Category Archives: Peacebuilding

Australia’s thought-provoking Apology

Okay, I am merely nine months late in commenting on the breakthrough apology that Australian PM Kevin Rudd offered to the indigenous peoples of Australia and the Torres Strait Islands in the parliament in Canberra back on February 13. You can see video of Rudd delivering it here, and read the text here.
As a US citizen (and also, for my sins, a British citizen), reflecting on Rudd’s heroic– though of course not yet nearly “sufficient” act– makes me ask how long it will be until my government here in Washington issues some equivalent public apologies for past, very grave misdeeds.

    * For the many acts carried out against numerous Native American peoples– exactly analogous to deeds the Anglo-heritage Australians committed against the indigenous peoples of their lands;
    * For the barbaric acts carried out against African peoples ripped from their own countries, brought to our shores, and kept in a situation of enslavement that– unlike slavery systems known elsewhere in the world– was maintained intact throughout the generations;
    * For the unjustified wars of aggression our government has launched, both on this continent and far afield, right down to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Well, I said, “past” misdeeds. Some of our country’s misdeeds– including the occupation of Iraq and its maintaining of a completely unfair agricultural subsidy program that has ripped the livelihoods away from hundreds of millions of poor-country farmers — continue to this day.
In the case of continuing misdeeds, it is a good question whether we should focus more on stopping the misdeed or seeking a public apology– or even, as is preferable, some form of concrete reparation– for it.
My own strong preference is to focus first of all on stopping the misdeed. Apologies and other forms of “reckoning” can wait till later. But if we wait to end the commission of the misdeed then further considerable harm will have been done in the meantime…

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Ramazani: “Bridging the Divides”

** Updates posted below **
As regular justworldnews readers will recognize, Helena and I have presented and commented on numerous essays here by R.K. – “Ruhi” – Ramazani. Here’s one on Jefferson & Iraq, another on “Making Gulf Security Durable,” and this one on why massive arms sales are not the answer. Tomorrow, he faces a complex heart surgery.
On the eve of this potential life crossroad, the University of Virginia, via UVA Today on-line, published a multimedia tribute to Professor Ramazani’s generous service to students, the University, and to the cause of “understanding” between Americans and peoples of the Middle East.
I especially like Professor William Quandt’s comment at the essay end:

“One of Ruhi’s great hopes has been that he could personally help bridge the divide between the country of his birth, Iran, and the country where has lived for most of his adult life, the United States,” said William B. Quandt, the Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs and an expert on the Middle East. “It remains to be seen whether Ruhi’s hope for reconciliation between the two countries he knows best will take place, but if and when it does, he will have played an important role behind the scenes.”

Several years ago, I published a biographical sketch of how Ramazani’s scholarship has compelling echoes in his own life journey. I hope to have it available on line shortly. I’m also in the early stages of a project to “digitize” the best of his half century of writings for ready access to all via the web.
The UVA Today item includes marvelous clips from a recent interview with “the” Professor himself. (look for the link near the top right) In addition to the quotes on what the University has meant to him, about America’s fixation with “fixing” things, and his ending optimism about the “oneness of humankind,” do enjoy the breathtaking scenery behind him. Warms the heart.
Let’s send our good thoughts, wishes, and prayers for his surgery and speedy recovery. We can endeavor to emulate the bridgebuilder; but not replace him.
****************************
Update as of Sept. 26h, 5:00 p.m. est: Via Ruhi’s family, we are greatly encouragedby the good reports from the outstanding University of Virginia heart surgeons. Ruhi has pulled through the surgery, with even a few positive surprises. Thank you Dr. Kron!
Ruhi, enjoy your “vacation….” :-} We – and the world – still need you.

Mia Farrow: “virtual hostage”

Irony alert
Those familiar with Farzaneh Milani’s path-breaking literary analysis will recognize the phrase “hostage narrative,” a term she has been devloping over many years to apply to that best-selling genre of politically tinged “true stories.” In these “hostage narratives,” women writers who are now “liberated” or “un-veiled” tell the world of their past “cultural captivity” in their native, usually Muslim lands.
In this genre, as Professor Milani documents, the line between “fact” and “fiction” gets lost, as those sympathetic to the “message” focus only on the cause served. It’s a great way to sell books and a shrewd way to “heat up” the political culture to support bombings and invasions to “liberate” the presumed hostages. Thus the sequel:
“Reading Lolita while bombing Tehran.”
(And oh by the way, are women now better off in today’s de facto Islamic Republic(s) of Iraq than they were under Saddam? Where’s columnist Ellen Goodman been on that?)
Veteran actress Mia Farrow now takes the “hostage narrative” to a new, virtual realm, with her over-the-top offer to exchange herself for the “freedom” of a Sudanese “dissident” rebel leader and Darfur advocate, Suleiman Jamous. Depending on the source you read, Jamous is a “virtual prisoner” who cannot leave a UN hospital and/or cannot leave the country for medical treatment.
To Sudan’s President, Ms. Farrow writes,

Mr. Jamous is in need of a medical procedure that cannot be carried out in Kadugli… Mr. Jamous played a crucial role in bringing the SLA to the negotiating table and in seeking reconciliation between its divided rival factions.
I am… offering to take Mr. Jamous’s place, to exchange my freedom for his in the knowledge of his importance to the civilians of Darfur and in the conviction that he will apply his energies toward creating the just and lasting peace that the Sudanese people deserve and hope for.

How curious. Ms. Farrow’s “courageous offer” to become a female hostage in a Muslim land is a recognizable stroke of p.r. brilliance. It’s getting widespread softball media treatment in the US, as anything supporting the long-suffering Sudanese Darfuris is “hip” in the US and must be “a good thing.” And besides, she’s a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, and what’s the harm — particularly if it helps focus the international microscope back on unresolved Sudanese nightmares? (US international broadcasting has been prominently featuring Ms. Farrow’s offer too….)
Ms. Farrow of course knows there isn’t a chance the Sudanese government will take her up on her offer to become a “hostage.” What a p.r. disaster for them that would be!
In her best acting yet, Ms. Farrow professes to the media the sincerity of her wish to be a real hostage. Indeed.
We’ll likely have to settle for Ms. Farrow keeping a journal for enthralled admirers of her “ordeal” as a surreal hostage-in-waiting – a “virtual hostage” on behalf of a “virtual prisoner.”
Oh the drama. I feel another best-seller in the works, no doubt for a worthy cause. (Aren’t they all? Though perhaps in Mia Farrow’s case, the title, “Not Without My Daughter” might be a bit inappropriate…..)
So what’s next? Hundreds, if not thousands, of Darfur activists on college campuses signing up to join Mia as “virtual hostages?” eh? Me & Mia? No doubt that’s too harsh.
I hear Ms. Farrow’s next movie will be a comedy.

Iranian Bikers for peace…?

I’m all for exploring new ways to work for peace, including by demonstrations, marches, marathons, even “honking for peace.” Sure beats marching for war — like when Jerome Corsi (of “Swift boat veterans” infamy) in June 2005 walked from Philly to DC, to drum up support for his “Iran Freedom Foundation” and his demands for the US to get rough towards “Atomic Iran.
Yet I was pleasantly surprised to learn of a group of 14 Iranian youth who have been “biking for peace” around Europe and America since May 11th. They’ve been in the US since June 16th. I’ve confirmed that these youth are from Iran, and they’re here with considerable backing from assorted Iranian non-governmental organizations – in Iran. While their tour has received limited publicity here in the US; surely both governments had to have been involved with the permissions….?
The peace bikers finished their journey this afternoon at the Washington Cathedral. If they had come through Charlottesville, I might have dusted off the road bike to join them. I like the description of their goals at their “Miles for Peace” web site, beginning with their invocation of Sa’di .
This bike caravan may have been too “fast” for me. According to the “Miles for Peace” web site, on July 8th, they were to “leave Los Angeles, heading for Baltimore.” The next day, July 9th, they were 3,000 miles east in Baltimore. Must be some new pedal or gearing technology. (Now if they could bottle that, they wouldn’t need nuclear energy.)
I hope these peace-bikers encountered no obstacles for visas or from customs, nor from counter-protests along the way. If one scans through the splendid photos for their peace adventure, one could well say these riders were rather brave, if nothing else, for biking close order on California freeways or downtown New York – without helmets.
Yet there may be an even more profound irony at work here. Far more than Iran’s detractors admit, Iranian women have made great educational and professional strides, and certainly compared to certain neighbors to the south. Considerable difficulties remain, and Iranian women’s groups are pushing back against recent set-backs. That said, even though Iranian women can drive and even race cars, they still can’t ride bikes.
As pointed out recently by Farzaneh Milani in a USA Today oped, Iran recently announced production of an “Islamic bicycle.” Milani, a specialist on women’s literature in Iran, is not impressed by the “new technology,” which is said to come “fully equipped with a cabin to conceal parts of a female cyclist’s body.” Milani deems it “less about the bike and more about suppressing women,” a “desperate but ultimately futile attempt.”
But this “Biking for Peace” group didn’t use any of the “Islamic bicycles.” (Indeed, I’ve yet to see or hear of reports in Iran confirming they even exist.)
Consider then the multiple levels of irony at work here: Vibrant and energetic young Iranians are out campaigning for peace in major western cities, on their bicycles – the very bicycles that the Iranian women in the group would be forbidden from riding back home in Iran.
One wonders if these creative peacemakers and their sponsors weren’t sending messages in both directions.

Reconciliation, from Africa to the Middle East

Actually, the reason that I received a paper copy of the latest issue of the Palestine-Israel Journal, which I
have just written about on JWN here, is that
it has a review of my latest book, Amnesty
after Atrocity?: Healing Nations after Genocide and War Crimes

Since the book hasn’t actually received many reviews yet– though it
got some great pre-publication blurbs, that are printed on the back
cover– I wanted to write something here on JWN about this one… Okay,
I’ll admit: Especially, because this is a very favorable review! 
The reviewer, Sol Gittleman, seemed to really “get” what I was trying
to do with the book, which is always a good experience for any author
to have.

Gittleman is a former provost of Tufts University in Medford, Mass.,
and currently holds a University Chair there.  He twinned his
review of my book with another, of a book called Bridging the Divide: Peacebuilding in the
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
, which is co-authored by my old
friend Edy Kaufman along with Walid Salem and Juliette Verhoeven..

Gittleman starts his review by writing: “It takes a very special kind
of courage to continue pressing toward reconciliation in the face of
overwhelming odds… ”  Then he writes appreciatively about
Kaufman et al’s book before he comes to my book.  Which is where he says
(okay, here is where I blush):

Helena Cobban is a first-rate
journalist who has observed the transition from anarchy to justice and
reconciliation all over the world. [Actually
a bit of an exaggeration there; but in many places, yes.

~HC]  She has no axes to grind. Her analysis of the post-war
responses to the horrors of South African apartheid, genocide in Rwanda
and the brutal armed insurgency in Mozambique are moving, but marked
completely by a reality developed over years in reporting on humanity’s
capacity for brutality…

In each of the three case studies, Cobban asks the difficult
questions…

He gives more details about the topics  the book covers, and my
reflections on them there.  Then he concludes the review by
writing

Here we have two serious studies that
hold up at least the possibility of peace on Earth, good will toward
humanity.  If their goals and aspirations were fulfilled, it would
mean, paradoxically, the end of civilization as we have known it. [I take it that is written with some irony??
Good luck to all of us in these perilous times.

So, a big thanks to you for that, Sol Gittleman… And here, by the way, is a nice, easy-to-download JPEG version of the
book’s cover:

AAA-cover-smaller.JPGAnyway, I’m really happy this review appeared where it did– that
is, in a journal that is seriously read and referred to by many people
in the Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking community– and in the way it
did: Namely, alongside consideration of a book on the challenges of
peacebuilding in the Israeli-Palestinian context.  When I launched
into the research that became this book, I knew I was venturing out
into some geographical terrain in sub-Saharan Africa that was almost
completely new to me.  But I found the topic of how people emerging from
very hard- (and roughly) fought conflict could ever possibly overcome
the many wounds from the past to be a riveting one, and it was one that I
had often wrestled with during my earlier engagement with various
citizen-diplomacy peacemaking efforts in the Middle East.

When the “flavor of the month” (okay, decade) in the international
human-rights movement increasingly, throughout the 1990s, became to
consider that every conflict that came to an end should be accompanied
by– or even, God help us, preceded by– some form of war-crimes
trials, I was already very skeptical.  How could that ever happen
in the context that I knew best, that of the Palestinian-Israeli context?  Goodness, when the
Palestinian and Israeli leadership do finally manage to get together
and conclude a final peace
agreement
, as I sincerely hope they do before too many more years have passed, how would one ever start in the context of that, to unravel
the many long chains of responsibility for the very many
thousands of dead and harmed on either side of the national
divide?  And if one ever attempted to launch such a process– in
the accusatory way that criminal prosecutions always, of necessity,
assume– what effects would that have on the prospects of maintaining
and building the peace thus with such difficulty won?

I honestly couldn’t see it as being helpful.

In 2001, when my friend the Lebanese lawyer Chibli Mallat worked with
some survivors of the 1982 massacres in Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila
refugee camps to bring a prosecution against Israeli PM Ariel Sharon–
and under Belgium’s extremely bizarre law allowing for “universal”
(i.e. completely extra-territorial) jurisdiction– a part of me
applauded the effort from the sidelines.  But an even larger part
of me asked, “How on earth is this
going to help bring Sharon to where he needs to be: Namely, sitting
down in an authoritative, final-peace negotiation with the Palestinian
leaders?”  I mean, really: How will it help the Palestinian and
Israeli people to escape from the yoke of war, occupation, pervasive
insecurity, death, and destruction if this one man, Ariel Sharon, ends
up in the dock as a defendant?

Later, as my research on the Africa book continued, I met and interviewed some people
in Mozambique who had committed and organized acts of anti-humane
terror that dwarfed many times over any of the bad actions that
Israelis have ever committed against Palestinians, or Palestinians
against Israelis.  (If you don’t believe me, go back and read some
of the reports on the kinds of tortures, mutilations, and other
terrioble abuses that the fighters from Renamo, in particular,
committed during the 15-year civil war there.)  But here’s the
thing: By the time I met these men, who had been the highest military leaders of Renamo, in Maputo in 2003, they had been
completely reintegrated into national society.  Very nearly all
Mozambicans had judged at the end of that terrible war that the only
way they could move forward
as a country
was to put all the pain, ugliness, loss, grief, and
blame from the war era very firmly behind them…

So yes, I do still think that the big lessons that I learned from my
work on the book have huge relevance in the Middle East. 
Including, of course, in Iraq, where surely we have all now seen the
debacle and the horrendously peace-threatening tensions that resulted
from the knee-jerk application of the prosecutorial strategy in the
case of the Saddam trial.

Anyway, if you JWN readers have not yet read (and preferably also
bought!) my book, I hope you do so… I hope, too, that wherever you live
in the world and whatever parts of the world you are concerned about,
reading the book might help you to think more deeply about what it
really takes to make and build sustainable peace processes in
conflict-wracked parts of the world.  (My hint in this regard:
Western-based rights activists have not yet found all the answers…)

Waterloo, Iranians & the Mennonite Dialog

On Memorial Day, American and Iranian diplomats finally managed to “talk” in Baghdad, Iraq — as we noted here with approval. The same day, by contrast, protesters forced the cancellation of public sessions of a conference on “spirituality” between Iranian Shia Muslim and Mennonite Christian scholars in Waterloo, Canada.
Since when is talking with Mennonites — that’s right, pacifistic Mennonites – such a perfidious affront that it needs to be forcibly stopped? Is this 2007 or 1527?
While I am still seeking documentation from both sides, perhaps this entry might encourage the protesting academics and conference participants to articulate their positions further, in the discussion below. (That’s an open invitation.)
Let me first try to recount the basic outlines of the dialog and the protests:
The dialog:
1. The conference in question was sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee and by humble Mennonite Conrad Grebel University College. Conrad Grebel is affiliated with Canada’s University of Waterloo. While the conference convened on the UW campus, the larger University was not the sponsor.
2. The conference, entitled “Shi’ah Muslim–Mennonite Christian Dialogue III,” continued a series of exchanges between “North American” Mennonite scholars and Shia scholars from Qom, Iran. Papers from two previous conferences, one at Waterloo and one, in Qom, were published in the Conrad Grebel Review. Several Mennonites have studied in Qom, and several Shia have pursued theology Ph.D.’s in Toronto. Shorter-term student delegations have also been part of the mix, including with Mennonite Universities in the US.
3. The dialog has been hosted on the Iranian side for nearly a decade by the Imam Khomeini Education & Research Institute (IKERI). IKERI is reputed to be among the more conservative graduate seminaries in Iran, and its current director, Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, is known as a spiritual adviser to Iran’s current President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
4. The dialog itself may have been the fruit of the Mennonite’s “diaconal method” (from the Greek diakonia or service). In Iran, the Mennonites earned considerable good will for their sustained humanitarian responses to earthquake disasters since 1992. Such “good deeds” helped open doors to exchange of “good words.”
5. As a controversy emerged, Mennonite leaders tried to state clearly the conference purposes. According to Rich Cober Bauman, program director of MCC Ontario, the conference was

“an academic conversation between theologians and philosophers who may not always agree, but seek to better understand each other’s faith… We regard this conference as an effort to foster communication in a time when the refusal to demonize each other is sorely needed. We recognize that there are risks inherent in relating to groups some would label as our “enemies”. But our Christian faith calls us into these conversations which, rather than creating isolation, we believe have the potential to build real and lasting peace…”

Conrad Grebel President Henry Paetkau noted that from the Mennonite faith perspective, inter-faith dialog, particularly with a country that is portrayed in the west as the “enemy”, is a practical expression of the biblical command to be “agents of reconciliation”.
Jim Pankratz, Grebel’s academic dean, characterized the conference as “an important expression of open dialog and freedom of speech. Through such dialog we have learned to understand that all Iranians (like Canadians), and even all members of a single educational institution, do not speak with a single voice.”
The protests:
The protesters had a starkly different image of what the conference represented. I’ll try first to present accurately their concerns. (And I welcome additional material from any who think I misrepresent the complaints.)

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Studying peace and reconciliation in Coventry

Are you or anyone you know interested in doing some post-graduate work in Peace Studies? I got an email earlier this week from Andrew Rigby, the Director of the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies at Coventry University in the UK, whom I visited back in March… He said there is still (just!) time for people to apply to this year’s intake for their Postgraduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution Skills.
That page on their website says:

    Participants enjoy a lively two-week period of residence at Coventry University, from 2 to 14 September 2007, and follow up with six months of online, self-directed learning.

Andrew told me they do have some scholarship funding available, especially for overseas students. You can get information about that through the link at the bottom of this page on their site.
In addition, it’s my understanding that the credits you earn through that PG Certificate course can be counted towards what you’d need for an MA course, or perhaps even a Ph.D. course, at their center. Just explore some more around their website to find out about that– and also, about the fabulous, extremely multi-cultural community of learners they have there at the Center.
When I was at Coventry in March, I really enjoyed the discussions I had with Andrew and his colleagues and MA students. Nearly all the students were non-UK nationals. They brought a wealth of pertinent life-experience into the classroom and engaged deeply and very intelligently with the topics we were discussing.
Coventry University is right next door to Coventry Cathedral, which was badly damaged when the Luftwaffe bombed the city in 1940. Ever since then, Coventry Cathedral, the city– and more recently, the city’s university– have all seen the pursuit of post-conflict reconciliation as a very important task.
… Then in April, as alert JWN readers will recall, I had a grand couple of days visiting Bradford University’s Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, which is noticeably larger than Coventry’s, and also takes a slightly different slice of the field of peace studies. (‘Peace and conflict’, rather than ‘peace and reconciliation.’ Both important slices.)
I see that Bradford’s program– but not, alas, Coventry’s– is on this fairly helpful list of post-graduate peace-studies programs that Eastern Mennonite University has published on the website of their “Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.”
Anyway, as I said– if you or anyone you know is interested in doing some post-graduate peace studies, Coventry’s PG Certificate is a great program. (And there are a lot of other great programs out there, too.)

Factors for successful peacemaking: Northern Ireland

I am so joyful that it now looks as if the people of Northern Ireland can enjoy a much better, more peaceful future, thanks to the peace agreement announced on March 26 between Sinn Fein and Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party.
(Also, look at the inspiring, very forward-looking content of the statements made March 26 by both Paisley and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.)
Last October, I was lucky enough to hear Dr. Cathy Gormley-Heenan of the University of Ulster talk about the attributes of leadership that she considered essential to success in resolving complex, very long-running conflicts like that in Northern Ireland.
Gormley-Heenan subsequently published a book on the subject, which I’m eager to see.
Her focus in her presentation last October was primarily on the leadership needed from the primary participants in the peacemaking, not the evidently fairly different qualities required of outside third parties… What stood out most for me from her presentation– and these are lessons that I think could certainly be applied in the remaining strands of the Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy– were two main points:
(1) She underlined the need to embrace political inclusiveness in the peacemaking. The sole criteria for inclusion in the process in Northern Ireland, she said, had been (a) willingness to abide by a ceasefire, and (b) the holding of a clear mandate from the electorate.
Note that by these criteria, Hamas could and should have been included in the peace diplomacy, while the government of Israel– which never abided by any ceasefire toward the Palestinians over the past year– would not. (H’mmm.) Note, too, that the criteria Gormley-Heenan listed did not include anything, at that first stage of the negotiation, about any requirement to disarm, to subscribe to any particular version of the final outcome, or to issue statements recognizing the other side’s “rights” in any regard. And neither did the diplomacy that, 15 years ago, led to the successful resolution of the longstanding inter-group conflict in South Africa require any of these steps up front.
(2) The second point that Gormley-Heenan made that stuck in my mind– and in the notebook that I have to hand here– is that the N.I. diplomacy worked when the leaders on each side took as their prime responsibility bringing their own constituency into the peace camp. She noted that on occasion, leaders of one side argued that it was the duty of the other side to take actions to “help” them bring their own supporters into the peace camp– but that these demands were nearly always resented and divisive.
In the Arab-Israeli arena, how many hundreds of times have we heard demands from Israeli leaders that the Arabs should do things to help bring Israelis into the peace camp? (And how many times, the reverse, too?) In contrast to that, I do like Gormley-Heenan’s formulation.
Anyway, I guess we should all go and buy her book to find out her other lessons.
I would add to the above that– as evidenced in the content of those two leadership statements noted above– another important attribute for any leader seeking to engage in successful peace diplomacy would be.a commitment to being forward-looking, in terms of being willing to set aside the many grievances, injustices, and hurts from the past and focus on building a better, rights-based order in the future for everyone involved, rather than continuing to harp on endlessly about those past grievances.
Certainly, that was an attribute that the friends at Sant’ Egidio stressed when they helped to midwife the 1992 peace agreement that ended 15 years of atrocity-laden civil war in Mozambique. (You can read Chapter 4 of my latest book to find out more about that.)

“We Want Peace” on YouTube

Hagit Tarnari, one of the dedicated pro-peace Israeli participants in our recent U.N. University conference on nonviolence in Amman, Jordan, made a little video at the end of the conference and has posted it on YouTube: here.
I’ve watched it three times, and find it incredibly moving… It brings all those people’s faces and strong, dedicated personalities so vividly back for me.
Among the people in the video you can pick out:

    * Vasu Gounden, the Executive Director of Accord in Durban, South Africa,
    * (me, looking very tired toward the end of the fourth day of the conference,)
    * Jan Benvie from Scotland– a leader in Christian Peacemaker Teams who co-led the whole afternoon’s proceedings with me on the second day of the conference. (She was on her way to northern Iraq, where she and two other CPTers have been investigating the possibility of re-establishing some of CPTs Iraq programs from Suleimaniyeh.)
    * Rabbi Moshe Yehudai, a lifelong pacifist and wonderful brave soul who also describes himself as a Zionist,
    * Nasser Sheikh Ali, a member of the Liberal Forum from Jenin, Palestine,
    * Murad Tangiev, from Chechnya, Russia, who has been working at the UNU and helped with the administration of this conference,
    * Neven Bondokji from Jordan, a talented and brave young woman who’s been working with CARE, trying to establish basic humanitarian/relief services for some of the hundreds of thousands Iraqi refugees in Jordan,
    * Dr. Koteswara Prasad, the Director of the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Peace and Conflict resolution in Madras, India,
    * Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Bukhari from Jerusalem, a Sufism teacher who is also the head of Jerusalem’s 400-year-old community of Uzbek Muslims, and
    * Hagit herself, at the very end.

You may or may not notice that not many of the two dozen or so Arab state citizens who took part in the conference appear in the video. Everyone was, obviously, given a choice whether to appear or not. All the people from Palestine and the other Arab countries who came to the conference participated fully, and in a respectful and friendly way, with all the other participants in all the conference’s formally scheduled activities. But these are people who want to continue to make a difference for good in their own societies, and I imagine it was with that in mind that some of them chose not to appear in a video that we hope will be widely available to a global public. But some of them did, and their participation makes the video particularly powerful and effective.
What a great way this video is, to share some of the energy from our conference! It was shot by a Jordanian cameraman who was at the UNU building working on another project, and came over and donated his time and expertise to Hagit’s project. I’m not sure who did the final editing and production work– I think, Hagit.
Great work!
JWN readers: please share the news about this video as widely as you can!

Nonviolent peace organizations gathering in Virginia

If you’re anywhere near the east coast of the USA on July 7-9 and are interested in the work of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, Peace Brigades International, or other organizations that do nonviolent peacemaking/peacekeeping internationally, then you should definitely try to get to PBI’s 25th anniversary conference, being held in Front Royal, Virginia, about one hour west of Washington DC.
I, alas, can’t be there since I’m going on a long-planned trip to Europe. I did go to PBI’s 20th anniversary conference which was held (on different days) in both Switzerland and southern Germany. It was really informative and inspiring. Here’s what a press release from PBI says about the upcoming gathering:

    nonviolent peace teams from all over the world are meeting to exchange lessons and strategies about protecting civilians and human rights workers in conflict areas. Joining Peace Brigades are Christian Peacemakers Teams (Iraq, Palestine, Colombia, First Nations People), Nonviolent Peace Force (Sri Lanka), the Guatemala Accompaniment Project, the International Solidarity Movement (Palestine), International Women’s Peace Service (Middle East), Witness for Peace (Central and South America), Michigan Peace Teams (U.S.-Mexico Border), and PBI’s own teams (Indonesia, Nepal, Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia).
    The groups will also discuss how they can best support each other during a critical incident, such as an abduction or massacre of our field teams…

I wish I could be there. Any JWN readers who can get to it, please send in some reports for posting here!