Publication of the Research/Action Team on Nonviolent
Large Systems Change,
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What Awaits Samira?
It’s Good to Talk
Freeing Ourselves of the Prisoners
Vol. XX, No.2 Winter, 2006
Nonviolent Change Journal helps to network the peace community: providing dialoguing, exchanges of ideas, articles, reviews, reports and announcements of the activities of peace related groups and meetings, reviews of world developments relating to nonviolent change and resource information concerning the development of human relations on the basis of mutual respect.
International Crisis Group,
The complete report is available in PDF format by going to the IGC web site: http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=3834&l=1
Executive Summary And Recommendations
Shifting power relations in North East
Asia are spurring rising nationalism in
The economic rise of
A number of events in 2005 illustrate the simmering tensions. In March, South Korean demonstrators cut off their fingers in protest over Japanese claims to a pair of small islets. The next month, Chinese demonstrators attacked Japanese businesses and diplomatic missions over a Japanese history textbook, while in June, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun spent most of a two-hour meeting discussing history, rather than current issues. China began drilling for oil in September in a disputed area of the East China Sea, over Japanese protests, and in November, as a result of the visit Koizumi paid to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese war criminals are among the millions of honoured dead, President Hu Jintao refused to have a one-on-one meeting with Koizumi on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Most territorial disputes in the region
are over uninhabited islands and partially submerged rocks, whose status
remains ambiguous under international law, including Tokdo/Takeshima,
jointly claimed by
Prime Minister Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine and attempts by right-wing groups to
produce revisionist history textbooks have prompted alarm in both China and
South Korea and added to the emotion with which they accuse Japan of failing
to show contrition for its World War II crimes. While
History is an equally troubling subject,
though in different ways, in
Attempts to address these emotion-laden
and intertwined problems have led to some encouraging instances of
inter-regional cooperation among scholars and civil society groups that
Definitively resolving territorial and historical disputes that have been building for decades will not be easy or quick but failure at least to ameliorate them risks undermining the peace and prosperity of the region.
To the Governments of
1. De-link history issues from diplomacy by continuing contact among officials at all levels regardless of the fluctuating state of public opinion.
2. Refrain from unilateral military exercises in disputed areas.
3. Increase military-to-military exchanges, training and confidence-building measures.
4. Establish a regional institution for energy security and cooperation that would explore such issues as establishing a depository for spent nuclear fuel.
5. Set up regional cooperative mechanisms for disaster relief and environmental protection.
6. Start an East Asia Peace Institute for sustained Track Two dialogue, joint inquiries, scholarship and conferences.
7. Convene a committee of museum curators and scholars to develop agreed standards for historical exhibitions, with the goal of focusing displays on universal human suffering and accomplishment, rather than nationalism.
8. Increase support for NGO activity that promotes regional dialogue.
To the Government of
9. Set up a fund that uses public money to assist remaining individual victims of Japanese war crimes, in particular “comfort women”, forced laborers, and subjects of biological warfare experiments.
10. Release into the public domain any remaining documents on World War II and colonial activities.
11. Build a new memorial to Japanese war dead to provide an alternative to official visits to Yasukuni Shrine.
cabinet members refrain from making public statements which praise or
To the Government of
13. Conclude an agreement on allowable catches by South Korean and Japanese fishing boats in the median fishing zone around Tokdo/Takeshima.
14. Clearly state that the South accepts existing border treaties and will pursue peaceful reunification on this basis.
15. Establish a public fund to provide compensation for the victims of Japanese colonialism who were under-compensated or not compensated by the 1965 Normalization Treaty.
Publicly acknowledge and thank
To the Government of the People’s
17. Allow Chinese internet users greater access to Japanese and Western media to provide alternative views.
Accept in principle Japanese offers on joint development of oil and gas
deposits in the
Develop a Code of Conduct with
To the Government of the
Strengthen trilateral policy planning coordination with
22. Release to bona fide researchers documents related to Japanese war crimes seized at the end of World War II and which until now have been withheld.
Uri Avnery, October 15, 2005
Circulated by Gush Shalom, www.gush.shalom.org
A few days ago, at a conference in
What struck me most about Samira was her pessimism. The situation is bad, she said, and, whatever happens, it is going to get worse.
For a young, professional woman, the outlook is bleak indeed. The
Shiite community is in the grip of the ayatollahs, who
are out to enforce a rigid religious attitude towards women. Perhaps not as
strict as in the Taliban's
What is life like without a regular electricity and water supply in 40 degrees Centigrade, dependent on generators and improvisation, in a perpetual state of fear, while tanks roam the streets? It's very, very bad, she says, and not getting any better.
The prospect for
I have avoided writing about
The world (and especially Israel) is full of politicians, generals, journalists, academics, intelligence agents and suchlike who have been invariably wrong about everything they have forecast (with rare exceptions, just as a broken clock still shows the right time twice a day.) Yet strangely enough, they remain in demand, their mistakes forgiven and forgotten, even if they had catastrophic results, as often happens in the case of generals and politicians.
Long experience has taught me that "told you so" is by far the most infuriating thing one can say. While the public can forgive commentators who are proven wrong, it will never forgive those who are shown to have been right.
So let's avoid that phrase. Let's just hint that some of the things I said before the war have been proven to be not so very wrong.
Two of these deserve consideration at this time.
First: That the real aim of the war on Iraq was to station a permanent American garrison in that country, supported by a local Quisling regime, in order to secure direct control of the vast oil resources of Iraq itself and indirectly of the oil reserves of the region - Saudi Arabia, the other Gulf states and the Caspian basin. No "Mass Destruction Weapons", no "Removal of a blood-thirsty Tyrant", no "Spreading Democracy", no "Axis of Evil".
Second: That the main result of the war will be the breakup of the country into three mutually hostile components - Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds. Whether this breakup of the Iraqi state is disguised as a "loose federation" or in some other way is immaterial. The important point is whether control over the oil resources is vested in the central or the local authorities.
It was clear that the Kurds would settle for nothing less then de
facto independence, keeping their oil revenues for themselves. It was also
clear that this would arouse the most profound fears in
It was also clear that the Iraqi Shiite state would be led by
religious figures, most of whom have lived in
One does not have to be a prophet of Biblical dimensions to have
foreseen that the Arab Sunnis would not accept this lying down. In such a
"federation" they will lose power and oil revenues, being thrown
from the heights of their might into an abyss of impotence. This led to an
"insurgency" which grows ten new heads for every one cut off,
because it results from an insoluble problem. Neither the Kurdish nor the
Shiite leaders are the kind of people who would relinquish any of their
long-yearned-for advantages, for the sake of an
All this could have been easily avoided, if the only superpower in the world had not been led by a tenth-rate politician; if policy had not been shaped by neo-conservatives blinded by a fanatical obsession; if Tony Blair, who should have known better, had not been an incorrigible opportunist.
Millions of decent, innocent Iraqis of all communities, like my new friend Samira, are paying the price.
IT'S GOOD TO TALK
Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish
Whether or not His Majesty King Abdullah has succeeded in bringing together Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for a summit next week still remains to be seen. The effort to do so is invaluable.
The last time the two met,
at Sharm El Sheikh in February, a ceasefire ensued,
eventually cemented in cross-factional Palestinian talks in
The issues Abbas and Sharon have yet to tackle are, of course, much
more complicated than the relatively straightforward issue of
Without Hamas, the elections will have no legitimacy. Without
elections it is not at all clear that a ceasefire is sustainable. It is vital
that the Palestinian Authority and
A successful summit needs tangible results. An outcome that leads to an undertaking that Palestinian parliamentary elections will take place on time with the broadest possible participation will signal success.
But summits should not
be talking shops. While the mere fact of a meeting between the two leaders
could be seen as bringing closer the end of the very damaging Israeli
unilateral thinking predominant in
FREEING OURSELVES OF THE PRISONERS
Reprinted from Haaretz
Distributed by Common Ground News Service with permission to republish
What would have happened if
the damage to the wing of the plane that dropped a one-ton bomb, killing 11
sleeping Palestinian children, had forced the Israeli pilot to eject over
Who would have been prepared to agree that the pilot should remain jailed "because his hands were stained with blood?" We do not leave prisoners - sorry, prisoners of war - on the battlefield, even if they are dead. On our side, those who kill such prisoners are pardoned and able to reach key positions. But when it is the Palestinians we are talking about, everyone is called a terrorist.
When the issue of releasing Palestinian prisoners is raised, such as in a meeting between Sharon and Abbas, government policy is determined by Israeli public opinion. The Arabs have neither families nor public opinion. Who cares that they also make the same distinctions between prisoners and POWs? What do we care if the Palestinian public is demanding of its leaders "to bring the children home?" Only a handful of bereaved parents, such as Rami Elhanan, whose daughter Smadar was murdered in a Jerusalem terrorist attack, and other members of the Forum for Bereaved Parents, who are prepared to call for the release of their children's murderers so that the murder of another child can be prevented.
Even security considerations, such as strengthening Abu Mazen's position in his confrontation with extremists, have no weight when it comes to the demagogic phrase, "Blood on their hands." The Shin Bet experts well understand the extreme importance that Palestinian society attaches to freeing thousands of prisoners. They appreciate the significance of an Israeli decision to grant Abu Mazen release of 8,000 Palestinian prisoners, particularly 400 who were sentenced before the Oslo Accords.
If Sharon continues to refuse to release prisoners, Hamas will be able to claim that it forced the liberation of the Gaza Strip while Abu Mazen makes agreements, but that he is not only unable to get Israel out of the West Bank towns, he can't even obtain the release of several hundred prisoners. The results will find expression in the balance of power between the PA security forces and the armed militias, in the municipal elections that will take place in December and the parliamentary elections that are slated for January.
Freeing prisoners is not
just another humanitarian gesture like removing roadblocks, but rather an
integral part of any cease-fire agreement and the beginning of peace
In a comprehensive document prepared on behalf of the Council for Peace and Security, Orit Adato - former head of the Prisons' Service - points to the surprising similarity between the Irish experience and the issue of the Palestinian prisoners. She makes several recommendations in this respect. She proposes that the prisoners' leadership declare publicly that they intend to renounce armed struggle and support the diplomatic process, and stop their attempts to organize terrorist attacks from behind prison bars.
Adato points out that there is in fact moderate leadership of this kind in the prisons but it is insufficiently exploited. For its part, the PA should take upon itself the preparation of a program to rehabilitate released prisoners while keeping an eye on them.
Instead of perpetuating the
disagreement with the Palestinians and getting dragged into an argument with
the Americans, Adato proposes a redefinition of
"blood on one's hands." She notes that a stricter definition of the
Irish prisoners as criminals in every respect was employed in
* Akiva Eldar is
senior columnist at Haaretz.
He has been covering the
www.jpost.com October 28, 2005
Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish.
Thirteen months from now the Israeli
people are scheduled to go to the polls to elect a new government for the
coming years. If the government doesn't fall in the coming months, the
One of the main reasons for Ariel
Sharon's success in remaining in power is because the overwhelming majority
of the public is pleased with his performance - at least when it comes to
On the Palestinian side the situation is
amazingly similar. The public is behind President Mahmoud
Abbas's platform for peace and negotiations.
Palestinian public opinion polls show, for the first time ever, concern for
the economy above and beyond other political issues. Palestinians want to
move toward peace with
House visit was a great disappointment to the advocates of
Israeli-Palestinian peace. The main news item from the summit was the removal
of the time frame for the creation of the Palestinian state which is now no
longer linked, as many had thought, to the length of Bush's stay in the White
House. This puts the possibilities for peace too far into future for it to
have any real meaning for pushing toward peace in the present. The removal of
the ticking clock as a means of pressure enables
The state of complacency might be viewed
in Israel as a means of putting pressure on the Palestinians to act; however,
no progress and more regression works more against Israeli interests - both
short-term and, more importantly, the long-term interests, than it does
against the Palestinians.
Rather than celebrating the de-linking
of the time frame from the Bush presidency,
ISRAELI TABOOS have been broken - the
most important of these are the dismantling of settlements and agreeing to
have third-party forces deployed and involved in monitoring. These are major
steps forward. The momentum of progress has been halted by the failure of the
sides to reach agreements on the issues of passages and access from
been proposing for months now to enter into a secret back channel of permanent
status negotiations. This has been rejected by
Abbas has now
launched a process to disarm those militias working under the Fatah title. This is an important step forward. The
In the meantime it is essential that the
Palestinian elections take place in an atmosphere of a real political
It is time for the Israeli and
Palestinian leaderships and people to open a process of imagining peace. This
is not to be confused with designing the "New Middle East" fantasy
world, but rather beginning to paint realistic pictures of scenarios of how
each side envisions Israeli-Palestinian peace. Imagining peace must not be
detached from the difficult realities on the ground. Imagining peace is a
useful tool that could enable each side not only to present their visions,
but also to define their threat perceptions and fears regarding the policy
options that are available to each other. Imagining peace would enable the
sides to eventually approach the real negotiations with a greater
understanding of the real red lines of each side while also being able to
create new possibilities for resolving some of the more complex issues, such
The process of imagining peace should begin with an exchange of letters between Sharon and Abbas. Other Israeli and Palestinian leaders, writers, academics and ordinary Israelis and Palestinians should add their own visions to the public debate. The 13 months ahead of us should be used for changing the Israeli-Palestinian public discourse and for creating the atmosphere for negotiations and compromise. This process will enhance the process of enabling and concluding successful negotiations that can take place during the Bush presidency.
* Gershon Baskin is the Israeli co-director of IPCRI (Israel-Palestine Centre for Research and Information).
Source: The Arabic Media Internet Network www.amin.org
October 7, 2005
Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish
Some of the speakers and participants said a conference called for by the Palestinian Authority to discuss how to have an effective public relations campaign was tens of years overdue. Titled "Talking to the world", the invitation was issued by Information Minister Nabil Shaath and attended by the top public and private brass of the Palestinians, including President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian journalists and media activists.
Held in Ramallah,
the two-day conference reviewed the political scene in
The first major disagreement occurred in the opening session. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat stated that the world knows what is happening to Palestinians while member of the Palestinian Legislative Council Hanan Ashrawi insisted that the world doesn't and surely doesn't understand the Palestinian reality. Some commentators attempted to bridge the gap by saying that the bare facts of what is happening in the occupied territories are available for those interested in finding them, but that the overriding image of the Palestinians is negative.
By and large, the
discussions, working groups, side debates and discussions during coffee
breaks and meal outings focused on the English and Hebrew media. The only
other issue of continued attention, other than that of the media in the
While many diaspora Palestinians felt that support from communities
in the West showing solidarity could result in change, the majority agreed
that the key to change is in
Speaker after speaker criticized the mistaken attempt to present the Palestinian struggle as that of a Palestinian mother appearing to celebrate the death of her son and refusing to show her real feelings or a militant exhibiting a child carrying a weapon or a masked 16 years old parading with a Kalashnikov. The need to humanize the Palestinian image through encouraging human interest stories and documentaries was emphasized repeatedly, but the suggestion to break the camera's attempt to film some of the negative images was rejected.
Improving the Palestinian image is not strictly a media issue. A number of astute speakers pointed out the absence of leading political groups and representatives of Palestinian factions who need to be involved in the job of educating the public about the need to stop idolizing death and militarization of the struggle.
Discussion of the
image of Palestinians in the Israeli media received much attention. Leading
Palestinian media activists who are citizens of
The participants were surprised by the strength of the statement made by Nabil Shaath on the issue of incitement in the Palestinian media. He told the conferees what happened when he found out what was an anti-Jewish Friday sermon given by a Gazan sheikh which was aired live on Palestine TV. After explaining some of what was said, Shaath sharply attacked the sheikh, announced in the presence of the director of Palestine TV that this particular clerk will never appear on Palestine TV and that he insisted on the following week to make sure that a sermon espousing the opposite points of view was delivered. Shaath also discussed how he plans to reorganize the official media (making them genuinely a public service broadcasting), to cancel the need for licensing of newspapers and the way he hoped to regulate the private audiovisual media in a way that will make them more effective, with regulators' only work to be focused on issues of public taste, as decided by representatives of the public.
The image of Palestinians in the world was summarized by one speaker as having one of the world's most just causes represented by some of the worst defenders. An attempt to change that, even a small one as that initiated by the Palestinian Authority, can lead to significant results. The key will be in the implementation, follow up and the seriousness of the Palestinian leadership in pursuing such endeavor.
*Daoud Kuttab is
an award-winning Arab journalist, he is the director
Reprinted from Haaretz
Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish
Desmond Tutu says in his
book "No Future Without Forgiveness" that blacks and white in
This lengthy process captured the attention of everyone in
The professional political science literature agrees that a ceremony of asking forgiveness, or a structured process of reconciliation, is an essential component of conflict resolution: Without it, the embers of the conflict continue to burn and are liable to reignite.
There are different degrees of relaxation in violent conflicts: a cease-fire declaration, an agreement on a state of nonbelligerency, a transition to cold war and so forth. But true resolution is impossible without a reconciliation phase.
The problem is that the warring parties usually have trouble getting to this stage.Reconciliation requires an ability to identify with the enemy's view of the meaning and causes of the conflict, an acknowledgment of gu ilt for injustices committed by one party against the other and abandoning the desire for revenge.
Nevertheless, reconciliation is essential, because it puts both parties on an equal footing, declares that both sides are both victim and perpetrator, and enables them to agree on a common denominator and leave the bitter conflict behind, together with the
reciprocal atrocities that it spawned.
Tonight, the day when Jews confess their sins, pray "forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement" and ask forgiveness of their fellow men, is an appropriate moment to think about whether the time has not come to begin an organized process of reconciliation with the Palestinian people.
The emotional dimension
It would be difficult to quiet this emotional maelstrom with diplomatic agreements alone, and especially not if they are imposed or unilateral. What is needed is therapeutic intervention, which could be supplied by launching a process of reconciliation.
Israelis and Palestinians continue to recoil from one another. In the best case, they relate to each other as strangers; usually with suspicion; and sometimes through glasses that attribute satanic characteristics to the other side. A process of reconciliation will not cause the two peoples to become friends, but it will, perhaps, enable them to turn over a new leaf and concentrate on building a better future. The goal of the process would not exactly be to seek forgiveness; rather, it would aspire to a recognition of injustices and willingness to atone for them in deeds.
Uzi Benziman is a senior columnist for Haaretz. He has been covering Israeli politics and diplomacy for four decades.