Friday, July 16, 2010

Grassroots Efforts for Peace

With the focus so often on governmental policy, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some grassroots movements for peace in Israel and Palestine.

Oasis of Peace (Neve Shalom / Wahat al-Salam.)

Situated between Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, this village community of 200 people aims to prove that Israel's Jews and Arabs can live peacefully side by side. Autonomous and self-governed, the village claims to have no political affiliation. Instead their aim is to construct an "humane, egalitarian and just society." To this end they have set up the School for Peace which educates young Arab and Jewish Israelis. In turn governed by a Jewish and Arab director, the school has educated some 35,000 students since it opened its doors for the first time in 1979. Their work is guided by four basic assumptions:

1.The beliefs and outlooks on which a person’s identity and behavior are constructed are deep-seated and stable, and generally resistant to change. Our work attempts to expose these outlooks and permit people to grapple with them.

2.The conflict rests on an encounter between two national groups, not between individuals; hence we see the group as having an essential importance, beyond the sum of the individuals comprising it.

3.The group is a microcosm of reality and thus offers an avenue for learning about the society at large.

4.The encounter group is an open entity, linked to and influenced by the larger reality outside.

The village also operates a humanitarian aid programme for those, primarily palestinians, who have been affected by the ongoing conflict.

Their website can be found here.

Also interesting to look at is:

The Parents Circle-Families Forum

Monday, July 12, 2010

An Interview with Benjamin Netanyahu's Father

Follow the link below and read a fascinating interview with Bibi's father. Simply imagine the discussions at the kitchen table when Bibi was growing up. Whilst many of his father's sentiments are obviously not all shared by his son Bibi they do give an indication of the enviroment in which Bibi grew up in and do not bode well for an Arab-Israeli peace process under his leadership.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Face that represents the stalemate in Middle East Peace talks

25 June 2010 marked the four year anniversary of the capture of Gilad Shalit by Hamas. Symbolically Shalit represents the fate of the peace process in the Middle East. His fate will almost certainly determine whether the region is plunged into a new cycle of violence, or whether the peace process can somehow be revived.

If Hamas were to kill him any prospect of a rapprochement between Israel and a Hamas-led Palestinian Government would vanish. Without doubt Israel would seek revenge against those it held responsible; not only Hamas but also against the group’s exiled leaders in Beirut and Damascus. Conversely if Israel’s military pressure, or a deal to swap Palestinian prisoners for the soldier could persuade Hamas to release Shalit, surprising possibilities could open up.

The sticking point for Hamas surrounding the release of Palestinian prisoners relates to Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Saadat. Whilst Israel has agreed to release many of the 1,000 Palestinian prisoners they categorically will not release the two above mentioned prisoners.

Israelis, on the other hand, are incensed with their government regarding the recent agreement to ease the Israeli blockade of Gaza due to international pressure after the flotilla incident in May 2010. By not having negotiated Shalit’s release at this time the Israeli government have forsaken a point of leverage with Hamas.

Millions of people have been affected by the ongoing hostilities in Israel and Palestine, but Gilad Shalit has become the face that represents the hopelessness of the stalled peace talks