Tag Archives: Mideast

UNAOC Announces Call for Applications for the 2022 Edition of its Fellowship Programme

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An announcement from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is pleased to launch the Call for Applications for the 2022 edition of its Fellowship Programme. The Call is open to participants between 25 to 35 years old, from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America, with a strong interest in intercultural exchanges and intercultural cooperation to challenge and deconstruct hate speech and stereotypes.

The theme of the Fellowship 2022 is “Countering discrimination and racism: the nexus to building pluralistic and diverse societies”. The choice of the theme stems from UNAOC’s core mandate of tackling racism and discrimination and finding ways to addressing root causes of polarization within and between societies.

The context of the current global challenges is more complex than ever before. Recent years have witnessed the rise of discrimination against various groups and hate crimes targeting vulnerable populations, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which revealed that no society is spared. Growing intolerance, xenophobia, discrimination, and hate speech pose an enormous threat to international peace and security. Peace is the central promise of the Charter of the United Nations and one of the principal global public goods the United Nations was established to deliver (Our Common Agenda, The report of the Secretary-General). Thus, investing in prevention and peacebuilding is paramount to building pluralistic and diverse societies.

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Question related to this article:
 
Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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Discrimination and racism take many forms and impact all aspects of life. All of these can hinder the efforts of the international community to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The 2022 Fellowship Programme is designed to provide an excellent platform to build bridges across cultures, borders and beliefs and thus contribute towards achieving the Agenda 2030.

Intercultural dialogue represents an important tool to prevent conflict and build social cohesion, peace and stability. As a mainstay of UNAOC’s work, intercultural dialogue will remain a central focus of the Fellowship agenda with visits and activities aiming at providing participants with crucial comprehension tools to help them understand the plurality and the complexity of their surroundings, and to get an extensive grasp of their host country’s culture, politics, society, religion, media and more.

To be selected, candidates must be able to present professional achievements related to the theme. The Call will lead to the selection of a group of 8 young leaders from Europe, North-America (EUNA) and a group of 8 young leaders from the Middle East and North-Africa (MENA) who will travel together to selected countries in both regions for two weeks.

The goal of the Fellowship is to challenge perceptions and deconstruct stereotypes by providing participants with first hand exposure to cultural diversity. In every country they visit, UNAOC Fellows will interact with a wide range of local stakeholders. Together, they will explore opportunities for intercultural collaboration and exchange ideas and good practices on building pluralistic and diverse societies as a foundation for sustainable peace.

Candidates have until Sunday, 5 June 2022, 11:59 PM EDT to apply.

APPLY AS A EUNA CANDIDATE

APPLY AS A MENA CANDIDATE

Palestine: Tears and hope from the last few days

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

A blog by Mazin Qumsiyeh
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A world renowned journalist Shireen AbuAqleh was intentionally murdered by an Israeli sniper in Jenin. Millions of tears were shed for her including ours at the Palestne Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (palestinenature.org). We planted ten trees in her honor. The constellation of events and circumstances and her background actually were so amazing that it provided a huge dose of sadness but also a big ray of hope for us.

Jenin, where she was murdered, is a center of heroic resistance to occupation (resistance not suported by any government, international or even Palestinian). She was a journalist and wearing protective blue journalist vest and helmet. Thus she mobilized the media. She was beloved by every Palestinian home for her coverage of their daily miseries inflected by foreign occupiers for decades. She was a US Citizen thus exposed by her death the hypocrisy of the Zionist run state department that like with Rachel Corrie and other US citizens killed by Israel (a “special country immune from accountability because of a strong lobby in Washington DC). Her body underwent autopsy in Nablus att a Palestinian Medical School then taken to Ramallah and then to Jerusalem. That she is a Jerusalemite with both her Parents burried there was fortuitous bliss. She was also Christian and all Christian churches in Jerusalem rang their bells. Muslims prayed for her on their holy day in Friday just before she was burried. Millions watched and thousands participated in her burial in Jerusalem on a Friday. Mourners were Christians, Muslims, and conscientious Jews and adorned with Palestinian flags (forbidden by the Israeli occupation forces).

Occupation forces then attacked the funeral including pallbearers of Shireen after they murdered her. Here are the shocking video from different angles
Youtube-1
Youtube-2
Facebook

Initial investigations and human righst statements on the murder of Shireen:
AlHaq investigation
BTselem
Amnesty

The hypocrisy of the west is becoming even more blatant. In the murder of Shireen Aby Aqleh, they simply “call for investigation”. But Shireen was reporter number 49 murdered by occupation forces and certainly Israel murdered tens of thousands of civilians (including American citizens like Rachel Corrie). They always got away with it. Here is what the state department said about a reporter of the same age as Shireen killed in Ukraine: “We are horrified that journalists and filmmakers—noncombatants—have been killed and injured in Ukraine by Kremlin forces. This is yet another gruesome example of the Kremlin’s indiscriminate actions.” They did not call on the Kremlin to “investigate”. Now imagine if they were not hypocritical and said the same thing about Shireen. It would read: “We are horrified that journalists and filmmakers—noncombatants—have been killed and injured in Palestine by Zionist forces. This is yet another gruesome example of the Zionists’ indiscriminate actions.”

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Question for this article

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

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We did not hear of sanctions let alone ramping up pressure against the Zionist regime for doing a hundred fold more than Russia did in Ukraine. Like with South Africa, governments supported apartheid, people opposed it and engaged in demanding and putting together programs for boycott, divestments and sanction (BDS – see BDSmovement.net). Western corporate media is also complicit and must be challenged.

How the media failed in their duty to honor one of their own

Meanwhile this same week, the Israeli regime with US government support approved removal of over 1200 people from the homes in South Hebron hills and simultaneously announced thousands of new housing units in illegal colonial settlements in the illegally occupied areas (both violations of international law). The announcement of 4427 new units was done after lengthy negotiations with the US who also was given greenlight from AIPAC to state they oppose them (even though they actually approved and funded them). The EU also produced empty words of opposition while continuing to fund the occupiers/colonizers. Here is what Jewish Voice for Peace (braver tahn all these arab and western governments) said on one incident: “Taking advantage of Palestinians’ grief [over the murder of Shireen], American Jewish settlers took over a Palestinian home in Hebron, known to Palestinians as Al Khalil before its Judaization. This theft of Palestinian homes by foreigners is a feature of Zionism, not a bug. Settlers — and of course their Palestinian victims — are clear on this. ‘We are continuing the Zionist endeavor of redeeming the Land, said Shlomo Levinger, a representative for the settler families said. And by “redeeming the land,” they mean Judaizing it, erasing Palestinians’ history and connection to it, and ethnically cleansing the Palestinians who live on it. To prevent future settler home theft, we must oppose Zionism, which has always required the forced displacement of Palestinians — as both early Zionists and today’s settlers have made explicit.”

Shireen’s voice is amplified by her murder just like Nizar Banat’s murder and just like >110,000 civilians murdered here in Palestine since Zionists arrived from Europe. We must amplify victims’ voices especially in cases like this where the constellation of events are what they are. Shireen was our voice to the world and now we must be her voice. A Jerusalem main street was taken over by its rightful owners – Palestinians with Palestinian flags and sounds of Christian and Muslim prayers. Shireen plby her sacrifice list the road for resistance and resilience. Her coffin, carried by Muslims and Christians, reminded us of what beauty and unity was like in Jerusalem before this horrific gruesome occupation. It was a sign of hope and it is a beacon of courage despite the overtime hasbara/propaganda that spends billions to keep western audiences in teh dark. We must redouble our efforts to end this nightmare and liberate Palestine. The harder we work the quicker this will happen and this in turn saves lives. 23-year old Palestinian Walid Al-Sharif died of wounds sustained two weeks ago in Al-Aqsa mosque by occupation forces who attacked Muslim worshippers. We all must say enough is enough of this. EVERYONE is called upon to act in their capacity to end this nightmare (exposing Western Hypocrisy is just one of many tools)

David Shulman- Israel Prize Winner on South Hebron hills

A great speech by Charlie Chaplain during the heat of the horrible 1940s when Hitler whipped-up hatred in the name of safety for the German people as the Zionist regime does today. Still valid today if people would listen. How much better we would be if Zionists stop regurgitating hate and oppression that was inflicted on hundreds of millions throughout the ages. Listen to these very powerful words

Amnesty International : Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

A report from Amnesty International

In May 2021, Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, began protesting against Israel’s plan to forcibly evict them from their homes to make way for Jewish settlers. Many of the families are refugees, who settled in Sheikh Jarrah after being forcibly displaced around the time of Israel’s establishment as a state in 1948. Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank in 1967, Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah have been continuously targeted by Israeli authorities, who use discriminatory laws to systematically dispossess Palestinians of their land and homes for the benefit of Jewish Israelis.


video by Amnesty

In response to the demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah, thousands of Palestinians across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) held their own protests in support of the families, and against their shared experience of fragmentation, dispossession, and segregation. These were met with excessive and deadly force by Israeli authorities with thousands injured, arrested and detained.

The events of May 2021 were emblematic of the oppression which Palestinians have faced every day, for decades. The discrimination, the dispossession, the repression of dissent, the killings and injuries – all are part of a system which is designed to privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians.

This is apartheid.

Amnesty International’s new investigation shows that Israel imposes a system of oppression and domination against Palestinians across all areas under its control: in Israel and the OPT, and against Palestinian refugees, in order to benefit Jewish Israelis. This amounts to apartheid as prohibited in international law.

Laws, policies and practices which are intended to maintain a cruel system of control over Palestinians, have left them fragmented geographically and politically, frequently impoverished, and in a constant state of fear and insecurity.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT

WHAT IS APARTHEID?

Apartheid is a violation of public international law, a grave violation of internationally protected human rights, and a crime against humanity under international criminal law.

The term “apartheid” was originally used to refer to a political system in South Africa which explicitly enforced racial segregation, and the domination and oppression of one racial group by another. It has since been adopted by the international community to condemn and criminalize such systems and practices wherever they occur in the world.

The crime against humanity of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention, the Rome Statute and customary international law is committed when any inhuman or inhumane act (essentially a serious human rights violation) is perpetrated in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, with the intention to maintain that system.

Apartheid can best be understood as a system of prolonged and cruel discriminatory treatment by one racial group of members of another with the intention to control the second racial group.

TAKE OUR COURSE

Amnesty International has created a free 90-minute course called “Deconstructing Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians”. To learn more about the crime of apartheid in international law, what apartheid looks like in Israel/OPT, and how it affects Palestinians’ lives, sign up to our course on Amnesty International’s human rights education academy.

WHY IS AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGNING AGAINST APARTHEID?

Apartheid is not acceptable anywhere in the world. So why has the world accepted it against Palestinians?

Human rights have long been side-lined by the international community when dealing with the decades-long struggle and suffering of Palestinians. Palestinians facing the brutality of Israel’s repression have been calling for an understanding of Israel’s rule as apartheid for over two decades. Over time, a broader international recognition of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as apartheid has begun to take shape.

Yet, governments with the responsibility and power to do something have refused to take any meaningful action to hold Israel accountable. Instead, they have been hiding behind a moribund peace process at the expense of human rights and accountability. Unfortunately, the situation today is one of no progress towards a just solution and worsening human rights for Palestinians.

Amnesty is calling for Israel to end the international wrong, and crime, of apartheid, by dismantling measures of fragmentation, segregation, discrimination, and deprivation, currently in place against the Palestinian population.

TELL ISRAEL: DEMOLISH APARTHEID, NOT PALESTINIAN HOMES

The Palestinian experience of being denied a home is at the heart of Israel’s apartheid system. That’s why, as a first step towards dismantling this system, we are calling on Israel to end the practice of home demolitions.

Palestinian families need people to stand with them against injustice and discrimination, by taking action to help them protect their homes.

TAKE ACTION

ISRAEL’S SYSTEM OF OPPRESSION AND DOMINATION OF PALESTINIANS

Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, successive governments have created and maintained a system of laws, policies, and practices designed to oppress and dominate Palestinians. This system plays out in different ways across the different areas where Israel exercises control over Palestinians’ rights, but the intent is always the same: to privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians.

Israeli authorities have done this through four main strategies:

Fragmentation into domains of control: At the heart of the system is keeping Palestinian separated from each other into distinct territorial, legal and administrative domains

Dispossession of land and property: Decades of discriminatory land and property seizures, home demolitions and forced evictions

Segregation and control: A system of laws and policies that keep Palestinians restricted to enclaves, subject to several measures that control their lives, and segregated from Jewish Israelis

Deprivation of economic & social rights: The deliberate impoverishment of Palestinians keeping them at great disadvantage in comparison to Jewish Israelis

FRAGMENTATION INTO DOMAINS OF CONTROL

In the course of establishing Israel as a Jewish state in 1948, Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages, in what amounted to ethnic cleansing.

Since then, successive governments have designed laws and policies to ensure the continued fragmentation of the Palestinian population. Palestinians are confined to enclaves in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the refugee communities, where they are subject to different legal and administrative regimes. This has had the effect of undermining family, social and political ties between Palestinian communities and suppressing sustained dissent against the apartheid system; it also helps to maximise Jewish Israeli control over land and maintain a Jewish demographic majority.

Millions of Palestinians remain displaced as refugees and continue to be physically isolated from those residing in Israel and the OPT through Israel’s continuous denial of their right to return to their homes, towns and villages.

DISPOSSESSION OF LAND AND PROPERTY

Since 1948, Israel has enforced massive and cruel land seizures to dispossess Palestinians of their land and homes. Although Palestinians in Israel and the OPT are subjected to different legal and administrative regimes, Israel has used similar land expropriation measures across all areas – for example, since 1948, Israel has expropriated land in areas of strategic importance that include significant Palestinian populations such as the Galilee and the Negev/Naqab, and used similar measures in the OPT following Israel’s military occupation in 1967. In order to maximize Jewish Israeli control over land and minimize the Palestinian presence, Palestinians have been confined to separate, densely populated enclaves. While Israeli policies have allowed for the discriminatory allocation of state land to be used almost exclusively to benefit Jewish Israelis both inside of Israel and in the OPT.

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(click here for the article in French or click here for the article in Spanish.).)

Question related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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SEGREGATION AND CONTROL

Successive Israeli governments have pursued a strategy of establishing domination through discriminatory laws and policies which segregate Palestinians into enclaves, based on their legal status and residence.

Israel denies Palestinian citizens their rights to equal nationality and status, while Palestinians in the OPT face severe restrictions on freedom of movement. Israel also restricts Palestinians’ rights to family unification in a profoundly discriminatory manner: for example, Palestinians from the OPT cannot gain residency or citizenship through marriage, which Jewish Israelis can.

Israel also places severe limitations on Palestinians’ civil and political rights, to suppress dissent and maintain the system of oppression and domination. For example, millions of Palestinians in the West Bank remain subject to Israel’s military rule and draconian military orders adopted since 1967.

DEPRIVATION OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RIGHTS

These measures have left Palestinians marginalized, impoverished and economically disadvantaged across Israel and the OPT.

Decades of discriminatory allocation of resources by Israeli authorities, for the benefit of Jewish Israeli citizens in Israel and Israeli settlers in the OPT, compound these inequalities. For example, millions of Palestinians inside of Israel and East Jerusalem live in densely populated areas that are generally underdeveloped and lack adequate essential services such as garbage collection, electricity, public transportation and water and sanitation infrastructure.

Palestinians across all areas under Israel’s control have fewer opportunities to earn a living and engage in business than Jewish Israelis. They experience discriminatory limitations on access to and use of farmland, water, gas and oil amongst other natural resources, as well as restrictions on the provision of health, education and basic services.

In addition, Israeli authorities have appropriated the vast majority of Palestinians’ natural resources in the OPT for the economic benefit of Jewish citizens in Israel and in the illegal settlements.

LIFE UNDER APARTHEID

DENIED A HOME: DEMOLITIONS AND FORCED EVICTIONS

Palestinians are systematically subjected to home demolitions and forced evictions, and live in constant fear of losing their homes.

For more than 73 years, Israel has been forcibly displacing entire Palestinian communities. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians’ homes have been demolished, causing terrible trauma & suffering. More than 6 million Palestinians remain refugees, the vast majority of whom live in refugee camps including outside of Israel/OPT. There are over 100,000 Palestinians in the OPT and another 68,000 inside of Israel at imminent risk of losing their homes, many for the second or third time.

Palestinians are caught in a Catch-22 situation. Israel requires them to obtain a permit to build or even erect a structure such as a tent, but – unlike Jewish Israeli applicants – rarely issues them a permit. Many Palestinians are forced to build without permits. Israel then demolishes Palestinian homes on the basis that they were built “illegally”. Israel uses these discriminatory planning and zoning policies to create unbearable living conditions to force Palestinians to leave their homes to allow for the expansion of Jewish settlement.

Mohammed Al-Rajabi, a resident of Al-Bustan area in Silwan, whose home was demolished by Israeli authorities on 23 June 2020 on the basis that it was built “illegally”, described to Amnesty International the devastating impact on his family:

FRAGMENTED LOVE: SEPARATION OF PALESTINIAN FAMILIES

Israel has enacted discriminatory laws and policies that disrupt family life for Palestinians. Since 2002, Israel has adopted a policy of prohibiting Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from gaining status in Israel or East Jerusalem through marriage, thus preventing family unification.

Israel has long used discriminatory laws and policies to separate Palestinians from their families. For example, Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza cannot gain legal status in Israel or occupied East Jerusalem through marriage, denying their rights to family unification. This policy has forced thousands of Palestinians to live apart from their loved ones; others are forced to go abroad, or live in constant fear of being arrested, expelled or deported.

These measures explicitly target Palestinians, and not Jewish Israelis, and are primarily guided by demographic considerations that aim to minimize Palestinian presence inside Israel/OPT.

Sumaia, was born and raised in Lod in central Israel. She married her husband, who is from the Gaza Strip, in 1998 and he moved to live with her in Lod. In 2000, Sumaia and her husband began the process of applying for family unification, so they could live together legally. The family unification process took 18 years, during which the couple lived in fear and anxiety. Sumaia told Amnesty International:

UNDER SIEGE

Over the past 14 years, more than 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been living under Israel’s illegal blockade. Along with four major military offensives, the blockade has had catastrophic consequences for the people of Gaza.

The blockade is a form of collective punishment. It forces Gaza’s population – the majority of whom are refugees or their descendants who fled in 1948 – to live in increasingly dire conditions. There are severe shortages of housing, drinking water, electricity, essential medicines and medical care, food, educational equipment and building materials. In 2020, Gaza had the world’s highest unemployment rate, and more than half of its population was living below the poverty line.

On 30 March 2018, Palestinians in Gaza launched the Great March of Return, a series of weekly mass demonstrations along the fence between Gaza and Israel.

They were demanding their right to return to their villages and towns in what is now Israel, as well as an end to Israel’s blockade on Gaza. The response was brutal: by the end of 2019, Israeli forces had killed 214 civilians, including 46 children, and injured more than 8,000 others with live ammunition. A total of 156 of those injured had to have limbs amputated. More than 1,200 patients require long-term, complex and expensive therapy and rehabilitation, and tens of thousands more require psycho-social support -none of which are widely available in Gaza.

The blockade prevents Palestinians from accessing adequate healthcare, in particular life-saving and other emergency medical treatment only available outside Gaza. The Israeli authorities often delay these permits and sometimes fail to provide them at all.

Adham Al-Hajjar, 36, is a freelance journalist and lives in Gaza City. On 6 April 2018, while he was covering the Great March of Return demonstrations, Israeli snipers positioned along the fence separating Gaza from Israel shot him. He is unable to get the medical help he needs in Gaza because of the debilitated health services there.

CRIMINAL PATTERNS

Israel has been systematically committing serious human rights violations against Palestinians for decades. Violations such as forcible transfer, administrative detention, torture, unlawful killings and serious injuries, and the denial of basic rights and freedoms have been well documented by Amnesty and others. It is clear that Israel’s apartheid system is being maintained through committing these abuses—which have been perpetrated with almost total impunity.

They form part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian population, carried out within the context of Israel’s institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination over Palestinians, and therefore constitute crimes against humanity of apartheid.

DISMANTLING THE SYSTEM

There is no place for apartheid in our world. It is a crime against humanity, and it has to end.

Israeli authorities have enjoyed impunity for too long. The international failure to hold Israel to account means Palestinians are still suffering every single day. It’s time to speak up, to stand with Palestinians and tell Israel that we will not tolerate apartheid.

For decades, Palestinians have been calling for an end to the oppression they live under. All too often, they pay a terrible price for standing up for their rights, and they have long been calling for others around the world to help them.

Let this be the beginning of an end to Israel’s system of apartheid against Palestinians.

Join us in the fight for justice, freedom, and equality for all.

TELL ISRAEL: DEMOLISH APARTHEID, NOT PALESTINIAN HOMES

The Palestinian experience of being denied a home is at the heart of Israel’s apartheid system. That’s why, as a first step towards dismantling this system, we are calling on Israel to end the practice of home demolitions.

Palestinian families need people to stand with them against injustice and discrimination, by taking action to help them protect their homes.

TAKE ACTION

Further Reading

Q&A: Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity

Phyllis Kotite has passed away

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An obituary from the facebook page of the Academic University for Non-Violence & Human Rights – AUNOHR

(Phyllis Kotite was a reporter and frequent contributor to CPNN) Here is her obituary from the Academic University for Non-Violence & Human Rights in her beloved homeland of Lebanon.)

Our very dear friend, the first member to join the Council of Fellows of AUNOHR, has passed away last week in Paris. Although she was more than 90 years old, she was at the peak of her intellectual prowess and she maintained her ever energetic and generous spirit.


Click on image to enlarge

One of the first Lebanese women to work at the UN in New York, and then at UNESCO in Paris, Phyllis continued to serve as a consultant and contributor to peace-building and non-violence education as well as conflict prevention programmes.

She was a born into a Lebanese family (Marjeyoun; South Lebanon) that immigrated to the United States of America at the beginning of the last century. However, she chose to build strong relations with her homeland and she actively immersed herself in all the challenging affairs that Lebanon was going through. She was an influential activist who decided that her ties to Lebanon and the Arab World should not be merely a matter of family heritage, but a matter of significant social change. She was a firm secularist whose beliefs were never compromised when sectarian warfare raged in Lebanon and she always remained true to her ideals.

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Question related to this article:
 
Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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

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She always sought to utilize her international relations and networks to support hundreds of individuals and tens of civil society organizations from all countries, especially Arab countries, as well to advocate social change causes and political and cultural liberation causes. This was especially true for Lebanon and for the Palestinian cause. She was most drawn to working with youth whom she saw as the face of the future.

Not a week would pass without her suggesting a new initiative to our university. She always sought to build new connections and networking opportunities, and she would relentlessly reach out to others, develop plans and open various horizons for future growth. She was incredibly generous and she always gave us her unwavering support, for she was convinced that the establishment of a university to spread the culture of non-violence and human rights in the Arab World was a unique and momentous undertaking, and that it was nothing short of a “heroic act”.

She offered all this incredible support while she was all on her own, with no institutions or office staff assisting her. Up until her last day, she continued to independently live by herself. She was an avid lover of music, arts, and culture. She was also an enthusiastic reader and a seeker of knowledge, and she was active in multiple initiatives and organizations.

Two days before her passing, she messaged Dr. Ogarit Younan, to send her regards and propose ideas for the MOU with Birzeit University. She had been a close friend to the founders of AUNOHR since the early nineties. Over the years, she offered several lectures for trainees, including some who have pursued this interest to become students at the university. Her lectures were on the topic of conflict prevention and she distributed her 2012 UNESCO publication on the topic to many of the students.

It was hard for anyone to guess her age given how she led her life with such youthfulness and passion. She was always dynamic and positive, no matter what the circumstances were, and she was a spontaneous and natural giver, without once weighing what she would get in return.

A loving and giving person never truly passes away, for love has never been held back by death.

Goodbye Phyllis Koteit, with our love.

The Elders: Israel’s designation of Palestinian NGOs as “terrorist” undermines core democratic principles

    . . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

    A press release from The Elders

    The Elders express their grave concern at Israel’s recent designation of several Palestinian civil society organisations as “terrorist”, and wider misuse of anti-terrorism frameworks to restrict civil society.


    Photo: joiseyshowaa

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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?

    Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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    Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia, Nobel Peace Laureate and member of The Elders, said: 

    “Israel’s recent designation of six Palestinian NGOs as “terrorist organisations” is part of a wider pattern of repression of Palestinian and Israeli civil society, and undermines core democratic principles. Global anti-terrorism frameworks such as the Financial Action Task Force standards should not be misused to restrict the legitimate work of civil society. Any designation must be proportionate and evidence-based. I urge the Israeli government to lift the designation or provide sufficient justification of it, and to recommit to the preservation of civic space and democratic freedoms.”

    Hina Jilani, human rights advocate, Co-chair – Task Force on Justice, said:

    “Human rights defenders and wider civil society play an indispensable role in our democracies.  When they are silenced, governments can no longer be held accountable. The designation of six Palestinian NGOs as “terrorist organisations” by Israel without adequate explanation puts their vital work and survival at risk, and sets a dangerous precedent. The Elders stand in solidarity with the NGOs, and call on donor governments to stand firm in their support for Palestinian civil society.”

Mauritania: establishment of a new network of mayors to consolidate citizenship

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from Sahara Medias (translation by CPNN)

The creation of a network of mayors to promote citizenship and the consecration of social cohesion and the culture of peace was announced on Monday in Nouakchott.

This new network includes all the mayors of Mauritania. According to the Minister of the Interior and Decentralization Mohamed Salem O. Merzoug, “It constitutes an important step in the framework of the preservation of the values ​​of the nation-state” .

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(Click here for the French version of this article)

Question related to this article:
 
How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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The minister added that the new network promotes a culture of citizenship, the consolidation of social cohesion in the aftermath of the birth of the commemoration of a new independence.

The creation of this network, adds ould Merzoug, is the best indicator for a promising development of state building and the protection of the nation.

The minister again said that the new creation is the path leading to the birth of a Mauritanian citizen in a unified space, convinced of unity and participatory democracy that leaves no room for negative divisions.

The creation of this network, adds the minister, will strengthen the system of democratic practice in a new era that began more than two years ago with the election of Mohamed O. Cheikh Ghazouani as president of the republic.

Ould Merzoug reaffirmed the government’s readiness to support this new creation and its objectives, thus devoting the support of the President of the Republic to the decentralization process, the strengthening of the mechanisms of local democratic culture, as a fundamental basis for local and regional development.

Tunisia: Inter-Religious Conference in Tunis On International Day for Tolerance

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from All Africa

 The celebration of the International Day for Tolerance aims at enshrining the principles of peaceful coexistence between citizens of the same country, regardless of their cults and beliefs, said participants in the inter-religious conference held Tuesday (November 16) in Tunis at the initiative of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

The participants also stressed the role of culture and education in consolidating the values of tolerance and openness, saying that Tunisia is a platform for peace.

Minister of Religious Affairs Brahim Chaïbi said that the conference aims to bring children of the same country closer together and to overcome the barriers of religion.

He called on the men of faith representing the three great monotheistic religions to unite in the service of peace, humanity and the homeland, “spared until now by interfaith conflicts and discord”, warning against any attempt to stir up tensions using the sacred as a pretext for fomenting crises that run counter to the values of tolerance and peace advocated by the religions.

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

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

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Minister of Cultural Affairs Hayet Ktat Guarmazi stressed that the celebration of the International Day for Tolerance reflects the deep conviction that peace, peaceful coexistence and respect for religious diversity are indispensable and essential to enable the world to combat all forms of fanaticism that lead to hatred and violence.

She recalled that inter-religious dialogue imposes tolerance as a social, political and economic requirement, adding that her department works, in collaboration with other ministries, to establish the values of culture, art, beauty, positivity and building bridges, as vectors of tolerance and peace in society.

The Mufti of the Republic Othmane Battikh explained that tolerance implies an ease in contact and relations with others, far from any rancour, rejection and hatred. He recalled that Tunisia has always been a land of tolerance, even before the arrival of Islam, and that these values have been anchored in Tunisians throughout the ages and are perfectly consistent with the founding principles of international laws and charters.

Father Jawad Alamat, representative of the Catholic Church of Tunis, said that the Church works to spread the culture of peace through an open discourse that welcomes Muslims to all festivals and religious ceremonies, in addition to opening its library to Tunisian researchers and thinkers and encouraging, through the Catholic school of Tunis and in collaboration with civil society, the building of a tolerant and supportive society.

Moshe Wazan, Deputy Chief Rabbi of Tunisia, stressed the importance of such conferences which bring together representatives of various religions, adding that faith remains a private matter and that religious diversity in Tunisia is not an obstacle to peaceful coexistence among Tunisians.

Leila Ben Sassi, Director of the National Observatory of Education, stressed, in her speech on behalf of the Minister of Education, the essential role of schools in developing a sense of citizenship and raising awareness of tolerance and openness to all religions and civilisations.

A message from Palestine: This is the time to re-imagine, re-create and restore.

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An post from the Facebook page of the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability

A few days ago we were sent a message about the failure of political leaders to change the catastrophic situation we are facing for our planet. One can attest to many things: 85% of the world’s wetlands lost, 50% of reefs died since 1950 (14% since 2010), a third of forests disappeared, and a 15% increase in the global consumption of individual materials since 1980, and bees decreased 40% (the bees) Crops Which depend on insects for vaccination is 36% of the world crops), humans were less than 1% of the breast biological mass and now humans and our hybrid animals have become 96% of the mammals biocals and soon there will be more plastic than fish in the planet’s water

This is the time for work. This is the time to re-imagine, re-create and restore….

1) We held a workshop to launch work on the National Biodiversity Strategy and Work Plan (NBSAP) for Palestine. This is based on our work on the National Biodiversity Report of the Diversity Agreement (posted here. ). Director General of Natural Resources in the Environment Quality Authority, Dr. Issa Adwan, opened the workshop, who pointed out that the national strategy for biodiversity contributes to supporting Palestine commitments globally and locally to a healthy planet even in the face of colonial occupation.

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Question for this article:

If we can connect up the planet through Internet, can’t we agree to preserve the planet?

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Professor Mazen presented a presentation on the mechanism of building strategies and national work plans for biodiversity including examples of strategies for other countries. Mr. Mohammed Mohasna, Director of Biodiversity Management in Environmental Quality Authority, presented the roles of stakeholders including organizing a weekly workshop on key topics every Thursday 11 am Palestine Time for the next six months. The meeting is here – in two parts (Let us know if you would like to participate and/or help in this crucial project).

2) Participate in Rotary meetings for Palestine and House of Meat to plan more service projects. Rotary puts the global environment in its top five priorities

3) Participating in a workshop on gas species management (this in addition to climate change and habitat destruction are the three most negative issues affecting biodiversity)

4) Participating in a workshop on preserving biodiversity in developing countries (speakers from 10 countries).

5) We presented many seminars to students and others from Palestine and the world on areas ranging from human rights to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

6) Through the project “Unity and Diversity in Nature and Society” funded by the EU Peace Building Initiative we organized in cooperation with the Directorate of Education in Bethlehem a training workshop for teachers on biodiversity in Palestine

7) With the same funding, we organized Thursday students’ visit to the museum and parks and learned about the importance of preserving biodiversity. We’re getting a mobile education unit this week to provide conservation efforts for remote communities.

This is the time for work. This is the right time…. Join us.

Email info@palestinenature.org

Remembering Georgi Vanyan: for peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Onnik James Krikorian from Osservatorio balcani e caucaso transeuropa

Peacebuilder and true activist, anti-nationalist Georgi Vanyan died at the age of 58 on October 15th. He is especially remembered for the enormous effort to bring Azerbaijani and Armenians to dialogue


Georgi Vanyan © Meydan TV

The last time I spoke to Georgi Vanyan was by telephone at the end of September. The Armenian human rights and peace activist was visiting Tbilisi to meet with Emin Milli, the Azerbaijani founder and former director of Meydan TV. He had already interviewed Georgi about his peacebuilding activities and there were now plans to visit the Georgian village where many of his previous activities were held.

Georgi invited me accompany them, but there was one problem.

The 58-year-old was feeling ill and needed to test for COVID-19 before we could meet. Two days later, he sent a text message to say that he had tested positive and had to self-isolate in Tbilisi. He’d be in touch once he had recovered, but things took a turn for the worse and he was hospitalised. Eventually moved on to a ventilator, Georgi Vanyan was pronounced dead on 15 October.

The loss was a personal tragedy for those that knew him and also for a handful of committed individuals that had been working across closed borders in pursuit of regional peace.

“Now, at this stage of the Armenian-Azerbaijani reconciliation process, the peacebuilding community needed him more than ever,” tweeted Baku-based regional analyst and researcher Ahmad Alili. “Sincere Person. Genuine Peacebuilder. Great Loss. Rest in Peace, Georgi.”

For most others, however, Georgi’s passing went unnoticed.

“I am so afraid that Georgi Vanyan’s story will be left untold in Armenia as well as globally,” says Milli. “I observed social media yesterday and I saw almost no Armenians, with rare exception, talking about this [loss]. It was as if nothing happened and as if this man did not exist. It was as if this wasn’t the only courageous man in Armenia and Azerbaijan that did the things that he did.”

A controversial figure in Armenia, the silence was hardly surprising. The whole media and information space had been engaged in a coordinated campaign of public defamation against him for well over a decade. In 2007, a group of nationalist bloggers disrupted his Days of Azerbaijan event at an experimental school in Yerevan and in 2012 a nationalist mob launched an assault on his attempts to screen Azerbaijani films in Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri.

And during the 2020 Karabakh War, while many peace-builders instead became proponents of war, Vanyan released an open letter calling for Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to stop the fighting and to enter into dialogue with Baku. His words fell on deaf ears in both countries, although the Armenian police did notice enough to threaten a hefty fine if he continued to make such calls.

But perhaps Georgi’s best-known project was his convening of regular meetings of Armenian, Azerbaijan, and Georgian activists, academics, and journalists in the village of Tekali. Inhabited by ethnic Azerbaijanis, Tekali is located in Georgia close to its borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan and was arguably one of the few genuine grassroots peace initiatives in the region.

The proximity of Tekali for those living in the regions of all three countries allowed almost anyone to participate. Bucking the usual ‘closed doors and usual suspects’ approach by other peace-building projects held in expensive hotels or holiday resorts, the local community also benefitted from the Tekali Process. Villagers, for example, would provide and earn income from the catering.

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Question related to this article:
 
Can peace be achieved between Azerbaijan and Armenia?

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And as a sign of how effective Tekali had been in facilitating people-to-people contact, one discussant on an Azerbaijan TV show warned in 2019 that Georgi Vanyan’s approach was dangerous. “For Azerbaijan there is only the enemy on the other side of the border, nobody else” the discussant said. “If an Azerbaijani soldier sees that the other side also has mothers, sisters, coffins, and tears then he won’t obey his orders.”

But this criticism was unknown in Armenia where he had been forced to live out his last remaining years in poverty close to the border with Azerbaijan. In one online meeting dedicated to his memory, Armenian activist and Tekali participant Sevak Kirakosyan remembered that Georgi still pushed NGOs to move their activities to where it really mattered – in actual conflict-affected communities.

When Georgi’s body was transferred to the Armenian capital for burial, several prominent figures did at least go to pay their last respects. There was Boris Navarsadyan, head of the Yerevan Press Club (YPC), Ashot Bleyan, the head of the school where Georgi had invited Azerbaijani intellectuals and writers in the late 2000s, and Soviet-era dissident Paruyr Hairikyan, for example.

Armenia’s Epress.am, a regular fixture at Tekali, also covered the memorial but only a few others joined them.

Mariam Yeghiazaryan was one. The 26-year-old team member from Bright Garden Voices, a grassroots cross-border initiative to bring Armenians and Azerbaijanis together online in the aftermath of last year’s 44-day war, implies that this might have been for the best.

“Before going to the funeral, I was afraid that something bad would happen in the mourning hall,” she says. “Something that would be disrespectful to him and his legacy, as had happened during and after the [film] festival. Fortunately, it didn’t․”

And even though the young activist had never met Georgi, she says that she payed more attention to his peacebuilding work following the 2020 Karabakh War and especially his death. Yeghiazaryan now compares him to other prominent Armenians, including the great Armenian writer Hovhannes Tumanyan and slain Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink.

“We honour Tumanyan, a truly great writer and a humanist,” she says, “ but I do not know how many have read his letters and articles about the Armenian-Tatar clashes. We honour Hrant Dink, not so much for his legacy and contribution, but for the chance to use and manipulate his death because he was murdered by a Turkish nationalist, forgetting that his whole life was aimed at Armenian-Turkish dialogue. What is the difference between them and Vanyan?”

She also remembers how Georgi had instead been labeled as a ‘traitor’ by those who were, in effect, opposed to a negotiated and mutually concessionary peace deal.

“Journalists played a big role in this case I note with regret,” she says. “There are terrible articles with terrible headlines, reports, and videos. How many quality articles, interviews can be found in Armenian about Vanyan? The fact that Vanyan’s death was almost not covered in the Armenian media is not about him, but about Armenia and Armenian journalism. It is extremely sad. Extremely.”

And it is this that concerns Milli the most.

“I’m very worried that his narrative could die with him,” he says. “I had seen courage that I had never seen before and I realised that there was nobody in Azerbaijan, including myself, that would dare to organise a Days of Armenian Cinema [in Azerbaijan]. Vanyan’s courage was so powerful that it impacted me profoundly. It was the moment that nationalism died in me.”

Milli, now having left Meydan TV, now has a new project, the Restart Initiative, which while primarily seeking to contribute to the development of Azerbaijan will also seek to nurture and develop dialogue with Armenia and Armenians. Some of Georgi’s former initiatives might well be resurrected for this purpose.

“I hope his Tekali project will be implemented [again],” remarks Yeghiazaryan, and I hope his approach will be the subject of discussion, debates, research, and daily conversations – both in Armenia and in Azerbaijan.”

(Editor’s note: In a new article about Georgi Vanyan in Al Jazeera, entitled Georgi Vanyan’s peace legacy must live on, Emin Milli adds that there is talk about a forthcoming meeting between Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, with increasing hope in the South Caucasus that perhaps the two countries will make some progress on peace.)

Olive Trees and the movement for justice in Palestine

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An article by CPNN

This is the season for the olive harvest in the Middle East. According to Al Jazeera, “About 80,000 to 100,000 Palestinian families rely on the olive harvest, which takes place every year between October and November, for their income – including more than 15 percent of working women.”

CPNN has received, read and appreciated the video below in which the olive trees and olive harvest are seen as a symbol for the movement for justice in Palestine.


`A scene from the video “The olive trees are growing again in Gaza.”

Unfortunately, there are forces in Israel opposed to justice in Palestine, and for them the olive tree and olive harvest is also a symbol but one that they wish to destroy.

According to the same article in Al Jazeera, “During the 2020 olive harvest season, OCHA documented  at least 26 Palestinians injured and more than 1,700 trees vandalised. As of October 4, 2021, the UN group for humanitarian affairs recorded at least 365 settler attacks against Palestinians. This week, a 10-day campaign  to aid and protect farmers was launched in areas considered to be at high risk of Israeli settler attacks.”

The 10-day campaign mentioned by Al Jazeera is managed by the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. In response on October 19, the Israeli government has outlawed this organization, along with five others, claiming that that they are “terrorist.”

Human Rights Watch , in a joint statement with Amnesty International, writes the following about the Israeli decision :

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Question for this article

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

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“This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement. For decades, Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its repressive rule over Palestinians. While staff members of our organizations have faced deportation and travel bans, Palestinian human rights defenders have always borne the brunt of the repression. This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations. The decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses and impose meaningful consequences for them has emboldened Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner.

“How the international community responds will be a true test of its resolve to protect human rights defenders. We are proud to work with our Palestinian partners and have been doing so for decades. They represent the best of global civil society. We stand with them in challenging this outrageous decision.”

Despite the official Israeli position, there are are Israelis who support the Palestinian olive harvest. In another website we find the following:

“There are repeated efforts to replant destroyed trees, including by Israeli activists, who earlier this year brought 200 trees to plant in Burin.

“A week later we came [back again] and a lot of the trees were uprooted — the new trees — so we replanted them,” said Rabbi Nava Heretz.

A member of the Israeli organisation Rabbis for Human Rights, the 66-year-old has for years been harvesting olives alongside Israeli and foreign volunteers. Activists have also been attacked by settlers, including an elderly rabbi whose arm was broken in 2019.

“We are going to places where there is a threat on the Palestinian farmers,” she said, standing between olive trees in the Burin area.”

The article concludes with remarks from a Palestinian:

“Going beyond economics, Mr Abu Jiyab said olives remain an important symbol across Palestine. ‘Palestinians cherish this tree,’ he said, which has grown for hundreds of years.
‘Whether we are in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the border areas or far from the border areas, we consider this tree like one of our children.’”