Category Archives: Mideast

Moroccan Researcher Karima El Azhary Wins International Sustainable Development Award

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Morocco World News

Moroccan researcher Karima El Azhary won the 2019 Green Talents Award for her research in energy efficiency. The award ceremony took place on October 24, in Berlin. The ceremony saw 25 researchers from different countries earn awards.

The Green Talents Award aims to reward people with “high potential in sustainable development” from all over the world. The award is an initiative by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the award.

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Question for this article:

How can we ensure that science contributes to peace and sustainable development?

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This year, 837 applicants from 97 different countries applied for the award. The jury, composed of expert scientists in sustainable development, selected 25 young researchers for the prize.

El Azhary is a PhD researcher at the Mohammadia School of Engineers in Rabat. She directed her research towards developing new sustainable construction and insulation materials, based on alimentary and agricultural waste. The aim of her work is improving thermal insulation and energy efficiency of buildings, mainly in underprivileged areas.

The award’s jury appreciated El Azhary’s “great commitment that allows an innovative and inspired research approach to relevant sustainability issues such as energy efficiency.”

They also recognized her volunteer activities as “she is part of international and national youth associations, which aims to encourage and help young people to invest in social entrepreneurship and sustainable projects.”

Following her recognition, the Moroccan researcher told the press that she is “honored and proud” of receiving the award. She also took the opportunity to praise her colleagues; “This award confirms the high competency of Moroccan researchers in all fields.”

The award would allow El Azhary to benefit from the German experience in sustainability science, innovation, and technology. It would also allow her to search for possibilities of cooperation with German universities and institutes in the field.

Representatives from the Moroccan embassy in Germany attended the award ceremony, along with presidents and leaders of international scientific research centers.

2019 Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders Award winners announced

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from Peace Direct

Now in its seventh year, the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders Awards celebrate some of the world’s most innovative local peacebuilders. This year, the three focus areas for the awards were: women-led peacebuilding, youth-led peacebuilding, and music and the performing arts. A panel of international experts selected the winners from 406 applicants, the highest number we have received to date.


Video of award-winning initiatives

The winners — from Syria, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo — were announced at the Alliance for Peacebuilding annual conference, PeaceCon, on 3 October in Washington, D.C. Each received a $10,000 grant to contribute to their work.

“We’re happy to highlight and support the work of these local peacebuilders, because they know best how to tackle problems in their communities. The leaders of these three organizations are providing practical and creative solutions, and directly improving people’s lives,” said Peace Direct CEO Dylan Mathews.

Youth-led peacebuilding: Youth for Homeland in Yemen

Youth for Homeland, founded in 2014, works in rural areas of Yemen to engage communities in peacebuilding efforts, working mainly with young people to develop skills and find alternatives to violence. For example, when one community was fighting over limited water resources, the organization helped establish reservoirs to contain water over longer periods.

The organization plans to use the award to train more peacebuilders. “The main objective is to rehabilitate young people to become peace ambassadors and urge their colleagues and friends to not participate in the war anymore, so that we can contribute to the end of the war in Yemen,” said Abdullah al-Suraihi, founder of Youth for Homeland.

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Questions for this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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Women-led peacebuilding: Open Art Space in Syria

Many children in Syria have known nothing but war. Three women, two of whom are artists, founded Open Art Space in the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2016. Their work connects children and young people inside and outside of Syria through peacebuilding.

Children participate in free weekly workshops, which offer a safe space to play and connect with one another, a chance to express themselves, and a way to learn about peace through art. To reach children more widely, the women created a website where children anywhere in Syria can practice drawing and art exercises to help process the violence they have experienced.

For co-founder Roula al-Khatib, this award enables the organization to “reach out to more Syrian children affected by the war in remote places to implement art and peace in their daily life. This is an opportunity for us to tell the world that despite the sad war in Syria, there are many people who are working very hard to retain peace back.”

Music and the performing arts: Amani Institute in DR Congo

The Amani Institute, founded in 2016 in North Kivu, DR Congo, uses theater to help young ex-combatants process trauma they have experienced and reintegrate into their communities. The technique of theater enables former fighters to interact with others, and acts as a springboard for dialogue, reconciliation and tolerance.

“This is an acknowledgement that our effort in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being recognized internationally,” said Joseph Tsongo, founder of the Amani Institute. “It will help us continue our work for the next generation and bring peace to the country.”

We celebrate this year’s winners, and all peacebuilding efforts taking place around the world.

We thank our sponsors: the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Away, the Bluegrass Ambassadors, the Pickwell Foundation and Humanity United for supporting this year’s awards and award ceremony.

For more information: contact@peacedirect.org

Australia: Antony Loewenstein wins the 2019 Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An article from Jerusalem Peace Prize

Australians for Palestine and the Australia-Palestine Advocacy Network are thrilled to announce that the winner of the 2019 Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize is journalist, author, and film-maker Antony Loewenstein

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Question for this article

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

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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Antony’s best-selling book “My Israel Question” generated a storm of controversy because of his forensic discussion of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the intimidatory way Zionist lobby groups have affected political discourse and news media to shape their version of Middle-Eastern politics. 

His foray into this veritable minefield saw him personally attacked and even shunned by his community and relatives.

He co-founded Independent Australian Jewish Voices and has said that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement “is a logical and non-violent response to human rights abuses in Palestine.

The award will be presented by last year’s prize winner Professor Emeritus Stuart Rees AM at a black-tie dinner in Queen’s Hall, Victorian State Parliament [Melbourne, Australia] on Friday  22 November 2019.  In response to the award, Antony will be in conversation with the celebrated journalist and television news presenter, Mary Kostakidis.

Arab and Middle Eastern States: International Day of Peace

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

A survey by CPNN

The following 21 actions in 14 Arab and Middle Eastern countries were listed in Google during the week of September 21-28 under the key words “International day of peace” “journee internationale de la paix” and اليوم الدولي للسلام. This also includes a few actions listed on the websites of International Cities of Peace and the event map of the international day of peace,

About 20 actions are listed on the maps of One Day One Choir and Montessori schools singing for peace, but there is no indication which took place this year and which took place only in previous years


The Day was especially meaningful in Yemen which continues to be torn by war. This photo is from Hadramaout where white is considered the color of peace.

Here are excerpts from articles about the actions, many of them translated from Arabic.

BAHRAIN :

The Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities organized a concert on Saturday on the occasion of the International Day of Peace presented by “Musicians Without Borders” band with the artist and oud player Saad Jawad. Musicians Without Borders is a living example of harmony between different peoples and cultures. It consists of professional musicians of different nationalities and countries: Argentina, Bahrain, India, Ukraine, Egypt and Iraq. The band performed a different set of songs and songs belonging to different cultures such as: Hana Al Bahrain, Tango Al Oud, Ayam Zaman, Flamenco Al Oud, in addition to performing songs by famous artists such as: Fayrouz, Ammar Al 

MINYA, EGYPT

 The Bader Peace Building Project at the Association of Muslim Families for Social Development, in Minya, organized a peace event with the environment on Saturday, coinciding with the celebration of “World Peace Day”, which falls on September 21st every year. The activities, carried out by the project team, the youth and the youth, included cleaning works, planting trees and paintings on the walls. Dr. Hani Ahmed El-Sayed, Director of the Bader Project at the Muslim Families Association, said that the activities of today are aimed at promoting peace with the environment in cooperation with the Office of Humanitarian Services of the Coptic Catholics.

TEHERAN, IRAN :

The seventh edition of the International Festival of “Art for Peace” has been inaugurated in Tehran, the Iranian capital, on the occasion of International Peace Day. . . . There are about 200 works in different categories of photography, painting, installation, sculpture, video art, graphics and cinema. Each artist, with their own approach, tries to convey to the audience their concern for peace.

SULAIMANI, KURDISTAN, IRAQ :

 Coexistence and religious tolerance in the Kurdistan Region was celebrated during an International Day of Peace festival in Sulaimani province on Saturday. People from the autonomous Kurdistan Region and different parts of the world celebrated and participated in the International Day of Peace by showcasing artwork, presenting cultural foods, and handmade, embroidered items. 

HA-ATSMA’UT GARDEN, JERUSALEM, ISRAEL :

A short march, a prayer for peace and ceremony.

BEIRUT, LEBANON :

Wataniya – The Association for the Protection and Investment of Arab Culture and the Association of Alumni of Beirut Arab University organized a poetic evening for the poet Saleh Al-Desouki on the occasion of the International Day of Peace. The program included the presentation of words on behalf of the two associations inspired by the occasion, and then presented Desouki a variety of poems and poetry. The evening of the media presented Islam Hajja, and in the end the poet was honored and memorial photos were taken in the presence of the management of the two associations and a range of academic, cultural, political and social activities and activists in civil society.

NAQOURA, LEBANON :

UNIFIL today marked the International Day of Peace amidst a ceremony at its headquarters in Naqoura, South Lebanon, with its head and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col joining the global call for climate action for peace.

TRIPOLI, LEBANON :

 On the International Day of Peace, +Peace, Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, and Impact:Peace launched the Peace in Our Cities Campaign, with 11 mayors and local officials representing over 15.8 million people from Colombo, Sri Lanka; Nairobi Municipality, Kenya; Cali, Colombia; Guadalajara, Mexico; Tripoli, Lebanon; Bangui, Central African Republic; Durban, South Africa; Escobedo, Mexico; Kumanovo, Macedonia; Kibera County, Nairobi, Kenya; and Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago, pledging to work towards halving violence in their cities by 2030. The campaign calls on mayors, local authorities, civil society, the private sector, and other partners to sign the pledge and join the growing movement to transform global violence.

UBARI, LIBYA :

See link for a video about the revival of World Peace Day in Ubari

MAURITANIA :

In commemoration of the International Day of Peace, the Union of Mauritanian Writers organized a major literary evening under the slogan: Literature in the service of civil peace, attended by a group of intellectuals, ministers, MPs and writers.  The evening started with a speech by the President of the Union, Dr. Mohamed Ould Azahna, expressing his satisfaction with the choice of this slogan to confirm the role played by literature and writers in promoting and promoting a culture of peace, praising the support given by the State to consolidate civil peace. In turn, Mr. Yahya Ould Ahmedou, in charge of a mission to the Ministry of Culture, Handicrafts and Relations with Parliament, gave an opening speech on behalf of the Minister, in which he thanked the Union of Mauritanian Writers for the great effort exerted by strengthening national cohesion through this activity. After the official opening, the audience listened to a speech delivered by Dr. Mohamed El Amine Ould El Ketab, President of the Supreme Council of the Union, in which he explained the social and political dimensions of peace and the interest of the international community in the culture of peace, in which civil society organizations and unions play a pivotal role. Parliamentary MP Mohammed Bawi Sheikh Mohammed Fadhil made an important intervention on the relationship of literature to civil peace, and continued the literary dimension of the Koran peace in general.

MARRAKECH, MOROCCO :

On the occasion of World Peace Day, on 21 September, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights called for the separation of religion from the state because the exploitation of religion and its use in political conflicts poses a threat to democracy and peace. . . The statement called for work to combat hate speech, violence and extremism, and spread a culture of dialogue and coexistence and respect for pluralism and acceptance of difference. The Association appreciated the priorities set by the United Nations to reduce the threat of carbon emissions to peace in the world by 2050, as reflected in the taxation of polluters and not on people; stop subsidizing fossil fuels; and stop building new coal plants by 2020; a green economy instead of the gray economy. It also deplored the “drastic rise in the world arms budget,” denouncing Morocco’s huge budget in this field, amounting to 4% of GDP, while not providing the most basic requirements of life for its citizens and citizens of employment, housing and health services, as well as good and generalized education.

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Question related to this article:

What has happened this year (2019) for the International Day of Peace?

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KHARTOUM, SUDAN :

Celebrating the International Day of Peace on 21 September, people from Nuba Mountains tribes performed traditional dancing and wrestling in a public square in al-Haj Yousif, eastern Khartoum. Hailing from South Kordofan, one of the most war-ravaged areas in Sudan, the Nuba Mountains people have used to mark peace occasions in Khartoum to consolidate call for peace prevailing and to show that values of peace and peaceful co-existence are the core of their culture.  They performed group dances with the participation of men and women accompanied by rhythms of traditional music instruments such as the drums, rebaba (lute-like instrument) and lyre. Nuba wrestling, on the other hand, became inseparable part of popular celebrations as it has gained popularity country-wide.

KHARTOUM, SUDAN :

Several NGOs launched a campaign to spread the culture of peace and peaceful coexistence, promote the value of tolerance and celebrate the Sudanese identity in the name of “I am peace”.. . .  a couple of events and programs have been carried out in conjunction with World Peace Day. On Friday, the Union Writers and Artists performed a theatre performance under the slogan of Theatre for Peaceful Coexistence. The coexistence initiatives included the maintenance of schools and the distribution of a school bag and treatment programs and assistance from psychologists, A journalist, Amin Sanada told Radio Dabanga that the peaceful coexistence initiative included a match between Arab Sukarta and Wadi Nyala in Port Sudan stadium.

ZALINGEI, CENTRAL DARFUR, SUDAN :

On 22 September 2019, UNAMID peacekeepers mingled with hundreds of residents of Zalingei town and its suburbs to celebrate the International Day of Peace under the theme: “Climate Action for Peace”. Hundreds of vendors, retailers, students and pupils, native administration, women and youth groups as well as Government officials and peacekeepers (Civilians, Military and Police), attended the event which included peace march, music festival, peace and traditional songs, cultural performances by peacekeepers and local cultural groups and a drama show about the Mission’s transition period and its eventual exit by end of June 2020. . . . UNAMID peacekeepers in Golo temporary operating base also celebrated the day in collaboration with Golo community leaders, government officials, youth, women and students.

MANBIJ, SYRIA :

The events organized by the Council on the occasion of the International Day of Peace included the second plastic art exhibition and other cultural events in Manbij city, launched by the Directorate of Arts and Theaters of the Committee of Culture and Art in the city in coordination with the Council of Women. In the presence of dozens of people and members of the institutions of the democratic civil administration in Manbij and its countryside, the events began with a minute of silence, amid the banners at the exhibition with slogans saying: “Peace is a right, not a dream, yes to peace, not to war, together to build sustainable peace.” Then a number of speeches were delivered . . . followed by a theatrical performance entitled “To Europe”. It talked about the migration of Syrians to Europe and their suffering, and their eagerness to return to the land where they were born and lived, as the show showed the importance of adhering to customs, traditions and cultures, and urged the displaced to return and serve their country. This was followed by children’s singing. At the end of the events, the second Fine Art Exhibition opened and the audience toured the paintings and drawings expressing peace, freedom and the right of peoples, children and women to live in peace.

QAMISHLI, SYRIA:

A group of civil society organizations carried out a stand in front of the UN building in the city of Qamishli, northeastern Syria, on the occasion of the International Day of Peace. The co-chair of Human Rights Organization in the Jazira region, Aven Juma, read the statement to a group of participants, noting that eight years of the Syrian war caused the destruction and destruction of the environment, infrastructure and air pollution. The statement, which spoke of what the weapons used in the Syrian war, even internationally prohibited, have done, appealed to international powers and relevant organizations on the International Day of Peace to “support dialogue, the rule of law and social justice”. The statement concluded with an invitation to the forces and international organizations to support the Assembly’s demands.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES :

A number of non-Muslim places of worship were lit up green in celebration of 2019 International Peace Day. The ceremony will be hosted by the Department of Community Development, the governing body of places of worship in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, under the slogan “An Appeal to Harmony” and in conjunction with International Day of Peace. The places of worship will be illuminated until Sunday, September 22, in celebration of the efforts of the Community Development Department. Representatives of the places of worship emphasized that this act reflects the country’s determination to support the entire community, highlighting tolerance in the UAE, while praising the country’s environment that welcomes various cultures and religions.

ADEN, YEMEN :

A group of southerners for peace organized this morning at the Emirates Sky Hotel in Aden, events for the International Day of Peace under the slogan “No war – all partners in peacemaking”. The press conference was attended by the southern elite in the provisional capital of Aden, academics of Aden University, heads of civil society organizations, jurists, activists, lawyers, media, journalists and legal persons. The conference presented a number of items adopted by the Southern Group for Peace, which are trying to apply measures for peace on the ground after coordinating with a number of parties, listening to the different points of view of all present and discussing the various things needed in order to normalize peace. Ms. Radhia Shamsheer, President of the Southern Group for Peace pointed out that our country is going through more dangerous turns that are complicated by the current regional situation It calls for the combined efforts of all national peace-loving forces to seek peace, security and stability throughout Yemen.

HADRAMAOUT, YEMEN:

The Hadramawt Youth Forum for Peace held a public event entitled Hadramout Land of Peace Friday 20 September at the Hyper Square coinciding with the International Day of Peace funded by Youth Without Borders and in partnership with modern knowledge schools and Hadramout International Schools Al-Gha’aleya started with a silent scene titled War and Peace presented by students of modern knowledge schools in Mukalla. It aims to educate people about the effects of war and the need to promote peace.

TAIZ, YEMEN :

In commemoration of World Peace Day and in partnership with NFOD, the Better Future Initiative launched the Open Day of Drawing in Taiz with the participation of a group of young art students from the Faculty of Arts . . . . The drawings contain writings expressing peace, coexistence, brotherhood, tolerance, expressions calling for dialogue and tolerance among all groups, sects, parties and groups, giving priority to the interest of the nation, renouncing sectarianism and violence, and calling on all to work together for lasting peace every inch of the land of Yemen. The Open Day of Drawing is one of the activities of the Risha Salam project, which aims to normalize the situation and promote the ways of coexistence and peace in Taiz through the use of the arts to spread the culture of peace, tolerance and harmony . . . the project aims to deliver a message that Taiz, despite its siege and war, is still a city that loves life, art and beauty and is still a city of love, coexistence and peace.

Libby and Len Traubman on Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

Excerpted from an article in Elders Action

. . . The compelling year-long meal sharing and earlier Soviet-American successes prepared Libby and Len to begin facilitating dialogue between Jews and Palestinians, thus catapulting the couple into another of the world’s serious communal conflicts. Libby explains, ‘By the late ’80s and early ’90s we were meeting some Israeli and Palestinian citizen-leaders who aspired coming to the United Sates for talking with each other—illegal where they lived. We, with others in the Beyond War community and Stanford University said “yes.” ’


See video of “Twenty years of the Palestinian Jewish Living Room Dialogue”

The Israeli and Palestinian women and men were brought to the California redwoods for a powerful week-long conference resulting in writing and signing the historic 1991 Framework for a Public Peace Process. Len cancelled his patients and the Traubmans travelled to Jerusalem to help gel the new team. They assisted participants circulating their Framework document to their individual governments and peoples.

Back in the USA, the couple promptly applied the new strategies. Len recalls: ‘Libby said, “You know we’ve done this globally, now we have got to figure out how it works where we live.”‘ The year of interracial dialogue in their home had laid the groundwork for the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue beginning in July 1992 in their home.

Len recalls early difficulties: ‘Libby spent a year looking for brave local Jews and Palestinians—Muslims and Christians—willing to sit together. It was not a popular thing to do.’ Libby agrees about their biggest hurdle. ‘We searched tirelessly for people willing to face one another. It was almost unheard of. They’d say, “This is the enemy, are you kidding?” The Arabs and Jews were taking a risk by just sitting together, a taboo for many.’

Len explains that the Living Room Dialogues revealed that ‘the real fear is often not of the other side, but of one’s own people’s rejection as naive, sympathizer, unfaithful. That’s where the terror is: “What will people say?”‘

Libby adds, ‘So some feared their own people. Some feared the Other. And many questioned what good dialogue would do. Some said, “I’ve moved to America, and I don’t want to think about it anymore.” Palestinians’ and Israelis’ lives had become so comfortable in America.’

At first participants came to vent and then left. Later arrivals exhibited more dedication to deep listening and empathy. After 18 months a reliable core of respectful yet passionate women and men were dedicated to quality communication. ‘That was twenty-two years ago,’ says Libby. ‘Now eager would-be participants must be asked to wait until a rare opening occurs and the group needs a new member to restore balance.’

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Question for this article

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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Len remembers key ingredients for Living Room Dialogue success: ‘We were dedicated and didn’t give up. Always there for the people, we kept respecting that at first most people dearly want to be heard. So the participant with the will and skill to listen is really the one with the power to transform the relationship. Listening dignifies both listener and the person whose story is being heard. Again, “An enemy is one whose story we have not heard.” We experience story as the shortest distance between two people. It is story and not information that goes to the heart and is best remembered. With this connection of hearts then brains, people experience each other’s equal humanity and begin wanting the best, not only for self but for the other person equally. Magic results from being together and connecting at the heart that then messages the brain that it is safe and the relationship is working properly. This face-to-face connection is simple yet the most effective human experience to redirect relationships.’

Libby continues, ‘At first we didn’t appreciate story as an entry point to Dialogue. We’d begin with political issues and hot topics, provoking ranting, blaming and battles over versions of history. Yet we failed to discover the personal and family stories of the human beings in the room with us. Slowly we discovered the primacy of personal intimacy and spending generous time with people telling their own narratives – sometimes bottled up inside a whole lifetime until then. That is really what we did that first year together of going round and round telling our own histories, ever more deeply learning more about each other. Familiarity, trust, and friendship grew. In time we could begin to approach more difficult issues.’

If listening ensures dialogue, then what makes someone a good listener? How can you make someone into a good listener? Len says simply, ‘You first listen to them.‘

‘You provide them that experience,’ explains Libby ‘And when they come into the dialogue circle, you have to be clear about the rule – what dialogue is and is not.‘

With skills from the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue, Len and Libby then facilitated and filmed Dialogue at Washington High in which Miriam Zimmerman, a Holocaust Jew, and Elias Botto, an original 1947 Palestinian refugee from Jerusalem, shared their poignant stories. Used for instructional purposes ‘…that film then touched hearts and passed on skills to citizens in Africa and worldwide, helping people to relate differently’ explains Len. ‘It reminded us not only to enact the dialogues but to also tell the story of it. The power today is in story and the choice of stories. Today people are fed mostly human failure stories that we see on the five o’ clock news. Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and teacher, says: “People become the stories they hear and the stories they tell.” We have to decide what is for life and what is for death, what is for relationships and the health of the planet, then tell the stories of people who live exemplary lives.’

[Note: Long-time readers of CPNN will recognize Len and Libby Traubman from their articles reprinted in CPNN:

Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue: Turning enemies into partners


Planting Peace Seeds on the Road to Jerusalem


Two Free Videos for Relationship-Building Worldwide

Yehezkel Landau: Can Zionism Be Redeemed?

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

Excerpts from an article by Yehezkel Landau* in Tikkun (abbreviated by CPNN)

. . . The decades-long war between Zionism and Palestinian nationalism (each with secular and religious articulations) has pitted two national stories of heroic striving against each other, competing for validation. This zero-sum equation is shared by the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians who experience the conflict from within. But a fair-minded observer, especially one who wishes to promote inclusive justice and reconciliation, should be able to adopt a dual- or multi-narrative perspective and see the conflict as a profound tragedy rather than a dualistic morality play. The conflict is often seen as one of villains against victims, or oppressors against the oppressed; such a judgmental outlook favoring one side over the other contributes to the ongoing strife and to the widespread suffering that it creates.

Protest from Israeli side of Gaza border with Israelis, Palestinians, and foreigners. Image by Cat Zavis.

In my own approach to the conflict, I am adopting Hegel’s definition of tragedy: a clash between two rights, not right versus wrong. In this case, it is also a case of two peoples with painful histories forced to confront each other as they seek to be separately and mutually healed, but so far inflicting more traumatizing wounds on each other. The horrors of the Holocaust, on the Jewish side, and the searing trauma of the Naqba for the Palestinians, only deepened the tragic dimension of the conflict. The Palestinians’ national identity crystallized in the process of resisting Zionism and the influx of Jews into Mandatory Palestine after World War I.[15] And just as there are various forms of Zionism, Palestinian nationalism has exhibited a range of positions (e.g., Islamist or secular, Marxist-Leninist, or democratic). The common denominator on the Palestinian side is to view Zionism as illegitimate and immoral.

The perception of Zionism as an unjust, oppressive, colonialist ideology, demonstrated in practice by the expulsion and dispossession of a large part of the Palestinian people from their homes, fields, and orchards, would probably have been mitigated had more Jews been living in the land before the Zionist movement began. Since most of world Jewry was living outside Eretz Yisrael, and most Palestinians did not perceive Diaspora Jews as a nation but, instead, saw them as a religious community akin to Christians or Muslims, the Zionist claim to even part of Palestine seemed bogus, even fabricated. Had there been appreciable numbers of Jewish residents outside the four cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed—recall that Tel Aviv was inaugurated in 1909 and over time came to engulf the ancient city of Jaffa—then the conflict between Jews and Arabs in the land would have looked more like the Hindu-Muslim intercommunal strife on the Indian subcontinent that gave birth to the separate states of India and Pakistan. (Pakistan later devolved into two separate states, with Bangladesh breaking off from West Pakistan). Even in South Asia, at the same time that the Jewish-Palestinian conflict reached its explosive climax in the late 1940s, the implementation of an agreed-upon partition was accompanied by large-scale intercommunal violence.

There have been many ironic twists during the course of this tragic conflict. One is the role reversal that transpired between 1947 and 1988. When the Palestinian Arabs were the demographic majority, they did all they could to prevent a Jewish state from emerging in even part of Palestine. The Zionist leadership, for its part, accepted the United Nations partition resolution of November 29, 1947. Then, when the Jews were the empowered majority, they joined with Egypt and Jordan to deny Palestinians an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. It was only in 1988 that the Palestine National Council under Yasir Arafat’s leadership, meeting in Algiers, accepted the 1947 partition plan. But by then the Israeli Prime Minister was Yitzhak Shamir, who had always rejected any form of territorial partition. It took the election of Yitzhak Rabin in 1992 to launch the negotiations that produced the Oslo Accords. Another irony has been that, over the course of the last century, the two peoples have experienced complementary transformations in both symbolism and practice. For the Jews, the Zionist enterprise transformed a symbolic homeland suffused with dreams of messianic return from exile (see Psalms 137 and 126), but with very few geographical coordinates outside the aforementioned “holy” cities, into a functioning state with localized reference points. Some of those cities, towns, kibbutzim, and moshavim had ancient Biblical names like Beersheva or Ashkelon. Others were new creations, some with poetic names like Petach Tikvah, Rishon LeZion, or Tel Aviv, while others were development towns built later for immigrants, primarily from Arab countries, with names like Sderot and Carmiel. For the Palestinians, the process was reversed. Most of them began the 20th century with identities centered on their clan-based ancestral villages, which they retained even in exile. Over time these localized identities were supplemented by a collective sense of distinct peoplehood, as Palestinian national consciousness evolved. Now both peoples have dual identities, each combining an umbrella-like nationality that is reinforced by a shared narrative and symbolism, together with a sense of rootedness in a particular locale and community.

SEEKING A JUST PEACE

If we return to the moral dilemma at the heart of this conflict, we are faced with the challenge of finding a single standard of justice that can be the basis of genuine peace. To the extent that Zionism and Palestinian nationalism are conceived and lived out as self-referencing ideologies creating exclusivist identities, they remain impediments to reconciliation. And as long as that remains the case, the liberating vision of the Zionist pioneers will be even more corrupted, in both its ends and means, than it already is. Is there a redeeming alternative? I submit that if both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism can be viewed through more wide-angled lenses, they might yet become complementary rather than mutually exclusive. In that way, polarized psyches, hearts, and spirits can mutually nourish each other; they need not be seen as inherently hostile. As history has shown, shifts in consciousness need to occur in order for there to be shifts in behavior.

Zionism, in all its variations, has always had two aspects. One is the physical aspect rooted in, and driven by, an existential Jewish need for safety and security through an independent state with armed forces for self-defense. In the wake of the Holocaust, this aspect has been given disproportionate emphasis. The second aspect of Zionism, at least as vital as the first, is the metaphysical aspect, the longing for belonging rather than alienation, the yearning to be free and to feel at home, the psychological and spiritual need for independent selfhood that is not a defensive reaction to the harmful intentions of others. Jews, as human beings, deserve both security and spiritual liberation. So do Palestinians. A compassionate and just peace process based on mutual acknowledgement of those common human rights, needs, and aspirations can yield the practical fruits of reconciliation. That process would have as litmus tests three very practical criteria, based on emotional investments that can be changed if leaders choose to guide their communities away from antagonism and toward partnership: (1) Is fear being transformed to trust? (2) Is anger being transformed to mutual acceptance and forgiveness? and (3) Is grief being transformed by empathy into compassion for the suffering of others, before the grief turns into grievance and the desire for vengeance, fueled by bitterness and rage?

The national anthem of Israel is Hatikvah, “The Hope.” It expresses the yearning of Jews for Zion and the willful determination to be, once again, a free people in the ancient homeland.  This two-thousand-year-old hope was never lost, the song proclaims. Zionism, in whatever form, is the practical expression of this hope. But the Zionist revolution will not be complete, or truly fulfilled, so long as Israelis feel threatened by their neighbors, which means that the Palestinian people need to have its own hope of return and freedom fulfilled also. The Palestinian national anthem, Biladi, Biladi, “My Homeland, My Homeland,” expresses the love and longing for the Palestine that was lost but not forgotten. How to honor and realize both hopes, both dreams of return and renewal, remains the supreme challenge for anyone who cares about this tragedy and its global ramifications.

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Question for this article

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not simply over a common homeland and who exercises political control over it. At a deeper level, it is also about personal and collective identities that have developed in mutual antagonism rather than complementary creativity. In order to transform the political and spiritual dynamic from opposing struggles for independence to a common struggle for interdependence based on equity, the two national anthems need to be supplemented by other songs. Those additional songs need to put the collective yearnings for freedom and security within a wider context, one that frees both peoples from the shackles of alienation, existential dread, and recrimination.

One common goal that can help Israelis and Palestinians transcend their myopic notions of what best serves their interests is a shared commitment to safeguarding the land which they share from ecological calamities. In this regard, I think of a conversation I had with the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead several decades ago. We were talking about the Middle East, at a time when her daughter was living in Iran. Dr. Mead lamented the emphasis throughout the region on control over territory, based on strong attachments to a particular land, at the expense of environmental concerns about shared air and water. The shift in consciousness she was advocating could be a powerful force for shifting the bilateral focus on Israel/Palestine to a wider, regional perspective. There are already some commendable joint initiatives, like the Arava Institute at Kibbutz Qetura in southern Israel, that bring together Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians to work together on ecological sustainability. There are also hopeful signs of a growing environmental awareness among both Jews and Arabs. For example, on March 29, 2019, an annual Climate March was held in Tel Aviv. When it was first organized five years ago, some 200 people took part. This year over 5,000 people marched, Palestinian and Jewish citizens from all over Israel. They carried banners proclaiming mutual solidarity in the face of environmental threats and the need to work together to ensure a common future.

We need more signs of hope like these to boost our spirits and motivate action, within our respective communities and across boundaries. As a long-time grassroots activist in the arena of Jewish-Arab peacebuilding, I am confident that, over time, these micro-models of mutuality and solidarity will impact the macro-political situation. And one of the blessed fruits of these labors will be a conversion of hearts and an expansion of minds, so that Israeli and Palestinian national identities will be experienced as mutually enriching rather than as mutually exclusive and threatening. Let us all work toward that day and that outcome.

POSTSCRIPT: As I was writing this reflection, another round of lethal violence erupted between the Israeli government and the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaderships in Gaza. The Egyptian government worked to bring about another cease-fire, while the underlying conditions that inflame passions and perpetuate the no-win state of war remain unaddressed. In 2008, during the first of three wars between Israel and Hamas over six years, I wrote the following appeal, which was disseminated through the internet:

IF ONLY…

An appeal addressed to Jews, Arabs, and concerned people everywhere
in response to the wars between Israel and Hamas

by Yehezkel Landau

If only our empathy and compassion were as strong as our capacity for self-justification;

If only we could protect ourselves in ways that do not inflict harm on others;

If only we could see ourselves as interdependent, rather than isolated and threatened;

If only we could see the Image of God in one another, rather than projecting mythic images of Arab Nazis or Jewish Crusaders;

If only our leaders were committed to transforming conflict nonviolently rather than too often using military means to achieve political aims;

If only peace education were a part of school curricula throughout Palestine and Israel;

If only political agreements outlawed incitement and demonization in public speeches;

If only the Israeli and Arab media conveyed multiple perspectives, along with humanizing stories and images, rather than reinforcing prejudices;

If only we could address the core issues and grievances, rather than reacting to the latest round of violence or the fear of further violence;

If only the Arab perception of the state of Israel (in its pre-1967 borders, with mutually accepted adjustments) was of a people coming home and exercising the right of self-determination, rather than of a colonial conquest by outsiders;

If only Arab and Muslim leaders could acknowledge the existential fears of the Jewish people following the Holocaust and reinforced by subsequent wars, bellicose rhetoric, and the prospect of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Israel’s adversaries;

If only the Jewish people, in Israel and elsewhere, could acknowledge the deep, unhealed wound of the Palestinian people, displaced and dispossessed in large numbers in the war of 1948 and under prolonged occupation following the 1967 war;

If only Israel would join the Palestinian people in developing democratic institutions rather than destroying their civic infrastructure in the name of self-defense;

If only we could see the problem as a regional crisis, with multiple, interrelated challenges, rather than a bilateral conflict between Israelis and Palestinians;

If only a spiritual dimension to peacebuilding—drawing on the practical resources in  Judaism, Islam, and Christianity—were included in Middle East diplomacy, so that religious extremists would be countered in their own terms and political arrangements would be grounded in mutual repentance, the healing of trauma, and sustained hope for the future;

If only we could envision a future of cooperation and shared blessing, rather than a no-win war lasting generations;

If only the children on “the other side” were as precious to us as our neighbors’ children;

If only our young people were exposed to their peers on “the other side” early on, so that they could build friendships that transcend the “us-vs.-them” dichotomy;

If only we could build Shalom/Salaam together, with a Jewish-Arab peace corps constructing homes, schools, and hospitals in a state of Palestine alongside Israel, and with expanded cross-border initiatives in the areas of health, education, culture, the environment, and sports;
…then perhaps, with God’s help and courageous leadership on all sides, both Israelis and Palestinians could experience genuine peace and security, with fear transformed to trust, anger to forgiveness, grief to compassion, and narrow self-interest to mutual solidarity.

Dr. Yehezkel Landau, a dual Israeli-American citizen, is an interfaith educator, trainer, consultant, and author active in Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations and Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding for more than 35 years. While in Israel he was executive director of the Oz veShalom-Netivot Shalom religious peace movement and then co-founder and co-director of the Open House peace center in Ramle. From 2002 to 2016 he was a professor of Jewish tradition and interfaith relations at Hartford Seminary and holder of the Abrahamic Partnerships Chair.

Rabbi Michael Lerner: Racism and Israel’s election: How did the Jewish state become an oppressive state?

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An article from Tikkun

Israel’s election on April 9 came down to a battle between a prime minister who promised to annex part (or possibly all) of the West Bank and its several million Palestinians into Israel, but without giving them equal rights to Jews, and a former army general and chief of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who boasted about how many Palestinians he had killed, or had his army kill, in past invasions into Gaza.
How did this happen?

Rabbi Michael Lerner speaking at memorial service for Muhammad Ali

The answer given by the Israeli and American left give is clear enough: Israel is a racist society and most Israelis are racists. In his March 13 Ha’aretz column, Gideon Levi put it forcefully: “Netanyahu is not the problem. The Israeli people are. The apartheid did not start with him and will not end with his departure.”

This kind of thinking is not new — it is precisely the same partially correct but self-defeating thinking that I heard from many on the left in the United States, after Donald Trump won a majority of the Electoral College in 2016. Blame the people.

As a psychologist who has been studying social movements for the past 40 years, I have found these kinds of “explanations” merely repeating in different words the problem they claim to illuminate. Israelis did not always vote for right-wing candidates and most were enthusiastic about the hoped-for end of hostilities with Palestinians that the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s Oslo Accords promised: two states living together in peace. Similarly, a majority of Americans had voted for Obama in 2008 and again in 2012, and a majority voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, undermining the claim that the best explanation for Trump’s victory is that a majority of Americans are racist or sexist.

My research reveals that the very claim that all those who don’t support progressive politics are bad people (Clinton called them “a basket of deplorables”) reflects an underlying contempt for ordinary people on the part of many in the left, not only in the U.S. and Israel, but in many other struggling leftist parties around the world.

I first got a hint of this when I did research with working people in Israel in 1984, research that was based in the Labor Studies program at Tel Aviv University. At that time, most Israeli working people still associated with the socialist-oriented Labor Party. Yet it didn’t take long for people I interviewed to tell me their feeling that their union leadership cared little about them, their lives and their struggles. Many were beginning to flirt with the idea of voting for Likud (the right-wing party now led by Benjamin Netanyahu), not because they agreed with Likud, but because they felt so disrespected  by the leftists they met. They wanted to send a strong message of anger.

When I asked my friends in Shalom Achshav (the secular Israeli peace movement at the time) and in Netivot Shalom (the religious peace movement at the time) why they were not doing door-to-door organizing and reaching out to the people who disagreed with them, I got the same answer from both movements: “These people are racist to the core and there is no point in trying to talk to them.” Sitting in the chic coffeehouses of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, they were in fact demeaning working-class Israelis, just as those workers had complained.

It turns out that many people do not vote on the basis of whose political program they agree with most, but on the basis of who appears to respect and care about them, their families and their struggles. This continues to be the biggest fault line for the left almost everywhere in the world. The left not only disrespects and puts down ordinary people, it often shows the same disrespect to people who are supposed allies!

That is not to excuse the racism. But since most people are not born racist, the question of what experiences led to racism becoming dominant among Israeli Jews deserves a fuller and more compassionate account. Racism has often been used by imperial powers, from ancient Greece and Rome to contemporary European and American colonial and imperialist regimes. Often the victims of racism either succumb to the oppressors’ vision and internalize feelings of inadequacy, or they develop stories of themselves as ethically better than their oppressors. (Jewish “chosen-ness” sometimes yields a demeaning attitude toward the “goyim,” “sisterhood is powerful” sometimes yields a blanket suspicion of all men, and “black lives matter” sometimes yields an insistence that all whites are racist.)

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Question for this article

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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Consider that one out of every three Jews alive in 1939 were murdered by 1945 in massive upsurge of Jew-hating, and further, that Palestinians used their influence with Britain to keep Jews in “displaced persons” camps and out of Palestine, and then rejected the UN vote to divide the land between a Jewish and Palestinian state. In this regard, it is understandable that deep resentments on the part of the survivors of the Holocaust and their allies in what became Israel would develop into a deep antipathy.

Having suffered so great a trauma, they concluded that almost anything Jews would do in the name of security would be justified, no matter how oppressive that would be to others. Taking over the West Bank, and now considering incorporating it into Israel itself, seemed to many Israelis to be their entitlement given their past suffering, which still lingered in their psyches and is continually reinforced by national rituals and injunctions to “remember” what others have done to us.

We can add to this :

* Jews from former Communist countries who have developed an allergy to anything smelling of socialism or anything linked to a leftist internationalist perspective.

* Jews from Arab countries who still carry with them the memories of how they were disrespected by Ashkenazi Jews (of European origin) and the supposedly socialist government when they or their parents or grandparents first came to Israel.

* Israeli Palestinians who don’t vote after watching their elected representatives to the Knesset treated disrespectfully, and (possibly correctly) believing that their voices will never be taken seriously. In the past few years, progressive Israelis have reported that many of their former Palestinian allies have decided that working with Israelis “normalizes the occupation” and so have cut off relations with even the most pro-Palestinian Israeli activists. Right-wingers point out that this behavior once again proves that “there is nobody to talk to” among the Palestinians.

* The virtual collapse of a progressive religious movement has made it easier for right-wingers to align their version of Judaism with their version of security, rejecting the notion that we at Tikkun magazine have promoted: that Israel’s security would be best ensured by a spirit of generosity and caring for the well-being of all the people Israel governs, rather than through repression. While the Reform movement of Judaism in Israel has fought for religious equality for women and LGBTQ, it has avoided activist opposition to the occupation, fearing that to do so would split the movement, many of whose members, like many American Jews, are “progressive on everything except Israel.”

All these factors have contributed to the normalization of racism and repression of the Palestinian people.

But trauma is also the experience of the Palestinian people. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were force-marched from their homes or fled in fear of Jewish terrorism in 1948 and developed a deep antipathy toward Jews.

This catastrophe, the Nakba, remains the guiding trauma of the Palestinian people, often leading them to adopt futile gestures of violent resistance rather than an embrace of nonviolence in principle which, at least several decades ago, might have softened the hearts of many Israelis who feel so insecure that they are unable to acknowledge the vast difference in power between their well-trained armies and the militarily insignificant actions of a mostly unarmed Palestinian population.

The periodic provocative launching of missiles toward Israel seems to suggest a kind of silent alliance between Hamas and the Israeli right — Hamas insisting that it while it would like a 20-year period of cease-fire it will never accept the right of the Israeli state to exist, and the Israeli Right using those periodic rocket attacks to reassert their position that only total subjugation of Palestinians will provide lasting security for Jews.

The outrageous actions of the Jewish majority in becoming oppressors of the Palestinians will remain, for thousands of years into the future, one of the most disgraceful moments in Jewish history. But it won’t be overturned until we can develop a new politics of compassion for both sides, and a renewed belief that people can be reached if we start from a perspective of respect and caring for them, even when we disagree with their current political proclivities. Challenge their policies, but affirm their humanity for all but the most extreme haters who now govern Israel and Gaza.

Until a compassionate left emerges in Israel and reshapes the dominant culture, Israel’s descent into an apartheid state seems inevitable, even if it happens more gradually than many on the right would wish. These lessons apply equally to the coming decades of American politics as well.

Michael Lerner is an American political activist, the editor of Tikkun, a progressive Jewish interfaith magazine based in Berkeley, California, and the rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in Berkeley.

Richard Falk on Banning US Congresspersons from Israel

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An article from the blog of Richard Falk*

The decision to ban, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, two sitting members of the U.S. House of Representatives, disgraces the leaders of both the United States and Israel, confirms the illegitimacy of both political parties by their tepid responses, and confirms once more the unhealthy relationship that has evolved between Trump and Netanyahu, these two most reactionary of political figures, and badly reflects on the political atmosphere in the countries they represent.  For an American president to encourage a foreign government to deny entry to elected members of Congress is not only unprecedented, harmful to the quality of democratic life in America, and represents a wrongful and extremely distasteful use of his position to engage in nasty partisan reelection politics aimed at the 2020 elections. This outrageous display of further impeachable behavior by Trump is further accentuated by the defamatory, as well as maliciously and demonstrably false assertions in this notorious tweet that Ilhan Omar and Rashid Tlaib, hate Israel and all Jews, and nothing can alter their views.


Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar during a press conference Monday. (Image: screenshot)

For Netanyahu, the leader of Israel, to reverse an earlier decision to allow these U.S. officials to enter the country in response to Trump’s tweet has just the reverse effect of what is claimed. By seeming to forego Israel sovereign rights in response to an inappropriate interference in Israeli public policy by the American Head of State, Netanyahu reveals to the world Israel’s weakness, not its strength, and in the process casts a dark shadow over Israel own claims of political legitimacy. As well, to give way in this unseemly manner to Trump may also prove to be a tactical blunder in the Israeli context even if it contributes one more sordid chapter to their quid pro quo relationshiip. Such a craven move by Netanyahu miight turn off just enough Israeli voters to tip the balance against the Likud Party in the forthcoming September 17thelections. Not only was Trump’s tweet an effective assault on Israeli sovereign rights, but it also undermines the long absurd propaganda claims of Israel to be a democratic state that values and protects freedom of expression.
 
After further political turmoil, Israel appeared to relent, but by affixiing humiliating conditions, and then only with respect to Rashida Tlaib. The Israeli Minister of Interior, Aryeh Deri, agreeing to a ‘humanitarian’ visit provided the Congresswoman agreed not to promote boycotts of Israel while in the country, her visit restricted to the sole purpose of visiting her 90-year-old grandmother in a small Palestinian village not far from Ramallah. After initially accepting these constraints over the intense objections of her supporters and even her family back in Palestine, Rep. Tlaib reversed her own acceptance of the Israeli conditions, issuing a statement denouncing the constraints she earlier accepted, and refusing to restrict her time in her own Palestinian homeland to a personal visit. Of course, an Israeli rebuke followed from Deri, claiming that her rejection of Israel’s humanitarian gesture exhibits the Israeli-bashing intent that motivated the factfinding visit. Deri hammered one more nail in Tlaib’s already exposed flesh: “Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for grandmother.” More understandably, Tlaib also was rebuked by many Palestinians for initially accepting Israel’s conditions intense objections to her face from supporters, alleging that she fell into Israel’s trap, “and accepted to demean herself and grovel.”

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Question for this article

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

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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Seeking to thread this needle separating an ill-timed family ties from her high-profile political image, Tlaib chose these words, “Silencing me and treating me like a criminal is not what she [her grandmother] wants for me—it would kill a piece of me.” Although Tlaib used poor judgment by first agreeing to Israel’s acceptance, her statement explaining her reversal a short time later, had a redemptive effect. Perhaps, more disturbing, was Tlaib’s failure to sustain a posture of public solidarity with Ilhan Omar, whose relevance was ignored in Tlaib’s three-step dance movement.
 
The distractions caused by this secondary development involving Tlaib should not be allowed to divert attention from the primary outrage resulting from the Trump tweet and Israeli gag order imposed on nonviolent advocates of the BDS Campaign, which in this instance meant banning entry to elected U.S. government officials, supposedly a super-ally.
 
In my view Israel’s decision to ban these two members of Congress can at best be considered ‘an unfriendly act’ by Israel toward its unconditional ally. This alone should persuade a self-respecting U.S. Congress to react with much more than a few empty words of disapproval. At the very least, a message of censure should be formally endorsed by the House of Representatives, and delivered to the Israeli government, which strongly discourages further visits to Israel by members of Congress until Israel announces a policy of allowing entry any American official to visit Israel without restrictions. Perhaps, a more suitable alternative would be to urge banning members of the Knesset until Israel welcomes as visitors any and all members of the UN Congress without conditions. A further appropriate step would be to condition any approval of future military or economic assistance to Israel on lifting the ban on future visits by government officials, but also ideally by all American citizens regardless of political views; After all, American taxpayers have long paid their share of the annual aid package of at least $3.8 billion, the greatest per capita amount given to any country in the world.

I believe that by singling these two members of Congress, who happen to be the first two Muslim women ever elected to the House of Representatives, in the manner of Trump’s tweet is a clear instance of racism and hate speech, especially considered in light of his past hostile statements directed at prominent women of color who dare enter political life and oppose his presidency, including his past slanders of these two brave individuals. The language of Trump’s tweet also sought successfully to interfere with their effort to engage in a legitimate legislative undertaking in a discriminatory manner, and included this inflammatory and false allegation: “They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds.” The tweet ends with this shocking expression of hostility that demeans Trump and the Office of the Presidency rather than its intended targets, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Trump’s final tweeted words– “They are a disgrace!” It is best understood as “You are disgraced.”
 
The media at least gave major attention to this unfolding political drama, although more in the spirit of narrating a human interest story than offering a damning commentary on the anti-democratic moves of these two ‘illiberal democrats.’ Tom Friedman, never foregoing a chance to deliver fence-setting know-it-all lectures to whomever would listen, managed staked out some liberal territory by condemning the tactical damage to their own countries and especially to the ‘special relationship’ between them as a result of making the Republicans the true friends of Israel, and the Democrats not so clear, hence fraying the edges of bipartisanship when it comes to support for Israel. Friedman also took the opportunity to make it clear that in his view Tlaib and Omar were not better due to their ill-considered support for BDS, which he argued dooms to two-state liberalism, and implies that by their criticism of Israel, the excluded officials are widening Jewish/Islamic cleavages rather than building bridges. [See Friedman, “If You Think Trump is Helping Israel, You’re a Fool,” Aug. 16, 2019]

Such misleading pontificating, which we should know is the standard offering of Friedman in his opinion pieces that reek of vanity and pro-establishment moralizing. It is part and parcel of the overall Zionist strategy of diverting attention from Israeli wrongdoing and criminality by discrediting the victim while airbrushing the oppressor. Here, those in genuine solidarity with sustained peace for the two peoples will not be distracted by such prevarications from the underlying encroachments on freedom of expression and the rights of an ethnically cleansed people to return to their homeland as a matter of right.

* Richard Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”
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Omar Barghouti : Why Americans Should Support BDS

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An article from the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Last Tuesday (July 30), the House of Representatives passed a resolution, H.Res, 246, targeting the grassroots, global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights that I helped found in 2005. Sadly, H.Res. 246, which fundamentally mischaracterizes our goals and misrepresents my own personal views, is only the latest attempt by Israel’s supporters in Congress to demonize and suppress our peaceful struggle.


Image: Demonstrators protest New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s McCarthyite executive order requiring state agencies to divest from organizations that support the Palestinian call to boycott companies profiting from, or cultural or academic institutions complicit in, Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people, June 9, 2016. (Sipa via AP Images)

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Question for this article

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

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

(Article continued from the left column)

H.Res. 246 is a sweeping condemnation of Americans who advocate for Palestinian rights using BDS tactics. It reinforces other unconstitutional anti-boycott measures, including those passed by some 27 state legislatures, that are reminiscent of “McCarthy era tactics,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union. It also exacerbates the oppressive atmosphere that Palestinians and their supporters already face, further chilling speech critical of Israel at a time when President Donald Trump is publicly smearing members of Congress who speak out in support of Palestinian freedom.

In response to H.Res. 246 and similarly repressive legislative measures, House member Ilhan Omar, joined by Rashida Tlaib, civil rights icon John Lewis, and 12 other co-sponsors, introduced H.Res. 496, which defends “the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

Inspired by the civil rights and anti-apartheid movements, BDS calls for Palestinian liberation on terms of full equality with Israelis and categorically opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.

READ MORE: https://www.thenation.com/article/bds-house-resolution-trump-squad-omar-aoc/.

[Omar Barghouti is a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and a co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.]

Meet Janna Jihad, the 13-Year-Old Palestinian Journalist Exposing the Israeli Occupation

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

A report from Democracy Now (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License)

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report.

I’m Amy Goodman. “My camera is my gun.” Those are the words of a celebrated Palestinian journalist who’s been reporting on the Israeli occupation from the West Bank for more than six years. But Janna Jihad isn’t any journalist. She’s just 13 years old. She started telling stories about her home of Nabi Saleh when she was only 7, after her cousin and her uncle were killed in the village. Since then, Janna has shared countless videos about Palestinian resistance with viewers around the world, on Twitter, on YouTube, on Facebook, garnering tens of thousands of followers. This is a clip of Janna Jihad confronting Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank last year, in 2018.


Video of interview with Janna Jihad

JANNA JIHAD: From here, as you can see, those terrorist people, humans with no humanity, are coming to our land, trying to kill children and to make children get injured. From here, we’re sending our message and saying that Palestine will be free. From Nabi Saleh, Janna Jihad, occupied Palestine.

AMY GOODMAN: You hear that sign-off: “From Nabi Saleh, this is Janna Jihad, in occupied Palestine.” Janna is the cousin of Ahed Tamimi, the teenage activist who became a heroine to Palestinians after a viral video showed her slapping an Israeli soldier near her family’s home in the occupied West Bank. It was right after she had learned her cousin had been shot in the face by an Israeli soldier.

Janna Jihad is in the United States this month to share her stories about Palestine around the country. She joins us now in our New York studio.

Janna, thanks for making this stop.

JANNA JIHAD: Thank you. Thank you for, like, letting me come here and just, like, to speak more about my issue and, like, about my message as a Palestinian child.

AMY GOODMAN: So, when did you pick up your cellphone to start videoing? And was it your cellphone?

JANNA JIHAD: So, it was my mother’s cellphone. I was only 7 years old when I started doing journalism. It was when I saw that there were not enough journalists to cover things that happened in my village, Nabi Saleh, and also in Palestine in general. Like, when my friend Mustafa was killed, my uncle Rushdie was killed, a lot of things were happening, and the world didn’t know about how we, as Palestinian children living under this Israeli military occupation, are living, how we’re suffering, how we’re — like, how our rights are getting violated, our childhood is not given to us. So I wanted to be the voice of those children and to just be the messenger of their message, which is very important, and to raise awareness about this very important international issue.

AMY GOODMAN: So, at 7 years old, you take your mom’s cellphone, and you start videoing.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And posting those videos.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: You say your camera is your gun. What do you mean?

JANNA JIHAD: So, I always say that my camera is my weapon of choice, because using my camera, it’s a very peaceful and nice way to resist this occupation. And by using my camera, I can send a message, and it can be even more effective than a gun, more effective than violence, more effective than killing people.

AMY GOODMAN: How do Israeli soldiers respond to your videoing?

JANNA JIHAD: Of course, it’s pretty hard. Like, for example, last year I got — the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Thoughts made a secret report about me, saying that I’m the next threat on their country.

AMY GOODMAN: Wait, wait, wait. You have to repeat what you just said.

JANNA JIHAD: OK.

AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli Ministry of?

JANNA JIHAD: Of Strategic Thoughts.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you know about this report on you?

JANNA JIHAD: OK, I’ll explain. So, the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Thoughts made a secret report about me, saying that I’m the next threat on their state. And this report was revealed by the Israeli fourth news channel. And after that, I got a lot of threats, intimidations by the Israeli street. And after that, I got registered by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. And, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you are the youngest press card-carrying journalist in the world. You just turned 13.

JANNA JIHAD: Thirteen, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: What does that mean? How does that protect you to have that press card?

JANNA JIHAD: So, I’m the youngest Palestinian registered press card-carrying journalist in the world. So, I got registered after this report was revealed. And it was also right after I was stopped on the border. I was only 12 years old and four days, when I was stopped while coming back from Jordan on the Israeli border, and was interrogated for three hours. And it was, of course, illegal, because, like, if a minor got interrogated, in the international law, I have to have my parent or a lawyer, and I didn’t have any of those. And it was pretty hard for me. And after that, I got registered, which would be like a bit of protection, although it’s not really protection, because all of the journalists get killed, arrested and injured in the occupied Palestine. But it helps a little bit, you know? Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to your cousin, Ahed, for a moment, Ahed Tamimi, the young Palestinian activist who served an eight-month term in Israeli prison. She became a heroine to so many Palestinians and many others around the world, when video went viral showing her slapping an Israeli soldier near the family’s home just after Ahed had learned her cousin had been gravely wounded by an Israeli soldier, who shot him in the head using a rubber-coated steel bullet. We got a chance to speak with Ahed soon after she was released from prison, and we asked her about the conditions in the jail.

AHED TAMIMI: [translated] There were women, and there were children. There was one woman who had been detained under administrative detention. Administrative detention means the detention is based on undisclosed files, so the detainee doesn’t know why they’re detained. Administrative detainees only attend administrative courts, and their sentence is always extended. At first, it might be six months, but it’ll be renewed another time for four months. They’ll tell you your administrative detention is six months, but then, after six months, they’ll tell you they’ve extended another four. After four months, they’ll tell you another six. It’s like the prisoner — may God rest his soul — Ali Jamal, who spent seven consecutive years under administrative detention.

There are over 350 children in prison, and three children who are under administrative detention. The conditions children endure in prison are very difficult. Prison isn’t for anyone. And the prison administration puts a lot of pressure on them, so it’s very difficult. I hope for the release of all prisoners, and especially children, as soon as possible.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Ahed Tamimi. We were speaking to her in front of her house. She was broadcasting from there to our New York studio, where I got a chance to interview her. She is 18 years old. She was jailed when she was 16, turned 17 in prison. What has Ahed’s activism meant to you? Tell us about Nabi Saleh, where you all live.

JANNA JIHAD: So, Nabi Saleh is a very small village, 500 people living there. It’s like so small. Also, we have an Israeli illegal settlement built on the land in Nabi Saleh, which is only 50 meters far from the village. And there is a checkpoint on the entrance. It’s very small. We’re all one family, which is the Tamimi family. Ahed is my cousin and my best friend. She was always. You know, I am the only child, and she has no sister, so we are always together and stuff. And yeah, Ahed is like — we’re really close. We always have been going to demonstrations and marches and like everything together. And it’s pretty nice, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And what was it like for you when she went to jail? She went to jail for slapping an Israeli soldier. So, she had just learned that your cousin, her cousin, had just been shot in the head by a rubber-tipped steel coated bullet?

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah. So, if you want, I can tell you Mohammed’s story, which is our cousin who got shot in the head, which was — he was just like literally playing. The soldiers were in the village for a couple of — for the past couple of days. And they were just shooting gas canisters randomly. There were no demonstrations, no clashes, no anything. It was just them raiding the village. And it was like right after Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, and a lot of stuff, like, were happening in the West Bank and, you know, like a lot of demonstrations and stuff. And it was that time.

So, Mohammed was playing with his friends, soccer, on the mountain. And he was just — so, like, you know, shooting, it’s pretty normal for us, and we would play outside, because, like, you know, it’s always happening.

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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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AMY GOODMAN: What’s always happening?

JANNA JIHAD: When, like, the Israeli occupation forces would just like start shooting gas canisters randomly. And then, suddenly, that shooting stopped. So, Mohammed thought that somebody got arrested or somebody got injured. So he was right next to that wall. It’s not a separation well, but it’s a normal wall. And he had a ladder. So he just climbed that ladder and wanted to see if something happened. And in the same moment, he climbed that ladder and just like took a look. The Israeli military soldiers were right under the wall. And one of them just shot him with a rubber-coated bullet, which came right here, right next to his nose, and was stuck in his brain. And he was in a coma for seven days. He lost a whole one-third of his skull. And he was under treatment. He had got arrested even three times while he was treated.

And after that — so, the problem about the world is that they only see the slap, but they don’t see the whole story. So, after that, the same soldiers just came right next to Ahed’s house and wanted to enter, because Ahed’s house is in a, like, pretty high area, so they can pretty much see everyone. They wanted to go to the roof of Ahed’s house and just like shoot.

AMY GOODMAN: Of Ahed.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Who, at the time, was 16.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah. They wanted to go to her house, to her properties, and start shooting more children. And Ahed was pretty much — she didn’t want them to go into her house, pretty much. And then he started pushing her, and then she slapped him. And that’s why she got arrested for eight months.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, you’re sitting here telling us this story. You’re telling us a story of when you were like, what, 10, 11 years old. Your cousin is shot in the face, is shot in the head, and now he’s lost a third of his brain or his skull in the process. How does this affect you as a child? How do you process this?

JANNA JIHAD: So, of course, a lot of difficult stuff for us as children living under this occupation happens. Like, for example, I saw a lot of people in my life getting killed in front of me. I was trying to — you know, we all — like, we get traumatized. We’re humans. You know, it’s pretty hard for us to process all of that. But we always believe that we want freedom, and wanting freedom is not easy. We have to pay the price of freedom. And the price of freedom won’t be that cheap. It’s going to be pretty expensive. A lot of people are going to get killed. A lot of people are going to get arrested. A lot of people are going to, like, get injured. But our main goal is to liberate Palestine, to live in freedom, love, peace and equality and justice, like any other human and child deserves to live.

AMY GOODMAN: You recently put out on Facebook the story of Mahmoud Salah.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Who you say was shot in the leg by an Israeli sniper.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us what happened to him. What were the circumstances, and what has since happened?

JANNA JIHAD: So, Mahmoud Salah is a child from the village of al-Khader, next to the city of Bethlehem. So, Mahmoud Salah, he was playing after Iftar in Ramadan with his friends. He was playing soccer in the street. And his house is like basically right next to the separation wall. So, he was playing soccer, and then the soccer ball just went right next to the wall, so he went there to fetch it.

And then those Israeli soldiers in the tower shot him with a live munition, for basically no reason, in the leg. And his friends were trying to go help him, but those soldiers were faster than his friends, surrounded him. And they were shooting at his friends and didn’t allow anybody to come close to him — his family, his mom, his dad or anyone.

So they arrested his body. He fainted. He wasn’t even knowing what’s happening around him. And then, like, they didn’t inform the family about anything. After two days, they didn’t know anything about him, where was he, what happened to him. But he was at — he woke up, after two days, in an Israeli military hospital. And he had his leg cut off.

AMY GOODMAN: His leg was amputated.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah, his leg was — like, he lost his leg, basically. And, like, none of his family was informed. And right now he’s under arrest even, for no reason, no charges. And —

AMY GOODMAN: How old is he?

JANNA JIHAD: He’s only — I think he’s only 14 years old, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: So, how do you cover these stories? Like, you don’t tweet. You’re on Facebook. What exactly do you do with your phone?

JANNA JIHAD: So, I usually try to, you know, cover whatever happens, like, for example, night raids, raids that are happening, when I’m coming back from my school on checkpoints. So, I usually even — like, usually go on live videos, because if I didn’t, if I was usually recording, they would just try to take my phone and try to break it or delete the videos off of it. So I always try to make my reports and just speak of what’s happening right in front of me, and then post it on my Facebook page. I have, like, right now about 300,000 followers. And, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: How often do you get to go to school? How often are schools closed in Nabi Saleh?

JANNA JIHAD: So, basically, our freedom of movement is violated. So, we have — me going to my school as a student is a struggle, because I face three checkpoints in my way. And those Israeli checkpoints are basically not checkpoints, but are barriers that block the street and close the whole street. And we cannot get anywhere because of those. So, usually, instead of me like reaching my school in about 25 to 30 minutes, I have to go to another way that takes me about two hours and a half to three hours to reach my school.

And it’s not only me that is getting affected. For example, my grandma started doing kidney dialysis two years ago because of how much tear gas she used to inhale, because, like, they shoot randomly at houses, at people. And, like, she has to go to the hospital three days a week, and sometimes she can’t. A lot of pregnant women gave birth to children in the car on those checkpoints. A lot of patients cannot go to the hospitals. Workers cannot go to their works. And it’s pretty hard, because we cannot go to the places we need to be at, at time. And it’s pretty — it’s a violation of our human rights.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you see as the solution for what is happening in the Occupied Territories and Israel?

JANNA JIHAD: OK, yeah. So, that’s a good question. We have the two-state solution, and we have the one-state solution. So, let’s start with the two-state solution. The two-state solution is basically dead, because, as a question, where are the borders of Israel? It was supposed to be the West Bank and Gaza for the Palestinians. But 68% of the West Bank is basically illegal settlements. And it’s pretty — it’s pretty much dead. And even like Israel doesn’t want it and is not working on it at all. Even, like, they signed on it, but it’s pretty much bad.

And then we have the one-state solution. For me, the one-state solution is the solution that would work. It can be that all of us could live together, same rights, under one government, getting exactly the same rights, me like the same as any other person. And all the refugees could come back to Palestine. All the people could live in peace, just in equality. And I have no problem with living with anybody, but a person that has — like, I would live with anybody that has a good mind, that they want peace and love and equality. And we have basically no problem. Like, welcome to our land, if you believe in peace, because it’s a land of peace, that never saw peace before. So, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you have a particular message for Israeli children?

JANNA JIHAD: So, Israeli children, I believe — we’re not the only victims, but we are freedom fighters as Palestinian children. But the Israeli children are, for me, a victim for the occupation. Because why would an 11-years-old child be holding a weapon that is even taller than him, and walking with it in the street? Why would they —

AMY GOODMAN: Have you seen that?

JANNA JIHAD: I’ve seen it. And I’ve seen children having —

AMY GOODMAN: You mean you’ve seen a settler child.

JANNA JIHAD: Uh-huh, a settler child in even like Jerusalem and anywhere we would go, like the children would be holding guns and like holding weapons. And why would a child hold that? Why would a child be raised on that mindset of killing people and on that like mindset of Zionism and really bad stuff, that we don’t want any child in this world to be raised on?

So, my message to the Israeli children is that we are all children, and we are all victims of that occupation. So, we have to stand up [to] the occupation. And, you know, the problem, I was debating that yesterday, that, like, the problem the Israeli youth are that, like, they’re going more to the right side of the government and stuff, and they’re more like a 17-years-old child would just like go and serve in the IDF. They’re supposed to go when they’re 17 years old. And it’s pretty bad, you know? And I believe that we all, children around this world, have to all unite to make this world a world of peace, love and equality and justice, because we’re the leaders of the future, and we’re the leaders of today, and we have to make a difference. We don’t have to just like repeat the mistakes of the adults right now, where they’re all separated and where, like, they’re all divided. And they just — like, we all want to live in peace. And we’re just tired of all of that, that’s happening around us.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you say that’s your message to children of the world, overall?

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah, that’s my message to all the children around the world, because we can make a difference, and we have to.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you so much for being with us. Janna Jihad just turned 13 years old. She is a Palestinian journalist, one of the youngest journalists, card-carrying journalists, in the world. She lives in Nabil Saleh in the occupied West Bank. And she is the cousin of Ahed Tamimi, who was considered a heroine to so many around the world, served time in an Israeli prison when she was 16 years old, turned 17 in person. You can go to democracynow.org to see our full interview with Ahed in Nabi Saleh. It’s been so great to have you in our studio.

JANNA JIHAD: Thank you. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much, Janna. This is Democracy Now! Thank you very much for joining us.

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