Posts Tagged ‘peace’
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A BENEFIT PERFORMANCE OF
“BASSAM – A Story of Hope”
by IDAN MEIR
Translated from the Hebrew by DANIEL WADE
Produced and Directed by
SUNDAY 12TH JULY 2009
16:00 AND 19:30
26 Crowndale Road, London NW1 1TT
TICKETS FROM £15.00 AT THE DOOR
To reserve a SEAT please call
0207 387 6617
IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND
DONATIONS TO THE FUND ENABLING BASSAM TO TAKE UP HIS MA STUDIES PLACE
should be sent to:
d 9126 Aramin Scholarship
University of Bradford, Richmond Road, Bradford. BD7 1DP
Bassam Aramin’s 10 year old daughter Abir was killed outside her school on January 16th 2007. Despite this appalling tragedy, Bassam has steadfastly and publicly maintained his belief in non-violence as the way to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. He is co-founder of Combatants For Peace bringing former fighters from both sides to promote this message; he coordinates sports in the West Bank for the Peres Centre for Peace; he is President of Al-Quds Democracy & Dialogue.
“BASSAM – A Story of Peace” was originally performed to acclaim at the Cameri Theatre, Tel Aviv.
All proceeds from the UK performances will go to the Scholarship Fund to enable Bassam to improve his knowledge and skills as a professional in conflict resolution. If you can’t make the performance, please make a donation.
In an interview with Haaretz only days after Abir’s death Bassam said: “I’m not going to exploit the blood of my child for political purposes… I’m not going to lose my common sense, my direction, only because I’ve lost my heart, my child. I will continue to fight in order to protect her siblings and her classmates, her girlfriends, both Palestinians and Israelis. They are all our children.”
Bassam Aramin is my personal hero and friend. A man I admire, a symbol of hope and an icon of the human spirit. For years Bassam has been campaining with the same unyielding passion and commitment for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for a just and honest enquiry into the death of his 10 year old daughter. Come and support him, and be inspired by his story.
I had a long chat with Mark today, and with a few other friends. Cooled me down a bit, and helped me understand why I’m so angry. It has also raises a few questions.
When something horrible happens, we feel empathy with the victims. Since we usually do very little to help, we also feel guilt. When I observe the anti-Israeli reactions in Europe, I wonder: are you dealing with the issue, or are you dealing with your guilt? Its really quite simple to answer, all it requires is a bit of honesty. Just write down what you’ve done about the situation, and what are the probable consequences of your actions. Not what you would wish the consequences would be: what you believe is their real most likely effect. Don’t tell me, this is between you and yourself.
Remember one thing: however dire the state of affairs, there is always a course of action which offers a chance for positive change. This, for me, is the axiom of human existence. The circle of hope. Without it, we might as well all blow ourselves up. If the tally for your chosen action does not fall within the circle of hope, abandon it and look for a new path.
Mark was disturbed by people’s obsession with categorising fellow humans, for him (and for me) this is hard to understand, and the root of great evil. He said: I observe people all the time, always looking for the common. I recalled how history and science have shown that it is normal people who commit the greatest atrocities, and that the first step that enables this is xenomorphism (my term, don’t know what would be the proper one): defining a group as “others” who pose a threat. Once you divide the scene into “us” and “them”, and identify “them” as a threat, you can do anything to them. Resolution and reconciliation will start from breaking down this dichotomy. A Palestinian from Ramallah will not bomb Gaza, even if he opposes Hamas with all his heart. Likewise, an Israeli soldier will not shoot a setteler even if he sees him as the cause of all his troubles. You do not kill your own. Peace can only come from the acknowledgement that we have one land, one fate. It could be manifested in two states, that’s detail. But it has to rest on an appreciation of the common, and the unique.On an acceptance that all tears are equal, all blood weighs the same. If its all one bug Us,then violence is not an option.
That’s when I realised how wrong the protests, and the media coverage, are.
It doesn’t matter if you’re marching “for Israel” or “for Palestine”. Either way, you’re marching for the dichotomy. Reinforcing the image of two tribes. One good, one bad. I don’t care who’s the good and who’s the bad in your story. Its just a bad story.
Then there’s the issue of Hamas. The resistance movement. Even the BBC, which has been amazingly restrained and thoughtful in its coverage, often talks of Hamas’ “resistance”. This puzzles me. I thought “resistance” implies some acts of resisting the occupying forces. So where where the Hamas resisters when the Israeli army combed the streets of Gaza? Surely, if they would have offered any resistance, they Israeli army would have suffered more casualties. As I undestand it, most of the 10 Israeli soldiers killed where victems of accidents and friendly fire.
Yes, Israel has the right to protect itself, the Palestinians have a right to resist the occupation. Over the last three weeks neither right was exersiced.
Update, 21 Jan:
Bob from Brockley has a good roundup on the comedy of British anti-Israeli protest. My favorite is the chair of Sheffield Palestinian Solidarity tearing down a placard that reads “no to IDF no to Hamas”.
Regardless of what you think of British trade unions, regardless of who you think carries the blame in Gaza, it takes a cold heart to remain untouched by the scale of the human tragedy.
So here’s a chance to do something useful:
How to donate:
You can make an online donation to the appeal using our secure online facility, provided by JustGiving.com. Select the amount and choose the “Give for Gaza” appeal from the drop down menu.
You can also donate by cheque. All cheques should be drawn in favour of TUC Aid – Give for Gaza – and sent to TUC Aid, EUIRD, TUC, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS.
Where your donation will go:
All proceeds will be forwarded through the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) to support emergency humanitarian relief operations carried out by them in Gaza. All trade union relief operations are co-ordinated through Red Crescent in Jordan, Egypt and Gaza and focused on the identified needs of the people affected by the events. The first ITF-PGFTU humanitarian flight is due to leave for Gaza on 08 Jan 2009. The TUC supports an immediate ceasefire by both sides, and the pursuit of a political solution to the problems of the Middle East based on two states.
For further information contact Bandula Kothalawala on 020 74671257 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
As in any kindergarten row, both sides are shouting “he started!”. The sensible reaction is “never mind who started, now both of you stop!”
Of course, there’s a difference: here people are being killed. Which is why its worth looking for patterns, and trying to see if we can avoid the next round.
That’s exactly what Nancy Kanwisher, Johannes Haushofer, & Anat Biletzki do on the huff:
Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a picture of “finger the baddies”. Hamas are evil bastards, baby killers and thieves. They are just as quick to kill and steal from their own people. If they would have invested half their efforts on reinforcing shelters and stocking hospitals the death toll would have been much lower, they don’t care.
What this picture shows is a plain and obvious stratigic directive for Israel:
…if Israel wants to reduce rocket fire from Gaza, it should cherish and preserve the peace when it starts to break out, not be the first to kill.
Maths. It works, bitches.
Neta Osnat says:
The last days of the year 2008 are filled with blood tear in Gaza and in the south of Israel. These bloody times are a reminder to us all of how endless and vicious the cycle of violence is.
As Combatants for Peace we are sending our sincere regrets to all the people who have been hurt on both sides, and call all parties to cease the fire and look for a peaceful resolution through dialogue, instead of violence.
Please eco our voice, let other people know there is an alternative to the madness and that there are many who still support our way and believe in peace both in Palestine and in Israel.
For updates on our activities and in order to support us by donations, visit our website at: www.combatantsforpeace.org
Democracy Now interviews Yonatan Shapira and Bassam Aramin (22 January 2008)
And two days ago:
This story came from my friend Bassam. His 14 year old son, Arab, went with his friends on a trip to Tiberias. It ended with long hours of abuse and humilation. The story has been published on karmalised and mepeace.org, and commented on by velveteenrabbi. I still choose to bring it here, unedited.
I cried when I read Arab’s story. I cried for his pain, I cried out of shame for the soldiers who pretend to represent me, and in the end I cried out of admiration for his courage. I think he, at the age of 14, is more of a man than a platoon of “national security” brutes together. I wish every child in Israel will hear his story.
(If someone can translate to Hebrew, please email me, I’ll post it here)
The Palestinian Bar-Mitzvah
By Bassam Aramin
Translated from the Arabic by Miriam Asnes
My son Arab is 14, just past the age that his Jewish Israeli peers are celebrating their bar mitzvahs. This ceremony in Jewish culture is a rite of passage that marks a boy’s entrance into the realities and responsibilities of adulthood. And last week, my son experienced something akin to the Palestinian bar-mitzvah.
It was a beautiful day on Friday the 12th of July when Arab went with his friends to the beach in Tiberias. He spent all of his time in the days leading up to the trip trying to convince me that I should let him go. At first I refused—he’s young to be traveling so far in a group without his parents. But then I remembered the
regret I still feel about the death of my daughter Abir.
Abir was ten when she was killed by the Israeli Occupation Force on January 16^th , 2007 in front of her school in Anata. That morning, when she asked her mother and me for permission to play with her friends after school, I’d refused. I told her, “Don’t even think of coming home late, come back right away so you can prepare for your
next exam.” And she answered me with the last words I ever heard from her, petulant and innocent. “Well, I’m /going/ to be late.” She was angry with me. She was late that day, but not because she met her friends. A bullet from an Israeli border patrolman found her instead, and she never came back. I regret having refused her request, not knowing that it would be her last—that she would be late despite me and despite herself.
When I saw how much Arab wanted to go, I thought of Abir and gave my permission with the condition that he look after himself and be in constant phone contact with me.
Arab and his friends Rafet, Saleh and Mohammad got themselves ready for a day at the beach, and the bus set out at 7am. There were about 45 passengers: Arab and nine of his peers, who range in age from 14 to 17; the rest were families and children and a group of girls Arab’s age, all legal residents of Israel with East Jerusalem IDs. I was pleased with how happy Arab was during the each time he called to check in. Arab loved Abir fiercely, and her death was an awful blow especially to him, the oldest of her siblings. I was so glad to hear joy in his voice again.
At 11pm Arab called me and said they had almost made it back and he’d be home in half an hour. But 11:30 came and went. At exactly 12am I called him, angry that he was late. He answered in a hushed voice with words that chilled me.
“There are a lot of soldiers here. The police stopped the bus, we don’t know why, and we’re in Jerusalem —the soldier is asking us not to talk on the phone, I’ll call back later.” And he hung up the phone. I didn’t know why they went all the way into Jerusalem proper and where exactly they were in the city, and I was in this terrible state of not knowing what was happening to my son, trying to call him and getting no answer until an hour and a half later
when he answered the phone and said quickly, “we are now in the Israeli police station, they’ve detained everyone from the bus, they are checking us all and I am not allowed to talk to you now and they’ll let us go soon”—and again he hung up.
There are no words for the state I was in during those hours, waiting for his next call and dreading it would not come. Then at 2:30am he called again to say that they were at the Maskubiyah detention center in Jerusalem . I asked him why they were being detained, and he said he did not know. I told him, “Go up to the solider and tell him, you have to talk to my father, he does not know where I am.”
He replied that he was scared to do so, they’d already beaten many of the kids there because they had talked and talking was not allowed. “But I trust you, Dad.”
I told him he was brave, and that he shouldn’t be scared of the soldier. “Talk to him in Hebrew,” I said. I made sure to teach all my children Hebrew from a young age. I could hear Arab go up to the soldier and tell him, “Please, can you talk to my father?” But the solider told him to shut his mouth and hang up the phone.
“If your father wants to see you tell him to come here,” he said.
I was beside myself. I yelled in my loudest voice, “You murderers! Where is my son? Do you want to kill him as you killed his sister a year ago?” I told Arab to turn on the speakerphone so the soldier could hear what I was saying, but he had a better eye on the situation and said to me, “Dad, don’t be afraid. I am okay. They are going to let us go in a bit like they said, I’ll talk with you soon.” And he hung up.
At exactly 3am the Israeli Occupying Forces let the group go, and I waited on pins and needles until 3:40am for Arab to come home. He was exhausted, so I told him to please go to sleep and we could talk in the morning. The most important thing was that he was okay.
The next day I returned from work in the evening to find Arab and Rafet in the house, and I heard what had happened.
In the industrial neighborhood of Wad Al-Joz in Jerusalem , a group of Israeli special forces troops on motorcycles along with police and army reinforcements were stationed on the path the bus from Tiberias was taking to get its passengers, all legal residents of Israel , home. They demanded that the driver stop immediately. One of the soldiers got on the bus and said, “Anyone who moves his head, I’ll put a bullet in it.” Arab said to me, “At that moment all I could think of was Abir, who really /was/ shot in the head by a bullet.”
The soldier continued, “We are from national security.” He then told the young men, about ten of them, to begin taking off their clothes in the bus, in front of the women and girls. Then he took them out one by one and had them lie down on the filthy street, littered with stones and pieces of glass. They began with Ahmed, who was 16 years old. Then all the young men had to strip and get out of the bus and lie on the ground. One of them was injured in
the stomach by a piece of glass. Arab asked me, “How can they ask the men to undress in front of the women? They don’t have morals!”
I asked him, “Do you think they perhaps have at least some basic morals?”
His answer was definitive: “None at all.” I explained to him that humiliation by forced nakedness didn’t just happen to his friends: it is a longstanding problem in the Israeli military. When we were in their prisons without any way to defend ourselves, our guards would take sadistic pleasure in seeing us naked, in humiliating us.
Arab, the youngest of the boys, stayed in the bus with the women and children. Then one of the female soldiers got on the bus and called out to another soldier who he couldn’t see, “Avichai, come bring the dog.”
Arab said, “At first I thought that Avichai was Avichai Sharon,” my friend and colleague in Combatants For Peace who also is a part of the partner organization Breaking the Silence, an organization that publicizes the barbaric and criminal practices of the Israeli Occupying Forces in Hebron. Arab wasn’t so scared of the idea of a military dog because he thought that the Avichai that he knew would be its master. But then he saw that this Avichai was not our
friend, and he didn’t resemble him in any manner except his first name. This soldier would let out the dog’s leash in the direction of women and children and then pull him back at the last second. He looked pleased with himself when the leader of the trip, Um Shams, fainted, and he also smiled when two children, ages 4 and 5, urinated out of fear and terror. The soldiers checked everyone, even taking off the diaper of a baby who was under one year old. “They’re even afraid of our unweaned babies,” said Arab in amazement. “They cursed us with all the ugly expressions and slurs they could think of. One of them said that all Arabs are trash—they are racist!” All the passengers on the bus had the absolute legal right as residents of East Jerusalem to travel anywhere within
Israel that they please.
I told my son, “Some of them are, but not every Jewish Israeli is like that. There are a few who aren’t affected by this racism, but nevertheless it colors Israeli society. It’s no wonder that the United Nations determined that Zionism was a racist movement over 30 years ago.” True, that decision was overturned, but the racism has
remained deeply ingrained. Most don’t consider the continual discrimination against Palestinians, be they residents of the West Bank and Gaza , residents of East Jerusalem , or Israeli citizens to be racism. They try to spin it as necessary “for ongoing security reasons.” But at least some people in Israeli society see the shameful truth as it is, without attempting to whitewash it. And they are not alone. Recently a delegation of human rights activists, lawyers and judges from South Africa , a country which suffered under the yoke of Apartheid, visited our region. They declared that what they saw in Israel was more than just racial segregation—it was government-sponsored racism, discriminatory policies against Palestinians.
Arab kept asking me why the Israeli soldiers were doing what they were doing to the Palestinians. At one point I thought he was about to explode in anger. And then his voice changed, and he said something very unexpected. “I wish that you had been there with us, Dad. I’m sure you would have taught them a lesson, and spared all of us that indignity. You would have spoken to them in Hebrew and made them understand that they were wrong, like you always do with soldiers at checkpoints, like when that soldier yelled at us at the Wad al-Nar checkpoint when we were going to visit the Galilee . Then, you spoke with him and he ended up apologizing to you and wishing that we could all live together in peace.”
Then he said something even more surprising. “I want you to take me with you when you go to one of your lectures in Israel so I can tell the Israelis about the practices of their soldiers on that night.” I asked him if he was serious—Arab has always questioned my willingness to talk with the other side and sit down with Israelis
in forums like those Combatants for Peace provides. But he insisted, saying, “They have to know what happened so the parents of those soldiers can forbid their children to act that way towards women and children again.”
The final indignity of that Friday night was when Saleh, Arab’s friend, had to go to the bathroom and asked many times if he could get up from his prone position on the asphalt to go relieve himself. Avichai refused his request each time. Saleh talked quietly with Rafet, who has a limited range of motion in his hand and left foot, and they decided that Rafet would ask if /he /could go and Saleh could volunteer to help him. At last Avichai gave his permission to let Rafet go to the bathroom on the condition that Saleh would not relieve himself. Saleh did not know this protector of the security of the State of Israel was following them on their base errand until he was squatting in the middle of his “terrorist operation,” trying to relieve himself, and Avichai began using his hands and feet to hit him across the face and head as a lesson to others as to what happens when you fail to carry out a military order. Let me remind you, Saleh and Rafet are legal residents of the State of Israel.
What happened is deeply embarrassing and shameful, but it is the truth. I asked Arab, “Did they apologize to you when they finally let you go?”
He said, “Sure they did. They said to us, ‘Looks like you were naked on the beach in Tiberias by day, and naked on the “beach” of Wad al-Joz by night. Now scram.’” He repeated these words to me with an ironic expression on his face that I have never seen before. And I thought, with an equal measure of irony, “Today, he is a man.”
By letting them build it:
Nada Saif from Yemen is collaborating with Itamar Elharar from Israel, with the help of Najwan Odeh from Palestine, to assure technical support. In charge of textual content development are Shireen Farrag from Egypt and Samir Essousi from Morocco, making effective use of the Community Website [http://mytecc.ning.com/] managed by Joana Barbosa from Portugal, Quality-Assured by Yakot Khateeb, an Arab Palestinian in Israel; statistics are processed by Mahmoud Abdou from Egypt on worldwide developed Open Source platforms, under the supervision of Roi Shillo from Israel. Senior managers are Sima Yazdani and Fred Mednick from Teachers Without Borders, supported by Justin Ball and David Wiley, UNDP/ICTDAR team: Ziad Haddara from Lebanon and Najat Rochdi from Morocco, and Cisco team, represented by Zika Abzuk and Orgad Lootski.
The following text came from a reliable channel, and is allegedly attributed to Dr. Alon Liel, one of the key Israeli negotiators with Syria, as the basis for the emerging peace agreement. I found it hard to believe: an experienced diplomat like Dr Liel would not compromise the achievement of a century by leaking it to the Internet. The draft is dated sept. 2007. And above all, I find it incomprehensible that any of the Israeli or Syrian leaders would display enough creativity or imagination to be able to read such a proposal and fidn the dotted line. Still, a quick google run shows that it is not a complete urban myth.
Saleem H. Ali and Michael Cohen proposed a solution along these lines in Nov. 2007 and Akiva Eldar reported on a similar line of thought not long ago. So take it as you like.
The Peace Park on the Golan
Draft – Sep.2007
The park on the Golan will be designed as a nature reserve, under Syrian sovereignty, stretching on about one third of the Golan Height territories, on the western zone close to the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).
Israeli citizens will be allowed entry to the park, no visa required, from morning to evening, for tourist, ecological or humanitarian purposes, as agreed to by both sides.
Israeli citizens currently living on the territory to be defined in the future as the park land and who own economical, tourist, or agricultural businesses will be able to continue operating their businesses and even hold on to their business ownership on the condition that it is approved by both governments and if the nature of their business is not contradictory to the spirit of the park.
The supervision and safeguarding of the park will be carried out by Syrian nature reserve officials who will be partially armed with personal weapons only. Entry for tourist purposes will entail payment of fees. Authorized workers, whether Israelis or Syrians, will hold a permanent entry permit. Other routine operational regulations will be set by the park management in accordance with the Syrian Parks Authority.
Both governments, with the cooperation of the international community, will make special efforts to turn that park into a tourist attraction which will appeal to the citizens of all countries and will draw tourists from all over the world.
Initial planning of the park will be carried out by a leading international team. The planning will take into account long term ecological and environmental considerations as well as certain historical, political and humanitarian sensitivities on both sides. The international team will make recommendation to both parties on the exact location of the park. The two governments will be asked to approve the park area before detailed planning starts.
The spirit of the park should be the spirit of reconciliation between the two peoples. It will reflect the wish of both countries to co-exist in peace and to maintain maximal economical and tourist cooperation for their own sake. Top businessmen and economists from all over the world will act as an advisory team to the Syrian authorities in order to ensure that the park will eventually yield profits and will not need long- term governmental subsidization.
Both parties aspire to reach a situation in which appropriate existing infrastructures in the park will continue to function after the sovereignty is restored to Syria.
The water flow in the park will be controlled in a way that will guarantee that Israel will keep on receiving the same quantities of water from the Golan sources or through the Golan as at the time the agreement is signed by both parties.
The evacuation of the Israeli population living on the territory of the park will be carried out within 5 to15 years from the date the agreement is signed by both parties. Aside from park personnel, Syrians will not be allowed to establish permanent residence on park territory.
The park territory entirely will be a buffer zone free of weaponry and visitors will not be allowed to bring in weapons. Citizens holding guns will be required to deposit it at certain entry posts.
Every transgression of park regulations will be dealt by the park authorities. When juridical process is required it will be handled by Syrian authorities if it concerns Syrian citizens and foreign tourists. The agreement on the juridical aspect will be discussed in details by both parties at the time of signing the accord.