Category Archives: TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY

USA: Graduation speeches for the cause of Palestine

. TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

Text from You Tube video (transcription by CPNN)

In California, Asna Tabassum, a graduating senior at USC, was selected as valedictorian and offered a traditional slot to speak at the 2024 graduation. She said she supports the pro-Palestinian cause that has grown at college campuses. After on-and-off campus groups criticized the decision and the university said it received threats, it pulled her from the graduation speakers schedule.

In Ohio, the graduating class of the University of Toledo were more fortunate. They were able to hear the speech of their valedictorian on behalf of the people of Palestine. Here is the text of her message.

“Salaam alaikum, meaning peace be upon you all.

“I was born in a beautiful city in Palestine. It is for this moment and this accomplishment that my parents decided to come here and build a life here. So to my mother and father, I’d like to begin by extending my deepest gratitude for their dedication, sacrifices, and love that were cornerstone to my success, as well as my brothers and sisters who have always been there for me. I am not alone in this gratitude. Every single one of you in the audience has sacrificed for a graduate here or contributed to their success in ways that we will never forget. So thank you all.

“Now, it is essential to understand and acknowledge the unique journey that has brought us all to this moment in our time here. In our time here, we have witnessed profound challenges and injustices that have shaken our world like never before. We witnessed and are still witnessing an unprecedented amount of loss of innocent life in Palestine. Over the last seven months, at least 40,000 human beings have been killed by the state of Israel. These people were not only innocent Muslims, but innocent Christians and innocent Jews, as well. These people were civilians, a majority of them children. We have witnessed the demolition of one of the oldest churches in the world, of mosques, of universities, and even of designated safe zones by the United Nations.

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Question related to this article:

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

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“Although today is a day of accomplishments and happiness, this is a difficult reality that we must acknowledge as we proceed to the next chapter of our lives. Why, you may ask? Because we, the people, are funding these horrors with our tax dollars. Every single one of you will continue into your professional lives and be impacted by this.

“Consider the following, the fact that teachers who quite literally shape our future are paid less than a full-time and then an average full-time employee or that 1.2 million veterans who put their lives on the line for this country that they live below the poverty line or that our top health insurance companies made nearly 69 billion dollars in profits the same year that 68,000 Americans died due to a lack of access to health care.

“We are the generation that must address these issues at home. We must ask why we have sent around 320 billion dollars in foreign aid to a state convicted of war crimes, countless violations of international law and who are on trial for genocide while Americans are dying due to lack of access to health care.

“This is the message that I want to leave you all with today that we are the generation. A testimony to that statement is the thousands of beautiful brave students, faculty, and administrators who are camping outside of universities demanding for a better use of our funds.

“If there are any of you here who feel as though you cannot relate or are uninterested in what I have said thus far, I would challenge you to consider this. Growing up we learned about the atrocities of the Holocaust, the horrors of slavery, and we wondered how on earth did these things happen. Well, there is a popular phrase that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. So if you wonder what you would have done during those horrific times, I implore you to take a look at what you are doing right now.

“We are the generation that will not accept being divided based on religion or background. We will not accept unwarranted, uneducated, and hateful labels as we demand a better future for ourselves and for justice.

“I apologise that this is not a typical graduation speech, but there is nothing typical about the times that we are living in. There is nothing typical about 15,000 children live-streamed deaths being watched. And there is nothing acceptable about our institutional complicity, silence, or the gross misuse of police force nationwide.

“The world is in desperate need of change, and we must be the ones to do it. So this goes to everybody here today, my friends and family, professors, deans, and my fellow students. We must use every opportunity we have to make change, no matter how scary it is. As the graduates of today, we have an opportunity to be the heroes of tomorrow.

“If we look to history, we will see that the students have always been on the right side of history. The key to this is solidarity, accepting discomfort at the cost of truth, having difficult conversations to find common grounds, and working together towards Salaam, which if you recall means peace.

“Remember when I leave this stage that my calling was one for peace, so to not support that would not be a reflection of our UT values or our humanity. I will end by sending my Salaam to the struggling teachers and veterans, to my fellow Americans, to my family in Palestine, to the people of Gaza, and to all of those who are fighting for peace.

“Congratulations to you all, and Salaam.”

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Bringing the Palestinian Message to Australia and New Zealand

. TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

Excerpts with pictures of the tour in four installments/posts on the facebook page of the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability

(Editor’s note: It is not in the headlines of the mass media, but there is a growing consciousness of people around the world that we need to stop the Israeli genocide, and work for a culture of peace. This may be seen in the reception of the people of Australia and New Zealand to the recent tour by Palestinians Mazin Qumsiyeh and his wife Jessie, as described in the following dispatches published on facebook.)

June 14. Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh and his wife Jessie concluded a very important trip to Australia and New Zealand (Aotearoa). Their goals were to gain long-term support for a) Palestine, b) sustainable human and natural communities globally, and c) Bethlehem University and our Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (palestinenature.org). The tour involved 53 days in 17 cities (Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Wollongong, Brisbane, Melbourne, Geelong, Canberra, Hamilton, Napier, Palmerston North, Wanganui, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown, Auckland).

They held 212 events, including speaking at lectures, workshops, rallies, informal gatherings, radio interviews, and media appearances. They drew a wide circle and met with people of all backgrounds: students, scientists, Aboriginal and Maori people, churches, mosques, Rotary clubs, environmental groups, museums, members of parliament in both countries, and local and national officials. They also met with scientists and political, religious, and community leaders. They averaged four events a day. They reached a total of 22,000 individuals and collected more than 3,400 emails to add to our contacts. Furthermore, they initiated over 20 potential joint projects.

There was an urgency regarding the situation in Palestine, involving genocide and ecocide, leading to a regional war and potentially a global catastrophic war. There was also an urgency regarding the state of our planet (e.g., with climate change).

The events also highlighted the ten-year anniversary of our institute (see this video https://youtu.be/qt8OTGoS198 and this booklet https://www.palestinenature.org/annual…/10-Years-PIBS.pdf). Here is a recording of an event with Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa: https://youtu.be/SfeM10YV8kw.

June 14bis. Wrapping up our educational activities in collaboration with Caritas Jerusalem, where we conducted eight visits benefiting 500 children. The aim of this collaboration was to introduce students to the biodiversity of Palestine, particularly in the Al-Makhrour region, and emphasize its importance in the success of environmental agriculture practices. Today, we hosted children from the Latin Scout Beit-Sahour. More educational activities and programs ahead.

June 1. New Zealand’s lectures and talks continue. We have been honoured by the hospitality and care for Palestine everywhere we go: Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown, etc. We miss Palestine The talks in New Zealand are ongoing. We were honored by hospitality and interest in Palestine everywhere we went: Aukland, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown, but we miss Palestine.

May 23. Jessie and I have been simply overwhelmed with events (2 to 5 events daily plus travel around this southern hemisphere continent). This morning only we had time off (due to an unexpected cancellation) to catch up, enter emails, and write you this note thanks and brief reflection. In our one-month tour of Australia, over 15,000 people heard our message of environmental justice and human rights and our tour of Aotearoa (New Zealand) is just beginning and already had 10 events over the past two days.
 
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Question related to this article:

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

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We and our old and new friends were inspired over the past month from these events:-Several university encampments where we are inspired by students and faculty who demand their universities disclose any ties to genocide and divest and call for boycotts like we did with South Africa under apartheid. For more on encampments, see https://www.palestineiseverywhere.com/ and https://www.aljazeera.com/…/mapping-pro-palestine…

-Several rallies like the one in Gadi (aka Sydney) with 10,000 people

-Dozens of lectures at public events like the two events booked solid (300 and 100 people) at the Australian National University (ANU) to many others around the two countries in this continent

-Consultative and welcoming gatherings of activists and aboriginal leadership planning meetings. Here in Aotearoa (aka New Zealand), the Maoris were equally welcoming and inspiring.

-Conferences and conventions like the one of Australia Palestine Action Network (https://apan.org.au/ ) and the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (https://www.psna.nz/ )

-Many churches and seminaries of various denominations. As a Palestinian Christian, the message resonated of the need for christian communities to take a stand in line with what we Christian communities in the Holy Land have called for which is taking a moral and ethica stand in line with tenets of the faith (see https://www.kairospalestine.ps/ and https://sabeel.org/ )

-Other religious and secular community gatherings sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. I was especially inspired with the dedication of muslim communities from various backgrounds and the Arab communities (Chrisristan, Muslim, others). Their hospitality and kindness helped me feel at home and mitigated my feelings of “homesickness”

-Meeting with parliamentarians. Even during my brief visits over two days, I noted Zionist lobbyists who were not happy to see a Palestinian with a Kufiya in the parliament building. Outside activists organized a rally in front of the parliament building in commemoration of the ongoing Nakba. One MP from the labor party broke rank with her ruling party to say the truth (that it is a genocide and needs to stop). Other MPs show promise,

-Talks at high schools (the kids are amazing)

-Meeting with Rotarian Clubs (I am president of Rotary Club Bethlehem) to tell them of our humanitarian work and look for joint efforts.

-Meetings and talks at Botanic Gardens, seed banks, museums and other institutions doing similar work to ours (see palestinenature.org)

-Media appearances (social, TV, radio, newspapers, websites). Example:
St Mary’s Church/Anglican Cathedral Parnell
Green Left Television Show-1
Green Left Television Show-2
Podbean Climate Action Show

We had positive vibes in every one of these engagements and also grew ourselves with knowledge, new friends (thousands), and energy (spiritual and mental and physical- good food for heart, spirit and even stomach) and we thank all hosts and organizers for exceptional arrangements. We really feel the world changing but we must work hardeer to stop the genocide and decolonize globally. For me and Jessie, onward to more cities and then back to our beloved Palestine which we miss so much and then resume our volunteer and humanitarian work there. To support our collective work in Palestine (which has global reach),

PLEASE

See and act on our call for partnership: https://www.palestinenature.org/donations/PIBS-call.pdf

2) Volunteer (remotely or on site: https://www.palestinenature.org/volunteer

3) Donate https://www.palestinenature.org/donations

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Norway, along with Ireland and Spain, to recognize Palestinian state

. TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article by Nerijus Adomaitis and Gwladys Fouche from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Norway will recognise an independent Palestinian state in the hope that this will help to bring peace with Israel, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said on Wednesday (May 22).

Ireland  and Spain  will also announce the recognition of a Palestinian state, sources said on Wednesday.


Map from Wikipedia. Note the resemblance to maps of the American Empire.

European Union members Slovenia and Malta have also indicated in recent weeks that they plan to make the recognition, arguing a two-state solution is essential for lasting peace in the region.
 
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Question related to this article:

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

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“In the middle of a war, with tens of thousands of dead and injured, we must keep alive the only thing that can provide a safe home for both Israelis and Palestinians: two states that can live in peace with each other,” Stoere told a press conference.

Before the announcement, some 143 out of 193 member-states of the United Nations recognised a Palestinian state.

European countries have approached the issue differently. Some, like Sweden, recognised a Palestinian state a decade ago, while France is not planning to do so unless it can be an effective tool to make progress towards peace.

The moves come as Israeli forces have led assaults  on the northern and southern edges of the Gaza Strip in May, causing a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, and sharply restricted the flow of aid, raising the risk of famine.

Non-EU member Norway has long said it would recognise Palestine as a country only if it could have a positive impact on the peace process, in step with what the United States has said on the issue.

Norway is a close U.S. ally, and the Nordic country has sought to help broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians on several occasions in recent decades.

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Recasting the narrative of pro-Palestine student encampments: a commitment to nonviolent changemaking

. TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from the Global Campaign for Peace Education by An Anonymous Student in Washington DC*

As an Arab-American woman, an activist, and a part of the collective human community, I take it upon myself to advocate for the men, women, and children in Gaza whose suffering has largely been overlooked and tolerated by the international community. These past few weeks, I have found great hope and pride in the actions of the American students who have established college campus encampments all across the country in an effort to direct funding away from the violence in Gaza. In their dedication to speaking out for the protection of human life, their commitment to non-violence, and their courage to act regardless of legal reprimand, thousands across the globe have found hope and regained a battle cry against the Palestinian genocide that continues to unfold. Through attending the George Washington University encampment, I have seen firsthand the nature of these spaces of protest — their spirit, their power, and their peace. Today, I write not only as an advocate for the encampments but also as an advocate for democracy. The pro-Palestine student encampments are valid and effective nonviolent protests that should not only be protected by the government but supported.

Photo Caption: Popular University for Gaza encampment at the University of Oregon demanding divestment from companies supporting Israel. Day 2, April 30, 2024. (Photo: Ian Mohr via flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED]).

 
On April 17, 2024, hundreds of student protesters occupied the South Lawn of Columbia University with demands that the university divest from companies with ties to Israel. Since then, thousands of students across the country have set up over 80 encampments, all calling for the divestment of university funds from organizations that provide financial support to the Israeli government and Israeli companies (Banerjee, 2024). Historically, sit-ins and occupations of campus buildings have been the more popular style of protest; however, the choice to hold encampments sends a message in itself. As stated by Sonal Churiwal, a sophomore at Washington University of St. Louis:

“We can do a march and one hour later it’s dispersed and no one’s there…but an encampment shows that we care and we’re willing to move our entire lives outside for a day, or however long we can, and really commit to this, because we know any inconvenience we’re facing is just a sliver of what Palestinians under occupation, under genocide, are facing” (Alonso, 2024).

Not only do the students sacrifice their comfort and convenience, but they also risk their safety and future security, as students at over 20 encampments have faced arrest charges due to ‘trespassing’ or ‘public disruption’ (Cutler, 2024). Along with the risk of arrest is the risk of harm. Most notably, on the night of April 30, violence broke out at the UCLA encampment as pro-Israeli groups attempted to tear down the encampment barricades. The ensuing clashes between protesters, police, and pro-Israeli groups lead to over 25 members of the encampment group being taken to the hospital due to injuries (Nazzal, 2024). These arrests and violence at the expense of peaceful protesters emerge from a lack of support and protection by the American government and its leaders. In fact, many members of Congress have directly spoken out against the encampments, calling them ‘un-American,’ recommending the National Guard to intervene, and requesting that federal funds be withdrawn from any campus allowing the protests to continue (Parkinson, 2024). The direct condemnation of the student encampments by national leaders has restricted the protesters’ ability to receive police protection and medical aid, putting thousands in harm’s way of police brutality and outside attacks.

The current political narrative also supports biased media coverage of the encampments’ nature and mission. Largely, the media and politicians have characterized the student encampment movement as a campaign built upon antisemitism that creates an unsafe environment for Jewish students on college campuses. These claims are not unfounded, as several protesters have expressed explicit support for Hamas terrorism and used antisemitic rhetoric against Jewish students (Campus antisemitism, 2024). In no way do I believe that these violent actions and words should be overlooked. Nor do I support antisemitism in any form, whether it be in connection to the Israel-Palestine conflict or not. However, there is much danger in directly conflating the student encampment movement with antisemitism, as this both undermines the true mission of the protest, as well as invalidates the Jewish experience of antisemitism. The encampments look to stop American university funding for Israeli military missions against Palestinian civilians, not to threaten, harm, or call for the eradication of the Jewish population. “Many of the student groups behind the protests said that individuals making inflammatory remarks [against the Jewish community] do not represent their groups or their values concerning the war in Gaza” (Alfonesca, 2024). Additionally, MIT Jews for Ceasefire criticized “school administration and politicians” for “co-opting” the Jewish “shared identity to silence Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, and Jewish students” alike (Alfonesca, 2024). They argue that blanketing all student protests as antisemitic “only serves to obfuscate real cases of antisemitism and put Jewish students at even greater risk” (Alfonesca, 2024). Therefore, the continued weaponization of ‘antisemitism’ within the political dialogue which condemns the student encampments leads to an inaccurate depiction of the protesters’ goals, undermines the genuine non-violent foundation of the movement, and puts the Jewish community at further harm of attack against their person and identity.

Since the student protests follow a legitimate framework of nonviolent methods within their behavior and organization, I look to redirect the current narrative surrounding the university encampments away from a story of hate and violence and towards one of true peaceful protest for a just cause. In his work, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Gene Sharp researched and cataloged ‘198 methods of nonviolent action.’ Ranging from formal statements and physical intervention to drama and music, Sharp outlines a careful selection of nonviolent approaches for securing democratic rights and justice for social justice movements (198 methods). Within the past few weeks, the pro-Palestine student encampments have deployed a handful of these methods. Most notably, through a nonviolent occupation of space, but also through inviting political speakers, hosting indigenous dance groups, and directing university funds to alternative markets, among many other approaches to peaceful activism. Each encampment has its own set of values and regulations to ensure a commitment to nonviolence is upheld and enforced. At the George Washington University encampment, a whiteboard of ‘Community Guidelines’ greets protesters and visitors, outlining rules of ‘grace and patience,’ ‘respect and discipline,’ and ‘revolutionary optimism.’ The space is one of structure, transparency, acceptance, and diversity, which the media and politicians overlook within their characterizations and criticisms of the movement.

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Question related to this article:

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

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The student encampments are also in full alignment with the values and instruction of peace education. Peace education looks to promote a culture of peace through transformative understanding and approaches to conflict:

“Peace education would first invite the youth or adult learners to be aware of and to understand the ramifications and roots of a particular conflict and what the possible alternatives might be…peace education elicits well-thought-out alternatives from them to work for the conflict’s resolution and transformation through nonviolent ways” (Navarro-Castro, 2008, p. 26).

Those who participate in the student encampments have heavily immersed themselves in the history and nuance of the political dynamic between Palestine and Israel. They understand that the violence of the past few months is a result of decades of oppression and apartheid, as opposed to a conflict that began on October 7, 2023. These students come to universities with a specific, nonviolent resolution to divert funds away from the Israeli military and away from the general military-industrial complex of the United States. Their demands target an end to violence, and their methods reflect the same intention. The students’ dedication to their cause through peaceful protest is a true commitment to activism through a lens of peace education. Therefore, for the government to condemn their behavior is to take a stance against peaceful, visionary protest, which is a larger stance against the promotion of a culture of peace.

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly passed the “Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (United Nations). Through the declaration, UNESCO defines a culture of peace as a “set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior, and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups, and nations” (U.N). Through their peaceful commitment to engage in dialogue with university leaders, the student encampments uphold a culture of peace within their ‘values, attitudes, and modes of behavior.’ The protesters’ actions — leading marches to diplomatic centers, inviting speakers to discuss the history of the Palestinian region, and hosting creative projects to preserve Palestinian art and culture— align with the promotion of nonviolent change outlined in UNESCO’s frameworks of cultural peace.

As a prominent member of the UN, the United States of America holds a responsibility to both the international community and the American people to uphold and enact UN resolutions. By criticizing and attacking the encampments, American politicians directly violate the 1999 resolution which calls for “the observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms” (United Nations). The declaration also places “special emphasis on democratic principles and practices at all levels of formal, informal and non-formal education,” highlighting students’ vital role in harnessing the democratic process to create change and promote peace (United Nations). To stand against the students is to stand against fundamental freedoms and democratic principles. While as, to stand with the encampments is to uphold the ideals outlined by the “Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” in promoting a collective mindset that rejects violence and fuels civil dialogue.

As a citizen of this country and a member of the democratic process, I have placed my trust and my voice in the hands of my representatives. I look to those who have been given positions of power to use their platforms to defend the rights and livelihoods of not just my fellow Americans, but also my fellow human beings. I stand behind the American people in continuing to use our voices, our power, and our presence to speak out against the genocide of the Palestinian people, and I implore American leaders to listen to us.

The student encampments are not places of hate, they are places of love where nonviolence triumphs. These student activists are not un-American, for protesting injustice through the freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment is the most American thing one could do. Therefore, if the American government is truly committed to democracy and peace, our leaders have a responsibility not only to protect but also to support the pro-Palestine student encampments.

* My decision to publish this piece anonymously caused much inner conflict and reflection. My anonymity does not come from a lack of belief in my argument, nor does it endorse a lack of willingness to associate myself with this cause. Instead, I was influenced by recent government actions that criminalize pro-Palestinian viewpoints, as well as the potential consequences of future legislation on anti-Israeli dialogue. I feel much frustration with our current political environment, which discourages free speech surrounding the Palestinian genocide. In the future, I look to continue to advocate for social justice and influence government actions to uphold human rights. However, I cannot fulfill this mission if I am prohibited from entering the political sphere due to my stance on the student encampments. Therefore, my anonymity reflects a commitment to future activism and a hope to earn a platform to further promote democracy and peace.

References

° 198 methods of nonviolent action. AEI/ Empowering Humankind. (n.d.). https://www.aeinstein.org/198-methods-of-nonviolent-action

° Alfonesca, K. (2024, April 26). Student protesters denounce antisemitism amid criticism over pro-Palestinian encampments at college campuses. ABC News.

_ Alonso, J. (2024, April 24). Students set up on encampments from coast to Coast. Inside Higher Ed | Higher Education News, Events and Jobs.

° Banerjee, I. (2024, May 2). Timeline: The “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” Columbia Daily Spectator.

° Campus antisemitism surges amid encampments and related protests at columbia and other u.s. colleges. (2024, April 22). Anti-Defamation League.

° Cutler, S. (2024, May 1) How colleges have responded to student encampments. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Navarro-Castro, L., & Nario-Galace, J. (2008). Peace education a pathway to a culture of peace. Center for Peace Education, Miriam College.

° Nazzal, S. (2024, May 1). After violent night at UCLA, classes cancelled, UC president Launches Investigation Into response. Los Angeles Times.

° Parkinson, J. (2024, April 30). Speaker Johnson, House Republicans ramp up criticism of “out of control” college protests. ABC News.

° U.N. International Day of peace. International Day of Peace. (n.d.). https://internationaldayofpeace.org/culture-of-peace/#:~:text=As%20defined%20by%20t he%20United,founding%20over%2060%20years%20ago%2C

° United Nations. (n.d.). Declaration and programme of action on a culture of peace. United Nations. https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/285677?ln=en&v=pdf

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‘Watershed Moment’: Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine Kicks Off in South Africa

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article by Brett Wilkins in Common Dreams ( licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

As Israeli forces continued their devastating assault on the Gaza Strip and deadly occupation of the West Bank, human rights defenders from around the world gathered Friday in South Africa—which is leading a genocide case against Israel at the World Court—for the inaugural Global Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine.


Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti and South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor hold hands and talk at the Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine in Sandton, South Africa on May 10, 2024. (Photo: Katlholo Maifadi/DIRCO)

The conference began with a moment of silence for the nearly 35,000 Palestinians—most of them women and children—killed by Israeli troops during the 217-day war and "complete siege," which has also wounded more than 78,000 people, displaced around 90% of the strip's population, and starved at least hundreds of thousands of others—dozens of whom have died.

Meanwhile, Israel's illegal occupation and settler colonization have intensified in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where soldiers and settlers have killed at least 467 Palestinians and wounded or arrested thousands of others—some of whom were tortured—over the past seven months.

"This conference must make sure that we mobilize the world… and free the people of Palestine," Rev. Frank Chikane of the African National Congress (ANC) and World Council of Churches said at the start of the symposium.

Thanking Chikane for "spearheading" conference organizing efforts, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor hailed the "watershed moment" of "anti-apartheid movements on Palestine from around the globe coming together and joining forces in the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people."

"It has never been so urgent for the progressive forces around the globe to come together in a collective effort to exert maximum pressure to end the genocidal campaign underway in Gaza, and to end the apartheid system in Israel and the occupied territories, which is worse than what we experienced in our own country," she asserted, echoing past remarks by other South Africans and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Pandor highlighted South Africa's December filing of a genocide case at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, a move supported by over 30 countries and regional blocs and hundreds of advocacy groups. In January, the ICJ found that Israel is "plausibly" committing genocide in Gaza and ordered its government to prevent future genocidal acts—an order human rights monitors say Israel has ignored, largely by blocking humanitarian aid. In March, the ICJ ordered Israel to allow more aid into Gaza.

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Question related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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"We will continue to do everything within our power to preserve the existence of the Palestinian people as a group, to end all acts of apartheid and genocide against the Palestinian people, and to walk with them towards the realization of their collective right to self-determination," Pandor said. "We continue to do so following in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and will not rest until the freedom of the peoples of Palestine is realized."

Ronnie Kasrils—a communist who went from being a guerrilla fighter in the ANC's armed wing during the apartheid era to a government minister in a free South Africa—warned against compromising in the fight for freedom. He also reaffirmed Palestinians' legal right to "armed struggle, an international right of resistance against tyranny, against military occupation."

"There is no need to pussyfoot around the fact when we have our discussions about the rights of the Palestinians to resist with arms," Kasrils stressed.

Palestinian lawmaker, physician, and activist Mustafa Barghouti said that "we've woken the people of the world against genocide and injustice… and hypocrisy of international governments."

"Israel initiated this war but Israel will not be the one who decides how it ends," he added.

Lamis Deek, a New York-based attorney specializing in international human rights, called for "liberation of all the land from institutions of Zionist violence and supremacy, return, reparations, justice and accountability for every Zionist crime, and restitution."

Declan Kearney, a member of Northern Ireland's Legislative Assembly and national chairman of the Irish republican and democratic socialist party Sinn Féin, noted that "Palestinian and Irish freedom fighters share a special bond. Our commitment is absolute and unbreakable."

The Republic of Ireland said in March that it would intervene in the South African ICJ case and the country—along with fellow European Union members Spain, Slovenia, and Malta—is set later this month to join the nearly 140 nations that recognize Palestinian statehood.

The United Nations General Assembly voted 143-9 on Friday to approve Palestine's bid for full U.N. membership. The United States—Israel's leading international backer—and Israel voted against the proposal, which will head to the U.N. Security Council and an almost certain U.S. veto.

Kearney echoed other speakers who stressed the importance of international solidarity, applauding the "unprecedented" global outpouring of support for Palestine.

"We are with the Palestinian people on their long walk to freedom and will never abandon them," he vowed.

While many Israelis and their backers bristle at the apartheid label, Palestinians and individuals ranging from Carter to the late South African bishop and human rights campaigner Desmond Tutu to United Nations special rapporteurs have for decades called Israel's policies and actions in Palestine apartheid.

Major human rights organizations—including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli groups B'Tselem and Yesh Din—have also done so. So have prominent Israelis including a former Mossad chief, multiple former attorneys general and ambassadors, and a growing number of journalists, artists, veterans, and others.

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Pro-Palestinian protests and encampments sweep campuses of major universities across the United States

. TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from The Arab American News

College campuses have become breeding grounds for pro-Palestine protests. Student protesters have continued to set up encampments at their universities and display their support for Palestinians and against Israeli aggressions. Students are also demanding that their universities divest from companies that financially support Israel. 


The encampment created by protesters on the Columbia University campus on Wednesday, April 24. – Photo by Reuters.

 
Encampments and protests have been reported at the following universities:

°Columbia University in Manhattan, New York
°The New School in Manhattan
°New York University in Manhattan
°Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts
°Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island
°Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge
°Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts
°Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut
°Emerson College in Boston
°The University of Michigan
°The University of California, Berkeley
°The University of Southern California
°University of Pittsburgh
°University of Minnesota
°Ohio State University
°University of Texas at Arlington
°University of Texas at Austin
°University of Texas at Dallas
°University of Texas at San Antonio
°University of North Carolina at Charlotte
°Emory University in Atlanta
°University of New Mexico in Albuquerque
°American University in Washington
°Rice University in Houston

(Editor’s note: An article in Al Jazeera, mentions similar mobilizations in the Sorbonne University and Sciences Po of Paris, Univerities of Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, Sapienza University of Rome, and the universities of Warwick, Leicester and Leeds in England as of April 26. By May 14, according to Pressenza, similar protests have spread to 17 countries, including India, Mexico, Japan, as well as the UK, Australia and France.)

According to The Associated Press, with protests and encampments arising, universities have taken steps to extinguish tensions on campus. Columbia University shifted to remote classes, canceling in-person classes and the gates of the Harvard Yard were closed to the public. Crowds of protesters were arrested at Columbia University, New York University and Yale.

These protests have also given rise to tensions between students, with both pro-Palestinian protesters denouncing Israel and Jewish students claiming that has led to anti-Semitism, which makes them feel unsafe. Pro-Israel students have said they feel that the protests occurring at their universities are only encouraging anti-Semitic and hate speech.

According to Al Jazeera, student protesters said they are standing in “solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza”, where the death toll is now above 34,300, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Columbia’s University president, Minouche Shafik, released a statement to the school community regarding the protests and shared that she felt “deeply saddened” by it all.

“To deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps, I am announcing that all classes will be held virtually on Monday,” Shafik wrote, also adding that the students who live off campus shouldn’t come to campus.

Pro-Palestinian Columbia students file civil rights complaint

Palestine Legal filed a civil rights complaint against Columbia University this week through the U.S. Department of Education, demanding the agency’s Office for Civil Rights investigate the school’s treatment of Palestinian students and allies.

The complaint goes beyond the events of the last week, when the NYPD arrested more than 100 protesting students. It alleged that for the past months, “Palestinian students, Arabs, Muslims, students perceived to be Palestinian and students associated with or advocating for Palestinians” were subject to anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian harassment and Islamophobia.

The complaint represents four students and Columbia’s Students for Justice in Palestine. Palestine Legal said these students received death threats and were “harassed for wearing keffiyehs or hijab, doxed, stereotyped, being treated differently by high-ranking administrators, including Columbia University President Minouche Shafik.”

Palestine Legal also said the school has the responsibility to protect its students, including Palestinians and supporters, and should not threaten or call the police or military. Columbia has denied threats to call the National Guard were ever on the table in negotiations with protesters.

“Since October 7 alone, the organization has received reports of over 1,800 incidents, over five times the number we received in all of 2022, reflecting an exponential rise in anti-Palestinian repression across the U.S.,” Palestine Legal wrote in a press release.

With protests at Harvard, a sign stated that Harvard Yard was closed to the public, only allowing structures, tents and tables onto the yard with prior permission. Security guards were also checking student IDs.

“Students violating these policies are subject to disciplinary action,” the sign read.

The university’s administration suspended the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee, according to reports. The suspension notice  stated that the committee’s demonstration on April 19 had violated school policy and that committee members did not attend required trainings following a previous probation.

The Palestine Solidarity Committee said in a statement that it was suspended over technicalities and that the university hadn’t provided written clarification on the university’s policies when asked.

“For months, we have been disproportionately targeted by the administration on the grounds of technicalities that we tried to observe vigilantly in the interest of protecting student safety,” the group said in a statement sent to The Middle East Eye.

About 45 protesters at Yale University were arrested and charged with trespassing, according to Officer Christian Bruckhart, a spokesperson for New Haven Police Department. All protesters were let go on promises they would appear in court, he said, in an AP News report.

Protesters assembled tents on Beinecke Plaza at Yale and called for their university to action to divest from defense companies tied to Israel.

Yale President Peter Salovey said in a statement to the school on Monday that police officers gave protesters “several opportunities to leave and avoid arrest”, adding that he felt “deeply saddened that the call for civil discourse and peaceful protest (he) issued” was not recognized or listened to, referring to the previous email he sent Sunday, according to The Yale Daily News.

MIT graduate student Prahlad Iyengar was one of the student protesters who participated in the encampment on that campus Sunday night.

“MIT has not even called for a ceasefire, and that’s a demand we have for sure,” Iyengar said in an AP News report.

Several dozen protesters arrested at Emory University

Thursday morning, an Emory University spokesperson said several dozen protesters “trespassed” into Emory’s campus to set up tents on the school’s quad.

“The activists who initially gathered were not recognized as members of our community and were disrupting the university as our students finish classes and prepare for finals,” a statement read.

Members of the Emory community later joined the initial group, according to the spokesperson.

Pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with police at the Georgia university on Thursday. Police used pepper spray and pepper balls to clear the area of demonstrators, a CNN team on the scene reported.

The statement said “a couple dozen people” were taken into custody after the Emory Police Department notified them they were trespassing and the people refused to leave.

On Thursday, a group of Democratic Georgia state lawmakers  condemned the “excessive force used by Georgia State Patrol” during arrests at Emory University.

“The use of extreme anti-riot tactics by Georgia State Patrol, including tasers and gas, is a dangerous escalation to protests which were by all accounts peaceful and nonviolent,” Georgia State Rep. Ruwa Romman, a Democrat who is also Palestinian, posted on social media in a statement co-signed by 10 other legislators.

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Question related to this article:

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

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The group blamed Georgia leaders and said they have created an environment where “state police feel free or perhaps are directed— to respond to normal peaceful protests with violence.”

“We cannot allow this dangerous repression to continue,” they continued in the statement. “Regardless of one’s views on this or any other issue, there is no justification for this kind of excessive force. We call on all state officials to immediately deescalate and prevent further harm to our constituents.”

The ACLU of Georgia also said on Thursday it was concerned about law enforcement’s response to the protests.

“The freedom to protest without retribution is essential to our democracy,” the organization said in a statement. “Atlanta has historically been a place where citizens could freely exercise their rights to protest, but we have unfortunately seen a series of unconstitutional crackdowns on speech and protest across Georgia in recent years. Colleges and universities should be places where viewpoints, expression, debate and free speech are encouraged, not suppressed.”

USC cancels its main commencement ceremony

The University of Southern California canceled its main commencement ceremony for 2024 graduating students in May, citing “new safety measures in place.”

“We understand that this is disappointing,” the university said in an announcement on its website.

The announcement came days after the university canceled the commencement speech of its Muslim valedictorian, Asna Tabassum, due to what it called security concerns. USC then canceled appearances by prominent speakers and honorees at the May 10 graduation ceremony.

Encampment forms at University of California, Los Angeles

On Thursday, a “demonstration with encampments” formed at the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) in Royce Quad, the university said in a campus activity update.

“We’re actively monitoring this situation to support a safe and peaceful campus environment that respects our community’s right to free expression while minimizing disruption to our teaching and learning mission,” the update read.

Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA posted on Instagram an invitation for others to join and said, “WE ARE STAYING UNTIL OUR DEMANDS ARE MET! BE HERE!

“We camp in solidarity with Palestine. We refuse to be complicit in this genocidal campaign,” the post read.

Pro-Palestinian encampment forms at George Washington University

George Washington University has joined a growing list of schools across the nation where Pro-Palestinian demonstrators are forming encampments on school campuses, according to videos posted by the GW Hatchet student newspaper.

Students at multiple universities across the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia organized the encampment, a group representing the coalition of Students for Justice in Palestine said in a post on Instagram.

The encampment is a “united demonstration of our power, uplifting our collective demands for financial transparency, boycotts and divestment from the Zionist state, and an end to the racist repression pro-Palestine students,” the post read.

Netanyahu condemns U.S. universities’ campus protests as “anti-Semitic”

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the pro-Palestinian protests on U.S. university campuses as “horrific” and “anti-Semitic”, calling for them to end.

“It has to be stopped. It has to be condemned and condemned unequivocally,” Netanyahu said in a video message on X.

““The response of several university presidents was shameful.””
Netanyahu added that while some officials have responded differently, “more has to be done” in response to the demonstrations.

Netanyahu said that a rise in anti-Semitism in the U.S. “has terrible consequences.”

More people around the world believe he and his right-wing government are the reasons for the rise of anti-Israeli apartheid, which he wrongly attributes it as “anti-Semitism.”

Iran’s foreign minister slams police response to protests

On Thursday, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian expressed “deep concerns” over the police response to pro-Palestinian protests on U.S. university campuses.

Amir-Abdollahian criticized the “suppression and harsh treatment” of professors and students by police in a post on X.

“This suppression is in line with Washington’s full-fledged support for the Israeli regime and clearly demonstrates the U.S. government’s double standards and contradictory behavior regarding freedom of speech,” Amir-Abdollahian posted.

House Speaker Mike Johnson calls on Columbia’s president to resign

House Speaker Mike Johnson called on Columbia University President Nemat “Minouche” Shafik to resign during a tense press conference Wednesday.

The crowd repeatedly interrupted the speaker and booed him and other GOP lawmakers who were with him as they stood at the mics.

“We just can’t allow this kind of hatred and anti-Semitism to flourish on our campuses, and it must be stopped in its tracks,” Johnson said. “Those who are perpetrating this violence should be arrested. I am here today, joining my colleagues and calling on President Shafik to resign if she cannot immediately bring order to this chaos.”

On Wednesday, the Columbia University Board of Trustees released a statement saying they strongly support President  Shafik.

“The Columbia University Board of Trustees strongly supports President Shafik as she steers the university through this extraordinarily challenging time,” the board said in a statement Wednesday. “During the search process for this role, President Shafik told us that she would always take a thoughtful approach to resolving conflict, balancing the disparate voices that make up a vibrant campus like Columbia’s, while taking a firm stance against hatred, harassment and discrimination. That’s exactly what she’s doing now.”

 The board said it is “urgently working” with Shafik to resolve the unrest on campus and “rebuild the bonds of our community.”

Here are the developments at several universities as of Thursday evening (April 25):

°University of Southern California: USC canceled its main commencement ceremony for 2024 graduating students in May, citing “new safety measures in place.”

°Emory University: At least two professors were  detained during protests on campus. CAIR’s Georgia chapter has condemned the arrests and the NAACP in Georgia has called for a meeting with the university’s president.

°Northeastern University: An encampment has been formed and dozens of protesters have formed a human chain around tents.

°City College of New York: The NYPD says it no longer plans to clear the encampment Thursday afternoon.

°George Washington University: An group of Pro-Palestinian demonstrators has started an encampment on campus representing students from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, organizers and the university confirmed.

°Emerson College: More than 100 people were arrested and four police officers were injured Wednesday at Emerson college in Boston during a pro-Palestinian protest, according to the Boston Police Department.

°Columbia University: House Speaker Mike Johnson called on Columbia’s president to resign if she cannot bring order to the campus. While most protests have been non-violent, some Jewish students are worried for their safety, with one Jewish student saying “the anti-Semitic comments and activity is running rampant.” Negotiations between protesters and Columbia officials about clearing the encampment on its lawn were extended early Wednesday morning for another 48 hours.

°University of Southern California: Police arrested nearly 100 protesters at the University of Southern California after a dispersal order.

°University of Texas at Austin: Following tense resistance, the Texas Department of Public Safety said that 57 arrests had been made by law enforcement on the campus. A Fox 7 photographer was among those arrested amid the heated clashes, the news outlet said in a report. The tally is an overall number of people booked in association with the protest. “We don’t classify arrestees by whether or not they’re students at the university,” Kristen Dark, a Travis County Sheriff’s office spokesperson told CNN.

°Cal Poly Humboldt: The California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt campus will remain closed through the weekend as protesters, including “unidentified non-students,” continue to occupy two buildings, school officials said in an update.

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Haifa Symposium: Bridging faiths for peace in the Middle East

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article by Dr. Kobby Barda in the Jerusalem Post

On May 7th, 2024, the Haifa Laboratory for Religious Studies (HLRS) at the University of Haifa will host its 2nd Annual Symposium on Religion and Diplomacy in the Middle East. This one-day event takes place in the shadow of recent events, as October 7th saw a renewed conflict fueled by religious tensions.

A Beacon of Hope in Haifa:

This timely symposium will be held in the vibrant and religiously-diverse city of as such, Haifa, a model for communities living side-by-side, serves as the perfect backdrop for crucial discussions aimed at achieving a more hopeful future for the Middle East.

Exploring Religion’s Role in the Region:

The symposium delves into the multifaceted role of religion in the Middle East. The event will explore how religion can be a force for peace and reconciliation, while also acknowledging the complexities and challenges it can present. Through engaging discussions and presentations by leading experts, the symposium seeks to bridge divides and foster understanding between different faiths.

Engaging Discussions with Renowned Experts:

The symposium will open with a keynote address by Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK Minister of State for the Middle East.

The heart of the symposium lies in its engaging panels. The first, titled “Religion and peace: working at grassroots level,” brings together a diverse group of experts. Moderated by Shlomi Eldar of Channel 13 Israel, the panel features Prof. Katherine Marshall, Kadi Dr. Iyad Zahalka, journalist Henrique Cymerman, and Archbishop of Acre Youssef Abedallah Matta. These voices from academia, religious institutions, and media will offer unique insights into grassroots peacebuilding efforts. 

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

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The panel will be followed by a conversation between renowned specialist on issues of global religious freedom and HLRS senior research Dr. Chris Seiple and Prof. Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, the founding director of the Center for Governance and Markets at the University of Pittsburgh on collaborations between scholars and religious practitioners in promoting regional diplomacy. Their conversation will set the floor for the formal launching of NEXUS – the first online platform focused on the interface of religion and politics in the Middle East. 

Another special session will feature conversation between former minister rabbi Michael Melchior and sheikh dr. Eyad Amer, both of Mosaica, on their work behind the scenes to bring about reconciliation around religious conflicts within Israeli society. 

The concluding panel on “Religious answers to religious radicalism,” will delve into the theological and social responses to religious extremism. Panelists include peace activist and United Nations Security Council advisor Huda Abu Arqoub, Prof. James Walters of the London School of Economics, Prof. Katherine Marshall of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and Dr. Tomer Persico of the Shalom Hartman Institute. 

A Special Recognition:

The symposium culminates with a special address by President Isaac Herzog, who will share a message of peace and use this platform to call for global interfaith collaboration, a cornerstone for a more hopeful future in the Middle East. President Herzog will deliver his message at the beginning of  a special honorary session dedicated to Rabbi David Rosen, a renowned leader in regional interfaith endeavours, and international president of Religions for Peace. This session will feature distinguished guests who will acknowledge Rabbi Rosen’s contributions to promoting peace and understanding.

About the Haifa Laboratory for Religious Studies

Founded in 2020, the HLRS has established itself as a hub for research, education, and dialogue on interfaith dynamics. Through its commitment to interfaith understanding, religious pluralism, and freedom of worship, the HLRS seeks to contribute valuable insights to navigating the complexities of the Middle East.

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A joint statement for peace by 31 Israeli human rights organizations

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An article from Breaking the Silence

We, members of the undersigned human rights organizations in Israel, are shocked and horrified in these dreadful days.

Hamas’ horrific crimes against innocent civilians – including children, women, and the elderly – have shaken us all, and we are struggling to recover from the unbearable sights and sounds. Some of us were in the Israeli communities on the Gaza border during the assault; many of us have family, friends, and colleagues who endured and are still in the midst of the harrowing events; and we all know people who were murdered, injured, or abducted. It will take time to fully understand the implications and consequences of Hamas’ heinous attack, for which there can be no justification.

Most of our teams include Israelis and Palestinians; therefore, some of us have relatives and colleagues in Gaza currently living under the ongoing assault of the Israeli military. Children, women, and the elderly are being indiscriminately attacked with nowhere to hide.

Even now – especially now – we must maintain our moral and humane position and refuse to give in to despair or the urge for vengeance. Keeping our faith in the human spirit and its inherent goodness is more vital than ever. One thing is clear: We will never surrender our belief in humanity – even now, when doing so is more challenging than ever.

Having always opposed the harming of innocent civilians, it remains our duty in these terrible times – as we count our dead on the Israeli side and worry about wounded, missing, and abducted loved ones, and as bombs are being dropped on residential neighborhoods in Gaza, wiping out entire families with no possibility of burying the dead – to raise our voices loud and clear against the harming of all innocent civilians, both in Israel and Gaza.

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Question related to this article:

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

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We call for the immediate release of all hostages and an end to the bombardment of civilians in Israel and in Gaza. Humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach civilian populations, medical facilities and places of refuge must not be harmed, and vital resources such as water and electricity must not be cut off. The killing of additional civilians will not bring back those who were lost. Indiscriminate destruction and a siege harming innocents will not bring relief, justice, or calm.

As individuals working to promote human rights and who believe in the sanctity of life, we urgently call for an end to all indiscriminate harming of civilian lives and infrastructure. We call for negotiations and all possible action to be taken to bring about the release of the hostages – while prioritizing the civilians held by Hamas. It is the only humane and rational thing to do, and it must be done now.

Mothers Against Violence | Itach Ma’aki – Women Lawyers for Social Justice | Amnesty International Israel | BIMKOM – Planners for Planning Rights | B’Tselem | Gisha | The Association for Civil Rights in Israel | Public Committee Against Torture in Israel | Parents Against Child Detention | Hamoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual | Zazim – Community Action | Haqel – In Defense of Human Rights | Yesh Din | Combatants for Peace | Mehazkim | Machsom Watch | Women Wage Peace | Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research | Standing Together | Ir Amim | Emek Shaveh | The Parents Circle-Families Forum | Rabbis for Human Rights | Physicians for Human Rights–Israel | Breaking the Silence | Torat Tzedek | A Land for All – Two States One Homeland | Academia for Equality | Your Neighbor As Yourself | Kerem Navot | Other Voice

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Search for Common Ground in Israel and Palestine

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

Excerpts from the webpage and videos of Search for Common Ground

Our CEO, Shamil Idriss, is currently in the heart of Jerusalem (featured here in front of the Damascus Gate), meeting with our team on the ground and other key figures. He filmed several videos to provide a few updates on the critical work happening there, and you can click the button below to view them.

Video 5. Click on image to see the video

° video 1 with an update on the work we have been doing in Israel and Palestine, including our work in Gaza with hygiene kit distributions and how we are supporting pregnant women.

° video 2 with a bit of good news in our inter-religious work in the middle of the dark situation. “We’ve been working on interfaith education for tolerance and respect for seven years now, and for the first time one of the municipalities where we work has decided to integrate the program into their planning and budget.”

° video 3 describing the look and feel on the ground and how people are affected by the war. For Israeli Jews the images of the hostages are on banners everywhere making it hard for people to imagine a secure future side by side with Palestinians. The Arab Israeli population are feeling very much under threat and traumatized by the images from Gaza.

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Question related to this article:

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

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° video 4 on how Search is working with women to take a more significant role in the peace process right now. “We’ve been working with a really powerful and growing community of women leaders, including activists, lawyers, former Knesset members, former Palestinian ministers in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv working to ensure that they are not left out of whatever peace process that will have to come out of this war. We are supporting them as they develop their own thinking and strategy for how to accelerate and influence that kind of peace process. It’s well known that peace processes that involve women last much longer and are more viable.”

° video 5 on why Shamil is in Israel to support the work on the ground and help gain more support to continue this necessary work. “I am here to support our team and maybe open a few doors for potential partners and donors. But mostly so I can be more informed when I appeal to our supporters in the States and elsewhere to support the work of peacebuilders here. Solidarity is understandable, but It’s very clear that the end of this war and the prevention of future such wars won’t come simply through solidarity. It’s going to have to come through peacebuilding. Inter-communal solidarity has to be built, even if it is unimaginable right now. The people we’ve been talking to, a former foreign minister, a former prime minister, former ministers in Ramallah, and grass roots activists as well, they recognize that the only way out of this is through a legitimate peace process ad the building of trust. So when I speak to our supporters I can can effectively appeal that in addition to any solidarity with your own community, that you support the peacebuilders here across both Palestinian and Israeli society.

We hope these videos offer a reminder that there’s nothing abstract about your partnership, that it’s issuing into real relief and peacebuilding for real people, right now.

Your commitment to peacebuilding is invaluable. Would you join us in supporting this work on the ground?

Additionally, if you’re particularly interested in peacebuilding in the Middle East, don’t miss our upcoming virtual conversation with Shamil on Thursday, March 21 at 2 p.m. ET. He will delve deeper into the situation on the ground and discuss the pathways to peace in Israel/Palestine. click here for the video

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to building a better world.

Dialogue Remains Best Key To End Conflicts In Africa – Obasanjo, Ex-President of Nigeria

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION .

An article by  Bolaji Jimoh in New Telegraph of Nigeria

Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President of Nigeria on Tuesday said dialogue remains the best way to end numerous crises in Africa.

Tinubu made this known while speaking at a youth leadership conference in Abeokuta on the theme, “Opportunities for Peace: Roles of the Youths in Conflict Prevention in Africa.”

According to him, in order to encourage young people to be leaders in promoting peace rather than being used as tools for committing acts of violence across the continent, efforts to instil in them a culture of security and peace must be intensified.

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Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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

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The programme which was organized by Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library and Institute for African Culture and International Understanding, the Centre for Human Security and Dialogue is one of the events planned in honour of the former president’s 87th birthday.

As per the former President, it is imperative to prioritise compassion and tolerance over hateful narratives and negative attitudes that fuel conflicts and ultimately lead to violence. Peace is a non-negotiable for development and economic success.

Instead of being drawn in or utilised as tools of destabilisation, he added, young people in Africa ought to be agents of peace and stand hard against conflicts in any area of the continent.

“We must begin to bring up our youth in a culture of peace and security. The chances are that where we have a culture of love, we will have peace.

“The first thing to do is to inculcate in the youths the ingredients of peace, which is love and fellowship.

“Look at the attributes that God gave us to have a life of stability, a life of peace; they are, as I mentioned, kindness, mercy, and forgiveness,’’he said.