Category Archives: TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY

Traveling by Bicycle Gives Direct Contact with People

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article by Stip & F

After eight years of professional life in the banking sector in Paris, we decided to travel by bike to discover Europe via Morocco. This means of locomotion has become obvious to us. Economical and practical, it allowed us to travel 17000 km during a year. Meeting peope is all the more facilitated as we are in direct contact with them.


(click on image to see the video)

The same questions come up frequently in all languages: Where are you from? Why are you doing this? Where do you sleep ? Their questions allow to get in touch, to express who we are, without necessarily going through the words, but especially by smiling, and what we hope to make clear: our simplicity.

We went in search of ourselves, especially through meeting people, sharing their stories and experiences. The memory of these exchanges will remain with us forever: a Belgian family who drew our first tears at the time of departure in Spain; the Moroccan couple in the Atlas Mountains who shared everything; the kindness and the big heart of an Italian family in Cremona; the welcome and generosity of a Serbian entrepreneur; a memorable breakfast with two retirees in the middle of Finland …

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(Click here for the original version in French.)

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We also discovered a new kind of fast and intense relationship. People did not hesitate to tell us their life stories. This drove us to compassion and humility in the face of their heartbreaking stories. We listened attentively, comforted and left, maybe sometimes a little too fast … Hoping that peace has returned to their life.

These spontaneous exchanges are a great way to learn about yourself. It was rare that we had any reason to be frightened, and when that happened, it was most often based on limits to our understanding, deeply rooted in ourselves through our education and the messages conveyed by society. This experience has shown us that kindness and generosity are everywhere; you just need to open your eyes. It seems that too often, we do not believe what we see, but we see what we believe. Sometimes in the cafes, a customer pays the bill, the boss offers us a meal, a person offers us a room … Arriving with a positive intention can make a big difference.

Inevitably, some events wore on our nerves, like the rain near Foggia in Italy, which in the end was punctuated by a beautiful evening around a fire. We learned that we must welcome everything, accept it as it is, even that which we might consider negative.

Intuition became our best ally over the days in all situations. It’s about giving more space to our feelings as the best indicator. Being in close contact with the elements, we are immersed in the environment, open to capturing more information. Our senses sharpen, we know instinctively if we must extend a meeting, shorten or change course. Sometimes, we felt that an invitation was too insistent, and we refused it, at the risk of offending someone. We prefer to be in agreement with ourselves rather than compromise.

The difficulties we encountered, whether related to climate, relationships with others, or our own doubts … turn out to be ways for us to grow. Once the discomfort has passed, the field of possibilities gets bigger. This has been a journey to remember who we are, to go beyond the facades built around our ego.

We continue our journey, having become more aware and grateful for all the intentions of life. Above all, we must simply remember: the human being is benevolent by nature.

USA: A call to resist immigrant concentration camps

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from Courage to Resist

Courage to Resist believes that all military personnel have a moral and legal obligation to refuse to comply with any order that involves collaboration with [the following] immigrant concentration camps.

Actual concentration camps are in the process of development at military bases across the Southern United States. Potential locations have been identified by military or Pentagon personnel as:

Tornillo Port of Entry, Texas – capacity 360 teenagers CURRENTLY ACTIVE

Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas – capacity 45,000
Fort Bliss, Texas

Dyess Air Force Base, Texas

Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas – capacity 20,000
Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Air Station, California – capacity 47,000

Navy Outlying Field Wolf and Silverhill, Alabama – capacity 25,000
Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Arizona

Concord Naval Weapons Station, California – capacity 47,000 CANCELLED [see below]

This isn’t the first time in US history that facilities are being constructed and used to imprison large numbers of a persecuted minority in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities (the definition of a concentration camp). Previous examples of this are now infamous, such as the so-called Japanese internment camps. We’re now on the brink of adding a new chapter to this dark history.

Military officials, in response to pressured deadlines from the White House, have stated that these camps can begin to be operational by mid-August. Estimates are that capacity for another 10,000 people can be added each month. The White House’s stated timeline of 45 days out from June 27th has local base commanders scrambling and caught unaware.

In addition to providing the land, military personnel will construct the camps while private agencies will manage the operations. While this simplified explanation of operations seeks to minimize the military’s role, it omits the endless capacities in which the armed forces will surely be facilitating the functioning of these camps such as with water, electricity, sewage, trash, and all of the other services to go allow with sustaining tens of thousands of immigrant detainees.

Additional operational problems include the difficulty of housing persons in restricted access bases who legally need access to immigration and civil-liberties lawyers, secure areas to discuss their cases, as well as access for advocates, relatives, news media and political activists. Another issue is the lack of state licensing requirements, such as health and building codes, which military locations enable the government to avoid.

As of July 10th, two weeks after the Pentagon confirmed that it was indeed working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to construct these camps, there was still no Memorandum of Understanding with either DHS or Health and Human Services (HHS) nor could any timeline be stated for one. A memorandum would clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities of all parties. To move forward with construction plans without one, nor any clear legal guidance, certainly leads military personnel into dangerous waters for themselves.

The military is strictly prohibited from domestic policing as stated in the constitution yet military personnel are being drafted into doing just that with this rising domestic enforcement of immigration policy. Just because Trump/Sessions Co. declares a war on immigrants, doesn’t make it an actual war. Being quite clearly an illegal order, the question is who will refuse to aid and abet?

The Trump administration’s reckless leadership is currently putting military personnel in danger of running afoul of the law. While military personnel at all levels have a responsibility to refuse to participate in facilitating these camps, commanders in particular are at a particularly high risk in complying with these orders due to the precedent of the Nuremberg prosecution of those who aided and abetted Nazi leadership.

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Questions related to this article:

The post-election fightback for human rights, is it gathering force in the USA?

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Already the construction of one camp has been abandoned due to people’s refusal to look the other way. The proposed use of the Concord Naval Weapons Station experienced significant resistance and outcry from the community and local officials who opposed the plan once it was exposed via a leaked Navy memo recently published. DHS soon thereafter announced they would no longer build a concentration camp at this location. To follow that up, on July 10th the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department announced it is cancelling its contract with ICE which facilitated the local county jails holding ICE-detained persons for a lucrative fee.

These human rights victories have been happening in other communities as well including Sacramento County just last month.

Since the news coverage of the camp plans was broken, there has been heated debate within military communities as individuals seek to understand and define their reactions to this new era we find ourselves in. Meanwhile more than thirty lawmakers are pushing forward different amendments which would bar National Guard or other reserve components from enforcing immigration laws, and restrict the Pentagon from housing immigrants on military bases. Alabama Rep. Byrne recently stated “Housing anyone in tents on the Gulf Coast during the heat of summer and the heart of hurricane season would be inhumane and a major mistake. I am committed to working with our local officials to fight back against this misguided idea.”

There are discussions and calls right now for counties to cease partnering with ICE, for communities surrounding military bases to refuse to work on the bases which will hold tens of thousands of people for the “crime” of seeking refuge.

Share this article and discuss with others these facts as you ask yourself, what will I do? Now is the time to make a decision. The White House has requested that the first of these large scale camps be ready by mid-August. We are in the midst of a pivotal moment in history, one way or another.

Sources:

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

Flotilla bringing needed medical supplies to Gaza

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

A news release from Right to a Just Future for Palestine

In the past 15 weeks, more than 130 Palestinians in Gaza have been executed by Israeli snipers, more than 4,000 have been wounded and 15,000 injured with tear gas. At least 43 people have had their legs amputated due to the types of bullets the Israeli Occupation Forces are using and hundreds more will have long-term debilitating injuries from these bullets. The medical system in Gaza is overwhelmed and urgently needs medical supplies.


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TAlthough the Freedom Flotilla Coalition continues to see our mission’s goal as political solidarity rather than charity or aid, the need for medical supplies in Gaza is too urgent to ignore. As a result, our Right to a Just Future for Palestine flotilla that is on its way to Gaza will carry as many medical supplies as our four boats can safely hold. These are medical supplies that have been specifically requested by Palestinian medical authorities in Gaza – all of them are in short supply due to the blockade.

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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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We demand that the Israeli government does not interfere with our boats as they approach, dock and unload in Gaza, in order to deliver the  medical  supplies  directly to hospitals in Gaza City, less than one 1.6 km from the Gaza City harbour. Whatever happens to our boats, we hold the Israeli government accountable for the safe reception of these life-saving supplies by Palestinian medical authorities in Gaza.

As an occupying state that has placed a land, air and sea blockade on Gaza, international law mandates that Israel must allow medical supplies into Gaza. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition and its worldwide allies, including those in Israel, will keep the international community and governments informed of any delays in delivering these critical medical supplies to Gaza.

People anywhere who wish to contribute to towards the cost of these medical supplies can make donations through any one of our campaigns, designating your donation “Medical supplies for Gaza.” We will use your donations to purchase medical supplies close to our last port of call, Palermo (please do not send us medical supplies though as we do not have the capacity to move additional items to our departure point). Together, we can help end the illegal blockade of Gaza.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Americans march to support immigrants and to oppose separation of families by the Trump administration

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

Media review by CPNN

Over the July Fourth holiday weekend thousands of Americans are taking to the streets to protest the Trump administration separation of children from their immigrant parents at the Mexican border.

There is good coverage in the mass media, as illustrated by the following from Mercury News.


Location of 700 protest marches. From MoveOn.org

“They gathered by the thousands for the historic Women’s Marches, demanded stricter gun control in the March for Our Lives, and took over airport terminals across the nation to protest President Donald Trump’s travel ban last year.

“And on Saturday, hundreds of thousands of Americans — enraged by the separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border — will take to the streets once again to protest a controversial Trump administration policy that has caused the detention of thousands of undocumented immigrants, and call on the government to reunite more than 2,000 migrant children taken from their parents.

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Questions related to this article:

The post-election fightback for human rights, is it gathering force in the USA?

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“Families Belong Together” rallies are planned in more than 700 cities across the U.S., including about 20 in the Bay Area, from San Francisco to San Jose, San Leandro, Alameda, Oakland, Concord and Morgan Hill. Rallies are also planned in New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas and Puerto Rico.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and MoveOn.org have teamed up to help organize demonstrations in over 700 cities, as illustrated by the map shown on the left. Earlier this year the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit to stop family separation and to demand that these children be reunited with their parents.

The ACLU website lists the following suggestions for action:

* Call Congress to stop the brutality

* Listen to the podcast

* Support ACLU partners

* Add your name

* Watch the Border Rally

* Volunteer with the ACLU

* Print your poster

* Show up and raise your voice

* Start your own campaign

Ivory Coast: The Mohammed VI Foundation preaches the return to the sources of Islam through the Achâarite doctrine

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article by George Moihet in Afrique le 360 (translated by CPNN)

The Mohammed VI Foundation of African Oulema organized a conference in Abidjan on June 21st and 22nd which brought together guides, scholars and leaders of the Ivorian Muslim community around the teachings of the Achâarite doctrine. Promoted by Imam Al Achâari, this doctrine is an invitation to the original sources of Islam, which is committed to peace and tolerance and peaceful coexistence in society.


Video of the conference

The challenge of the meeting is to promote these values, themselves promoted by the Prophet of Islam, in order to contribute to the consolidation of “living together” in Ivorian society. But it is also a question of “rehabilitating and restoring the image of Islam” in the context of the persistence of terrorist acts at the global level.

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

Question for this article

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

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“This symposium, which is the beginning of a set of activities, will enable us to set up the new Muslim (…) by rehabilitating our values ​​which characterize us in reality and to avoid falling into the extremism and radicalism that are not Islamic, “said Cheickh Boikary Fofana, president of COSIM, the Higher Council of Imams and Supreme Leader of the Muslim community in the country.

This very first conference of the Mohammed VI Foundation in Africa was the occasion of the launch of the Ivorian section of the organization. Present at the ceremony, the ambassador of Morocco, Abdelmalek Kettani, rejoiced at the action of the Foundation which participates in “a vision of sharing knowledge, knowledge but also rooting peace, stability , the cohesion between the different parts of this great continent which is ours with a view to its promotion and its development “.

A series of symposia is planned this year by the local chapter of the Foundation around themes such as Sufism, the Maliki school, etc.

Dakar: International Post-Forum Seminar on Peace and Security in Africa

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from 7sur7 Senegal (translation by CPNN)

Senegal today [25 juin] hosted the Dakar International Post-Forum Seminar on Peace and Security in Africa. The seminar is organized as part of a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese and the Center for Higher Studies of Defense and Security (CHEDS) of Senegal. This year it is focused on the theme: “Prevention and fight against against violent extremism: what are the people’s responses? ”


Horchani Ferhat

Professor at the Faculty of Law and Political Science of Tunis, Horchani Ferhat, in his introductory presentation, explained the reasons for the failure of the international community in the fight against terrorism. This failure, according to him, is reflected at least on three levels.

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

Question for this article

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

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The first is the dramatic increase in terrorist groups. According to him, the number of terrorist groups is growing with different names in different localities.

The second level is that, according to Professor Ferhat, the current terrorist groups (Islamic State, Daesch) have broader ambitions than mere terror. They have territorial and political ambitions.

Regarding the third level of failure, the professor reports that these groups are able to attract a large number of young people across national borders. The threat is transnational, even transcontinental.

For the professor, this relative failure of the international community, despite all the money that has been spent, requires another approach. “We can not go on like this,” said Professor Horchani Ferhat, thinking that we need a better approach to the phenomenon of terrorism. The objective should be to eradicate not only what is visible but to root out the evil at its roots.

“We need a real strategy, and this strategy needs to be global and multifaceted, which means that it must involve not only the State but also the national communities, that is to say the general populations”, he stressed. He also recalled that the phenomenon of terrorism is very complex and can have very different motivations. It can, in his opinion, have its source in crime, the drug trade, the search for easy money, radicalization, social and economic exclusion, and absolute poverty, among others.

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.