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Archive for February 2009

Moving Forward After Gaza: What next for Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel? Mohammad Darawshe, London, 26 Feb.

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http://www.eventbrite.com/event/291813823

UK Friends of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, in co-operation with the Foreign Press Association present

Moving Forward After Gaza: What next for Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel?
A briefing by

Mohammad Darawshe

Director of the Abraham Fund

Event Description
The Gaza war has generated a public outcry, with thousands taking to the streets in London and around the world. In Israel, tensions between the Jewish and Arab communities have risen, threatening current cooperation efforts. From a unique perspective of a coexistence organisation between the Jewish and Arab communities, director Mohammad Darawshe of the Abraham Fund Initiatives will address the situation on the ground. He will outline the much needed action from governments and other agencies and will provide examples of tried and tested model projects already successfully implemented, which demonstrate that coexistence can work, but needs to be supported.

About Mohammad Darawshe
Mr Darawshe has been the Director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives since 2005 and he has presented lectures and papers at many international and academic institutions such as the U.S. congress, the European parliament, NATO Defense College, the World Economic Forum, and most recently the Herzlia Conference. He won numerous awards, including the Peacemaker award, bestowed by the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago and the Peace and Security Award of the World Association of NGOs. In 2008, he was elected as a council member of his own hometown Iksal.
UK friends of the Abraham Fund

Written by yishaym

February 23, 2009 at 2:05 am

“You will die with us or we will survive together”

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Fausto Biloslavo reports from Gaza for the Italian Panorama. There’s a cover story in English on his site.

A far from theoretical danger: since the end of December, 181 Palestinians have been summarily executed, kneecapped or tortured because they opposed Hamas.

The Andalous building in the Al-Karama neighborhood of Gaza City is reduced to a skeleton of concrete. The Israelis have hit hard, and this middle-age Palestinian couple has nothing left but to pick up the rubble of an apartment not yet paid for. They escort us on what remains of the indoor stairs, on the condition that Panorama uses only their family nicknames. “We knew that it was going to end up like this. Since the early days of the attack the muqawemeen (the guerrilla fighters of the Palestinian “resistance”, AN)
had positioned themselves in the twelfth and thirteenth floors, with the snipers. Every now and then they tried, to no avail, to shoot down one of those UAVs that the Israelis use”, says Abu Mohammed, shaking his head. In the building, not yet finished, lived 22 families: more than 120 civilians, including women
and children. The Israelis had begun calling the tenants’ cell phones ordering them to vacate the premises. Then, the militiamen got a more explicit message: a fighter dropped a bomb on the empty courtyard on the other side of road without causing victims, but opening a huge crater. “A delegation of householders beseeched the militiamen to leave” resumed the tenant. The answer was: “You will die with us or we will survive together”.
On January 13 the Israeli F16’s hit the building at 9:30 P.M. “At night we would go to sleep at our relatives’ homes: we were saved, but no longer had a home and we still have to repay 9 years of the loan” says Om Mohammed in despair, a veil on her head. The Islamic Bank does not grant exceptions.

Please, let’s all stop calling Hamas a resistance movement. The people of Gaza have two oppressors:  the Israeli goverment, and the Hamas.

Written by yishaym

February 19, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Zaytoun Za’atar: smells like home

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The goodenough college is celebrating Arab Cultural week. Last night there was, among other things, a sale of Zaytoun products, as a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people. I’m a big fan of fair trade, and my sentiments on the Palestinian issue are known. So I bought a jar of Za’atar. This morning I opened it and was stunned by a strong wave of sensetions. Just cracking open the lid filled the kitchen with scents of my childhood. As if in a time warp, I saw myself walking in the Judea hills, smelling the wild theme rubbing against my shows. Feeling the dry thisle scratching my knees. I remembered saturday walks in the old city, dad buying us “Beigale” with Za’atar rolled up in little newspaper cones. My Jerusalem in exile

The Jerusalem of my childhood may have never existed: the thisle grows on ruins,  my Beigale is really Ka’ak, and that says it all. But there’s no denying the smell of Za’atar. It has its right of self-determination. It catches me unawares and takes me where it will.

Anyway, I had a look at the label. It says “produced by Palestinian farmers from the Gallilie”. Oh well, I thought, I gusess I just pays a little bit VAT to finance Netanhayu’s goverment.

Written by yishaym

February 19, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Me on PressTV: “Palestine, the ethics of resistance”

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Last week I was invited to participate in Tariq Ramadan’s “Islam & Life” show on PressTV. The title of the show was “Palestine: the ethics of Resistance”, but in fact the main topic of discussion was the boycott campaign in the UK. I shared a panel with Faizal Dawjee, who was introduced as a former journalist from South Africa, and Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, secretary of BRICUP (pronounced like hicup).

There was no pretence of balance – PressTV identifies itself as the first Iranian international news network, Tariq Ramadan has his clear views on the subject, and the panel had two pro-boycotters on one side and myself on the other. Nevertheless, there was an honest, respectfull and open debate. I was given the oportunity to resopnd to every argument by my peers, and ample time to present my positions. Whether I did a good job of that is for you to judge.

Written by yishaym

February 16, 2009 at 3:37 am

my short talk yesterday

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I was planning to post my notes for the Jewish Socialist After Gaza event beforehand. Of course, I was still writing them at 7pm. So here they are:

The title of this evening is “After the war on Gaza: What next for the Palestinians? And how can Jews here and in Israel help bring about a just peace?” I would like to start by disqualifying my self from answering both questions. First of all, I don’t think I have a right to tell anyone – Palestinian, British, Israeli, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or other – what they should do. Even if I did, my belief is that the less you tell people what to do, the better a job they do at figuring it out. Second, and perhaps more critical, I have a serious difficulty with the juxtaposition of Palestinians and Jews implied by the title. I see that distinction as the root cause of the current tragic situation, and any statement that emphasises it is dangerous. I will get back to that in a moment.
So what can I offer you tonight? Only this: my fears and hopes for the land I love, and my thoughts about what I should do. If you can help me by commenting on these, I am grateful. If you will find some of the questions I ask myself resonating with your own, then perhaps your time has not been wasted. If not, my apologies. I’ll try to keep it short.
Sitting here, looking there, I feel sad, confused and disempowered. I watch with horror as governments who claim to represent me and defend my loved ones launch attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, killing thousands of civilians. I hear, unbelieving, how my friends and family justify these attacks as inevitable acts of self-defence. I see, and cannot explain, the rise of Lieberman and resurrection of Netanyahu. I know what I would be doing if I was there – but I’m not. The events seem to be rushing at me at torrential pace, I feel the urgent need to respond, react, do something – but just can’t see a path ahead, my instinct is to “just do anything, anything but silence”. In fact, as paradoxical as it may seem, this is probably the right time to stand still for a moment and reflect. Standing still is better than rushing headlong over a cliff.
We hear a lot about the two peoples, the two narratives. In fact, we have many peoples and many narratives: there are Druze, Muslims, Christians, Samaritans, Bedouin, 1st, 3rd, 10th generation Israeli Jews, Israeli Palestinians, Jews of Arab heritage, and so on. Yet we all have one land, one history, and if any – one future. Denying these facts is what I see as the first source of our predicament. The second, related issue is that this one land speaks two languages. No, not Hebrew and Arabic. I’m talking of the language of life and the language of death, the language of hope, and the language of despair.
For me, as I learned from my friend Mohammad Darawshe, despair is not an option. So what can I do? What I have been doing – only more. Side myself with those who deny the boundaries between people, who seek the common humanity in all, who continue to build our common future.
A small example: earlier this week, Yuli Tamir, the Israeli minister of education, adopted the revolutionary recommendations of the committee for “education for shared life”. This committee, chaired by Professor Gavriel Solomon and Dr. Mohamad Isaweer, and initiated by the Abraham Fund argued that Jewish and Palestinian children of Israel should all learn and appreciate the culture, history and aspirations of each other, and should acknowledge common values of democracy, respect for minorities and civic and social justice.
You may ask: what has this to do with Gaza? And I say: everything. If such a programme would have been in place 20 years ago, we wouldn’t have been looking back at Gaza.

Unfortunately, Karma Nablusi had to cancel on the last moment. The convoy she had planned to join, going into Gaza, had been rescheduled a day earlier.

David Rosenberg opened the evening with a review of the growing dissent among UK Jews towards the actions of the Israeli government. He then moved on to criticise the established mainstream (and arguably self-appointed) leadership for silencing any discording voices. A theme that was picked up by many of the commentators later on.

Gerald Kaufman MP made several references to his YouTubed speech at the commons, and in fact echoed several of the themes in that speech. Without question an eloquent and well-rehersed speaker, he portrayed the position of the disallosioned British zionist. A picture somewhat wasted on the audience in the room, who had no part of Zionism to start with.

Then the floodgates where opened. In true Jewish socialist tradition, everyone was entitiled to an equal voice, and indeed several people in the audience pulled note sheets from their pockets and read speeches longer than mine. Most of them seemed to focus on the marginilisation of Jewish radicals. I found that confusing, first as Leila told me later, I thought we were here to talk about Gaza. Second, in my dictionary radical means way-off-centre. If you don’t want to be in the margins, why define yourself as radical?

Anyway, on and on it went. I felt that most of the comments where essentially historical reviews and ethical manifestos, but the chair, Julia Bard, thought there were many fresh ideas for action. Maybe. Sometimes sitting on the stage focuses your hearing on certain things. On the other hand, I might have a different idea on what constitutes action, a more Newtonian view.

I did mention the UK Friends of the Abraham Fund, and some people asked me for details. Here’s the website:

http://www.abrahamfund.org.uk/

Which is really a couple of pages with basic details, as part of the general Abraham Fund site. Probably the best way to keep up with our activities it to join the mailing list. email tafi-uk-subscribe@googlegroups.com or, for general enquiries, call info@abrahamfund.org.uk

Written by yishaym

February 12, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Free Philip Rizk!

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I heard about Philip Rizk from 3arabawy‘s twitter feed. According to various sources, Rizk was arrested by the Egyptian secret police after organising a rally in support of Gazans. You can follow updates on

Hossam’s del.icio.us and Ben White‘s blog and join the facebook group. (Maybe he should have organised the rally in Tel-Aviv instead)

Written by yishaym

February 9, 2009 at 1:38 am

I wish..

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Oh, how I’d like to see this (thanks tresi for the insert)

Written by yishaym

February 6, 2009 at 10:39 am

Posted in UK

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