Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blogging Towards Peace and Justice in the Middle East

I'm not a Palestinian, but I've held their children in my arms. I've kissed the faces of three-year-olds who won't smile. I've played with refugee children who have no hope for a future. Who live, with 40,000 others, in a single sq. kilometer of land, unable to leave, and with nowhere to go.

But many Americans don't understand. Since returning to the United States for university, I've been shocked at the misconceptions most Americans seem to have about the conflict raging in the Middle East. About the Palestinian-Israeli issue. Many of the ingrained ideas about that region, and the people who live there, are based on ignorance, and don't equate with the actual facts.

The purpose of this site is to help rectify the misunderstandings. It's a place to get a different perspective. To talk about details you may not have known. To discuss the stories of real people. And to find a way forward, into peace.


Mitch Hillman said...


Just kidding, good luck with all this. But I think the reaon Americans don't know jack isn't because of a lack of information, its because they just aren't interested.

Me said...

Thought you might also be interested in

The blogger, Phil, is a childhood friend of mine, and is currently a development worker in Gaza.

I'll be interested to see how your blog develops.

Megan said...

I love you. Just thought you should know.
More will be forthcoming from me later, I'm sure.
I could rant now but I won't. :-)

Mideast Magnus said...

Here are some other websites to check out, for thoughtful people who are interested in understanding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and what might be required for peace and reconciliation:

Americans for Peace Now
Americans for Peace Now [APN] was founded in 1981 to support the activities of Shalom Achshav (Peace Now in Israel). APN is the leading United States advocate for peace in the Middle East. APN's mission is to help Israel and the Shalom Achshav movement to achieve a comprehensive political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict consistent with Israel's long-term security needs and its Jewish and democratic values.

Faces of Hope: Supporting Nonviolent Resistance and Refusal in Israel and Palestine (American Friends Service Committee)
The American Friends Service Committee carries out service, development, social justice, and peace programs throughout the world. Founded by Quakers in 1917 to provide conscientious objectors with an opportunity to aid civilian war victims, AFSC's work attracts the support and partnership of people of many races, religions, and cultures. AFSC's work is based on the Quaker belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. The organization's mission and achievements won worldwide recognition in 1947 when it accepted the Nobel Peace Prize with the British Friends Service Council on behalf of all Quakers. The AFSC is directed by a Quaker board and staffed by Quakers and other people of faith who share the Friends' desire for peace and social justice.

Holy Land Trust (Sami Awad)
Holy Land Trust (HLT) is a Palestinian not-for-profit organization established in Bethlehem in 1998 to promote and support the Palestinian community in its struggle on two fronts: firstly, to achieve political independence by supporting the Palestinian community in developing nonviolent approaches to resistance with a view to ending the Occupation; and secondly, to assist in building an independent Palestine that is founded on the principles of nonviolence, democracy, respect for human rights and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. In addition, HLT works to build deeper and broader international understanding regarding the situation in the Holy Land in order to strengthen the capacity of all those working for positive change in the region. HLT believes in the important role the international community can play in achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
HLT implements 3 programs: Nonviolence Programs, Travel and Encounter and the Palestine News Network. These programs are uniquely grounded in historical, political and religious antecedents - experiences and events that have taken place, or are taking place, in the Holy Land that have shaped human history and are a part of Palestinian culture and tradition.

See also, Sami Awad’s blog site.

The Israeli Coalition Against House Demolitions
ICAHD is a non-violent, direct-action group originally established to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories.

Mar Elias Educational Institutions (Elias Chacour)
Building Peace through Education. Ibillin, Galilee – Israel
In 2002, Mar Elias Educational Institutions celebrates 20 years of providing one of the highest standards of education in all of Israel. It has grown into a small village of six schools and is the only campus in Israel which welcomes Christians, Moslems, Druze and Jews - in the words of Abuna "a most beautiful composition of any society." The campus of Mar Elias is an oasis of mutual recognition, understanding, and appreciation where students, faculty, and staff work and plan together for a future of coexistence and peace. "We want to improve the social, educational, and economic status of the Palestinians in Israel, but more importantly, we want to create a mentality of self-reliance, restore shattered self-esteem and provide dignity. It is a matter of building bridges among the members of the same family: Christians, Jews, Moslems, and Druze. This is the meaning of 'becoming Godlike,'" Abuna Elias Chacour.

Musalaha Ministry of Reconciliation (Salim Munayer)
Musalaha is a non-profit organization that seeks to promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians as demonstrated in the life and teaching of Jesus. We seek to be an encouragement and facilitator of reconciliation, first among Palestinian Christians and Messianic Israelis, and then beyond to our respective communities.
As conflict in the Holy Land persists, Israelis and Palestinians find themselves in the midst of a violent and intractable struggle. Believers in Israel and Palestinian areas can be found on both sides of the conflict. They too are impacted by the cycle of violence and enmity that is present in their societies. At the same time, many Palestinian Arab Christians and Israeli Messianic Jews have reached across the extensive gap between their peoples and developed relationships. Many believers in the land have chosen to pursue reconciliation, following Biblical commandments to love our neighbors, brothers and even our enemies. In order to foster and facilitate the process of reconciliation, Palestinian and Israeli congregational leaders founded the ministry of Musalaha in 1990. "Musalaha" is an Arabic word that means forgiveness and reconciliation.

Peace Now
Peace Now is the largest extra-parliamentary movement in Israel, the country’s oldest peace movement and the only peace group to have a broad public base. The movement was founded in 1978 during the Israeli-Egyptian peace talks. At a moment when these talks appeared to be collapsing, a group of 348 reserve officers and soldiers from Israeli army combat units published an open letter to the Prime Minister of Israel calling upon the government to make sure this opportunity for peace was not lost. Tens of thousands of Israelis sent in support for the letter, and the movement was born. The basic principles of the movement from the outset were the right of Israel to live within secure borders and the right of our neighbors to do the same, including the right of Palestinians to self-determination. In time the movement became convinced the only viable solution to the conflict was the creation of a Palestinian state in the territories adjacent to Israel, which were occupied as a result of the 1967 war…

Sabeel is an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians. Inspired by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, this liberation theology seeks to deepen the faith of Palestinian Christians, to promote unity among them toward social action. Sabeel strives to develop a spirituality based on love, justice, peace, nonviolence, liberation and reconciliation for the different national and faith communities. The word "Sabeel" is Arabic for ‘the way‘ and also a ‘channel‘ or ‘spring‘ of life-giving water.
Sabeel also works to promote a more accurate international awareness regarding the identity, presence and witness of Palestinian Christians as well as their contemporary concerns. It encourages individuals and groups from around the world to work for a just, comprehensive and enduring peace informed by truth and empowered by prayer and action.

See also Friends of Sabeel, North America
Sabeel is an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land, who seek a just peace based on two states—Palestine and Israel—as defined by international law and existing United Nations resolutions.

Seeds of Peace
Founded in 1993, Seeds of Peace is dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence.
Seeds of Peace (the Middle East program) has focused primarily on bringing Arab and Israeli teenagers together before fear, mistrust and prejudice blind them from seeing the human face of their enemy. Seeds of Peace goes beyond international agreements and treaties. It reverses the legacy of hatred by nurturing lasting friendships that become the basis for mutual understanding and respect. By training these young leaders in conflict resolution skills, Seeds of Peace helps them become the seeds from which an enduring peace will grow.

Wi’am, The Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center
Wi'am as a grassroots organization, strives alongside other democratic forces present in the larger Bethlehem community to build a democratic and just society. The Center aims to improve the quality of relationships by: addressing injustices rather than avenging them; dignifying persons on both sides of the conflict; promoting human rights and advocating for peace among all people.

Worldvision Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza
World Vision has worked in the Middle East—including Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza —for 31 years. World Vision is a nonpolitical humanitarian organization whose first priority is for the care and well-being of children no matter religion, race, ethnicity or gender. In a region filled with political and social tension, World Vision's goal is to create an environment where children can thrive, reach their full potential and a "generation transformed" can build lasting peace.