David Hartsough (3/12/2010) details the many places where active nonviolence is alive and well in Pal/Isr.
He concludes his lengthy remarks with these suggestions for right now in the struggle for security and justice for both sides: (with thanks to TIKKUN for bringing it to our attention, JRK).
MEND Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy
Another important part of the Palestinian Nonviolent movement is MEND (Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy) which is offering nonviolent training to hundreds of young Palestinians throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Their goal is to help educate and nurture a new generation of Palestinians with a deeper understanding of nonviolence and nonviolent action. (www.mendonline.org )
Wi’am, the Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center
The Wi’am Center is working to support active nonviolence among Palestinians. They aim to improve the quality of relationships by addressing injustices rather than avenging them; dignifying persons on both sides of the conflict; promoting human rights and advocating for peace among all people. (www.alaslah.org )
Israeli Peace Movement
There are many hundreds of Israelis who are refusing to serve in the Israeli armed forces in the occupied territories and/or are total conscientious objectors. Many of them have served time, or are currently in prison, for taking this position.
We were deeply moved by the Israelis and Palestinians who have formed Bereaved Families for Peace (http://www.cjre.net/bereavedfamilies.htm) and Combatants for Peace (http://www.combatantsforpeace.org/).. Recognizing that their shared pain unites them, they are speaking together in schools and community groups. “We refuse to let our grief harden into hatred and actions of retaliation. Instead, we are turning, in compassion and reconciliation, to each other - Palestinians and Israelis - with the hearts of parents who want to join our voices and hands so that there will be no more bloodshed and no more lives of children wasted..”.
We had not known how many Israelis are also working for the peaceful, and nonviolent resolution of the Occupation. These include:
· 4,000 Refusers-- Israeli military who are refusing orders to serve in the illegally Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza, and hundreds of high school students who are being jailed for defying Israel’s compulsory military service. (Israeli law says that once you leave high school you are technically required to serve in the army. For men that can be up for three years, for women it’s 18 months.)
73 Israeli pilots are known to have refused to fly military missions over the Occupied Territories.
Other courageous groups of Israelis working for peace and justice include New Profile (www.newprofile.org/english/), Rabbis for Human Rights (www.rhr.org ), The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (http://www.icahd.org) and Women in Black (http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english) who have been demonstrating every week for twenty-two years.
Conclusion/What Can We Do?
Throughout our time in Palestine, and later in Gaza it became very clear that the security of the Palestinians and the Israelis is inextricably linked. There is such significant interdependence between these two peoples, in an ancient and Holy Land, that they must work together to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Peace in the region can only be achieved through nonviolence, not more rockets and bombing and killing one another..
Unfortunately, in the short time since we were in Palestine and Israel, the harassment at these nonviolent demonstrations, and especially of the leaders of the Popular Committees in the villages, has significantly increased. The Israeli soldiers are using live ammunition more frequently, and are coming into the villages in the middle of the night, raiding the homes of the leaders and taking them off to jail for indefinite detention. Some have even been killed.
As former President John F. Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.” We in the peace and justice movement need to strengthen our support of this powerful nonviolent movement in Palestine, and help make peaceful change possible.
1. Keep the courageous Palestinians and Israelis resisting the Israeli occupation and Apartheid state in our thoughts and prayers.
2. Help get the word out, to our friends and the broader public, about these weekly nonviolent demonstrations and this amazing nonviolent movement in Palestine
3. Join an Interfaith Peace Builders,or a Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation. going to Israel and Palestine to meet peace and human rights workers working for a peaceful and just resolution to this tragic conflict. (www.ifpb.org) and , www.cpt.org I encourage you to join Scott Kennedy, of the Resource Center for Nonviolence, who co-led the delegation with me in December of 2009. He will be co-leading a IFPB delegation October 31-November 13, 2010 during the Palestinian Olive Harvest.
4. Send people to accompany the Palestinians in these nonviolent demonstrations and when requested, stay in their villages to help offer nonviolent protection. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) (www.palsolidarity.org), Christian Peacemaker Teams (www.cpt.org), and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program (www.eappi.org) have long-term delegates in the region.
5. Get moral, practical and financial support to this nonviolent movement –for legal support of those arrested, and for minimal support of some of the leaders of this movement who can no longer get to their fields to grow their crops and tend their animals. (Financial support for this movement can be sent to Peaceworkers at 721 Shrader St., San Francisco, CA 94117 and 100% of your contributions will be forwarded to the nonviolent movement in Palestine.)
Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (
6. Promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli occupation of Palestine, and companies that profit from the occupation and apartheid policies, being called for by over 200 Palestinian and Israeli organizations. The goal of this campaign is to boycott companies that profit from the occupation and apartheid policies; this action will help bring economic and political pressure on the Israeli government to end the occupation of the West Bank, end the Siege of Gaza and end the Apartheid system in Palestine and Israel. (www.bdsmovement.net)
7. Work to help end the American blank check to the Israeli government of over $3 billion a year in military aid to the Israeli government. It condones the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine, subsidizes the building of the Apartheid wall between Israel and the West Bank , perpetuates the Siege of Gaza, and supports the violence being used against nonviolent demonstrators in the West Bank. Please contact your Congressional representatives and the President to voice your concern..
For more information on the nonviolent movement in Palestine and Israel, check the following links:
Popular Struggle Coordination Committee
International network for the Palestinian Popular Nonviolent Resistance http://www.internationalpopularstruggle.org
American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights (http://www.aaper.org)
International Middle East Media Center http://imemc.org
Friends of Freedom and Justice, Bil’in www.bilin-ffj.org
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Highly recommended work:
Refusing To Be Enemies: Palestinian and Israeali Nonviolent Resistance to the Israeli Occupation, by Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta. , (Ithaca Press, UK -2010, ISBN13: 9780863723421,)
David Hartsough is a Member of San Francisco Friends Meeting. He is married, is a father and grandfather, Director of PEACEWORKERS, Co-founder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, and recently spent a month in Palestine and Israel co-leading an interfaith peace-building delegation.
I am grateful to Sherri Maurin, Jan Hartsough, Ken Butigan and Scott Kennedy for their invaluable assistance in writing/editing this article.
John Kleinheksel Sr