Jan 22

Hello from Munich!

Paul and Megan are in Bavaria in the south of Germany, two weeks into their European sojourn.

The crisp wintry weather in Sweden and here in Munich, but not been hobbled by freezing or snow or ice – the best of both worlds, have been kind to them.

Paul and Megan have been blessed with the abundance of food and friendship along their Euro-Tour.

In Malmo, Sweden, Paul and Megan had a great two-day retreat with a cohort of young activists, eager to listen and eager to ask questions and educate Paul and Megan about their varied human rights work – in Sweden, Russia and Kyrgyzstan. The premise of the plowshares experiences is of Per Herngren & Paul from 1984 and Megan, Michael and Greg from 2012 – both the reasons for resisting nuclear weapons, and the how-to of building a nonviolent resistance community that can sustain itself against adversity.

Malmo was capped by a public event at an activist library with 40-50 people in attendance to hear Per and Megan both.

In addition to these meetings there have been at least five interviews arranged, one in Edinburgh, two in Holland, one each in Sweden and Munich.

Megan presents tonight in Munich, then Friday in Geneva and Saturday in Birmingham.

Below are several photos of Paul and Megan’s tour!

 

IMG_4498 IMG_4484 IMG_4478 IMG_4469 IMG_4467 IMG_4361 IMG_4345 IMG_4330 IMG_4327

Permanent link to this article: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/?p=2556

Jan 19

I carried the camera instead of carrying arms

Friday, Jan 15 2016

          Nayef Hashlamoun reflection on Bethlehem Bible College’s new MA in Peace Studies

By Nayef Hashlamoun

In the midst of the escalation of what may become a Third Intifada in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Bethlehem Bible College recently launched Master’s Degree in Peace Studies. The program trains Christians, Muslims and other students to achieve social justice and equality for all by learning how to build bridges instead of walls of segregation and racism.

The first group of students includes Palestinian and international multicultural students from several countries, who participate in lectures and workshops in the classroom or (for those who cannot get a visa to enter the country) by using the Internet.

I am happy to be participating as student in this program in Peace Studies in Bethlehem, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace. This program is raising awareness and integrity; helping our communities learn how to build peace and social justice, despite the dangers that are part of peace-building.

About Bethelehem Bible College

Bethlehem Bible College was founded in 1979 and is accredited by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education. It has a long history of inspiring the spirit of peace, love and social justice. It was founded by Dr. Bishara Awad, the brother of Dr. Mubarak Awad, who is a famous Palestinian peace advocate.

Working in collaboration with a number of universities in the United States, the content of the master’s program in peace studies is excellent. The teaching methods are advanced, according to a new educational system that focuses on the body, mind and spirit, and on the principles of high morals and values. The program is in English and it requires 39 credit hours, including practical training or thesis. The college’s buildings, halls and facilities are modern and equipped with various advanced tools needed by the teaching and research activities.

The Master of Peace Studies is led by a distinct cadre of professors from around the world, including: Dr. Nancy Erbe, Fulbright Specialist in peace and conflict resolution; Professor Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Director of Peace-building and Development at the American University; Dr. Edward Kaufman from the Truman Institute for Research Progress of the Peace at the Hebrew University; Dr. Mubarak Awad, a professor of non-violence at the American University in Washington; Lance Brown, Director of “Heal the Living Stones”; Dr. Jonathan Kuttab, Human Rights lawyer in Israel and Palestine; Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History, as well as many others.

The college is located near a contact point between the Israeli soldiers and the Palestinian youth. Often, there are demonstrations right outside the college; young Palestinian men who are angry at the military and demanding freedom of their homeland go out in mass numbers to throw stones. Witnessing these clashes has a great impact in our souls. While we are studying peace in the classroom, we are surrounded by the sounds of Israeli gunshots, bombs and tear gas.

It is a powerful statement that every time we enter the campus it is with caution, and usually through the back door in order to preserve our safety. This particular atmosphere gives the student a special motivation and determination to study peace. Many times we cannot even open the windows of the hall, for fear of tear gas seeping into the building. The context in which we are studying becomes a subject to think about and discuss in the class.

About Me

I, Nayef Hashlamoun—as a Muslim MA student, head of ALWATAN Center, a political and human rights activist, a veteran from the city of Hebron—I am seeking the truth in the world of ethics. I am one of the three Muslim students in the program. I joined it right after I heard about it from the program’s founder, Dr. Awad. Such a program is an important addition to our community, especially as Palestinians who are witnessing pain on a daily basis and living moment-by-moment under military occupation.

Many times I could not travel from Hebron to the college in Bethlehem—which is only 15 miles away—because of the Israeli army road closures, stone barricades or checkpoints. Often, there were killings or military operations on the road. When I was prevented from joining my classmates in person, I would return home and pursue my studies via the Internet.

There is no doubt that I am willing to sacrifice myself for my homeland’s freedom and dignity. But I definitely cannot kill, and I do not encourage the language of violence. As a young man, I chose the way of non-violence, and decided to study Journalism and Media at Yarmouk University in Jordan. I carried the camera instead of carrying arms. I worked for twenty years as a photojournalist with the global news agency Reuters, and founded the nucleus of the ALWATAN Center for Culture, Media and Conflict Resolution in the city of Hebron in 1985.

Since that time, I have exercised my civil nonviolent resistance in a variety of ways. In 1995, I attended the Peace Studies program at the American University in Washington, and I studied “Transition to Civil Society and Democracy” in the International Leadership Academy in Germany. In 1997, I began studies on the topic of “Transforming the Conflict Between Cultures and Peace” at the School for International Training in Vermont, but due to the effects of the Second Intifada in Palestine, I was not able to continue the study.

During this time, I began to work with Dr. Mubarak Awad, founder of the non-violence movement in Palestine. I helped him to translate nonviolence and peace studies books and videos into Arabic. This was before he was deported by the Israeli occupation authorities to Washington June 14, 1988, where he eventually founded the Nonviolence International. As the winner of numerous international awards, Dr. Mubarak has been referred to as the “Gandhi of Palestine.” He was the perfect choice to launch BBC’s Peace program, returning to Palestine to teach the first unit in the Master’s Program. I was excited to spend time with him again after all these years.

Although I am a Muslim, I will be proud to get a Master’s Degree from Bethlehem Bible College. As colleagues and professors, we have good relationships with each other.

The Power of Non-Violent Resistance

I hope everyone will become convinced that non-violence is more effective than violence. Violence, which brings death and destruction, only increases suffering and hatred. I believe that non-violence is the language of the powerful. When an Occupier goes too far in oppressing a population, non-violent resistance is the best way to obtain human rights. It is my hope that the Palestinian people will continue to work towards civil peace, social justice and the powerful philosophy of forgiveness. I hope that we will follow the path of Desmond Tutu, who worked to rally the world to boycott Israeli apartheid, and to be guided by the philosophies of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi towards justice and balance in Palestine. I pray that we will respond to the challenge of injustice with love, and that all killing and hatred will cease; for the Heavenly Religions calls for peace, love, brotherhood and respect for others.

“Peace is more than a wish! Peace requires everyone to be in the circle of action” – Nayef Hashlamoun

Permanent link to this article: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/?p=2554

Jan 11

Plowshares Euro-Tour

In the past few days, Megan Rice and Paul Magno have begun their Transform Now Plowshares Euro-Tour with a whirlwind trip around the United Kingdom.

After arriving in London on the 4th of January, they commenced with a Round Table discussion at the Guiseppe Conlon House, cosponsored by War Resisters International and the London Catholic Worker.

A full house, ranging from 3 months old to 86 years old, started a new year for peacemaking on a positive note. Megan has been adamant that this tour is as much a listening tour as a speaking tour and so our modality in speaking is to offer some observations and then to ask others in the audience to not simply ask questions but offer their own concerns and wisdom on the meaning of the nuclear threat.

Thus they heard older folks filling in for the benefit of younger folks some of the history of the early use of atomic weapons against the Japanese people. They heard that youth in Afghanistan took note of and took heart from the Transform Now Plowshares action, even in the midst of their very considerable work to figure out how to champion nonviolence in their war-torn country.

The next morning, on to Edinburgh Scotland, welcomed by the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Center for an inaugural presentation at their new site. Wall-to-wall and knee-to-knee they were. Again, while there is ongoing curiosity and admiration for Megan and the Transform Now Plowshares, they hear dialogue on how they can contest the persistence of nuclear weaponry. There is a lot of optimism in Scotland about their Scrap Trident campaign, and concern to link such disarmament to other issues, Palestine, refugees, poverty. Megan and Paul Magno present themselves as an inter-generational plowshares duo and pose the question, “how do you want to disarm?,” to folks who haven’t thought about it, especially the young, and to folks who may think that the likes of a plowshares action might be too provocative or too costly.

Finally yesterday to Glasgow and nearby Faslane where they kept vigil for about an hour at the gate of the Trident nuclear submarine base there. To contemplate the enormous evil of Trident, and to pray for disarmament with over a dozen others gathered in the bleak wintry drizzle was moving.  After, Megan and Paul had an excellent visit to the Faslane Peace Camp, touted as the longest continuous peace encampment in the world at 32 years and running. All of the half-dozen principals at the camp are under 30 and amazingly adept at life in the camp’s rudimentary conditions and at knowledge of the British Trident fleet of four and of the movements of nuclear weaponry around the UK.  That much young energy pitted against forces of annihilation gave both of us great hope that our human family needn’t succumb to nuclear calamity.

Tuesday, on to Amsterdam and continental Europe where more such opportunities await Megan and Paul

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Permanent link to this article: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/?p=2541

Oct 02

Happy International Nonviolence Day

Today is the Birthday of Gandhi and International Nonviolence Day.  There are many exciting nonviolent efforts around the world that you could join and/or support.

In New York, Nonviolence International and Nonviolent Peaceforce are trying to promote nonviolent/unarmed peacekeeping in the United Nations. https://www.facebook.com/nonviolenceny?fref=ts and www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org

 

In Palestine, NI has helped found the first master’s degree program on Peace, Conflict and Nonviolence at the Bethlehem Bible College. Dr. Awad taught the first course in September. Displaying

Campaign Nonviolence in the USA led by Pace e Bene held hundreds of actions in September  calling for an end to militarism, support for immigrant, and an end to structural poverty. http://www.paceebene.org/programs/campaign-nonviolence/

 

In Thailand, today, citizens are protesting the government centralization and control of over the Internet. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/01/gateway-proposal-assault-on-thai-government-websites-symbolic-minister-says.html

 

The United States Institute for Peace has launched a free course on nonviolent civic mobilization. Help spread the power and strategy of nonviolent action by enrolling in Civil Resistance and the Dynamics of Nonviolent Movements – a free (for a limited time), self-paced, online training created by the United States Institute of Peace Global Campus – https://www.usipglobalcampus.org/training-overview/civilresistance/

Please donate your time and money to one of the groups above.

Permanent link to this article: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/?p=2533

Aug 03

Join Us In Our Pledge as Iranians and U.S. Citizens to Resolve Conflicts With Nonviolence and Diplomacy!

11800615_1101416966552793_5858331343670449576_nIn the light of decades of hostility between the governments of Iran and the United States, we invite you to join us as either Iranian or American citizens to sign statements seeking to build peaceful relations between our peoples.  Join this effort at citizen diplomacy to build trust and mutual respect.

Sign out statement to rebuild relations here.

Like and participate in our Facebook page here. 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/?p=2517

Jul 31

NI Intern Tries NVC for the First Time

733923_10151946739422940_1771763695_nYesterday, I participated in Nonviolent Communication, or ‘NVC,’ for the first time.  Nonviolent communication. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Just communicate openly without aggression is what it sounds like, but it is so much more than that. My supervisor introduced me to the idea of NVC and urged me attend a local practice group. Although I was apprehensive, I went.  I arrived at the address, a modest house just outside of D.C., and was greeted by a group of mostly middle-aged women. I was clearly the youngest, and wondered what it would be like to learn something with a group of people who have been doing this for years.

We began with a self-appreciation exercise.  We focused on appreciating small actions we had accomplished, qualities of ourselves, or even physical traits we enjoyed about ourselves.  With our eyes closed we listened to the soothing voice of the facilitator, as the questions required us to inquire further and further into ourselves.  At the end of the exercise, a question was asked that resulted with a surprising answer.  “Was it difficult to fully appreciate yourself?” asked the facilitator of the group.  Against my own will, I was finding myself saying yes and realized that I was having difficulty fully appreciating my actions and environment without self-judgment.  For the first time, I was fully aware of the pessimistic way I was framing situations, and I was not happy with it.  Just this small introductory exercise already began to illustrate to me the power that NVC could have.

We then moved on to putting into practice the methods of nonviolent communication and replacing our habitual ways of communication.  We focused on strict observations of what we see and hear (instead of interpretation of what we see and hear), feelings brought up by these observations (instead of thoughts and beliefs that interpretations trigger), realizing the human needs that were met or unmet that triggered those feelings (instead of using strategy to meet needs), and finally a concrete request (rather than a demand driven by the fear of punishment or consequences).  These four steps sound so simple, but they are truly profound and were a challenge to meet.

We took a few moments of silence to reflect on something that we had seen or heard recently and wrote a few key words for each step.  I chose to write about a situation that recently occurred with my father.  To write about the situation without my own interpretations, as if I was only watching it as a video recording, was the biggest challenge for me.  Before I came to Washington, D.C., my father wrapped me in his arms and hugged me.  He told me how proud he was of the decision I had made to go to a new city on my own for a meaningful internship.  In his eyes, I saw tears swelling, just the type of look people get before they cry.  But I couldn’t write about what types of almost-tears they were; that would be interpretation.  So I continued.  His embrace lasted a long time.  I wanted to write that it was longer than a usual hug, but I couldn’t.  That would be subjective and an interpretation, something we were distancing ourselves from.  What I heard: my father expressing his satisfaction and delight that I had been given this opportunity.  Next were the feelings I had from hearing and feeling him.  Empowered, optimistic, touched, thankful; all words that came to my head.  “Ok,” I said to myself, “This isn’t too hard. I can do this.” The needs that were met from this encounter: the need for support, encouragement, and purpose.  I felt as though I had a purpose in what I was doing.  I wasn’t leaving him for no reason.

Next we broke into groups.  I was paired with the facilitator, a woman with years of experience with NVC.  The exercise was to speak about our observation, feelings, and needs to our partner as if they were the subjects of our observation.  She was my father.  I told my father how feeling his embrace and hearing his meaningful words made me feel and what needs they had met for me.  Again, it sounds so simple but can be so challenging.  This was just a small encounter that occurred, not something I ever reflected on further and I as I continued to speak, I realized how much this small action meant to me.  Her role as my father was to repeat back what he understood from the situation. She repeated back to me “Sara, my daughter…” and told me from the perspective of my father how he heard the situation, the feelings I had, and the needs he had met for me.  I had expected such a prescribed response to be automated and stiff, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  It was sincere and genuine.  None of the same adjectives I used were repeated back to me.  ‘My father’ really listened to me. He explained how he understood that I was moved by the words he said and that I was encouraged and delighted to have approval.  He met my needs for partnership and inspiration.  Then, as my father, the facilitator responded with the feelings he had from hearing that, and the needs that had been met by hearing everything I had said.  He felt proud, moved, and appreciative of hearing my feelings.  I provided him with trust, intimacy, and affection.  Hearing her say that as my father, I started to tear up.

She asked me as we finished the roles if I had told this all to my father.  I hadn’t, and maybe that is why I was crying.  The sudden realization that this interaction meant so much to me and I had never shared that with him was not an easy feeling to come to terms with, but it was rewarding and enlightening.  Right then I decided that I needed to tell him because this step-by-step exercise showed me how to appreciate life, no matter how small the occurrence.  What my partner did not know was that my father had been fighting cancer for the six months previous to this interaction, yet she patiently listened to every word I had to say and understood the importance of such a small interaction without needing to know my entire background.  It was so amazing to be provided with such a sense of support and community without needing to tell my entire story.  In what has seemed like the worst six months that my family will ever experience and watching my father fight so hard, I learned that there is so much to appreciate and that by communicating and observing situations this way, we can shed a new light on every experience we have.

When the roles were reversed, I played my partner’s daughter. Telling her the positive feelings her observance and feelings gave me, I could see in her eyes that it was an encouraging message for her to hear, just as hers was to me.  Being so engaged with a stranger, and opening up to them as if they were someone close is so fulfilling.  Eye contact was endured throughout the entire exercise, and we spoke slowly, choosing every word carefully.  Speaking so slowly with silence in between each word did not create an uncomfortable atmosphere, but rather a comforting and safe atmosphere with sincerity resonating in every word.

When we were all given the opportunity to say how we were feeling to the group after the exercise, or to pass, I took my turn.  Taking my turn when speaking to a group, especially a group I had just met two hours before, is not a typical behavior for me.  This time was different though. I couldn’t wait to share how I was feeling.  I was calm and centered and just blissful more than anything.  The mood of happiness was consistent and spread throughout the room.  Nonviolent communication can be a powerful tool to everyone, and although I have much to learn, this experience has truly showed me to potential of meaningful connections and honest and open communication.

 

To learn more about Nonviolent Communication, click here.

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/?p=2512

Jul 28

10 Days Away From Bet Lahem Live Festival!

Bethlehem Festival LogoWe are only ten days away from what has –in a short few years– become a great global festival. The atmosphere in Bethlehem is full of excitement and anticipation. In the midst of unprecedented challenges, a beacon of hope and a sense of joy are beginning to fill the alleyways of the old city.

10 Days to Go, click here to Give NOW

This year, our affiliate Holy Land Trust will have more diverse workshops, stronger panels, a unique presence of global artists, as well as double the local artisans and cooperatives filling the historic Star Street and sharing their creative art and products with the thousands who will attend. All are coming together to celebrate Bet Lahem Live Festival!

With all the achievements and hard work the financial goal has still not been met and we are turning to you as our friend to ask you to help us through your generous donation. With YOUR help we raised 49% of our goal so far. We are grateful for the support that every one is giving & we are half way there!

Permanent link to this article: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/?p=2498

Jul 23

Livestream: Campaign Nonviolence National Conference

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 3.46.25 PM

Share the excitement and wisdom in Santa Fe of the  Nonviolence National Conference from August 6th to August 9th.   Some of the world’s greatest minds, all dedicated to creating a nonviolent culture, are meeting and lending their voices to build a world free of war, poverty and environmental destruction.

The conference sold out months ago but you now have the ability to see all of the events, speakers and panels, live and free through the live broadcast.  That means anyone with a computer or a smart phone, whether in the inner city or a remote desert, can see the conference as it happens in real time!

Permanent link to this article: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/?p=2491

Jul 13

Join NI in Petition to End Employment Discrimination

qasemIranian Professor Qasem Exirifard has been refused renewal of his contract due to the pitch of his voice, which the Khajeh Nasir Tusi University of Technology has called “feminine”. Click here to join Nonviolence International in a petition to the University to end this blatant discrimination based on basic physical characteristics.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/?p=2484

Jul 06

Interview With a Released Freedom Flotilla Sailor

FFDR[Courtesy of Freedom Flotilla Coalition] It was at the end of March when members of Freedom Flotilla Coalition had the chance to meet Dr. Moncef Marzouki just after the World Social Forum in Tunis. The meeting only lasted for a few minutes, however Dr. Marzouki’s response to the question “whether he would like to help FF3 and maybe join our flotilla as a sailor” was immediate and clear: “I will be on board Freedom Flotilla 3″.

 

Three months later Dr. Moncef Marzouki did what was agreed during the FFC meeting in Tunis. He arrived in Greece and boarded on the “Marianne of Gothenborg” to carry himself, together with the rest the sailors in all 4 boats of Freedom Flotilla III mission, the message of solidarity and hope to Gaza and to all Palestinians.

Just a few hours after his return, Dr. Marzouki was asked four questions by FFC media team about his participation, what happened on board and about the Palestinian people:  Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/?p=2479

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