Category Archives: Mideast

World Court to Review 57-Year Israeli Occupation


An article from Human Rights Watch

An unprecedented number of countries and international organizations are expected to participate in the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) oral hearings on Israel’s occupation beginning February 19, 2024, Human Rights Watch said today (February 16). Fifty-two countries and three international organizations will participate in the oral proceedings, more than in any other case since the world’s highest court began functioning in 1946.

The broad participation in the hearings and the many written submissions reflect growing global momentum to address the decades-long failure to ensure respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

“The International Court of Justice is set for the first time to broadly consider the legal consequences of Israel’s nearly six-decades-long occupation and mistreatment of the Palestinian people,” said Clive Baldwin, senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch. “Governments that are presenting their arguments to the court should seize these landmark hearings to highlight the grave abuses Israeli authorities are committing against Palestinians, including the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

The oral proceedings stem from a December 2022 request by the United Nations General Assembly for an advisory opinion  by the court on the legal consequences of Israel’s policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The court has the opportunity to address the prolonged occupation, to consider Israel’s practices and policies violating international legal prohibitions against racial discrimination, including the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution, and to appraise the legal responsibilities of other countries and the UN to address violations of international law arising from the occupation.

Although ICJ advisory opinions are non-binding, they can carry great moral and legal authority and can ultimately become part of customary international law, which is legally binding on states.

These proceedings, which will last six days, are distinct from the case brought  by South Africa to the same court alleging that Israel  is violating the Genocide Convention amid the hostilities between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups that escalated following the October 7, 2023, Hamas-led attacks.

The General Assembly first asked the ICJ for an advisory opinion related to the Occupied Palestinian Territory in December 2003. In July 2004, the ICJ’s advisory opinion  found that the route of Israel’s separation barrier violated international law and that it should be dismantled.

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

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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

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The December 2022 request to the court is wider in scope. The General Assembly asked the court to give its opinion on the “legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation” of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including “its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures,” and on the legal consequences of the occupation and Israel’s practices for all states and the UN.

The request provides the court the opportunity to evaluate the situation two decades after its last advisory opinion on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and provide guidance on the law, including the continued application of international humanitarian law and human rights law. The court could also assess Israel’s conduct under international human rights law, including prohibitions on racial discrimination, and international criminal law, including the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

The ICJ adjudicates disputes between states and issues advisory opinions on international law. It lacks jurisdiction over the conduct of non-state armed groups like Hamas. The International Criminal Court (ICC), by contrast, addresses serious international crimes allegedly committed by individuals, including members of armed groups. The ICC prosecutor confirmed that since March 2021 his office has been conducting an investigation into alleged atrocity crimes committed in Gaza and the West Bank since 2014, and that the court has jurisdiction over international crimes committed by all parties in the current hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups.

Human Rights Watch has documented that Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution  against Palestinians. Given that the responsibilities  of an occupying power toward the rights of the occupied population increase over time, Human Rights Watch has also called for Israel to provide Palestinians in the occupied territory with rights at least equal to those it grants its own citizens, in addition to the protections of international humanitarian law.

The ICJ is composed  of 15 judges elected by the UN General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. Fifty-seven states and international organizations had filed a written statement  in the proceedings in July 2023, before the October escalation in hostilities. Fifteen states and international organizations filed additional written comments in October and November 2023. Among those participating in the oral proceedings are Palestine, South Africa, Belgium, Brazil, the United States, Russia, France, China, Namibia, Pakistan, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the African Union. Israel submitted a written statement and chose not to participate in the oral hearings.

The ICJ will issue its legal opinion at a date to be determined. Past practice suggests that the opinion will be issued before the end of 2024.

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USA: 200+ Unions Launch Network to Push for Gaza Cease-Fire


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

Seven national and over 200 local labor unions in the United States on Friday announced  the establishment of a coalition to promote a cease-fire in Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.

(Click on image to enlarge)

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the Association of Flight Attendants, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the National Education Association, National Nurses United (NNU), the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the United Electrical Workers (UE), and 200 local unions and labor organizations launched the National Labor Network for Cease-fire (NLNC) to “end the death and devastation” in Gaza.

The coalition says it represents more than 9 million union workers—”more than half the labor movement in the United States.”

“The war between Israel and Hamas has continued unabated since Hamas brutally attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,163 people, and taking 253 hostages,” NLNC said in a statement.

“Israel responded with an onslaught that has killed over 28,000 Palestinians and left over 67,000 others injured,” while “1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced, and humanitarian aid remains mostly blocked from those in need,” the coalition added.

NLCN is calling for:

° An immediate cease-fire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas;
° Restoration of basic human rights;
° The immediate release of hostages taken by Hamas;
° Unimpeded full access for humanitarian aid; and
° A call for a cease-fire by U.S. President Joe Biden.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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

(continued from left column)

In his strongest statement yet, Biden—who has been dubbed “Genocide Joe” by some activists for his staunch support for Israel—said  Friday that he has called for a “temporary cease-fire” during private phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Leaders of the seven unions—most of which have already called for a cease-fire—issued statements underscoring the imperative for peace.

“The UAW has a long tradition of calling for peace and justice for working-class people across the globe, and we live that tradition today,” UAW president Shawn Fain said. “In that spirit, we call for an immediate end to the U.S. government’s funding and support of this brutal assault on Gaza.”

Carl Rosen, UE’s president, said: “The support for a cease-fire is overwhelming. We can’t stand by in the face of this suffering. We cannot bomb our way to peace. We express our solidarity with all workers and our common desire for peace in Palestine  and Israel.”

APWU president Mark Dimondstein said that “as a union that stands for equality, social justice, human and labor rights, we unite with unions and people of goodwill around the world in calls for a cease-fire, for justice and peace. The cries of humanity call for nothing less.”

Bonnie Castillo, the NNU’s executive director, asserted that “nurses cannot allow our patients and our colleagues to continue suffering from the traumas of war.”

“We vow to protect and heal all people, and it’s our duty to speak up for every human being’s right to a life free of violence,” she added. “We’re calling for a cease-fire now before one more life is lost, before one more family faces injuries or illnesses.”

The NLCN’s formation follows last week’s cease-fire call  by the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation.

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Decision of the International Court of Justice


A blog from Mazin Qumsiyeh

Today 26 January 2024 (after 112 days of carnage), the International Court of Justice issued a decision /injunction with six provisional measures (available here ) and will continued deliberation. The six provisional measures requested are an important win for human rights and could be a game changer even as Israel tried to dismiss them and will go on with carnage.

Quotes from the court ruling

In light of the foregoing, the Court concludes that, prima facie, it has jurisdiction pursuant to Article IX of the Genocide Convention to entertain the case.  Given the above conclusion, the Court considers that it cannot accede to Israel’s request that the case be removed from the General List…..The Palestinians appear to constitute a distinct “national, ethnical, racial or religious group”, and hence a protected group within the meaning of Article II of the Genocide Convention. The Court observes that, according to United Nations sources, the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip comprises over 2 million people. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip form a substantial part of the protected group….;.The Court, pursuant to Article 41 of its Statute, has the power to indicate provisional measures….The Court considers that, with regard to the situation described above, Israel must, in accordance with its obligations under the Genocide Convention, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of this Convention, in particular: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. The Court recalls that these acts fall within the scope of Article II of the Convention when they are committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part a group as such (see paragraph 44 above). The Court further considers that Israel must ensure with immediate effect that its military forces do not commit any of the above-described acts.

The final six decisions of the ICJ (provisional measureS):

(1) By fifteen votes to two, The State of Israel shall, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of this Convention, in particular: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(2) By fifteen votes to two, The State of Israel shall ensure with immediate effect that its military does not commit any acts described in point 1 above;

(3) By sixteen votes to one, The State of Israel shall take all measures within its power to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip;

(4) By sixteen votes to one, The State of Israel shall take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip;

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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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(5) By fifteen votes to two, The State of Israel shall take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of Article II and Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide against members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip

(6) By fifteen votes to two, The State of Israel shall submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to this Order within one month as from the date of this Order.

The most reputable court on earth has effectively ruled and with a huge majority that: 1) there is plausible evidence of genocidal acts requiring immediate intervention justifying taking the case, 2) that Palestinians are at grave risk of genocide (warranting 6 injunctions noted above).

The resolution opened with a summary of the conflict from 7 October and the contentions of South Africa and Israel about what transpired since. The decision constitutes a profound undermining of the persistent use of the Jewish holocaust to justify another holocaust and that Israel is above the law having proclaimed itself (falsely as representing Jews). This must be built upon and strengthened in a global popular effort (growing global movement) not only to force compliance of ending the genocide per the ICJ’s order (pending final ruling which might take months). The resolution implicitly but not explicitly stipulates a ceasefire. But the decision orders refraining from killing Palestinian civilians and refraining from causing any physical or psychological harm under article 2 of the convention. The decision demands the immediate provision of basic services and humanitarian aid (food, water, medicine, fuel) denied by the Israeli army since 7 October. 

The resolution was issued closer to consensus, with a vote of 15 to 2 or 16 to 1, which means that there is international consensus on the existence of Israel’s intention to annihilate. The American judge, the French judge, and the German judge voted in favor of the resolution, contrary to the declared position of their countries. This is an indication that may constitute a message from those countries of their unwillingness to risk undermining the international system they established to sustain their influence. The Israeli judge appointed ad hoc for this case, Aharon Barak, contradicted his government’s legal position, which rejects the court’s jurisdiction in this case in the first place, and that it risks undermining the legitimacy of Israel when it exposes it to precautionary measures based on the Genocide Convention. Judge Barak voted in favor of the decision on the items preventing incitement and providing basic services and aid, meaning that he granted legitimacy to the court’s jurisdiction in accordance with the Genocide Convention in principle. The judge who voted against all the provisions of the resolution was the Ugandan judge, Julia Sabotendi, including the two provisions that were supported by the Israeli judge, reminds us of the Ugandan option for the Jewish state (1903) and its current government being occupied.

Israeli occupation army will probably go on with its killing spree and starvation of the people and clearing out a 1 Km wide zone of Palestinian houses while bombing others from the air, sea, and land. Most of the public as you can see from the video above is brainwashed. But it is a moral defeat for the Colonial project and more and more countries and people are not buying the lies and distortions any more. It is time for the 15 million Palestinians scattered around the world to discard aging leaderships, organize better and with help of all people of good will assert and achieve our right to return and self determination in Palestine. 

What we need to do? Keep pushing, keep posting on social media, speak truth to power, , keep protesting/demonstrating (especially against complicit media and politicians), engage in BDS ; For more on what you can do see and What you can do. You can shorten the 112 day carnage and each day an average of 250 civilians are killed (accelerating now because of famine and disease). Even saving one day means saving hundreds of lives and many remaining homes from demolition.

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Gala of solidarity with the Palestinians at the Algiers Opera


An article from El Watan

The hall of the Algiers Opera Boualem Bessaih, in Ouled Fayet, west of the capital, was packed on the evening of Saturday January 20, for the gala of solidarity with the Palestinians, Salam lel Falastine ( Peace for Palestine). 

 By noon on Thursday, January 18, 2024, all tickets have been sold out. I take my hat off to the Algerian artist who wanted this show to be unique in its kind. I also salute the immense promotional work done by the national press for this event. We were able to bring together 150 artists on stage, supported by sponsors who believed in the project, and by the Ministry of Culture and Arts,” declared Abdelkader Bouazzara, director of the Algiers Opera and organizer of the gala.  

Proceeds from the evening will be donated entirely to the benefit of the Palestinian people.

The evening began with the Algerian and Palestinian national anthems performed by the Algiers Opera Symphony Orchestra. The college choir Mamlakatou al tilmidh (The kingdom of children) from Ain Benian (Algiers) then performed Beytouna el Qods (our house el Qods), based on music and words by Mustapha Alouane. Syrian maestro Missak Baghboudarian led the orchestra afterward to play the overture to La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny), an opera composed by Italian Giuseppe Verdi at the request of Russian Tsar Alexander II in 1862 (seven years afterwards, the work was greatly revised by the composer). From another Verdi opera, composed ten years earlier, La traviata, soprano Dina Sirine Khiari masterfully performed the aria Addio del passato (Farewell to the past).

“Take your hours out of our time, go away”

Covered in a dark burnous, the actor Hassan Kechache declaimed the famous poem by the Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish, Ayahou al maroun bayna el kalimat al abira (You who pass among the fleeting words), criticizing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands:

“You who pass among passing words. Take your names and leave. Take your hours out of our time, go away. Extort what you want, from the blue of the sky and the sand of memory.  Take the photos you want, to know that you will not know how the stones of our earth build the roof of the sky.”

Led by Nadjib Kateb, the Andalusian Orchestra of the Algiers Opera performed in moual Filistine ya bladi (Palestine ô my country), sung by Lamia Madini, followed, in zidane style, to the tune of Qom tara, Seif el Quds, performed by Sarah Belaslouni, based on a poem by the Syrian Abdel Rahim Al Gamoudi. Hassan Kachach returned to the stage to declaim the lyric poem Ardha falestine (The land of Palestine), by the Algerian Mohamed Badji, then interpreted, in Chaâbi style, by Kosseila Ajrad.

This song was widely popularized by Amar Zahi. Less known, the song Asbaha indi el an boundoukia (I now have a rifle) was then sung by Asma Alla, accompanied by the Algiers Opera Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lotfi Saïdi. Asbaha indi el an boundoukia is an epic style song performed as a duet in 1969 by Mohamed Abdelwahab and Oum Keltoum to a poem by Nizar Kabbani. The famous theme song of the Egyptian soap opera Raafat Al Haggan, composed by Amar Cherii, was then performed by the Symphony Orchestra conducted again by Missak Baghboudarian. 

“If we are to have another gala for Palestine, we must repeat tonight’s gala in every detail. I am delighted that Algerian, Syrian and Tunisian artists came together to play classical music and Andalusian music with a children’s choir and singers. All the artists said their word for Palestine this evening. We have said our word to the world…,” confided the Syrian maestro.

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

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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?

(continued from left column)

The flower of cities

He explained that the choice of La forza del destino is motivated by adopting a language that is addressed to the whole world, not just for audiences in the Arab region. 

“For Rafaat Al Haggan’s music, we were young when the soap opera was broadcast. We all dreamed of becoming like him,” he said. Directed at the end of the 1980s by Yehia El Alami, Rafaat Al Haggan, this three-season series tells the story of an Egyptian spy who hit the headlines in Israel in the 1950s.

The dancers of the Opera Ballet from Algiers then performed a Palestinian dabke to the famous song by Mohamed Assaf, Ala ahdi ala dini. The stage was then given over to Maria Saïdi and Nourelhouda Ghanoumat to sing Chedou baathkoum ya ahl falestine, a song made famous by an old Palestinian Halima Kessouani, since killed by Israeli soldiers. 

Zahratou al madayine (the flower of cities), the famous song of the Lebanese Fairouz, in homage to El Quds, was then taken up by Nada Rayhane, accompanied by the symphony orchestra and the choir of Algiers and Laghouat. 

Dressed in a red dress covered with a white cape, Manel Gharbi then sang Sayfoun fel youchhar (Let a sword be exhibited) by Fayrouz, a song dating from 1967, the year of the Six Day War, before continuing with Win el malayine (Where are the millions?). Produced during the first Intifada in the Palestinian Territories in 1987, Win el malayine, written and composed by the Libyans Ali Al Kilani and Abdullah Muhammad Mansour, was performed as a trio by the Lebanese Julia Boutros, the Tunisian Sawsan Hammami and the Syrian Amal Arafa.

“The artist’s message always reaches the heart”

Manuel Gharbi said, “I am proud to have participated in this gala singing this style for the first time, usually I sing Andalusian. I like this style. We are proud as artists to have participated in this evening of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Algeria has always stood in solidarity with the Palestinians and the Palestinian cause. The fact remains that the solidarity of artists is always important. The artist’s message always reaches the heart. Even if the entries for this evening are symbolic, the fact of coming together and showing solidarity remains important. I hope that the voice of artists reaches everywhere in the world.”  She has just produced a duet with Syrian singer Rasha Rizk, a song in tribute to Palestine, composed by Tarik Benouarka. Manel Gharbi wants the song’s video to be shot in Algeria. 

The evening closed with a cover of the cantata Carmina Burana by German composer Carl Orff, translated into Arabic by Rabah Kadem, and sung by the choir of Algiers and Laghouat. A choir directed by Zouhir Mazari.
The conductor Lotfi Saïdi said, “I salute the public who came in force. It is a way of expressing support for the Palestinians.  Proceeds from the evening will be donated entirely to the benefit of the Palestinian people. All the artists and institutions of the Algiers Opera took part in this gala. The artists fight in their own way, with music.”

Soraya Mouloudji, Minister of Culture and Arts, declared, for her part: “These international-level artistic works are all linked to the Palestinian cause. A national cause par excellence for Algeria, as underlined by the President of the Republic. Art does not exist solely for entertainment or joy, history has proven that often art is born out of pain and crisis. This evening, the voice of artists confronted obscurantism and the flagrant violation of human rights from which our Palestinian brothers suffer,” She praised “the great effort” made by Abdelkader Bouazzara, director of the Opera, to organize the show “in a short period of time”. 

“We discussed the possibility of organizing similar galas after two or three months to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people,” she said. 

For his part, Abdelkader Bouazzara announced that other shows will be organized at the Algiers Opera and did not rule out the possibility of a national tour. 

The solidarity gala with Palestine was broadcast live on the Echababia channel (Channel 6) and will be broadcast afterwards on all the channels of the ENTV group (ex-RTA). 

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The artists Mira Awad and Noa: voices for peace in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict


An article from enPositivo

Amid the chaos and tragedy that has marked the conflict between Israel and Gaza, the voices of Israeli singer Noa (Ahinoam Nini) and Arab-Israeli singer Mira Awad stand out as passionate calls for peace and coexistence. Representing a rare alliance between two seemingly opposing cultures, these artists have shared the stage and messages of hope over the years, seeking an alternative path to perpetual suffering and destruction.

In a world marked by tragedy and mistrust, these two exceptional voices represent beacons of hope, reminding us that, even in the midst of conflict, there is room for dialogue, understanding and, above all, the possibility of a more peaceful future.

This week (December 20) Noa and Mira Awad join forces again in a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic, whose funds will go to the Israeli forum that represents the relatives of the hostages in Gaza and to two women’s organizations for peace, one Israeli and the other Palestinian.

The talented Israeli singer Noa, known for representing Israel at Eurovision in 2009 in a duet for peace with Mira Awad, has strongly expressed her rejection of war and her firm support for the two-state solution. In a recent interview, Noa commented on the devastating events of October 7 and the subsequent bombings in Gaza, reinforcing her belief in the urgent need to end the conflict in the Middle East.

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

Question for this article:

Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?

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“I do not support the cult of death. We have to do everything possible to save and protect human life, whether Jewish, Israeli, Palestinian… all human life,” Noa emphasized. Her position in favor of a diplomatic solution backed by international intervention is clear: “I want international intervention tomorrow.”

Additionally, Ella Noa advocates for the release of all Israeli and Palestinian hostages as part of a possible plan to stop the violence. Highlighting the tragedy unfolding in Gaza, she calls for empathy and understanding of the suffering on both sides of the conflict.

For her part, Mira Awad, the first Arab to represent Israel in Eurovision alongside Noa, offers a unique vision as an artist and activist.

From her London home, Awad reflects on the horrors of October 7 and the subsequent escalation of violence in Gaza. “The alternative to peace is the hell we see now,” she states forcefully.

Awad highlights the pain that Gazans are going through and exposes the complexity of the conflict, underscoring her commitment to peace and the recognition of Palestinian rights. Although she recognizes the difficulties of dialogue in the midst of trauma, she advocates for mutual understanding and recognition.

Both artists, despite their differences, share a common vision: the importance of working tirelessly for peace.

The two-state solution, mutual respect and an end to violence remain the fundamental pillars of their joint message: “There has to be another way.”

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Artists for peace in Gaza


A survey by CPNN putting the term “artists for peace in Gaza” in search engines

On a global level, more than 4000 artists came together under the collective Musicians for Palestine, demanding a ceasefire as the war in Israel and Gaza continues. This was published by Euronews on November 23.

In the United Kingdom, on October 17, Artists for Palestine UK published a declaration “accusing governments of “aiding and abetting” Israel’s “war crimes” in Gaza”, stating that “Palestinians face “collective punishment on an unimaginable scale”, and demanding “Governments should “end their military and political support for Israel’s actions”. It was signed by over 4,300 producers, curators, writers, DJs, architects and designers.

Also in the United Kingdom, DJ Magazine published on November 15 an open letter #MusicForACeasefire signed by over 1000 artists.

In the United States, Artists4Ceasefire sent a letter signed by over 300 artists to President Biden saying “We ask that, as President of the United States, you and the US Congress call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Gaza and Israel before another life is lost.”

In South Africa, , The Artists’ Collective Project for Peace in Palestine announced on December 1, that “our first event brings together local artists in Cape Town to create a live mural in support of the Palestinian people. The event will be filmed and shared across various social media platforms.”

In France, French artists, including actressers Isabelle Adjani and Emmanuelle Beart, led a silent Paris march of thousands of people on November 19 for peace between Israelis and Palestinians

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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 Qatar, The Souq Waqif Art Centre in Doha – in a powerful expression of solidarity and a call for peace – will host an exhibition featuring around 26 paintings by Doha-based artists. These works focus on the dire conditions faced by Palestinians in Gaza and advocate for a lasting solution to the ongoing conflicts in the region.

In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Artists for Peace – Shadow Ban This! continues to hold concerts to raise funds for UAE’s Compassion for Gaza campaign. Dozens of performers, including artists, musicians and poets, have taken part in the events.

In Malaysia, more than 700 artists across acting, theater, music, and visual arts have endorsed a memorandum demanding that ASEAN nations halt economic ties with Israel until Gaza is safe and Palestinians are shielded from military attacks. In addition to launching the memorandum, the SEA Artists, Creatives & Cultural Activists for Peace, Stop Genocide in Gaza, read and diffused 31 monologues by Gazan youth.

In India, Odisha-based sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik creates a sculpture titled Solidarity With Humanity, as a symbolic prayer for peace between Israel and palestine.

In Canada, Artists for a Ceasefire Now published a statement on November 1 pledging support for the Palestinian people in the face of over 75 years of Israeli apartheid, settler colonialism, military occupation, and ethnic cleansing. The signature list numbers more than 2,000 artists.

Even in Israel there are artists opposing the war. The website lists several Israeli illustrators and cartoonists who have been finding ways to make meaning and communicate their heartbreak about the lives lost, the hostages and the trauma of war. 

As for Palestine, CPNN has recently carried the story of a young Palestinian artist who paints murals on the rubble of buildings that have been destroyed, “in order to send a strong message that we will remain on our land and never leave it.”

The biographies of Palestinian and Israeli writers and artists who have been killed or wounded in the Gaza conflict are published on an updated web page of PEN America

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The women leading the fight for peace in Palestine: Women in Black


An article from Open Democracy

On 4 October, thousands of women met in Jerusalem at an event led by the Israel-based Women Wage Peace and the Palestine-based Women of the Sun to discuss how to bring peace to the region. Three days later, one of the former group’s founding members, Canadian-Israeli activist Vivian Silver, was killed by Hamas in the deadliest attack on Israel in its 75-year history.

The women’s work has become much more difficult in the weeks since. Some 1,200 Israelis were killed in the attack and 160 taken hostage, more than 100 of whom are yet to be released. Israel has responded by reducing much of northern Gaza to rubble, killing 15,000 Palestinians and wounding 30,000 more.

Peace now seems a distant prospect. But the women have not given up hope. In a statement released on 14 October, Women Wage Peace said: “Every mother, Jewish and Arab, gives birth to her children to see them grow and flourish and not to bury them.

Branches of Women in Black lead silent vigils around the world to call for peace | Jesus Merida/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“That’s why, even today, amid the pain and the feeling that the belief in peace has collapsed, we extend a hand in peace to the mothers of Gaza and the West Bank.”

As Siobhan Byrne of the University of Alberta later said: “This was undoubtedly a difficult statement to write through their grief and anguish.”

Both Women Wage Peace and Women of the Sun are relatively recent movements for peace in the Middle East but another women-led group has been calling for Israelis to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza for 35 years.

Women in Black (WiB), a low-profile, remarkably persistent and very global movement, was launched in West Jerusalem in January 1988, prompted by the first intifada the previous year.

The group is distinctive in two main ways: firstly for the role of vigil in its fight for change and secondly, for its varying calls of witness, not just in war but more generally on violence against women.

Its protests often take the form of public vigils by small groups of women, dressed entirely in black, largely silent and bearing messages of their beliefs. The vigils are repeated, often on specific days of the week and in the same place, such as outside a mall or in a city square.

As for its calls of witness, they may vary with country or local circumstance, but they may have a common message of the need for peace, either in a specific conflict or on a generic issue, though they also extend to much more pervasive issues of gendered violence, both in time of war and in wider society.

Feminist activist and scholar Cynthia Cockburn, who was among the most persistent supporters of WiB, began to write a book on the history of the movement in February 2019. Though she sadly died later that year having written only the first five chapters, the book was completed, at her request, by Sue Finch, aided by copious files that Cockburn had left and by people in WiB groups from across the world.

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Questions related to this article:

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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

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Published earlier this year, Women in Black: Against Violence, for Peace with Justice tracks the development of the movement over more than three decades. It details how WiB is not a centrally organised entity but more a coalition of groups that snowballed across the world within six months of the movement’s start in Jerusalem.

Italian feminist activists, who had travelled to Israel and Palestine as part of a project called ‘Visiting Difficult Places’ in the late 1980s, joined WiB’s actions and took their approach back home. A feminist community in Belgrade, in what was then Federal Yugoslavia, in turn learned from them, and a similar approach evolved there. That group remained active throughout the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, bearing witness against the Bosnian and Kosovo wars.

Over time, WiB spread to Colombia, Germany, India, South Africa, Argentina and more than a dozen other countries spanning five continents, and nine international WiB conferences took place.

Introducing the book, Cynthia Cockburn summed up the movement’s evolution over the years, describing the differences between the various groups that had sprung up. “For some, especially those living through war,” she wrote, “theories about the relationship between gender and militarism are the most vital.

“Other women, living in relative peacetime choose combating male violence against individual women, and campaigning for the right to abortion, contraception and control over their own bodies, as the centre of their activism.

“The theories that connect Women in Black across the world, as a result, include the continuum of violence against women, and a causal relationship between gender and war.”

Women in Black is not a rigid centrally organised movement but has considerable autonomy between countries and branches. Any group of women in any part of the world may organise a vigil and while that is the most common action, responses may also involve nonviolent direct action at military bases or simply refusing to comply with orders.

A uniting feature is the value of the sense of solidarity, with women in one branch in a particular country knowing that if they bear witness to a particular happening or circumstance such as a specific conflict or incident of repression, they will be acting alongside a group in the country and also o9thersw across the world.

Because of its structure, the numbers involved in WiB may vary. Writing on its website, the movement gives one example: “When Women in Black in Israel/Palestine, as part of a coalition of Women for a Just Peace, called for vigils in June 2001 against the Occupation of Palestinian lands, at least 150 WiB groups across the world responded… The organisers estimate that altogether 10,000 women may have been involved.”

In recent years, Cockburn’s own writings, including on global disarmament and women peacemakers, have been highly influential. She worked in many regions of tension and conflict – including Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Israel/Palestine, Cyprus, South Korea, Spain and the UK – on a wide range of projects primarily focused on gender, war and peace-making.

Her work was paralleled by many years of activism, much of it stemming from an early visit to the Greenham Common women’s peace camp in 1980, and in 1993 she was heavily involved in establishing Women in Black in London. This book is certainly a very valuable contribution as a hugely informative account of the growth of what is now a worldwide movement but it is also a fitting remembrance of Cynthia Cockburn, a remarkable person.

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Artists in Turkey: Let us be a voice for peace


An article from ANF News

In an urgent appeal to the public, hundreds of artists from Turkey called for negotiations on a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question. The declaration “Let us be a voice for peace”, signed by 564 personalities, was presented today at the Taksim Hill Hotel in Istanbul. Among the signatories are prominent names such as musician Cevdet Bağca, writer Ayşegül Devecioğlu, art critic and painter Feyyaz Yaman, author Firat Cewerî, director Haşim Aydemir, actress Jülide Kural, musician Mikail Aslan, documentary filmmaker Nejla Demirci, photographer Özcan Yaman, painter Sevinç Altan, author Şanar Yurdatapan and director and DEM deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder.

Writer Ayşegül Devecioğlu read the declaration, the full text of which reads as follows:

“We, the undersigned people of art and literature, would like to share with the public our objection to the obstacles preventing the Republic from attaining a democratic, populist and libertarian character in its second century. Concerned about the future of Turkey, we wish to be a modest voice in this environment of multiple crises. If we remain silent today, there may be no one left to speak tomorrow.

We, the people of art and literature, who will not stand by and watch Turkey waste another century, propose to weave together a future in which all ethnic, religious and cultural identities live freely and are not oppressed or subjected to pogroms.

We have the responsibility to speak a new word, to form a new sentence in this muddy ground where the legislature is under the pressure of the government, the independent judiciary has lost its independence under the ‘one man regime’, secular and free education has fallen behind the times, trustees have been appointed to universities and people’s municipalities, women are subjected to violence, brain drain has reached an extreme level, and youth are leaving the country out of fear for their future.

We believe that we need a new way of looking and seeing in this atmosphere of deepening social and economic crises, where democratic possibilities are excluded in solving problems arising from denial and assimilation, and violence is constantly updated as a policy.

For a hundred years, many humanitarian demands for rights, especially the democratic demands of the Kurds and the freedom of belief of Alevis, were postponed, not resolved, and consolidated by the governments as a phenomenon of separation between our peoples. The divisions between peoples and cultures have been deepened.

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Question for this article:

Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?, What is, or should be, their role in our movement?

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Pressurized by multiple crises, public opinion is under heavy manipulation by the government. Those who govern Turkey are distracting the public from the real agenda with secondary agendas. Isolation practices have turned into a management apparatus in the hands of the autocratic government. Society is under an ideological and political siege. Isolation and war policies deepen social and economic crises.

Thousands of people are unlawfully imprisoned for their political views and are almost political hostages. Practices in prisons that violate human rights are increasing day by day. Thousands of political prisoners are currently on hunger strike against isolation practices. The demands of political prisoners on hunger strike must be listened to and resolved through negotiations.

We believe that Turkey’s problems should be solved through negotiation. Starting in 2013, the ‘Resolution Process’, which created great hope for reconciliation among the people, was a valuable experiment. Negotiations with Abdullah Öcalan, one of the interlocutors of the issue, created the possibilities for peace. With the consent of a large part of society, the process can start again. Society must be courageous for peace. It should not be afraid to dialog and talk.

It is our open call to everyone in the position of interlocutor; the conditions set forth by universal law and human rights need to be fulfilled without hesitation by the political representatives of the time. The government must abandon the politics of oppression, isolation and war. We believe that these ideas and suggestions by people of art and literature will be embraced by all those who desire the construction of social peace.”

Speaking at the meeting, Feyyaz Yaman from Karşı Sanat (Counter Art) said that they came together to “protect peace”. Yaman said, “But while doing this, our framework has been in the field of art. Art has never experienced such an environment of violence, victimization and injustice as today. Its voice has never been silenced like this. In each of these situations, we see that this silence is not only due to the economic difficulties experienced by artists. Artists cannot perform, writers cannot write their books. The real reason for this whole crisis is that the social consensus has also broken down at the legal level. This silencing environment we are experiencing all over the world today prompts us to seek our rights. If art is to speak a critical language, then it must first weave rights and the coexistence of peoples. We invite artists to stand together against those who continuously impose a process of extermination and to claim this need. We have something to do for this, we need to produce a process of real dialogue. We have to bring together and defend the injustices we have suffered in this environment of differences on our common ground of righteousness. As those who believe in the power of art, we invite everyone to re-establish this peace.”

See also French artists and intellectuals: Let us be a voice for peace

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Algeria: National Graffiti Festival-Sétif; Fethi Mjahed wins 1st Prize


An article from L’Expression (translation by CPNN)

The artist Fethi Mjahed from Tiaret won the Best Graffiti Prize on Thursday at the end of the fifth edition of the National Graffiti Festival which opened Monday in Sétif for his optimistic work. Second and third places went respectively to Hamza Mokrani from Khenchela and Salah-Eddine Adhimi from Sétif.

(click on image to enlarge)

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

Question related to this article:
Can popular art help us in the quest for truth and justice?

In a statement to APS, Nacer Fadli, president of the organizing committee and director of the Office of Youth Establishments (ODEJ) of Sétif, recalled that “40 artists from several wilayas took part in this traditional event organized by the league of cultural and scientific activities of young people in concert with the Odej and the direction of youth and sports as part of the implementation of the annual program of the supervisory ministry

Unlike previous editions during which the participants drew on the walls in different places in the city, the organizers opted this year to put the grafitti on wooden panels on the square adjoining the Sétif amusement park. The panels can then be used to decorate certain establishments or participate in other competitions, said Mr. Fadli.

The objective of the festival is to make these works of art a means of raising awareness of citizenship and the dissemination of the culture of peace, while allowing young people to exchange their experiences and participate in local activities, added the head of Odej.

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