Palestinian family and the son of a national hero who was killed not far from my position in the same battle, endorsed this formula publicly. Yasser Arafat gave me his tacit consent.

If President Donald Trump had declared West Jerusalem the capital of Israel and moved his embassy there, almost nobody would have got excited. By omitting the word “West”, Trump ignited a fire. Perhaps without realizing what he was doing, and probably not giving a damn.
 
For me, the moving of the US embassy means nothing. It is a symbolic act that does not change reality. If and when peace does come, no one will care about some stupid act of a half-forgotten US president. Inshallah.

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Question for this article

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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SO THERE they were, this bunch of self-important nobodies, Israelis, Americans and those in-between, having their little festival, while rivers of blood were flowing in Gaza. Human beings were killed by the dozen and wounded by the thousand.
 
The ceremony started as a cynical meeting, which quickly became grotesque, and ended in being sinister. Nero fiddling while Rome was burning.
 
When the last hug was exchanged and the last compliment paid (especially to the graceful Ivanka), Gaza remained what it was – a huge concentration camp with severely overcrowded hospitals, lacking medicines and food, drinkable water and electricity.
 
A ridiculous world-wide propaganda campaign was let loose to counter the world-wide condemnation. For example: the story that the terrorist Hamas had compelled the Gazans to go and demonstrate – as if anyone could be compelled to risk their life in a demonstration.
 
Or: the story that Hamas paid every demonstrator 50 dollars. Would you risk your life for 50 dollars? Would anybody?
 
Or: The soldiers had no choice but to kill them, because they were storming the border fence. Actually, no one did so – the huge concentration of Israeli army brigades would have easily prevented it without shooting.
 
Almost forgotten was a small news item from the days before: Hamas had discreetly offered a Hudna for ten years. A Hudna is a sacred armistice, never to be broken. The Crusaders, our remote predecessors, had many Hudnas with their Arab enemies during their 200-year stay here.
 
Israeli leaders immediately rejected the offer. 
 
SO WHY were the soldiers ordered to kill? It is the same logic that has animated countless occupation regimes throughout history: make the “natives” so afraid that they will give up. Alas, the results have almost always been the very opposite: the oppressed have become more hardened, more resolute. This is happening now.
 
Bloody Monday may well be seen in future as the day when the Palestinians regained their national pride, their will to stand up and fight for their independence.
 
Strangely, the next day – the main day of the planned protest, Naqba Day – only two demonstrators were killed. Israeli diplomats abroad, facing world-wide indignation, had probably sent home SOS messages. Clearly the Israeli army had changed its orders. Non-lethal means were used and sufficed. 
 
MY CONSCIENCE does not allow me to conclude this without some self-criticism.
 
I would have expected that all of Israel’s renowned writers would publish a thundering joint condemnation while the shooting was still going on. It did not happen.
 
The political “opposition” was contemptible. No word from the Labor party. No word from Ya’ir Lapid. The new leader of the Meretz party, Esther Sandberg, did at least boycott the Jerusalem celebration. Labor and Lapid did not even do that. 
 
I would have expected that the dozens of our brave peace organizations would unite in a dramatic act of condemnation, an act that would arouse the world. It did not happen. Perhaps they were in a state of shock.
 
The next day, the excellent boys and girls of the peace groups demonstrated opposite the Likud office in Tel Aviv. Some 500 took part. Far, far from the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated some years ago against the price of cottage cheese.
 
In short: we did not do our duty. I accuse myself as much as I accuse everybody else.
 
We must prepare at once for the next atrocity. We must organize for mass action now!
 
BUT WHAT topped everything was the huge machine of brain-washing that was set in motion. For many years I have not experienced anything like it.
 
Almost all the so-called “military correspondents” acted like army propaganda agents. Day by day they helped the army to spread lies and falsifications. The public had no alternative but to believe every word. Nobody told them otherwise.
 
The same is true for almost all other means of communication, program presenters, announcers and correspondents. They willingly became government liars. Probably many of them were ordered to do so by their bosses. Not a glorious chapter.
 
After the day of blood, when the army was faced with world condemnation and had to stop shooting (“only” killing two unarmed demonstrators) all Israeli media were united in declaring this a great Israeli victory. 
 
Israel had to open the crossings and send food and medicines to Gaza. Egypt had to open its Gaza crossing and accept many hundreds of wounded for operations and other treatment. 
 
The Day of Shame has passed. Until the next time.

Note from Tikkun: Uri Avnery is chair of Gush Shalom, the pre-eminent peace activist organization in Israel.
 

The carnage against Gaza civilian protesters

. . . . . HUMAN RIGHTS . . . . .

A message received by email from Nonviolence International (info@nonviolenceinternational.net)

Dear Friends–

Jonathan Kuttab, our Treasurer and Co-Founder, has this to say in the wake of the dozens killed in peaceful protest this past weekend:

The carnage against Gaza civilian protesters in shocking and unconscionable. Over 40 people have been killed just today and over a thousand wounded by live fire. Palestinians have a right to protest peacefully, and Israel has no right to shoot at protesters except in self defense. No Israeli soldier or civilian has been hurt or endangered. There is absolutely no excuse for this carnage. We cannot be silent in the face of this massacre.

Our sorrow and pain at this human loss is tempered by our admiration for the protesters.

We are awed and impressed by the determined nonviolence of these Palestinians. They go to their protests knowing that Israeli deadly drones and snipers are awaiting them, yet they go ahead to make their voices heard and their demands, which have been ignored for far too long known to the world. This is a reminder of Gandhi’s Salt March in India and the Sharpesville massacre in South Africa, and we have no doubt that their legitimate demands will eventually be realized. Brute military force cannot ultimately prevail against the determined spirit of a people prepared to die for their beliefs.

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Questions related to this article:

Rights of the child, How can they be promoted and protected?

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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We denounce in the strongest possible terms the use of deadly violence against unarmed protesters and call on Israel to refrain from such murderous behavior which constitute a crime against humanity. We also call for the immediate lifting of the illegal siege of Gaza and the permission of the flow of civilian goods and people in and out of Gaza. Non-violent protests and attempts to break this siege will continue and Nonviolence International is proud to support such actions.

With this tragedy in mind, we are excited to introduce a new project into the Nonviolence International family. We Are Not Numbers, spearheaded by American journalist Pam Bailey, aims to humanize the victims of mass conflict through storytelling and mentoring. On their website, you can find dozens upon dozens of real-life accounts of the Palestinian struggle. From stories told by small children to octogenarians, We Are Not Numbers helps to provide faces to the statistics that are so widely spread.

You can read their tales here: https://wearenotnumbers.org/home/Stories, and, as always, you can donate here: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/wp/donate/.
With Peace,

Nonviolence International

Europe’s Religious Leaders to discuss the role of multi-religious cooperation in social cohesion

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

A press release received by email from the European Council of Religious Leaders

On the 7 and 8 May 2018, Senior Religious Leaders from many different countries and Religious traditions across Europe will be meeting together in Budapest, Hungary.

The European Council of Religious Leaders is the most representative interreligious council in Europe and is part of the global Religions for Peace network. Though the European Council of Religious Leaders was established in 2002, this will be the first time they will meet in Hungary.


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The council draws on the spiritual, ethical and moral wisdom and resources of the world’s great religious traditions and leaders in order to support the building of peace, social harmony and security throughout Europe and the wider world. In Hungary the council will be discussing the role of multi-religious cooperation in social cohesion and human security.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

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It is evident that the changing political, social and demographic dynamics in contemporary Europe present some of the biggest challenges for a generation to European citizens, communities and governments. Religions role in many of these challenges is often ambiguous: for example it is often implicated in extremism, but is also a vital positive resource in welcoming the increasing numbers of migrants into European community. The symposium will explore how religion might support and enhance efforts to break down negative stereotypes, create unanimity where deep division currently exists, and contributing to safe, peaceful and cohesive societies and communities in Europe today.

The European Council of Religious Leaders’ representatives from many different countries and religions, will also work together to distribute hundreds of plates of hot lunch, and dry food though participation in a major free food distribution event for those in need in Budapest.

The council will be meeting with a number of religious representatives from Hungary during their visit. The delegation will include the renowned theologian and former politician Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, the distinguished Sikh spiritual leader, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, the award-winning human rights advocate, lecturer, writer and environmental activist Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, and His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel, European Orthodoxy’s most prominent advocate for peace and dialogue.

The European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL) brings together senior religious leaders from Europe’s historical religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam together with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians. ECRL is one of five regional Interreligious Councils within the Religions for Peace global network. Religions for Peace – accredited to the United Nations – is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970.

More information: www.ecrl.eu.

Media Contact:
Thomas Flügge, Media Relations, tf@bildwort.com
Rebecca Bellamy, Secretariat Management, secretariat@ecrl.eu

Book review: A Moonless, Starless Sky by Alexis Okeowo

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

A review by The Literary Llama

In A Moonless, Starless Sky Okeowo weaves together four narratives that form a powerful tapestry of modern Africa: a young couple, kidnap victims of Joseph Kony’s LRA; a Mauritanian waging a lonely campaign against modern-day slavery; a women’s basketball team flourishing amid war-torn Somalia; and a vigilante who takes up arms against the extremist group Boko Haram. This debut book by one of America’s most acclaimed young journalists illuminates the inner lives of ordinary people doing the extraordinary–lives that are too often hidden, underreported, or ignored by the rest of the world.

I love non-fiction but there aren’t a lot of non-fiction books that interest me. I’m particular about my choices, mainly the author, because a great subject could be rendered completely boring in the wrong hands. Still, when Hachette offered me a chance to read A MOONLESS, STARLESS SKY, I immediately said yes. The synopsis may be small but the promise of this book was great and I knew I had to give it a chance…and I’m so happy I did.

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Question for this article

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

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A MOONLESS, STARLESS SKY is amazing. Alexis Okeowo did an excellent job with the 4 stories she told of “ordinary women and men fighting extremism in Africa”. The book was split into two sections, the first having the begining of each of the 4 stories and the second having the conclusion (what they are up until the current time) of each of the true tales. Her writing style spoke to me. It flowed and moved and informed without getting too bogged down in historical and/or geographical facts (something that has happened in other non-fiction that I have read). She told us just enough to give us an acurate picture without going overboard into a long-winded text-book like examination. The stories were about the people and Okeowo kept that in focus.
 
There is an amazing diversity between all the different stories. Each one highlighting different races, beliefs, genders, nationalities and how those are treated and perceived and evolving in the different regions. But even with all of those differences there is a cohesiveness. The fight against extremism in all it’s different forms, brings these stories and people together in a way. And it’s eye opening.
 
These are the stories of real people. They are great people and they are flawed people, struggling and yet strong, each victory great and small is worth so much. And the way these victories are accomplished can be hard to understand, simply because we will never live through such situations, but Okeowo tells them with a mixture of fact and empathy that makes all the difference. You see heroes and heroines, the beginnings and middles of violence and resistance, the fight back that may seem like another form of extremism, but through it all are the people who are doing what they feel is right. They are incredible stories.
 
Overall I gave A MOONLESS, STARLESS SKY 4.5 stars, although it was easy to round up in this case. I highly recommend it and hope you connect with the writing the same way I did.

Gaza Children Cinema – Update March 2018

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An update from the Gaza children cinema

In a local library in Rafah, South of the Gaza Strip, children are busy working on a white cardboard. They are creating their cinema’s box office. Others are allocating number stickers to the seats. Another group of children are in charge of distributing popcorn in preparation of a film screening. Children then line up to get their tickets before entering the screening venue; they stay quite as their eyes gaze at the screen; but once the movie ends, they are eager to talk about what they just saw and reflect on their first cinema experience. Some talk, some sing, some dance and some draw.


A frame from the video about the Gaza children’s cinema

This is only a brief scenario of one of the 160 screenings we have managed to implement across the Gaza Strip in 2017 thanks to your generous donations. Below is an update of some of the major outcomes of the cinema’s Project activities last year.

Gaza Children Cinema:

The idea was to create a peaceful, creative space where kids could be just kids—a space where a child can live a joyful moments while surviving the bitter reality of siege loss, hardship and war. The result was the Gaza Children’s Cinema, a project was born out of a desire to create a safe haven for children, and it is evidence of the magic of cinema—of how film can relieve suffering and provide light to literally one of the darkest places in the World.

The Cinema in 2017:

In 2016 and early 2017, we managed to raise 7800 AU$ through our online fundraiser page and through other fundraising events in support of the Gaza Children Cinema project.

In April 2017, we partnered with the Tamer Institute for Community Education, Gaza, in order to facilitate the implementation of the cinema screenings and to allow the initiative to be led by the local community, especially young volunteers. This partnership was important for building on the existing community resources in reaching more children. We did not want to re-invent the wheel, no one does want!

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Question for this article

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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Besides targeting marginalised areas for the screenings, we have successfully managed to engage libraries and to promote regular screening within library settings across the Gaza Strip.

In preparation of the screenings, the Tamer Institute held two training workshops for the librarians and the young volunteers from Tamer Institute. The workshops focused on brainstorming the best ways to make the screening a successful enjoyable experience for the kids, the choice of the films and training the librarians to use arts as a tool of expression for the children to reflect on their inner thoughts and emotions.

About 160 cinema screenings were held with the children throughout 2017. We have managed to reach out to hundreds of children each month through organizing several screenings at several locations. The screenings were held across the Gaza Strip in Gaza, Rafah, Khan Younis, Maghazi Refugee camp, Jabalia refugee camp, amongst many other locations.

Gaza Children Cinema activities have been carried out across the Gaza Strip including border areas, marginalised children communities and refugee camps.
We have seen children join the cinema sessions with their parents in inclusive and entertaining settings. With the support of Gaza Children Cinema volunteer team, these children had the opportunity to engage into stimulating and interactive discussion prior and after the film screenings.

In September, and as part of our attempts to reach the most marginalized children in the most remote areas, we launched a call for proposals for initiatives around cinema and children. To our surprise, we received about twenty proposals from grassroots community groups. This has assured us that the impact of the Gaza Children Cinema is invaluable and is growing.

This project has been fully funded by charitable fundraiser events that we have voluntarily carried out here in Perth, Australia. Either through food stall markets, various movie screenings or an online fundraiser page, we have managed to raise enough funds to keep this initiative going and growing. And today we are hoping to raise funds to sustain this project for another year.

This is a message of gratitude and appreciation for making this initiative real. Without your generous donations, we wouldn’t be able to reach many of children across the Gaza Strip, and offer them some moments of peace, dialogue, and entertainment. We are determined to continue in this track, this time with more commitment and enthusiasm. We always appreciate your input and feedback. If you wish to know more, please contact us on info@gazachildrencinema.org.

Yours Sincerely,
Ayman Qwaider and Mohammed Al-Rozzi
For Gaza Children Cinema Team

(Thank you to Ayman Qwaider, the CPNN reporter for this article)

Belize and Guatemala host Garifuna Cultural Event

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from the Belize Guardian

A two-day event, from April 8th to 9th, was held in Guatemala City. There, Belize and Guatemala, together, held “The Belizean and Guatemalan Garifuna Culture as an Expression of Social Cohesion, Intercultural Dialogue and Promotion of Peace.” The aim of the event was to promote intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace.

The event consisted of both cultural and academic presentations which were meant to showcase the historical coexistence of the communities living on the borders of Livingston and Puerto Barrios, Izabal, Guatemala, and the Toledo and Stann Creek Districts of Belize. The program had the full support of UNESCO, the OAS, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation, the Garifuna Council of Belize, and CODIRSA – the Presidential Commission against Discrimination and Racism of Guatemala.

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Question related to this article:

Solidarity across national borders, What are some good examples?>

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During the cultural presentations, the Garifuna groups Lirahunu Satuye of Dangriga Town and Luwaruguma Guifu of Livingston, Guatemala, performed in venues located in some of Guatemala City’s busiest outdoor centers, attracting large audiences.  In addition to individual country performances, both groups collaborated in joint performances showcasing a celebration of unity through culture.

The program also included an academic conference which consisted of presentations by experts of both countries.  Presenters from Belize included the President of the Belize National Garifuna Council, Sandra Miranda, Roy Cayetano, and Sebastian Cayetano.  Experts from Guatemala included Alfonso Arrivillaga, Dr. Gutberto Leiva, and Olivia Núñez.  The presentations reflected on the history, culture, and traditions of the Garinagu people.

Guatemala and Belize share great cultural, ecological, and patrimonial richness. Both nations are making the necessary efforts to resolve their historical territorial differences within the framework of the United Nations and International Law, seeking a lasting and peaceful solution to their dispute.

The event was organized through the joint efforts of the Embassy of Belize in Guatemala, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, UNESCO office in Kingston accredited to Belize, and the UNESCO office in Guatemala.

Palestine’s Great March of Return: A New Defiance Campaign

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article by By Iqbal Jassat for the Palestine Chronicle (the author is an Executive Member of the South Africa-based Media Review Network)

In a remarkably fresh approach in resistance to Israel’s seven decades of colonialism, Palestinians have geared up to mobilize en masse in what has been dubbed as Great March of Return.

Starting Friday 30th March 2018, thousands upon thousands head towards homes and lands from which they were forcibly expelled. Victims of evictions and ethnic cleansing whose losses have never been admitted by Israel despite being acknowledged by the United Nations, have every right under International Law to reclaim the theft of their land.


Palestinians taking part in the Great March of Return. (Photo: ActiveStills.org)

Though month of March each year since 1976 has been commemorated as Land Day, this year sees it expanded in a very creative way.

The popular sentiment shared amongst Palestinians in the diaspora as indeed within the suffocating occupied territories is “Returning to our stolen lands and homes is legal under International Law and UN resolutions”.

The Great March of Return is thus an affirmation of this inalienable right guaranteed by a substantial number of international conventions.

Reports from the colonial regime reveal an aggressive and hostile military reaction is underway. Leaks from Netanyahu’s war-room point to threats to kill any and all  Palestinians who dare to approach the apartheid barriers or “fences” which bar the indigenous population from their homes and lands.

To the dismay of Israel, the Great March of Return is not planned to be a short lived one-day event. And to add to Israel’s PR nightmare, media coverage will in all likelihood revisit core issues at the heart of this March via extensive analysis and historic footage.

Expressing its displeasure at mainstream media and throwing tantrums alongside wailing and howling  – as Israel is accustomed to doing, will not assist the regime’s Hasbara (propaganda) campaigns. In fact it will be entirely counterproductive as the old Nats in apartheid’s heydays in South Africa learnt.

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Question for this article

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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Concealing the ugly reality of Zionism’s imposition of a foreign entity (Israel) and the consequences of the Nakba (catastrophe) which to date are eminently visible throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories OPT, Palestine ’48 and refugee camps dotted across Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere is not only not possible, but morally repugnant.

Equally it would be outrageous and utterly disgraceful for any media platform to ignore or downplay the enormous burden faced by Palestinians to free themselves from oppression and reclaim justice. The Great March of Return is thus a challenge to media to dislodge themselves from false Israeli narratives fed to them by highly resourced Hasbara campaigns.

It requires a return to an understanding of the enormity of losses suffered by the Palestinians at the hands of a racist colonial entity supported and facilitated by the British government a century ago. It means revisiting notorious historical details which certainly will be unflattering for those European powers who played central roles In the dispossession of Palestine.

The Great March of Return is a challenge to those in the media who’ve been cowed by intimidating threats of economic sabotage and fear being unfairly smeared as “antisemitic”, to get off their fences and jump into the fray. Robust introspection and fearless courageous reports on the reasons why Palestinians have embarked on this momentous peaceful defiance campaign should be par for the course for journalists who value integrity.

In keeping with its irrational conduct, Israel has imposed a “closure” on the Palestinian areas for the so called “Passover holidays”. In addition the settler colonial regime has enforced a “no go” zone on land adjacent to Gaza’s border.  Chief of staff of the military’s occupation forces has admitted that “more than 100 sharpshooters” primarily from elite special forces, have been deployed with permission to “open fire”.

B’Tselem, known for fearlessly challenging Israel’s violations of human rights, is justifiably concerned about threats by the regime to unleash lethal force on the demonstrators.

“Completely ignoring the humanitarian disaster in Gaza and Israel’s responsibility for it, they are couching the planned protest in terms of a security risk, framing the demonstrators as terrorists and referring to Gaza as a ‘combat zone.”

As the March unfolds, reports come through about injuries and deaths caused by the Occupation forces’ deadly weapons. As B’Tselem and other humanitarian organisations have warned, Israel’s war mongering displays blatant disregard for the sanctity of Palestinian life. Nor for any of its obligations under International Law.

The Great March of Return has the support of all the Palestinian factions – Hamas, Fatah, the PFLP and Islamic Jihad. Expected to continue until 15 May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, it’s demands will hopefully resonate across all corners of the world: Right of Return to their pre-1948 homes!