Our reason for existence is to contribute to the return of peace in war zones. The non-violent approach is our choice, our method for conflict resolution. Since October 2000 we have been working in Israel-Palestine, at the hinge of civilizations, with the tools developed during our missions in Bosnia (1993-1996) and in Algeria (1997-1998) :
- programmes of education in non-violent alternatives,
- campaigns with Nobel laureates worldwide and Members of the European Parliament calling for cease-fire & negotiations for a just and lasting peace.
"We will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process." (Martin Luther King)
January 15, 2015 [Martin Luther King could have been 86 today]
“Take me way back, take me way back, ah !
…Take me back to when the world made more sense
Well there’s too much suffering and confusion…”
- Van Morrison (Hymns to the Silence)
Take it back to just before Christmas 2014. Barely 9 or 10 weeks ago. We had the Har Nof Synagogue attack in Jerusalem (see below). We also had the attack of a bus on the road to Nairobi, Kenya. Then, we had onslaughts and kidnappings of young girls by Boko Haram jihadis, in Nigeria, uncounted. This was the usual to us all.
On our way, as Peace Liners, the first time we came across jihadis (from Afghanistan) was in Middle Bosnia, in the winter of 1993. Nobody in the West spoke about them then. They only spoke of the Serbs. To meet these jihadis from far away, you had to travel through the mountains, places that most journalists avoided.
With 68 Nobel laureates, we confronted these jihadis and their brothers in arms again in Algeria, in 1997-1998, when no one in the West, and almost no one in France, cared to acknowledge what they were trying to achieve – nothing less than the Caliphate, the Islamic State. Their first task then was to slaughter journalists (read Hassan Zerrouky about it).
Lo, in our long struggle for peace in Palestine-Israel, we have not met with any of them. Their numbers are restricted to Islamic Jihad militants and a few marginal groups in Gaza. Still, they caught up with us, when they struck in the heart of Paris, on January 7 and January 9, 2015. All in the name of jihad without borders, from Yemen and Iraq, Syria, back to Paris, France.
This time, they were not exactly aliens, from exotic lands. The gunmen were “made in France”. Such is the double bind to which we are exposed, and that we must expose : terrorists want to terrorize us, paralyze us. Whereas some strategists want us to embark upon military ventures in distant lands, to “combat terrorists” they say.
Thus realizing Orwell’s five prophecies :
1- “… three super-states are permanently at war, and have been so far for the past twenty-five years. (…) war hysteria is continuous and universal (…) The fighting, when there is any, takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at…” “To understand the nature of the present war – for, in spite of the regrouping which occurs every few years, it is always the same war – one must realize in the first place that it is impossible for it to be decisive.” “It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist.”
2- “All of the disputed territories contain valuable minerals, and some of them yield important vegetable products (…) the object of waging a war is always to be in a better position to wage another war.”
3- “The primary aim of modern warfare is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. (…) The problem was to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. (…) And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.”
4- “And at the same time the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival.” (…) “It is precisely in the Inner Party that war hysteria and hatred of the enemy are strongest. In his capacity as an administrator, it is often necessary for a member of the Inner Party to know that this or that item of war news is untruthful, and he may often be aware that the entire war is spurious and is either not happening or is being waged for purposes quite other than the declared ones: but such knowledge is easily neutralized by the technique of DOUBLETHINK.”
5- “DOUBLETHINK means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. (…) The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. (…) One clear illustration of this is the fact that war hysteria increases in intensity as one rises in the social scale. Those whose attitude towards the war is most nearly rational are the subject peoples of the disputed territories. To these people the war is simply a continuous calamity which sweeps to and fro over their bodies like a tidal wave. They are aware that a change of overlordship means simply that they will be doing the same work as before for new masters who treat them in the same manner as the old ones.”
So, welcome to this Brave Old World, readers, thinkers, dreamers of the day, and occasional visitors!
May you not feel dispirited by such continuous tidal waves of doom and gloom. After all, double bind situations, whose effect is to make us feel powerless, are not without exits.
Open the Doors !
November 22, 2014 [51 years after John F. Kennedy's assassination] : Some of us find it difficult to understand the exact meaning of this sentence about ends and means.
The end, in that sense, is the final goal that we pursue.
The means are the ways and tools that we use to reach our final goal.
Take the case of the attack on the Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem, on November 18, 2014. Killing 4 rabbis and maiming 7 other worshippers in the midst of their morning prayers. The “final goal”, as claimed by a Palestinian party (PFLP), may have been a vehement protest against the Occupation, but it has been clouded in blood and totally disfigured by the means used: knives, meat cleaver, gun.
Likewise, the mass knife attack at the Kunming train station in China, on March 1, 2014, that left 29 dead and 130 wounded. Or the attack on Tiananmen Square, in Beijing, on October 28, 2014, when a four-wheel drive vehicle ploughed through a group of pedestrians, killing 5, wounding dozens.
Be it in Beijing or Jerusalem, be it in the name of “jihad” in Beijing or “jihad” in Jerusalem, a vehicle used to maim and kill pedestrians and passers-by, leads to the self-destruction of the goal and of the ideal in the making.
Nor have we forgotten the box of dynamite put under the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, by a group of Klansmen (Ku Klux Klan), that took the lives of 4 young girls and wounded 20, out of 26 teenage girls who were entering the church.
Was dynamite anymore legitimate when used by Klansmen in 1963, or by “extreme-right” Irgun men (disguised as Arabs) at the King David Hotel, in Jerusalem, on July 22, 1946, which took the lives of 91 of various nationalities and wounded 46 ?
Were guns legitimate when used by a Jewish “far-right” Kach gunman who killed 29 Palestinian Muslims during their prayers at the Cave of Patriarchs in Hebron on February 25, 1994, wounding 125 others ?
Are guns legitimate when used by Somali Al Shabab gunmen, this 22nd of November 2014, before dawn, to hijack a bus and kill all the non-Somali passengers who could not recite a passage of the Koran ? 28 passengers on the road to Nairobi, in Mandera county, Kenya could not “prove they were Muslims” and were executed point-blank in the head.
Beware, now, if you still pretend that you do not understand about means and ends. Too many, from Jordan to Jerusalem, and all over, claim that, somehow, violence is a “natural response”, given the circumstances of the ongoing Occupation.
Surely we either ignore or have forgotten about the fate of Denise McNair, of Birmingham, Alabama, who should be 62 today; or that of Addie Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson, who should be 65; but the road to terror is the same, that leads from Jerusalem in 1946 to Jerusalem in 2014, and from Birmingham in 1963 to Hebron in 1994 and Kunming, Tiananmen, Mandera County in 2014. These four girls are still staring us in the face, although their pictures are blurred, as are staring us in the face four other little girls, killed in Gaza in early July: Yasmin Al Mutawaq, at the age of 3, from Jabaliya; Raneem Ghafoor, 1, from Khan Yunis; Safa Malaka, 6, and Marwa al Batsh, 7, from Gaza City. Along with 500 other children, they were not killed by Klansmen acting out of racial hatred, but by educated tank operators, jet-bomber and helicopter pilots who acted upon orders, firing missiles and shells from a safe distance.
We do not have pictures of Yasmin, Raneem, Safa and Marwa. We are just thankful that one British newspaper, The Telegraph, on August 26, 2014, published the list of the children killed in Gaza during 50 days of conflict, and named them. You still can find pictures of slain children in Gaza online, as you can find pictures of 4-year old Daniel Tregerman, killed by a mortar shell, in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, on August 23, 2014 - along with pictures of Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, kidnapped in Gush Etzion, North of Hebron, and murdered on June 12, 2014; followed by Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, kidnapped in Shuafat and burned alive in the Jerusalem Forest on July 2, 2014.
Beware, now, if you are tempted to think that the road to terror that leads from one mass bombing to another mass attack, driven by retaliation, is legitimate – whether the means employed is the knife, the meat-cleaver, the car, the gun, the explosives, or the Apache helicopter.
Beware, if you call for more such attacks, under the delusion that they will get anyone closer to “liberation” or "preservation". Think of Syria today. Think of Iraq. Think of Libya. Think of Egypt, so close.
We are not doomed automatons ! We do have a choice, each of us. Between the peaceful, hopeful Tunisian way, or the appalling, terrifying Syrian way. It all starts with your own words and decisions, whether to speak and act, in favor of the knife, the gun, the bomb, the Apache, or to refrain from rushing to the abyss, keeping a clear view of the vital or fatal connection between ways and means.
You will never build a better, freer world with people who treat human beings like meat, and whose symbols have become the meat-cleaver and the kitchen knife.
Beware of a society in which butchers in a frenzy, and blind executioners, would become the norm. Be it at point-blank, or from a comfortable distance. No one is a “hero” for shedding blood !
If there is a "comfortable distance" to keep, it is for us to keep between those who want to kill and maim, and the rest of us who believe in the sanctity of human life. Any human life.
In his last speech in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King left us this warning :
“It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. This is where we are today.”