It is time: Manchester & Syria

As we stand united against terrorism, let us also unite against the UK-backed US airstrikes that have killed 225 civilians this month in Syria. Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism, whether carried out by ‘lone attackers’, terrorist networks, or tax-payer funded uniformed institutions carrying out war crimes against civilians.

It is time, past time, for a global movement of citizens and governments united to overcome all forms of terrorism, war and state-sponsored organised violence and weapons sales. At the end of World War I we launched the League of Nations. At the end of World War II we launched the United Nations. Today we need an equal response – a united surge forward by citizens and governments – to turn back the tide of the insanity of militarism and violent extremism by state and non-state actors. In the week in which we’ve seen agreement on the largest weapons sale in recent times to Saudi Arabia – a country escalating war, violence and instability and fuelling and funding terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East; and the attack in Manchester; we – ALL of us – can and need to do more.

Many people still haven’t heard about the field of peacebuilding. It’s a field that has developed an incredible breadth and depth of knowledge of proven and effective tools that help to prevent violence, end wars, and support recovery, reconciliation and healing afterwards. It’s a field where we know ‘choices’ matter: whether we choose to invest in war or intelligent and effective approaches to addressing and preventing violence; whether we choose to rally to leaders promoting obscene militarism and fear or whether we discover within ourselves the resolution, intelligence, humanity and courage to find real, practical, needed solutions. We have had and have the women’s movement overcoming incredible odds and opposition to wage the struggle for women’s rights. We have had and have the environmental movement struggling to overcome destructive and rapacious practices devastating our earth and life systems. It is time, it is past time, for a new, powerful, resolute, inspired, creative, courageous, committed, dedicated peace movement: one that will actively wage peace, resist, blockade and actively prevent the insanity and mutually assured destructiveness of militarism and terrorism; and one that will evolve the brilliant, possible, practical and real solutions to help us address the actual drivers, conditions and causes of terrorism and violence.

It is our time. Citizens, organisations, governments, businesses. Our capacity for innovation, for ‘solving’ broken systems, for reaching out to each other across artificial and unneeded dividing lines – is part of the extraordinary beauty of what it means to be human.

It is our time to rise. It is our time to abolish militarism, terrorism and war.

United beyond hate, beyond fear, beyond terror, beyond violence. Humanity is more than that. It is up to all of us to rise and overcome all forms of violence, war and terror. We stand with Manchester, with Raqqa, Mosul, Baghdad and everywhere – in any city, village or home – where women, men, girls and boys are experiencing violence, war and terror; whether from an individual entering a stadium, or state institutions dropping bombs from the air.

No child, no daughter, no father, no mother, no son, no uncle, aunt, friend or stranger should ever have their life taken, ever be injured, ever experience or know the terror of violence and war. Not in a stadium. Not in our homes. Not in our schools or cities.

It is within our grasp to transcend the terror of violence.
That is our power as humanity – united.

#timetoabolishwar #militarismterrorism #globalpeacemovement#uniteforpeace #rise

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The Brussels Bombings: What We Can Do

 

In the face of the attacks in Brussels and Mosul, the wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, the attacks before in Paris, and what seems to be a constant barrage of incidents of violence, terror and war in so many parts of the world, many of us often feel powerless – left wondering what we can do and whether it will ever end or change. Many of us also – many, many millions and hundreds of millions – want and know that it must change – and that what is being done now, whether by governments or non-state actors like ISIS, isn’t the solution, but part of the problem we need to overcome.

Below are 10 actions we can do – short and long-term – to overcome the terror and war we are seeing – in Brussels, in Paris, in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere. There are 10. There are many, many more. We would invite you to add comments, suggestions, and additional ideas for action and practical steps. More than that: we would ask and invite you to join us and millions more, and work together to bring an end to cycles of war and violence intensifying rather than solving the very problems we need to address. PATRIR – the Romanian Peace Institute – is committed to practical action and work on the ground with our allies and partners in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen working to end the wars and violence in those countries, and practical action and work to engage governments and people in Europe, North America and elsewhere to change our own policies and actions which are both fuelling and part of the terror and war taking place in these countries and elsewhere. We know though that this can’t be done alone. That there are many amazing individuals, citizens, students, parents, journalists, artists, politicians, activists and others around the world who know that terror, war and violence as a response to terror, war and violence are not the solution but a continuing intensification and escalation of the problem. We know this – and so we are reaching out to you to see how we can do more together, and stop it.

10 Actions: Please share these broadly. This article may be reposted / reprinted. 

1. Campaign for a Ban on Weapons Trade & Sales to all countries in the Middle East and North Africa involved in funding wars and attacks on civilians in the area, including Saudia Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Israel and Egypt. Belgium has already led the way with a ban on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. This should be built on and extended in including a total EU-wide ban;

2. Development of an active, robust international solidarity platform with the people of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen working to end the wars in their countries – including direct / active campaigning within countries in Europe, North America, and through the Middle East and North Africa to end policies of our own engagement in, contribution to and escalation of wars in those countries. The response of tens of thousands of citizens across Europe to provide humanitarian aid and support is excellent – and needs to be increased. In addition to this though, we need to go several steps further and begin i. active and practical, real support to courageous citizens IN Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen working to end the wars in their countries; ii. engage IN OUR OWN COUNTRIES to change negative / violence and war escalating policies and actions which further feed into and fuel wars in the region – and which are themselves leading to wide-spread destruction and civilian casualties; iii. work actively to bring about real engagement at the diplomatic and political levels to bring about peace agreements in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq.

3. Citizens – and governments, media, and social, cultural, religious and other figures – can also do much more to put a narrative and practice of dialogue, celebration and respect for diversity and each other, and positively affirm the values and principles we believe in; and not leave the space principally or only to messages of ‘securitisation’, ‘terrorism’ or ‘us versus them’. This is not what most of us believe in. This is not what most of us want – in Belgium, in Europe, in North America…and in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere – but we need to be much more active, more creative, more…joyful, inspired, courageous in making that visible.

4. As part of 1, 2 and 3 above, it would be wonderful to hold forums in every major city and in schools and universities across Europe and internationally addressing exactly the issue of how do we address, respond to, and overcome the drivers, conditions and causes of intolerance, enemy images, and all extreme violence, terrorism and war – from states and non-state actors – across Europe, North America, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and more broadly. These ‘attacks’ are not happening just in Europe or the United States. European Governments and the US are ALSO themselves involved in carrying out attacks in Syria, in Iraq, in Libya, and in providing weapons for attacks in those countries and Yemen, responsible for killings tens of thousands of civilians in total. In the same way we had a global anti-apartheid movement to support the people of South Africa in the 1970s and 80s, in the same way we’ve built movements on environment, civil rights, women’s rights, and much more, we need a global movement now – and in all of our communities and countries – to transform how the world deals with conflicts, violence, war and “terrorism” – to end constant cycles of violence and policies and measures which are themselves violent and which escalate and intensify violence, and fail in any way to actually solve or address the real issues – and to bring forward real alternatives. It is our lives, our communities, our countries – all of us – that are affected, and it is time for us to change the policies and measures which are escalating this problem from all directions.

5. Creating a single web-site / web-platform which would bring together the best articles, analysis, speeches, videos, tutorials, and good information and sources that can help people ‘make sense’ of what’s happening and why, and also show what we can do – in our communities, internationally, together – and help people creatively share ideas, encourage action, inspire engagement, would also be an important step. There are SUPERB materials, videos, publications, articles out there, and a lot of good and great work being done, but all too often we’re simply not aware of it, or don’t know where we can find it or how we can get involved. A good, multi-lingual web-site which could be a resource for people in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, North America and more broadly would be a great platform to help support and catalyse efforts.

6. There’s also this summer a ‘Global Youth Rising’ gathering at which activists, movements, organisations and citizens passionately involved from across Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and all across Europe, North America and internationally are coming together for 10 days to look at what we can do in our own communities and countries and what we can do together globally to end these wars. People interested, passionate, engaged are welcome to come and be part of this (https://www.facebook.com/groups/GlobalYouthRising/). You can also help by helping to fund those coming from Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen to make their participation possible.

7. Another great step, in our communities, schools and universities, would be to organise a global week of action in which we foster and promote events, discussion, sharing, workshops and training on how to deal with the wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen; how to deal with our own countries’, militaries, and weapons companies’ contributions to these wars, and what we can do – as citizens, as students, as human beings – to help change these policies and end them.

8. Going further from this – it would be good to have an international forum before the end of 2016 to bring together organisations, activists, movements, peace workers to take our work on making all of this happen to another level.

9. And, for the immediate, medium and long-term: working to have peace education introduced as part of core curriculum into all of our schools and education systems world-wide.

10. A real challenge at this moment are also the ‘security’, ‘military’ and ‘academic’ experts, media and government officials, some / many of whom respond with ‘stock’ answers of increased securitisation, monitoring, restrictions on civil liberties and freedoms, and increased support for war and armed attacks in the region. Like hate speech and extremism everywhere, this should be actively challenged and not simply accepted as ‘expert’ advice – often by experts who have never been in the region, often promote quite extremist views, and who’s ‘recommendations’ have in many cases been proven time and time again to be the problem, not part of the solution.

We are not powerless. We are not alone. We do not have to sit back and feel that nothing can be done. We are each of us. We are all of us. We are many, different, beautiful and wonderful – in Syria, in Belgium, in Iraq, in France, in Libya, in the United States, in Yemen, in Italy, in….every home, school, office, community and country around the world.

We have as a species overcome incredible injustice, violence, tyranny and oppression in the past. Wherever there has been ‘wrong’ there have been those who with creativity, courage, love and passion have struggled to help overcome it and work for better. We can do this – with respect, with sound, intelligent, real solutions that actually address and solve problems rathe than making them worse. With action. Like marshalling our resources to respond to the outbreak of Ebola, we need to marshall our resources to respond to, overcome and transcend the war making, war intensifying, war fuelling policies of terrorist attacks – from airforces and suicide bombers, from politicians and ‘extremists’ of all shapes and stripes, whose answer to killing and war is killing and war.

This is the moment at which the candles we light…for New York, for Baghdad, for Paris, for Raqqa, for Misrata and Bengazi, for Ankara, for Sanaa, Mosul and Brussels, become lights that spread from heart to heart and mind to mind, and call us to rise, call us to stand, call us to have a dream and know that a world beyond war, hatred and violence is possible. Call us to act.

And not to stop, until we have changed and overcome this terror-war system. It can be stopped. It will be stopped. We are the ones who must stop it.

***
By Kai Brand-Jacobsen
Director, Department of Peace Operations (DPO) – PATRIR

Brussels Explosion: We can do this. Not alone, but together.

Thinking this moment…of friends in Brussels, of friends in Iraq and Syria, in South Sudan and Mexico. Thinking of our deep need to overcome currents of anger, hatred and fear and systems of violence and war. Thinking, feeling, hoping friends in these places and more are safe, and knowing that it will not end as long as we pour fuel onto fire, as long as we respond with the very same weapons of violence that we ourselves are hurt and angered by; that it will not end until our ‘we’ is extended to include each other and not only us versus them. Brussels, like Syria, like Iraq, like Mexico, like South Sudan and so many other places, is a place of vibrance, of parents and children, of at least 200 people I know working in peacebuilding and for people’s rights and justice around the world, of people who wake up with hopes and dreams as well as fears and insecurities, of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, secularists, liberals, conservatives, socialists, communists, anarchists, bureaucrats, artists, journalists, street cleaners, guitar players, and so, so, so, so much more. It is a place of life. We’re not going to end the terror of violence – whether it comes from our soldiers, planes and missiles or other people’s bombs or corporations’ sales of weapons, unless we begin to deeply, fully, truly overcome our global war system, and the dynamics and drivers of hate, violence and war – within our own countries and internationally. This challenge is much, much more acute, intense now. Not ‘now’ today, but ‘now’ for more than a decade. We need the people of courage, of heart, of love, of determination, of vision, of passion, of humanity, of joy…who will work together, and together…transcend it. A better world is possible. It’s up to us to make it a reality. Not by hoping, not by aspiration, but by actual engagement and real choices. I’m thinking this moment, of friends in Brussels, friends in Iraq, Syria, South Sudan, Mexico and elsewhere, of my own children safe now at home, of so many children not safe in war zones, and I will recognise, witness, and honour this moment…by rising. We need to build a truly global movement to abolish war. We need to campaign actively to end arms sales to the MENA region and gradually take apart / abolish weapons companies. We need to introduce peace education into schools at all levels. We need to build upon the incredible, inspiring work that has been done in peacebuilding, especially in the last 10 years…and multiply it ten thousand fold. We can do this. Not alone, but together.
*** This note may be reposted / shared further however it may be helpful *** Please see also and share:

Of Mosul and Brussels
We are working to build a global movement to overcome the policies, drivers, causes and dynamics fuelling war and violence in all their forms – in Mosul, in Brussels, globally. This summer there will be a Global Youth Rising international forum – gathering f0r 10 days, going in-depth into how to build and deepen our peacebuilding work globally, going into building a solidarity movement with the people of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen working for peace in their countries; and for all of us, everywhere, to engage in real, meaningful change in our countries. You can find out more at:

Global Youth Rising 2016 – July 10 – 20

We don’t need to just accept what is happening. We can change it. You can help – by joining and helping to develop and build the global movement, and by helping to share and inform people about the global gathering this summer.
Those who wish for peace

Living Peace – Statement from the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates

LIVING PEACE
Final Statement
Living Peace Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates
Nothing is as antagonistic to peace as the human mind without love, compassion, and reverence for life and nature. Nothing is as noble as the human being who chooses to bring love and compassion into action.

This year we honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela. He exemplified the principles for which the Nobel Peace Prize is granted and serves as a timeless example of a truth he lived. As he himself said: “love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

He had many reasons to give up hope, even to hate, but he chose love in action. It is a choice we can all make.

We are saddened by the fact that we were not able to honor Nelson Mandela and his fellow Peace Laureates in Cape Town this year because of the refusal of the South African government to grant a visa to H.H. the Dalai Lama to enable him to attend the planned Summit in Cape Town. The 14th Summit, which was moved to Rome, has nevertheless permitted us to consider South Africa’s unique experience in showing that even the most intractable disputes can be resolved peacefully through civic activism and negotiation.

As Nobel Peace Laureates we bear witness that – as has happened in South Africa during the past 25 years – change for the common good can be achieved. Many of us have faced guns and overcome fear with a commitment to live with and for peace.

Peace thrives where governance protects the vulnerable, where the rule of law brings justice and the treasure of human rights, where harmony with the natural world is achieved, and where the benefits of tolerance and diversity are fully realized.

Violence has many faces: prejudice and fanaticism, racism and xenophobia, ignorance and shortsightedness, injustice, gross inequalities of wealth and opportunity, oppression of women and children, forced labor and slavery, terrorism, and war.

Many people feel powerless and suffer in cynicism, selfishness, and apathy. There is a cure: when individuals commit to caring for others with kindness and compassion, they change and they are able to make changes for peace in the world.

It is a universal personal rule: We must treat others as we wish to be treated. Nations, also, must treat other nations as they wish to be treated. When they don’t, chaos and violence follow. When they do, stability and peace are obtained.

We decry the continued reliance on violence as a primary means of addressing differences. There are no military solutions to Syria, Congo, South Sudan, Ukraine, Iraq, Palestine/Israel, Kashmir and other conflicts.

One of the greatest threats to peace is the continuing view of some great powers that they can achieve their goals through military force. This perspective is creating new crisis today. If left unchecked this tendency will inevitably lead to increased military confrontation and to a new more dangerous Cold War.

We are gravely concerned about the danger of war – including nuclear war – between large states. This threat is now greater than at any time since the Cold War.

We urge your attention to the annexed letter from President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Militarism has cost the world over 1.7 trillion dollars this past year. It deprives the poor of urgently needed resources for development and protection of the earth’s ecosystem and adds to the likelihood of war with all its attendant suffering.

No creed, no religious belief should be perverted to justify gross violations of human rights or the abuse of women and children. Terrorists are terrorists. Fanaticism in the guise of religion will be more easily contained and eliminated when justice is pursued for the poor, and when diplomacy and cooperation are practiced amongst the most powerful nations.

10,000,000 people are stateless today. We support the campaign of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to end statelessness within ten years as well as its efforts to alleviate the suffering of over 50,000,000 displaced persons.

The current wave of violence against women and girls and the perpetration of sexual violence in conflict by armed groups and military regimes further violates women’s human rights, and makes it impossible for them to realize their goals of education, freedom of movement, peace and justice. We call for full implementation of all UN resolutions addressing women, peace and security and political will by national governments to do so.

Protecting Global Commons

No nation can be secure when the climate, oceans, and rainforests are at risk. Climate change is already leading to radical changes in food production, extreme events, rising sea levels, the intensity of weather patterns, and is increasing the likelihood of pandemics.

We call for a strong international agreement to protect the climate in Paris in 2015.

Poverty and Sustainable Development

It is unacceptable that over 2 billion people live on less than $2.00 per day. Countries must adopt well-known practical solutions to eliminate the injustice of poverty. They must support the successful completion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We urge adoption of the recommendations of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons.

A first step to ending the oppression of dictatorships would be the rejection by banks of money arising from their corruption as well as constraints on their travel.

The rights of children must become part of every government’s agenda. We call for universal ratification and application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The widening jobs gap needs to be, and can be, bridged and credible action must be undertaken to give the millions of new labor market entrants a viable job. An effective social floor can be designed in every country to eliminate the worst forms of deprivation. People need to be empowered to claim their social and democratic rights and achieve sufficient control over their own destinies.

Nuclear Disarmament

There are over 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. As the recent 3rd International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons concluded: the impact of the use of just one is unacceptable. A mere 100 would lower the earth’s temperature by over 1 degree Celsius for at least ten years, causing massive disruption of global food production and putting 2 billion people at risk of starvation. If we fail to prevent nuclear war, all of our other efforts to secure peace and justice will be for naught. We need to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Meeting in Rome, we commend Pope Francis’ recent call for nuclear weapons to be “banned once and for all”. We welcome the pledge by the Austrian government “to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal”.

We urge all states to commence negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the earliest possible time, and subsequently to conclude the negotiations within two years. This will fulfill existing obligations enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will be reviewed in May of 2015, and the unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice. Negotiations should be open to all states and blockable by none. The 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2015 highlights the urgency of ending the threat of these weapons.

Conventional Weapons

We support the call for a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons (killer robots) – weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without human intervention. We must prevent this new form of inhumane warfare.

We urge an immediate halt to the use of indiscriminate weapons and call on all states to join and fully comply with the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

We commend the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and urge all states to join the Treaty.

Our Call

We call upon religious, business, civic leaders, parliaments and all persons of good will to work with us to realize these principles and polices.

Human values that honor life, human rights and security, are needed more than ever to guide nations. No matter what nations do every individual can make a difference. Nelson Mandela lived peace from a lonely jail cell, reminding us that we must never ignore the most important place where peace must be alive — within the heart of each one of us. It is from that place that everything, even nations, can be changed for the good.

We urge wide distribution and study of the Charter for A World Without Violence adopted by the 8th Nobel Peace Laureate Summit in Rome 2007.

*********

Attached hereto is an important communication from President Mikhail Gorbachev. He was unable to join us in Rome due to health concerns. He is the founder of the Nobel Peace Laureate Summits and we urge your attention to this wise intervention:

Mikhail Gorbachev’s Letter to Participants in the Nobel Laureates Forum

Dear friends,

I am very sorry I am unable to participate in our meeting but also happy that, true to our common tradition, you have gathered in Rome to make the voice of Nobel Laureates heard around the world.

Today, I feel great concern at the state of European and world affairs.

The world is going through a time of troubles. The conflict that has flared up in Europe is threatening its stability and undermining its capacity to play a positive role in the world. The events in the Middle East are taking an increasingly dangerous turn. There are smoldering or potential conflicts in other regions as well while the growing global challenges of security, poverty and environmental decay are not being properly addressed.

Policy-makers are not responding to the new realities of the global world. We have been witnessing a catastrophic loss of trust in international relations. Judging by statements of representatives of major powers, they are preparing for a long-term confrontation.

We must do all we can to reverse these dangerous trends. We need new, substantive ideas and proposals that would help the current generation of political leaders to overcome the severe crisis of international relations, restore normal dialogue, and create the institutions and mechanisms that fit the needs of today’s world.

I have recently put forward proposals that could help step back from the brink of a new cold war and begin restoring trust in international affairs. In essence, I propose the following:
• to finally start implementing the Minsk Agreements for resolving the Ukrainian crisis;
• to reduce the intensity of polemics and mutual accusations;
• to agree on steps to prevent the humanitarian catastrophe and rebuild the regions affected by the conflict;
• to hold negotiations on strengthening the institutions and mechanisms of security in Europe;
• to re-energize common efforts to address global challenges and threats.

I am convinced that each Nobel Laureate can make a contribution to overcoming the current dangerous situation and returning to the path of peace and cooperation.

I wish you success and hope for to see you.

This statement reflects the general consensus of the deliberations of Nobel Peace Laureates and Nobel Peace Laureate organizations gathered at the 2014 Rome Summit but does not necessarily bind any particular participant. For example, some organizations, such as the IPCC, by their constitution cannot endorse specific policy proposals.

* Participants in the Summit were the Dalai Lama, President Jose Ramon Horta, Lord David Trimble, Betty Williams, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman, Mairead Maguire and twelve Nobel Peace Laureate organizations: American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, European Commission, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, International Labour Organization, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, International Peace Bureau, International Physicians for the Prevention of War, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the United Nations.

On Hamas, Hatred, Killing Civilians and Demonisation: It Must Stop Now

One of the central aspects of the latest round of violence and war in Israel and Palestine for very many (media, analysts, human beings around the world) is the continuing assertion that Hamas is the one who started the violence with the firing of rockets into Israel. The problem is: that isn’t true. The Israeli Defence Forces had begun carrying out attacks and arrests prior to the (most recent) launching of rockets by Hamas. Three Israeli teenagers had been killed prior to the launchings. A Palestinian teenager had been beaten and then burned to death. There are charts showing the death tolls in which you will see Palestinians — Palestinian civilians — being killed every week in the weeks and months leading up to the rocket attacks.

So here is to me what is essential: ALL acts of violence and armed aggression in Israel and Palestine DO NOT aid the cause of self-defence or create security and freedom for Israel and/or Palestine. They are bankrupt and defective strategies and the actions of the IDF, Hamas, and others – and any group using violence. Killing of civilians is in no case ‘collateral damage’ or ‘unintended consequences’ that can be blamed on the actions of the ‘other’ side -holding them responsible and blaming them for the ‘consequences’ of OUR ‘legitimate acts’ — whether being waged for ‘self-defence’ (of either side) or to ‘end occupation’. The one who does the act is in every case (also) directly responsible – and the violence on ALL sides must be stopped.

Academics, journalists, analysts, and all people involved, however, must have the responsibility to stop the gross/foolish and unbalanced act of ‘blaming’ the “evilness/psycopathy/wrongness” of Hamas who ‘started’ the war and “cares about nothing but death” and “exterminating Israelis/Jews”. Let me make my own position clear: I DO NOT AGREE with Hamas, and yes: I know the tactics they are doing/using worsen the occupation and further war, hatred and violence. Let me also make this position clear: I DO NOT AGREE with the Israeli government and IDF, and yes: I know the tactics they are doing/using worsen the occupation and further war, hatred and violence.

Any honest, balanced person of any knowledge and understanding of the situation, of any integrity, is well aware: there are no more “fanatics” on the Palestinian ‘side’ than on the Israeli ‘side’. To the incredible sadness and shame of all of us, you can find examples across both of people calling for the complete death-killing-extermination of the other. This is, sadly, one of the realities and results of decades of war, violence, occupation and fuelling hatred and demonisation of the other across ALL sides. And to anyone who says or cites examples about just how horribly this is done by the ‘other’ side, or references statements or messages from their ‘leaders’ or civilians, academics, activists or others to show how horrible, horrifying and outrageous it is, and doesn’t also cite examples from their own side or the side they ‘support’: this is prejudiced/biased. I have been to Israel and Palestine too many times to be ignorant or prejudiced enough to not be aware that there are copious and overwhelming examples of this from both sides. I have also been to Israel and Palestine enough times to have seen and come to love, admire, celebrate and respect the incredible humanity, beauty, integrity, courage of so, so, so many people on both sides – of two peoples with such extraordinary histories of perseverance, of surviving persecution, of experiencing and living through what know people, know human beings should ever live through. Of two peoples who, were it not for the history of violence, war and occupation, and were we to transcend and end the violence war and occupation, would be extraordinary comrades, colleagues, lovers, friends. The poetry, religion, history, philosophy, and richness and beauty of life of both peoples is simply…breathtaking. One of the reasons why so many people fall in love with them. Unfortunately – when exposed to ‘one’, we often then take part ourselves in feeling the outrage and demonisation/condemnation of the other.

So to be clear: To see this only from one side requires active, wilful blindness/ignorance, and to perpetuate messages/stories that one side is calling for the extermination/killing of the other without recognising there are far too large numbers of people – including in government, military, and senior leadership, media, and academic positions – on all sides doing the same, to take part in delegitimising, condemning and ‘vilifying/dehumanising’ one group without recognising that acts which are killing civilians and ideologies/philosophies/beliefs that the other must die are being promoted across all sides, promotes and continues the violence/war. It contributes to the very thing you – each of us – wants to end / overcome.

Any Israeli or supporter of Israel who denounces Hamas or any Palestinian, Palestinian leader, supporters of Palestine or others for promoting those messages must also address messages by senior members of the Israeli government, cabinet, Knesset as well as media, academics and public who do the same.

Any Palestinian or supporter of Palestine who denounces Israel, the Israeli government, or Israeli leadership and citizens or supporters of Israel for promoting those messages must also address messages by Palestinians, Hamas and supporters of Palestine who do the same. Any one who loves the people of Palestine and/or the people of Israel, who is able with your eyes, your mind, your heart to understand and sympathise with their struggle – of either or both peoples – should stop for a moment, should breathe, reflect, and recognise the incredible beauty, courage, wisdom, richness, and heroism of the ‘other’ as well, and how bankrupt, wrong, futile and destructive ALL violence, dehumanisation, and one-sided presentations of the conflict/war/violence/occupation are too ALL.

The “logic” (or insanity) of violence/war/killing produces this. The logic of demonisation, dehumanisation, and creating false caricatures of absolutely ‘evil’ enemies produces this. It is time for us to all STOP IT, and make it stop. Look at Hamas’ demands for a ceasefire. Treat it as a rational, logical actor – because it is. The clear reality is: they are all legitimate demands. Look at members of Hamas, or members of the IDF, or settlers, or Fatah members, or young children, or peace activists, or any single human being in Israel and Palestine, or any single human being active, involved in, caring about, acting on, demonstrating about this issue around the global: for each, for ABSOLUTELY EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, there are aspects of what they want, need, feel that are ABSOLUTELY LEGITIMATE. There are also aspects – far, far too many aspects – of hatred, misunderstanding, use of violence, willingness to do against the ‘other’ what we would not accept ourselves – that we need to overcome and stop.

The truth is: if I was in Israel as a young Israeli man I would far too likely have joined the IDF and be taking part in the war and occupation. If I was in Gaza as a young Palestinian man I would far too likely have joined Hamas and be taking part in the war and resistance to occupation. I would like to believe that I would have the courage, integrity, strength, wisdom, to be one of those who’s refused to take part in the IDF, or one of those who’s refused to take part in Hamas. Many, many Israelis and Palestinians have. If I was even more hopeful, I would like to believe I would have the courage to be one of those Israelis and Palestinians working to overcome the hatred, violence, demonisation and dehumanisation on all sides, and to work for a real, just, lasting peace based upon recognition, dignity, respect, freedom and security FOR EVERY SINGLE PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI. For every single human being.

I would like to believe I would have that courage, but I will not be naive, insulting or foolish enough to claim that I know what I would do faced with the incredible brutality, propaganda wars, and history of broken promises and demonisation of the other on all sides. That is why I have such profound respect for those people in Israel and Palestine who are rising for peace; and why I wish those of us around the world coming to simplistic conclusions or furthering/promoting demonisation and dehumanisation of any one side, would demand from ourselves greater integrity and wisdom.

The simplistic, unacceptable and continued denunciation of Hamas OR the IDF, of Palestinians OR Israelis, or of ANY actor/group/institution in Palestine and Israel is part of what fuels the war/violence/occupation and continues hatred and demonisation. People need to draw upon their integrity, honest, and courage to go beyond this.

 

To state it very clearly: I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT the use of violence by Hamas. I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT the use of violence by the IDF. And I am too well informed, and have too much honesty and integrity, to be able to condemn/denounce either one and support the other as a ‘legitimate’ response/reaction to/defense against the actions of the other. I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT THE USE OF VIOLENCE BY ANY GROUP IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE and the continued funding, support for and provision of weapons to any of these groups. I therefore call for a total boycott, disinvestment and sanctions on all weapons, weapons transfers, and acts of violence in Palestine and Israel, and call for a total outreach, dialogue, engagement and reaching out to ALL people of Palestine and Israel, including both those I sympathise with, and those whose actions go against any and everything I can understand.

The use of violence:

– is not furthering the cause of independence and ending occupation. It is continuing the occupation and the division, fears and hatred it stands upon;

– is not contributing to or achieving self defence. It is continuing, fuelling, escalating and intensifying the realities of hatred, division, fears and conflicts;

Any and every time we take part in being ‘baffled’, ‘shocked’, ‘outraged’ at the ‘inhumanity’ of one – either – side willing to stand by or call for the use violence against the ‘other’, or to legitimise the violence and ‘response’ of either: we are directly pulling the trigger that is killing someone in Palestine and Israel, we are firing the rocket, we are kidnapping three teenagers; we are beating to death or burning a 15 year old boy. Every time you do that, you are feeding into and fuelling the division, misunderstanding, propaganda, myths that enable the violence to continue. We need, all of us, to stop it. We need, all of us, to find something better. To find the courage and humanity within us to recognise the courage and humanity within every single human being in Palestine and Israel, and call for an end to all of the violence, all of the war, all of the occupation NOW – and for peace, security, recognition and freedom for every single Palestinian and Israeli, not only those we sympathise with and support.

With deep respect and appreciation, In sadness, solidarity, determination, commitment, and open to listening to any one who things I’m radically wrong or mistaken, or anyone who wishes to add their own voice and vision, or/and to anyone who wishes to join together and engage in building a true peace movement for real peace, dignity and security and ending the occupation for ALL the people of Palestine and Israel, KaiNot in My Name