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Question: Presenting the Palestinian Side of the Conflict, Does this promote a culture of peace? CPNN article: Students for a Free Palestine
CPNN Administrator
Posted: Dec. 31 1999,17:00

This discussion question applies to the following articles:

Students for a Free Palestine
Appeal: Welcome to Palestine 2012
L’appel de 'Bienvenue en Palestine 2012'
Despite crackdown, Palestinians organize for long-term peace
2015 Black Solidarity Statement with Palestine
Film review: Disturbing the Peace

For articles since 2015, click here .
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CPNN Administrator
Posted: Dec. 07 2002,06:41

There seems to be general agreement that the Students For A Free Palestine fulfills a needed function for a culture of peace. An openness toward a longstanding problem has value even if another group is aroused to disruptive behavior.

One good reason for assessing the comments as on track is that Wesleyan University has a very diverse student body, sort of a microcosm of the world around us. What better place to encounter controvery, yes, even confrontation, and experience ways of dealing with such differences in a relatively peaceful setting?
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Posted: Dec. 15 2002,06:17

Are there similar groups at other Connecticut colleges and universities? I definitely agree that it promotes a culture of peace to present the Palestinian side.

Many students and faculty heard Hanan Ashrawi when she spoke at Southern Connecticut.

When will the next Palestinian speaker speak at Wesleyan?
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Posted: Feb. 15 2004,16:50

AJC Urges Wesleyan President to Condemn Intimidation on Campus
PR News Wire
Published February 13, 2004 0213BC-NY-AJC-WESLEY

NEW YORK, Feb. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Jewish Committee's Connecticut chapter has sent a letter to Wesleyan University President Douglas Bennet urging him to join his colleagues across the country in condemning intimidation on campuses.

The letter, written by Connecticut Executive Director Jann Renert, comes on the heels of an anti-Israel program held on Wesleyan's campus last Saturday. The conference, Activism 102, was sponsored by the Wesleyan Students for a Free Palestine, the Middle East Crisis Committee and the Palestine Right to Return Coalition.

Sessions targeting Israel included divestiture and boycott strategies, media activism, direct action, and protest art. In addition, items distributed at the program included anti-Semitic articles and a fake dollar bill containing swastikas. Websites were also promoted that apparently endorse Palestinian terror attacks.

Activism 102 was attended by Matthew Scherzer, Connecticut assistant director, who noted it was "bad enough that the conference treated the only Jewish state by a harsher standard than any other country on the globe, but it also exhibited overt and crude anti-Semitism."

"Campuses must be places where ideas can be freely expressed," Renert wrote. "But when hatred against any group goes unchallenged by a school's leadership, learning is sabotaged and an environment of intimidation takes its place."

Further, the letter urged Bennet to "speak out against such activity" and to add his name to a widely circulated statement condemning intimidation on campus that has already been signed by more than 300 college and university presidents.

The chapter has requested a meeting with Bennet and is eager to work with the university to address this matter.
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Posted: Feb. 28 2004,10:08

I had heard from my friends at the Wesleyan meeting that the Renart letter was a false description, so I was pleased to see this confirmed in today's Hartford Courant (available online to members) the following response from Wesleyan President Doug Bennet.

As Bennet says, the truth is that "people with widely varying points of view were present, and that the discussion itself was both civil and inclusive."

`No Room For Bigotry'

Jann Renert's Feb. 19 letter ["Speak Against Anti-Semitism"] falsely characterizes an event that took place at Wesleyan University on Feb. 7. Moreover, I spoke out unequivocally against bigotry, and particularly anti-Semitism, in a letter to all Wesleyan students, faculty and staff on Feb. 6. I wrote:

"Some students and faculty have expressed fear that the conference will engender anti-Semitism and challenges to Israel's right to exist, and perpetuate and legitimize ignorant and hateful sentiment that could turn Wesleyan University into an unsafe space for certain ideas and identities. It is true that certain speech in some contexts can intimidate and can negatively affect the ability of members of a community to express their views. I have every confidence that the Wesleyan community can avoid this risk, and I call on outside participants to meet Wesleyan standards as an academic institution. This university places its faith in the student body and its faculty to make room for all opinions, even if some are viewed as extreme. Wesleyan has no room for bigotry. This weekend's conference must demonstrate that all arguments will be approached in an informed way and be judged according to their merits.

"Issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are exceptionally difficult and sensitive. Much more than other issues, they generate extremism, nurture passions and fears, and invite hyperbole that obscures the facts. I urge you to retain a healthy skepticism, and use your academic disciplines to test all claims. Our country can play a role in achieving a lasting peace in the Middle East, and Wesleyan students can become leaders in the quest for peace. We will contribute more if we can avoid cyclical re-enactment of past tragedies and work our way toward an understanding of real solutions."

At the conference, Wesleyan student organizers showed leadership in ensuring that people with widely varying points of view were present, and that the discussion itself was both civil and inclusive.

Doug Bennet, President
Wesleyan University

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CPNN Administrator
Posted: Jan. 28 2012,13:42

CPNN received today the following statement from Ayman Qwaider in support of the initiative Welcome to Palestine 2012:

In 1947-48, the Palestinian people were subjected to an ethnic cleansing campaign at the hands of the Zionist forces.  The number of Palestinians that experienced expulsion anduprooting during this period of time is estimated to be approximately 775,000. Over the past 64 years, while the Zionist policy of population transfer has continued at a slower and retracted pace, it still remains an extension of the pogroms that began in 1947.  Currently, the Palestinians diaspora totals approximately five million. While many Palestinians live in cities across the world, including in North America, South America and Europe, there still remains millions of Palestinians living in abject poverty and horrible conditions in refugee camps across bordering countries of their native land.  Many Palestinians that were uprooted in both 1948 and 1967 that remain within the borders of native Palestine, reside in abject refugee camps.  Not only do the Palestinians suffer persecution, expulsion, settlements, land dispossession, collective punishment and massacres under an apartheid system, they are even denied the right to receive visitors into the Occupied Territories.  Israel controls the land, the sea, the air, the water resources and even the money that flows in and out of her banking and monetary system.  Israel can stop payments to the Palestinian Authority on a seconds notice.

For the past 64 years, the United Nations universal Declaration of Human Rights hasn’t been applied nor has it been respected by the Israeli occupation or international community, thanks to the US Vetos in the UN Security Council that has blocked the implementation of resolution against Israel. As a result, the Declaration’s articles, starting with the Right to Life, the Right to Self-determination, the Right to Education, and the Right to freedom of Movement, have been ignored. The majority of the other rights are violated on a daily basis, and the frequency of these violations are increasing by the day. Israel consistently seeks to prevent activists from accessing the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which allows and eases the increase of settlement activities which deprive the Palestinians from the most fundamental rights of a decent life. Today, there is an opportunity to change this reality through solidarity campaigns with the oppressed people of Palestine in order to reach out towards human consciousness. The “Welcome to Palestine” campaign is an efficient way to raise awareness of the conditions of Apartheid and dispossession inside Palestine.

We need to address our responsibility as free citizens, belonging to a free human community, with regards to a society in which all the values and rights we take for granted are violated day after day; we need to ask ourselves what our role is in this process.  During the past six decades and within the framework of an international conspiracy, while there has been a lot of vocal international support and solidarity for Palestine, there has been no action whatsoever from the international community to stop the Israeli violations and to implement international law. The Palestinian local population is the victim of this great tragedy and is leading a battle to survive on its native land where it has existed for centuries. There is no exaggeration in comparing the Palestinian cause to the Native American Indian population, which has undergone a process of ethnic cleansing that resulted in its total annihilation. The policies carried out by Israel in Palestine have similar objectives.

Facing the complicit silence of several governments, particularly the US State Department and UN delegation which is complicit in the ethnic cleansing policy against the Palestinian people in Jerusalem and in the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories; the civil society, free and revolutionary, has the right to resist Israel’s illegal and inhuman policies, and to demand their rights.  I insist on the term “revolutionary” when discussing the role of the civil society because I firmly believe in its ability to participate in and lead a campaign for redress.

In response to the appeal of a great range of Palestinian civil society organizations to carry on the initiative of changing this bitter reality for Palestinians, the next “Welcome to Palestine” campaign, taking place on 15th April, 2012 has declared the following:

The Palestinian people must have the right to travel and move freely within Palestine, as well as outside the Palestinian borders, in accordance with the most elementary and internationally recognized human rights. Similarly, the Palestinian people should have the right to welcome visitors coming from the entire world without having to go through humiliating and intimidating investigations inside Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. It is simply unfair and inhuman to isolate the West Bank and Jerusalem from its Arabic and international context because of Israel’s cruel policy and to block all paths allowing any human being to meet his Palestinian friends and colleagues.

It is completely unacceptable to travel through Palestine in an atmosphere of fear and confusion and to have to give the authorities fake stories and fantasies about girlfriends and boyfriends in Tel Aviv, or dreams of visiting the bastion of “light and democracy in the darkness of Arabia”, which adds further insult to injury in terms of the reality on the ground in Palestine. In other words, having to lie and pander each time one wishes to visit his Palestinian friends, and having to pretend to be a friend of an Apartheid regime is nothing short of disgraceful.

Secondly, the Palestinian peoples’ plight requires and deserves Arab and international solidarity because it is a humanitarian issue. This solidarity, which includes moral and humanitarian principled values, can help to contribute to change the life of Palestinians, which is nothing short of injustice, tyranny and daily suffering. The “Welcome to Palestine” campaign is an initiative which aims to shed light on the fundamental question that shall be raised regarding the oppressed people in the Palestinian territories, especially in the West Bank and Jerusalem: The freedom of movement without the Israeli occupation’s soldiers’ constant harassment and abuse. The campaign draws attention to West Bank Palestinians’ rights to welcome visitors from all over the territories and all over the world; just like an Israeli can welcome any Israeli or Jewish visitor that he wishes.

Finally, the acceleration of dispossession and ethnic cleansing, that has come to fruition with the election of Netanyahu’s Likud and far right coalition, within the holy city of Jerusalem and the Palestinian population’s evacuation from their homes and lands require massive citizen campaigns such as “Welcome to Palestine”. Settlement projects are constantly on the rise under the silence and indifference of the international political and economic community. This leads to the extinction of the Palestinians’ life under its many characteristics; historical, cultural and social. This is a very serious issue which requires alerting the conscience of international public opinion.

This campaign also seeks to place western governments face to face with their responsibilities regarding compliance with international law, and therefore with the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.  It`s time for the hypocrisy and double standards to end.

The Palestinian cause is a universal cause, not limited to a specific religion, belief, or to a communitarian problem. It is a much wider and universal subject, an issue representing the Free Man abhorring injustice, racism and colonialism and standing up for justice and equality. Today, it is our duty to reject all oppression and injustice, not only in lip service, but in actions and deeds.
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CPNN Administrator
Posted: Sep. 06 2012,09:54

CPNN received today the following statement from Ayman Qwaider in support of the children of Palestine:

The Colonization of Minds: Save Gaza’s Next Generation Now

The Israeli blockade that has continued, relentlessly, for six years and the 2008-2009 invasion of the Gaza Strip have resulted in a substantial deterioration of the economic, social and political infrastructures of Palestinian society. The corrosion of these essential infrastructures is worsened by the density of Gaza’s population, a population residing in the most densely populated stretch of land in the world. According to the United Nations agencies working in the Gaza Strip, over 50 percent of the Gaza population is under 18 years of age. As a result of both socio-political (e.g., the suppression of trade by Israeli occupation) and demographic factors, the Palestinians of Gaza face a constant and growing need for healthcare and other welfare services. Israel’s routine aggression and its imposition of an oppressive blockade place Gaza’s youth and children in an unjust and violent environment where they face ruinous psychological consequences, including rampant cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If not addressed immediately, such consequences of Israel’s actions will likely become one of the greatest obstacles to peace.

Along with Palestinian and Israeli leadership, the world community in general and the United Nations Security Council in particular are all responsible for the colonization of minds in the Gaza Strip. One of the goals of the organizations comprising civil society should be the cultivation of a culture of peace, tolerance, the rule of law and freedom of speech and trade. Now is the time for all of civil society and the international community to come together to address the needs of Gaza and to move forward to a just solution for all parties.

I recently had a conversation with a friend named Hatem who lives in Gaza. Hatem has a one year old boy, Karam, with a beautiful smile. Hatem described to me the harsh conditions Gaza’s Palestinians experience as Israel’s illegal siege continues unabated. He spoke of the constant blackouts, lasting up to 10 hours each day and only one of countless hardships the people of Gaza must endure, and how they affect his son’s childhood. Although Karam expresses spontaneous bursts of happiness and joy when the lights come on and life can resume with some measure of normalcy, sadly, his story corresponds with too many others, the tens of thousands of children in Gaza who perceive their broken daily lives as the norm.

A long-term consequence of Israel’s siege and its resulting brutal violence is that the lives of Gaza’s children and their perceptions are terribly restricted, and, when they are constantly and directly subjected to death and destruction, all of their social interactions, including education and learning, are severely compromised. Also, Gaza’s isolation from the rest of the world because of its permanently closed borders means that Gaza’s Palestinians must rely on Israel for many of their medical needs and essential services. This dependency represents another way the Zionists control the daily lives of Palestinians in Gaza. According to a recent report by the United Nations, school hours in Gaza are often shortened because of frequent blackouts and over-crowded classes, resulting in lowered education standards. This, coupled with psychological trauma and a lack of healthcare professionals equipped with the training necessary to treat PTSD and other issues, has devastating ramifications.  
Children are the primary victims of Zionist aggression and Israel’s blockade. One think tank in Gaza reported that the long-term impacts of continuing the siege, as well as the constant violent military operation on the already exhausted Gaza Strip, will not be limited to Gaza. It concluded that this cruel environment will have implications not only for children in Gaza, but also for those children living in Israel. Palestinian children in Gaza do not know Israeli children. Their only knowledge of Israel is informed by and limited to daily military operations, targeted killings, blackouts and the lack of essential goods and services denied them by the Israeli siege. This generation of abused Palestinian children suffering from profound psychological trauma will become the next generation’s freedom fighters who will believe they have no choice other than to fight and die for the freedom of their people. Such is the cycle of war and oppression in Palestine.

This article is an invitation to Israeli society to think long and hard about the future of its children and that of the children of Palestine. The Israeli government relies primarily on military force as a solution to dealing with Gaza. The siege of Gaza and Israel’s violent approach to the conflict will never bring a viable solution and will only continue to cultivate a culture of violence and hatred rather than one of peace.

The international community should invest more in a culture of peace by demanding that Israel open Gaza’s borders to international trade and that it put a stop to its militaristic adventures while at the same time intensifying peace education programs. Immediate measures should be implemented to promote positive attitudes and knowledge in order to bring about the behavioral changes and develop the skills necessary to teach children to prevent conflict and structural violence and to move forward in ways that are positive and peaceful. That being said, without accompanying and appropriate policy changes by the Israeli government in Tel Aviv, such educational measures will prove ineffective. As long as Israel continues to wage war and impose a brutal blockade on the Palestinians of Gaza, the people will continue to resist and fight violence with violence. The children of Gaza will continue to suffer. The cycle will continue ad infinitum.
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Lorna Archer
Posted: Dec. 03 2012,03:43

We have been pre-occupied with the Israeli bombing of Gaza for the past two weeks and have been receiving horrific photos of the dead and injured from our Palestinian friend in Gaza. We showed the film 'Little Town of Bethlehem' on November 22nd. There is another chance to see it at St. Barnabas Church, Rainbow Hill tonight. We are also showing an exhibition of art from Atfaluna school for deaf children in Gaza. Their pictures were drawn after the bombing of Gaza for three weeks in December/January 2008/2009 when about 1400 Palestinians were killed, including nearly 400 children. There will be many children traumatised by the recent bombing of Gaza when more than 30 children were killed and dozens injured. The total number of deaths was more than 160 Palestinians and 5 Israelis.

We attach information about Gaza which we included in the pack we gave to those at our meeting on November 22nd.

Lorna and Colin Archer
Worcester Palestine Friendship

* * * * * * * * * *

Ten Things You Need to Know About Gaza


David Cameron once referred to Gaza as a "prison camp" and "some sort of open-air prison". 1.7million Palestinians are crammed into just 140 square miles; Gaza is one of the most crowded places on earth.

Israel, despite withdrawing its troops and settlers from the Strip in 2005, continues to control its airspace, territorial waters and border crossings (with the exception, of course, of Gaza's land border with Egypt).


Remember: according to the Israeli human-rights group B'Tselem, in the last major conflict between Israel and Hamas - 'Operation Cast Lead' which kicked off in December 2008 - 762 Palestinian civilians were killed, including more than 300 children, compared to three (yes, three!) Israeli civilians.

We seem to be seeing a similar imbalance in bloodshed this time round: "More Palestinians were killed in Gaza [on Wednesday] than Israelis have been killed by projectile fire from Gaza in the past three years," wrote Palestinian-American activist Yousef Munayyer on the Daily Beast website.


Why do they hate us, ask ordinary Israelis? Well, Gaza has been under siege since January 2006, after its residents dared to elect a Hamas goverment in free and fair elections. The subsequent economic blockade imposed upon the Strip by the Israeli government at one stage prevented the residents of Gaza from importing, among other things, coriander, ginger, nutmeg and, even, newspapers.

Most international lawyers, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), consider the blockade to be illegal under international humanitarian law; in 2009, a UN panel, led by distinguished South African judge and self-confessed Zionist Richard Goldstone, accused Israel of imposing "a blockade which amounted to collective punishment".

4) "ON A DIET"

In 2006, Dov Weissglass, the then chief of staff to Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon summed up his government's approach to Gaza and its residents when he confessed: "The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger."  A rhetorical flourish? Not quite: in 2008, Israeli defence officials in charge of restricting food and supplies from entering Gaza went so far "as to calculate how many calories would be needed to avert a humanitarian disaster in the impoverished Palestinian territory, according to a... declassified military document."


Some 10% of children under five in the Gaza Strip have had their growth stunted due to prolonged exposure to malnutrition. "Stunting (chronic malnutrition) is not improving and may be deteriorating," concluded the World Health Organisation in May of this year.


The unemployment rate in Gaza is 28% - and stands at 58% among young people aged between 20 and 24, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.


One in five children in Gaza suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to the award-winning Palestinian psychiatrist Dr Eyad El-Sarraj. (More than half of Gaza's residents, incidentally, are under the age of 18.)


The escalation of the violence this week was prompted by Israeli's assassination-by-drone of Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari; the IDF said Jabari was a terrorist with "blood on his hands". Yet, as Aluf Benn, editor-in-chief of the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, pointed out: "Ahmed Jabari was a subcontractor, in charge of maintaining Israel's security in Gaza... Israel demanded of Hamas that it observe the truce in the south and enforce it on the multiplicity of armed organizations in the Gaza Strip. The man responsible for carrying out this policy was Ahmed Jabari... Jabari was also Israel's partner in the negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit; it was he who ensured the captive soldier's welfare and safety, and it was he who saw to Shalit's return home last fall."  According to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, Jabari was the "key actor on the Hamas side" responsible for keeping calm inside the Strip and the official who would "force" ceasefires "on all of the other factions and on Hamas". Good job, IDF!


The most recent UN report on Gaza found that 80% of households in the Strip receive some form of financial assistance and 39% of people live below the poverty line.

10) 1948 AND ALL THAT

Two out of three Palestinian residents of Gaza - more than a million people! - identify themselves as refugees; the majority of these are 1948, and not 1967, refugees - that is, they fled to the Strip in the "ethnic cleansing" of 1948 and not the Six Day War and subsequent occupation of 1967. Thus, tragically, even a two-state solution, based on pre-1967 borders, will not deliver justice to these particular Palestinians.

(from www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mehdi-hasan)
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