Publication of the Research/Action Team on Nonviolent
Large Systems Change,
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Alon Ben-Meir, Ph.D.:
God Has Spoken: An open letter
to the Palestinian Prime Minister designate Ismail Haniya
"Testing Hamas and a Saudi Option”
"Making the Best of Hamas' Victory”
Jerome M. Segal,
"Avoiding ambiguity on the
'right to exist'”
George S. Hishmeh,
"Hamas and the Irish Model”
Maggie Mitchell Salem,
For Better or for Worse”
"Drinking from Toilets:
Is it Wise to Refuse Talks
with Hamas if the Price is Typhoid
Rami G. Khouri,
"A Historical Verge,
or Back to
"Solar Energy Lights
“Respond to Racism
and Death with Humanity
Rabbi Jeremy Rose,
Letter from ENCASA/Emergency Network of Cuban American Scholars and Artists for Change
in U.S.-Cuba Policy
"An Open Letter to G8 Leaders: Why World Poverty is a Justice Issue First, and then an Economic Matter”
Vol. XX, No.3 Spring 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.
GOD HAS SPOKEN:
An open letter to the Palestinian Prime Minister designate Ismail Haniya
Alon Ben-Meir—February 21, 2006
I am addressing this letter to you because you are known to be a pragmatic man and also a believer. Use your pragmatism and belief in God to alter the destiny of your people and walk them to the “promised land” because they have suffered enough.
The long history
of the Holy Land attests to the fact that no other land has seen so much
glory and despair or touched the souls of so many. It is a land that has
shaped the destiny of its inhabitants and witnessed the rise and fall of many
ancient empires, including the Assyrian, Persian, Babylonian, Roman, Greek,
You must know that neither Israelis nor Palestinians can have it all: It is impossible in the profoundest sense to build one's home on the ruins of another’s. The self-consuming cycle of violence must stop. For nearly a century, Israelis and Palestinians have been at war. During the time they have inflicted terrible wounds on each other. Governed by misguided leaders, the two peoples have acted out of blind hatred and animosity, poisoning generation after generation. Today cold-blooded murders, suicide bombings, stabbings, abductions, and other hideous crimes perpetrated by one side are countered by the other side with demolition of homes, detentions, targeted killings, expulsions, and daily humiliations, each of these actions defying the very premise of the religious connection of both peoples to the land. So its sacred soil is defiled.
Let me share
with you my own humble observations: Every time I travel to the Holy Land, I
visit the Haram Al-Sharif, the
invisible, deepening emotional divide, Arabs and Jews weep silently for the
loss of loved ones, victims of merciless violent conflict, and pray for an
end to the tragedy that has befallen them. Separate, yet together in their
yearning, both peoples pray for peace. Here they are, the holiest shrines for
Jews and Muslims, juxtaposed, with no possibility of either side altering
anything in these sacred settings. Every stone, every gesture or movement has
the same message: There is no escape from cohabitation, no way out of
coexistence. Separate but inseparable, this is the destiny of Jews and Muslims.
The echoes of Arab and Jewish prayers mingle in the air, reaching out to the
same God. The Islamic Resistance Movement platform “believes that the
The dream of Israelis to live in their ancient homeland and that of Palestinians to have a state of their own do not cancel each other out. Rather, they provide the sole basis for sharing the land equitably, though under separate rule. The ancient world thrust Israelis and Palestinians together. Now, in our own time, the children of Abraham have returned home to join their cousins. This is neither an historical accident nor an aberration of time and space. The Wall and the Dome of the Rock summoned them together long before the first Palestinian youth and Israeli child died in the current inferno. The radicals on both sides must remember that the campaign to dislodge each other from the land will fail because Israeli-Palestinian coexistence is an historic reality anchored in a religious promise more powerful than blind fanaticism and deeper than their perverted convictions. This is the most compelling reason why the pain and anguish must now end. The salvation of the souls of both peoples and the redemption of the soil must be the task at hand.
I ask you: How many more deaths of Israelis and Palestinians must God witness in silence? How much more blood must spill? How much more destruction and despair must these two peoples endure? How could this land, the cradle of three great religions, have become the killing fields for its sons and daughters, victims of extremism, delusion, and the tragic denial of each others' rights? Hamas can kill another hundred or a thousand Israelis; thousands of Palestinians can be expelled or shot to death, but then what? Israelis and Palestinians will be left still facing each other. As both sides reposition themselves, they will be talking with one another, simply because there is no other option. Except the hatred will run even deeper, and mutual fear and suspicion will extinguish the last vestiges of trust, taint every gesture and action. The loss of human live and the sustained suffering will have taken their toll, further scarring hearts and minds, making negotiations increasingly intractable.
Mr. Haniya, the
truth is that
In this holy setting, a breakthrough vision must be summoned to create a larger picture of promise. Please remember that if the religious teachings and practice you ardently invoke in support of your historic rights have any bearing on the outcome, then God has already spoken.
P.S. I will be happy to meet with you to present in person the merits of my argument.
Alon Ben-Meir is professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU and is the Middle East Project Director at the World Policy Institute, New York. firstname.lastname@example.org
TESTING AND A SAUDI OPTION
Source: Common Ground News Service (http://www.commongroundnews.org/), February 21, 2006.
Distributed by Common Ground News Service with publication of this article.
Washington, DC -
Troubling questions abound in light of the Hamas victory, but the imperative
now is to decide on a course of action that is morally defensible. Is it wise
to permit Hamas, or any group with a militia that regularly attacks
civilians, to participate in democratic elections? Most pundits in the
questions that the Palestinian people must face such as what will be the fate
of moderates, Christians, democrats and atheists in a state run by Hamas. But
the fact is that 40% of Palestinians united in a vote for change and the
recent, incredible revelations of massive PA corruption while people starved
more than explains the vote. The fact is that most did not vote for an
Islamic state but the question is will they get more than they bargained for,
as did the people who supported the revolutionaries in
It is time to
test the parameters of Hamas‚ intentions. The
This may be a
moment for King Abdullah of
There is an
argument to be made that this moves things toward where they always should
have been, not a
What will be the
true test for Hamas? Not recognition of
This could have
revolutionary implications in terms of the direction of Islamicism across the
world. It would put Hamas and
The trouble at this point is that whenever a violent party in a resistance movement agrees to a ceasefire a competitor takes up the mantle of legitimacy through violence in the minds of the masses. There are already signs that Fateh and the Al-Aqsa Brigades, not to mention Islamic Jihad, are filling that role.
There is one
important element of this scenario to be worked out and this involves the
important insight of Rabbi Menahem Fruman. Hamas instinctively cannot cope,
as of now, with the idea of recognizing any apostate state, let alone
Marc Gopin is the James Laue Professor of
World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at
MAKING THE BEST OF HAMAS' VICTORY
February 19, 2006. Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish.
The reaction reflects opposition to bankrolling an organization that
has neither recognized
If dealt with wisely, the Islamists' victory could present an
opportunity for the
Hamas' victory undoubtedly presents the
Paradoxically, Hamas' electoral landslide might optimize conditions for its political transition, for victory is likely to inhibit it far more than would have defeat. The more Hamas exercises government responsibility, the less it is likely to revert to violence; the greater its electoral mandate, the lesser its freedom of action.
The Islamists ran on a campaign of effective government and promised to improve Palestinians' lives; they cannot do that if the international community turns its back. They need to reassure anxious Palestinian security forces and the defeated Fatah movement; they cannot do that if they pursue an aggressive domestic agenda.
Most of all, they must prove their way works; they cannot do that if conflict escalates. Renewed attacks against Israelis would lead to a swift and far-reaching response and ravage whatever hope the Islamists have for their turn at the helm.
Far better, for all these reasons, to have the Islamists in the PA instead of opposing it. What they could afford from the outside they cannot similarly get away with from within.
Even on the diplomatic front, Hamas' victory is not necessarily a fatal setback. The Islamists' approach is more in tune with current Israeli thinking than the PA's loftier goal of a negotiated permanent peace ever was.
In its penchant for unilateralism and partiality toward a long-term
And in the unlikely event that the possibility of a comprehensive agreement were to be resurrected in the near future, does anyone believe that it could succeed over Hamas' opposition? Ultimately, a sustainable peace might not be possible with the Islamists. But it plainly will be impossible without them.
Don't talk to Hamas, for there is no reason to reward its outlook. But don't ostracize or actively undermine a Hamas-backed PA, either.
Instead, deal with President Mahmoud Abbas and ministries that are not
directly in Hamas' hands. Don't discourage third-party unofficial contacts
with the Islamist organization in an attempt to moderate it. And judge the
experiment based chiefly on what the Islamists do - whether quiet is
maintained, who is named to the Cabinet and whether the government's platform
respects past agreements and accepts peaceful dealings with
The objective should be to set conditions that will be hard for the Islamists to accept but equally hard for them to reject. If this seems like a hard pill to swallow, consider the alternative: a threat to halt all aid unless Hamas wholly changes its stripes.
The elections made plain the limitations of outside threats and pressure. The Islamists won in part because of dissatisfaction with the PA, disgust at corruption and frustration at Fatah's performance. But more than that, and more important, the vote expressed anger at years of humiliation and loss of self-respect because of Israeli settlement expansion, Yasser Arafat's imprisonment, Israel's incursions, Western lecturing and, most recently and tellingly, the threat of an aid cut off in the event of an Islamist success.
Hamas, which benefited mightily from this deep-seated aspiration for dignity, is not about to betray it, and the Palestinian people, which put Hamas in power, are not about to blame the Islamists if they fail because of international hostility.
An inflexible approach to the PA would carry other perils. Hamas, searching for a substitute source of funds, might turn to Iran or, convinced that it is being set up for failure, drop its political gambit and return to the familiarity of armed confrontation. Without the leverage of Western funding, without the responsibility to ensure it keeps flowing, Hamas will be less constrained and freer to revert to past practice.
Should the PA go bankrupt - if
As for the prospect of the PA's collapse, poverty and despair
strengthened Hamas in the past, and there is every reason to suspect they
would do so again in the future. Even those most hostile to Hamas, whether in
The Bush administration obviously didn't want a Hamas victory and wasn't prepared for it. But bringing the more militant segment of Palestinian society into the political fray, maintaining the truce, boosting the U.S. democracy agenda and promoting reform are not the worst hand the United States could have been dealt.
President Bush's effort to promote democracy in the
Rob Malley, who was special assistant to President Bill Clinton for Arab-Israeli affairs, directs the Middle East program at the International Crisis Group. His e-mail is email@example.com.
AVOIDING THE AMBIGUITY ON THE 'RIGHT TO EXIST'
Jerome M. Segal
Source: Haaretz (www.haaretz.com), March 18, 2006. Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish.
Maryland - In
the summer and fall of 1988, when contact between U.S. officials and the PLO
was not allowed by law and policy, I was one of a number of private
individuals who traveled to Tunis to see if there was a way in which the PLO
could accept the three conditions that were required before dialogue with
them would be permitted: acceptance of UN Security Council Resolutions 242
and 338, a renunciation of terrorism, and recognition of Israel's right to
exist. Recent statements by
I recall one
conversation with PLO leaders in particular. I was meeting with Khalid
al-Hassan, one of the senior leaders in Fatah and a moderate. Hassan said the
PLO could accept the first two conditions, but the third, recognizing
Yet, Hassan's point was well taken. First of all, the concept of a state having a right to exist was, and is, outside the conceptual bounds of existing international law. It had no standing meaning. Was the right being referred to a legal right or a moral right? And more fundamentally, did it refer to a right to have come into existence, or a right to remain in existence?
When Hassan said
the affirmation of
What the PLO did
not say, then or ever, was that
the point of view of policy, the question of PLO views about
December of 1988, a month after the Declaration of Independence, specific
statements by the PLO were accepted by the Reagan administration as
fulfillment of the three conditions, and the U.S.-PLO dialogue began. It is
instructive to consider exactly how the PLO dealt with the "right to
exist" condition. The key event was a special meeting of the UN General
Assembly, which convened in
attending the press conference assumed that this, too, would prove an inadequate
effort. To their surprise, hours later, the State Department announced that
What Arafat did
was to take the thoroughly ambiguous concept of "right to exist"
and imbed it within the familiar notion that existing states have a right to
exist in peace and security. Moreover, he linked
One lesson in all this is that words matter. Verbal preconditions, either by cynical intention or inadvertence, can ensure that groups seeking to come in from the cold are kept outside. The conditions that the PLO met in 1988 were imposed in 1975, thirteen years earlier. A strong case can be made that as preconditions for contact and dialogue, they retarded rather than hastened the evolution of the PLO.
With respect to
Hamas, it may be that the same is true. For instance, Hamas has indicated its
willingness, under certain conditions, to enter into a long-term truce with
their questionable wisdom, various verbal affirmations are required as a
precondition to contact and negotiations, great care should be taken in how they
are formulated. Surely it would be best to avoid the ambiguities of
"right to exist". Don't ask or expect Palestinians to accept the
same moral narratives that are held by Israeli Jews and friends of
Finally, if the objective is to promote the evolution of Hamas, then it would be wise to shift the focus from verbal affirmations to a focus on behavior (e.g. no suicide bombings) and their committing to a process that could potentially lead to an end-of-conflict agreement. For instance, it could be required that Hamas specifically affirm: a) that Mahmoud Abbas, as head of the PLO, is the recognized Palestinian agent for negotiations with Israel, and b) that Hamas would accept as binding any negotiated treaty that was approved in a referendum of the Palestinian people.
*Jerome M. Segal
is a Senior Research Scholar at the
HAMAS AND THE IRISH MODEL
George S. Hishmeh
Source: The Jordan Times (www.jordantimes.com). February 24-25, 2006. Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish.
Washington DC - Before she embarked on her three-country tour of the Arab world, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice invited for the first time a handful of Arab print correspondents for a roundtable discussion about the region's concerns, primarily the ascendancy of Hamas and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
An articulate speaker, the top American diplomat underscored
Rice acknowledged that the Hamas' landslide victory in last month's
parliamentary elections represented the Palestinian people's desire for
change "after more than a decade of corrupt leadership that did not
address their needs". She, however, maintained that both President
Mahmoud Abbas and his Finance Minister Salam Fayyad had tried but "were
not able to fully transform" Fateh, the predominant Palestinian party,
and the Palestinian Authority and "deal with the (deteriorating)
security situation in
Her punch line during the session: "The obligation of the
international community is to say that the only path to a good and peaceful
life (in Palestine) is to have a government that is prepared to seek a
two-state solution, that is prepared to recognise the other party to that
two-state solution. You can't say you want the destruction of
Whether Rice's views will find any positive response in the countries
she was visiting -
In a column published in The Washington Post last Monday, the former president said that "the likely results will be to alienate already oppressed and innocent Palestinians, to incite and to increase the domestic influence and international esteem of Hamas".
The Bush administration and
Although it is understandable that Rice should feel that Hamas cannot have "one foot in violence and terrorism and another foot in the political process", one must not forget the Irish model which included both Sein Fein, the political wing, and the Irish Republican Army. Richard Haas of Brookings Institution and a former presidential aide in the administration of George Bush, Sr., sees the challenge nowadays as "find(ing) a way gradually to bring (Hamas) into the (political) tent", in the same way "the United States, Britain and Ireland successfully worked with (Sein Fein/IRA) and over the course of more than a decade (and) essentially moved that group into the political process".
George S. Hishmeh is
an Arab American columnist based in
Source: Haaretz (www.haaretz.com), February 21, 2006. Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish.
Tel Aviv -
After all, this policy of putting massive pressure on the Palestinians
so that they will pressure their leaders has failed in the past. The idea to
freeze tax revenues - which is actually Palestinian money and not some sort
of Israeli aid, as one may think sometimes by the way this threat is
presented - was tried out for about a year. Since the 1967 war, through the
first intifada and to this day, Israel's leaders have tried all sorts of
pressure: from moderate physical pressure to radical pressure, closures,
curfews, roadblocks, arrests, targeted killings, closing the gates to
Palestinian workers, offensive operations, the uprooting of trees, the
demolition of houses and more. All this has brought about the rise of Hamas
rule in the Palestinian territories and the creation of Hezbollah in
Nazir Majali is a
journalist, author, and a commentator on Israeli affairs. With Father Emile
MIDDLE EAST DIPLOMACY FOR BETTER OR WORSE
Maggie Mitchell Salem
In the case of Palestinian elections, voters struck back at chaotic governance, corrupt leadership and societal decay by voting in, perhaps unwittingly, Hamas. As one Palestinian minister put it, "They wanted to slap us; they ended up amputating a leg."
The meddling in-laws, Washington and Tel Aviv, were certainly more of a hindrance than a help. They belatedly backed the woefully deficient incumbents, Fatah, though for the preceding year they did little to sustain and effectively undercut President Mahmoud Abbas‚ authority.
On Saturday, Hamas formally took charge of the Palestinian National Authority, a milestone in the history of the Palestinian people. Some worry that it could become their tombstone.
On Tuesday a front page article in the New York Times revealed that a plan is afoot in both capitals to starve the PNA of funds and international support. Such a tactic is collective punishment dressed up as bilateral sanctions.
The real objective is to compel 150,000 civil servants, and the roughly 900,000 relatives their salaries support, to take to the streets, demand the government resign, spark new elections and return Fatah. Yet the "you reap what you sow" policy (i.e., Palestinians elected Hamas, so Palestinians suffer the consequences) is a dangerous, double-edged sword that should not be wielded without adequate appreciation for the possible outcomes. With over 70% of the Palestinians hovering just above or well below the poverty line, they may well blame Hamas for their economic strangulation, particularly if the party fails to adopt a compromise position. In such an event, the scenario outlined above is plausible.
Yet this seemingly perfect plan has a significant downside. Fatah will not reform. Why should they? The process is painful and destabilizing in the short-term as positions are cut, security services reordered and patronage excesses curbed. What's the incentive? They are assured that the reins of power (and the government purse) are theirs to misuse and plunder at will.
But what if
Hamas does endeavor to make a few but not all of the changes demanded by Tel
Aviv and Washington? Hamas leadership may shrewdly decide to buy some time by
adopting Ariel Sharon's strategy.
Were this to
occur, then Palestinians may just as easily turn their anger on Washington
and Tel Aviv. The streets of Ramallah and
for Hamas to outflank the
one of the less obvious results of the election seems to have escaped
strategists' attention: Hamas did not win or failed to secure large margins
in towns and municipalities that it already controls. In other words, were
sound minds to prevail, they might counsel patience. Hamas showed remarkable
discipline in the run-up to the elections and maintained the ceasefire with
there are a few individuals with enough sense, and perhaps enough
"wasta", to urge Bush to reconsider. In an interview last week,
former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer said, "we have principles,
we're not going to deal with terrorists, and we're not going to deal with parties
which don't recognize
Mitchell Salem is a political and communications consultant based in
DRINKING FROM THE TOILET:
IS IT WISE TO REFUSE TALKS WITH HAMAS IF THE PRICE IS TYPHOID AND CHOLERA?
Source: Ynet (ynetnews.com), February 16, 2006. Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish.
- There was a large demonstration last month in
This is also
related to Hamas. Suddenly, after the carnival of pluralism that enveloped us
Swimming with sewage
geographic issue. When a Palestinian goes to the bathroom in
In the West Bank
- 40 million cubic meters - the chances of
This is also a
matter of geography:
Treating the problem
governments have provided millions of dollars in aid for the Palestinians to
build sewage treatment plants. Now that the Palestinian government is in
financial crisis - that will only get worse in the near future if
It is in
Squaring the circle will require a creative solution. We can continue refusing to talk to Hamas about politics. We need not talk about final status agreements, interim agreements, the war on terror. But it would be stupid to refuse talks about sewage. The appropriate and wise thing to do, before our declaration that "We're not talking to Hamas" becomes holier than God Himself, would be to talk to Hamas.
This dialogue can also focus on something else. Palestinian tax money that we collect on their behalf should be used for a joint Israel-Hamas waste management project. Because from our perspective, a Hamas member who builds such a plant is just like that Iranian bus driver - he is undermining the anti-Israeli regime. If not, we can stick to being right, and suffer the consequences of malaria and cholera.
Gideon Eshet is a Yedioth Ahronoth journalist and regular commentator on economic affairs.
HISTORICAL VERGE, OR BACK TO
Rami G. Khouri
Source: The Daily Star (www.dailystar.com.lb), February 22, 2006. Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish.
Decisions made today may be equally fateful. How the
At stake here are several major issues: the future direction of the democratic wave that is slowly moving throughout the Middle East; the fate of America's credibility with the Arab-Islamic world on promoting freedom and democracy; the possibility of achieving a negotiated Arab-Israeli peace in the coming years; the balance between, on the one hand, the majority of mainstream political Islamists such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and, on the other hand, radical terrorists like Osama bin Laden; the legitimacy and staying power of most so-called "moderate" Arab regimes that are close to the U.S.; and the situation Washington faces in Iraq and in its so-called "global war on terror."
Not surprisingly, the Bush administration's response to Hamas was a main
theme at the annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum in
My own sense is that the Hamas victory provides a rare historical
opportunity to achieve goals that all the main parties should welcome -
Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and Europeans. The best possible scenario
would be for the
If the U.S. follows Israel by isolating and sanctioning Hamas and punishing the Palestinians for electing it, the potential consequences are grim: the government in Palestine could collapse and chaos might reign again; most Arabs (and people throughout the entire world) would deem the U.S. totally unreliable and non-credible in its talk of promoting democracy; radical terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda would win more converts from frustrated Islamists who would feel that they followed the more moderate Hamas line to no avail; anti-American sentiment and militancy would rise throughout the region; the exposed U.S. position in Iraq would become increasingly difficult and dangerous; anti-American populism championed by Syria and Iran would expand rapidly, and find grim new forms of expression; and, Arab regimes friendly to the U.S. would become more exposed and vulnerable to their own peoples' anger.
The choice is laden with momentous consequences.
Rami G. Khouri writes a regular commentary for The Daily Star.
ENERGY LIGHTS UP A
Source: Israel21c (www.israel21c.org),February 12, 2006. Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish.
But behind the anonymity of the village is an achievement that makes it unique. It recently became the first community in the country - and in the world - to be outfitted with a multipurpose solar electricity system for providing power to the entire village.
The project, initiated by The Ministry of National Infrastructure, The
Negev Development Authority and MK Shimon Peres' office for developing the
Situated at the foothills of the Hebron Hills, Drijat is the only
Palestinian Arab village in the
Until recently Drijat, like many other Arab communities in the
To accomplish this, they hired Interdan, a private Israeli natural-electricity company, to carry out the actual installation and management of the project. The energy is collected by eight solar photovoltaic panels fitted on the rooftops, then stored in a DC battery system which converts it to AC. It provides a stable current of the same quality as the electric company provides (or would provide were it hooked up to the village!) according to Interdan, the batteries will supply electricity at night and on cloudy days - for four days without direct sunlight, a rare occurrence in the Negev desert.
"What is unique is that we are trying to convert the entire village to a modern solar village, not just installing individual systems to run telephones, like they do in Africa," Gil Nezer, Interdan's marketing director, told ISRAEL21c.
What this system can't support are air conditioners and heaters which would quickly consume all the stored up energy. Generators are still used at night.
"The hope is to reduce the use of generators once the whole village is connected to solar panels," says Nezer. "The main thing is that we can use electricity during the day."
That fact has already stared changing the lives of the residents. Housewife Tagrid Abu Hamad shows us around her spacious home which has been outfitted with one of the solar systems. "Now the kids have something to do during the day - they can watch TV or use the computer. I don't have to worry about them," she told ISRAEL21c. "We used to light candles, and this is dangerous."
Tagrid's neighbour, Nasser Abu Hamad, agrees. "This is particularly important for the children. Instead of roaming around outside, and the parents not knowing where they are, they can watch TV or use the computer. And it helps them study."
Now with the installation of solar electricity systems, after relying on noisy, unstable and polluting private generators for years, the residents will be able to use household appliances powered by natural "green" electricity, even at night or on cloudy days.
So far, the system - manufactured by the Canadian company Xantrex - has been installed in 20 of the 100 households, the science and computer rooms of the local school, the mosque and the streetlights in the village.
The village is also now illuminated with streetlights powered by solar panels atop poles fixed along the streets. Abu Hamad says that in the past it was uncomfortable coming home late at night. "Everything was shut down and dark. Now the village is lit up and you can see everything. There's a feeling of more security." Also visible at night for the first time is the village mosque - its green dome dramatically lit up. Abu Hamad is convinced this is the first mosque in the world that is powered by solar panels.
The long process by which the Drijat families decided who would get
the initial units had its own social dynamics. The key was how many family
members were living in a house, but those with seriously ill family members
were pushed to the top of the list. The requirements for solar energy - sun,
wind and high levels of radiation - are readily available in the region, but
have been left largely untapped for energy production. Interdan's Nezer says
the company hopes Drijat will serve as a model for spreading solar
Patricia Golan is a
journalist based in
RESPOND TO RACISM AND DEATH WITH HUMANITY AND LIFE
Source: The Jordan Times (www.jordantimes.com), February 17-18, 2006. Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to republish.
One of the most unnecessary, unfortunate and dangerous aspects of this matter has been the slow introduction into the discussion of the issue of the Holocaust by various Arabs, Iranians and other Muslims, and the counter-accusations that this is simply a new form of rabid anti-Semitism.
Sadly, this is
not an isolated or unusual phenomenon. It occurs often, whenever a
contemporary political or religious argument in the Middle East touches on
seems to be at work again these days in relation to the Danish cartoons, in
particular in view of the announcement Monday that one of
This is a most disturbing development at the moral level, and extremely counterproductive at the political level. It will surely escalate the existing penchant of sinister polemicists and provocateurs on both sides to transform a legitimate debate about religiously offensive cartoons into a mindless, destructive mud-slinging match about whether Jews should live or die, and whether Muslims and Arabs were fully human, moral and rational.
Both parties that foment this anti-Jewish, anti-Islamic frenzy are equally despicable. It is bad enough that devious or ignorant minds in Denmark and other Western places have resorted to arguments as press freedom and secular modernity to rationalize the blasphemous, insulting cartoons about the Prophet Mohammad and Islam. It is equally regrettable that some Iranians and others in this region should respond with the same sort of gutter behavior.
The last thing
we need now is for an Iranian newspaper to sponsor a contest on Holocaust
cartoons, or for websites in
˜ Start a worldwide drive to support Palestinian universities under Israeli occupation.
˜ Promote a
global support system for Palestinians in occupied
˜ Mobilize the lawyers and judges of the world to challenge Israeli practices in credible courts of law.
˜ Build 1,000 new nursery schools for Palestinian children.
˜ Launch a high-profile campaign for the whole world to engage peacefully with the new, democratically elected Palestinian government to be formed soon.
institutions that allow Christians, Muslims and Jews in
˜ Start a
serious international academic program that would study the parallels between
the Israeli colonization and control of the occupied territories with the
parallel apartheid system that ultimately collapsed in
˜ Demand diplomatic action to ensure free export lanes for Palestinian agricultural produce.
˜ Match a well-off family in the world with a needy Palestinian family in occupied lands or in Palestinian refugee camps, to ensure that every Palestinian boy and girl has enough money to complete secondary education, and has a chance to go to college or post-secondary vocational school.
We should respond to the inhumanity of the insulting cartoons and the ugly emotions behind them by affirming our commitment to life, truth and positive human values.
Rami G. Khouri writes a regular commentary for The Daily Star.
Rabbi Jeremy Rose
Source: Common Ground News Service (http://www.commongroundnews.org/), February 23, 2006. Distributed by the Common Ground News Service with permission to publish.
There are biblical laws against cutting down trees needlessly. Mankind is compared to the tree of the field, growing slowly, producing and nourishing yet easily cut off in an instant. In the Talmud there is the famous story of a man planting a carob tree that will not bear fruit in his lifetime saying, ŒI found a world with trees in it that my grandparents planted, so I must provide similarly for my grandchildren.‚
been destroying Arab olive trees in Judea and
past year there have been dozens of sabotage incidents of Palestinian-owned
olive groves by settlers. As recently as last month more than 1,000 olive
trees have been cut down on six different occasions.
Menachem Mazuz told the cabinet that
In a second
story, Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz noted he has ordered the
establishment of a special team to investigate the destruction of over 2,000
olive trees belonging to Palestinians in the
"Mofaz said in the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday that, following the findings of an investigation into the matter, he ordered security forces to increase their presence in areas where trees have been destroyed, to carry out a policy of quick and effective arrests and to compensate the Palestinian tree owners".
The Jerusalem Post, not at all left wing, had the following report on January 13th:
"While the army plans to launch special operations to catch the perpetrators, officials on Thursday slammed what they called the police's constant failure to arrest the suspects. On Tuesday, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Yuval Diskin criticized the police's failure to effectively prevent settlers from vandalizing Palestinian olive orchards.‚
'settlers'? It‚s a general term that is applied to anyone living beyond the
old 1967 armistice borders. But it covers a range of people from religious to
secular, economic settlers to ideological ones, aggressive to spiritual,
pacifist mystics, criminals to law-abiding innocents. Sadly, amongst them are
to be found those who resist the democratic process in
Whenever I read
irrational, vituperative attacks on Zionism or
answer is that the accusations are baseless. It would be hard to find another
set of baseless rumors turned into 'news'. Not a single Israeli settler has
been convicted of damaging Arab trees [That‚s like saying no one in
As if tight-fisted Israeli exchequers under economic pressure are going to dole out compensation for no good reason!!! Sadly our world is full of irrational fanatics. We need to remember that we have our own.
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen is Professor and
Chairman, The Faculty for Comparative Religion in
LETTER FROM ENCASA FOR
Attached below is a declaration by a newly formed group–-an Emergency Network of Cuban American Scholars and Artists for Change in U.S.-Cuba Policy (ENCASA/US-CUBA). The statement, which is self-explanatory, was drafted by a steering committee (listed below) that has met and worked over the past several weeks, with a sense of urgency, to mobilize the largely silent and silenced voice of academics and professionals and to stimulate concerted action aimed to reverse a politically failed and morally bankrupt U.S.-Cuba policy–-as most recently reflected in the arrogant and extreme 2004 Report to the President: Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba (which had the temerity even to redefine away our own families in Cuba).
collecting the names of both
non-Cuban American and Cuban
American intellectuals and academics, scholars and artists, who
support our call for a reversal of U.S.-Cuba policy, and who want to see
educational and cultural exchanges with
If you agree in principle with the attached statement, please e-mail your name, title, and institutional affiliation/profession to <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com, and indicate (in the subject line or the text of your e-mail) whether you are or are not Cuban American (since we are maintaining two separate lists).
We want to act
quickly to generate as many names as possible, and continue this recruitment
effort over the next few weeks, starting at the Latin American Studies
Association meetings in
Let us not abdicate our moral responsibility to speak our truth to power, or allow a clique that does not represent our views to continue to claim that they speak for all Cuban Americans (or for all USAmericans, for that matter), or continue to remain silent and intimidated in our homes and ivory towers when an incessant stream of outrages continues to be perpetrated in our name. Let us instead speak up and act as moral agents and catalysts for change.
We hope to hear from you as soon as possible. Muchas gracias,
Rubén G. Rumbaut
p.s. Members of the steering committee include María Isabel Alfonso and Lillian Manzor (University of Miami); Ruth Behar (University of Michigan); Marta Caminero-Santangelo (University of Kansas); Max Castro (Independent Scholar); María Cristina García (Cornell University); Liz Cerejido, Guillermo Grenier and Lisandro Pérez (Florida International University); Félix Masud-Piloto (DePaul University); Rubén G. Rumbaut (University of California, Irvine); and Silvia Wilhelm (Executive Director, Puentes Cubanos).
Rubén G. Rumbaut, Professor of Sociology and
Co-Director, Center for Research on Immigration, Population, and Public
AN OPEN LETTER TO G8 LEADERS:
WHY WORLD POVERTY IS A JUSTICE ISSUE FIRST AND
THEN AN ECONOMIC MATTER
Kamran Mofid , Friday, June17, 2005
Republished with the author's permission
Dear Honourable Presidents and Prime Ministers,
Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.
— Nelson Mandela
The most basic right of all humanity is to eat three decent meals a day. Hunger is actually the worst weapon of mass destruction. It claims millions of victims each year. There will be no peace without development and no development without social justice.
— Luiz da Silva
Poverty is a breeding ground for discontent. There is a sense of injustice. We have got to act if we are going to avoid the development of terrorist cells.
— Gordon Brown
Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.
— Albert Schweitzer
The continuous existence of such high levels of abject poverty
This open letter is a message from Africa, the Africans, in
association with their non-African brethrens who recently attended an
international conference, Africa: the Quest for Justice and Peace, which was
The right way to eliminate poverty and heal our broken world:
1- To make poverty history is mainly mobilized around the concept of justice. In many cases, challenging injustice is the first step towards the elimination of poverty. To do justice is to feel the pain and to become one with the sufferer; is to ask fundamental questions about the roots of injustice and to fight for their removals. It is then that poverty can be eliminated.
2- All manners of policies and theories have been tested on
3- Material wellbeing, economic growth and wealth creation are important. But, to create a world of true happiness, peace and wellbeing, wealth must be created for a noble reason. Economics, commerce and trade, without a true understanding of the aspirations of the people it is affecting, cannot bring justice to all. Social transformation can be achieved only when unselfish love, spirituality and a rigorous pursuit of justice are embraced. Moreover, Millennium Development Goals, Commission for Africa recommendations and more will only be achieved when unselfish love and the pursuit of justice guides the motivations, not more free trade or more privatization for example. Here the wise words of Albert Einstein ring true: “The world cannot get out of its current state of crisis with the same thinking that got it there in the first place”.
4- We need a “Spiritual Revolution” so that as Archbishop William Temple once so eloquently remarked, “The art of government in fact is the art of so ordering life that self-interest prompts what justice demands”. If we truly want to change the world for the better, all of us, the politicians, business community, workers, men and women, young and old, must truly become better ourselves. We must share a common understanding of the potential for each one of us to become self-directed, empowered and active in defining this time in the world as an opportunity for positive change and healing. We can achieve a culture of peace by giving thanks, spreading joy, sharing love and understanding, seeing miracles, discovering goodness, embracing kindness and forgiveness, practicing patience, teaching tolerance, encouraging laughter, celebrating and respecting the diversity of cultures and religions and peacefully resolving conflicts. We must each of us become an instrument of peace.
It is worth remembering the centuries-old wisdom of the Persian poet, Sa’di:
Human beings are like parts of a body
Created from the same essence.
When one part is hurt and in pain,
The others cannot remain in peace and be quiet.
If the misery of others leaves you indifferent
And with no feelings of sorrow,
You cannot be called a human being.
Ideals into practice: Healing the Scar of Africa:
The acknowledgement of God, Ultimate Reality, or the One. Our lives are grounded in an Ultimate Reality, the source of the sacredness of all life and of the spiritual power, hope, and trust that we discover in prayer or meditation, in word or silence, and in our striving for just relationships with all existence.
The investment of Spiritual Capital. The most powerful way for faith and spiritual communities to influence beliefs, norms and institutions is through prophetic voice and public action. Highly visible faith and interfaith affirmation of the great spiritual truths of peace, justice, and the sacredness of the Earth and all life can make a tremendous contribution to Globalisation for the Common Good. Action and service by spiritual and faith communities and groups can provide a vital source of inspiration and energy for the healing of the world.
The practice of selfless Love. The most important point of convergence shared by the world’s great spiritual traditions is to be found in the practice and power of selfless love for all humanity. It is the wellspring of the best hope for a better future.
The cultivation of interfaith Dialogue and Engagement. It is absolutely vital that religious and spiritual communities come together with one another in honest and open dialogue. It is also essential that these communities enter into dialogue with secular groups, organizations and governments working for a better world. Religious and spiritual communities - in mutual respect and partnership - must engage the critical issues that face the planetary community as the 21st century unfolds.
The nurturing of cultures of Peace. True cultural evolution is perhaps best measured in the growing rejection of violent approaches to conflict resolution in favour of the cultivation of the infrastructures of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. Our greatest contribution to the future lies in ensuring that our children grow to maturity in cultures of peace.
The struggle for Justice. Justice is the heart of all creation. It is the profound feeling of oneness with all other beings in the universe. Today, it finds its most vital expression in social and economic fairness, concern for others and the vigorous defence of human rights.
The realization of Gender Partnership. Challenging the assumptions and infrastructures of patriarchy is essential to cultural evolution. Women and men, living and working together in harmony and equity, can build stronger, more creative religious communities and societies.
The path of Sustainability. In this rapidly changing world, our reverence for the Earth will determine the fate of the entire community of planetary life. This deep, visionary and unconditional caring for what is yet to come, is the love of life embedded in ecological sustainability.
The commitment to Service. Service is our link to spirit. Personal action for a better world is the discernable manifestation of the divine in the human. The essence of service is the grace of giving. We give because giving is how life begins and how it continues. This process will enhance personal responsibility for the common good.
We affirm that economics is, above all, concerned with human well-being and happiness in society and with care for the Earth. This cannot be separated from moral and spiritual considerations. The idea of a “value-free” economics is spurious. It demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what it means to be a human being.
The choice is yours. Please make it happen. In contrast to the
people of Europe who have been able to reject the “spiritually” impoverished
proposed EU Constitution, the people of
Kamran Mofid, PhD (ECON), Founder-Convenor, An Inter-faith Perspective on Globalisation for the Common Good (www.commongood.info).