Peace Lines - Israel-Palestine : anterior campaigns

    the Ramallah, Nazareth, Jerusalem Call

    (2000 Nobel Call)



    Rocks against bullets, firebombs against tanks, and then bullets against rockets :
    What more ? More bombs, and more bombings ? Three hundred persons murdered (30 of them Israelis) since September 29th, 2000, Year of the Millenium... More than 10,000 wounded (97% of them Palestinians), in the same time, in 2000, Year of the Jubilee...
    Have we forgotten Albert Einstein's warning : "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding" ?

    Lynchings, pogroms, chain killings : how can this be the Holy Land ?
    Injustice, fanaticism, blind hate, and separatism - Jews and Arabs in a deadly lock,
    ready for the massacres, in the name of what they are : "Jews" and "Arabs" ?
    There must be an end to the blood-smeared logics of talion, and armed forces !
    We call for a final stop to all territorial provocations and to a clockwork repression that precipitates us to the pit.

    In the face of the appalling waste of lives and opportunities to reach a real peace, do we have to reaffirm yet that it can only be built upon foundations of dignity, equity, and justice?
    Both peoples have a right to live in peace and safety in their own respective States, according to the rules of international law. And complete equality of rights must be ensured to all the inhabitants of Israel-Palestine, without any discrimination !
    There is no other human alternative : we have to move forward in mutual respect, reciprocity, and understanding !


    Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Rabbis for Human rights, Sabeel, Mossawa, Democracy and Workers' Rights in Palestine

    Signed by 31 Nobel Laureates :

    Peace 4 : the Dalai Lama, 1989 (Tibet), Mairead Maguire, 1976 (Ireland), Joseph Rotblat, 1995 (Poland), Betty Williams, 1976 (Ireland)

    Chemistry 11 : Elias Corey, 1990 (USA), Sir John Cornforth, 1975 (G-B), Paul Crutzen, 1995 (the Netherlands), Herbert Hauptman, 1985 (USA), Roald Hoffmann, 1981 (USA), Robert Huber, 1988 (Germany), Jerome Karle, 1985 (USA), Sir Harold Kroto, 1996 (G-B), Jean-Marie Lehn, 1987 (France), Max Perutz, 1962 (Austria), Jens Skou, 1997 (Denmark)

    Medicine 12 : Werner Arber, 1978 (Switzerland), Günter Blobel, 1999 (Germany), Stanley Cohen, 1986 (USA), Jean Dausset, 1980 (France), Christian de Duve, 1974 (Belgium), Edmond Fischer, 1992 (USA), François Jacob, 1965 (France), Ed Lewis, 1995 (USA), Cesar Milstein, 1984 (Argentina), Richard Roberts, 1993 (G-B), Torsten Wiesel, 1981 (USA), Maurice Wilkins, 1962 (G-B)

    Physics 2 : Klaus von Klitzing, 1985 (Germany), Simon van der Meer, 1984 (the Netherlands), Heinrich Rohrer, 1986 (Switzerland).

    Literature : Wole Soyinka, 1986 (Nigeria)

    This Call was published in Le Monde (online edition : November 24th, 2000) and Le Monde Diplomatique in décembre 2000, refered to in Haaretz (February 2001)


    The Peace through Justice Call

    (2001 Communiqué)



    More than ten thousand wounded (96% of them Palestinians), in four months, close to four hundred killed (11% of them Israelis). Holy places desecrated. House demolitions and tree uprootings by decree. Lynchings, pogroms, shootings, bombs and bombings, the norm... Blind hate and separatism fueled by the blood-smeared logics of talion and armed force.
    After decades of ongoing feuds and wars, the 2000-2001 bridging proposals can bring solutions to the painful matters of territories and refugees. In the spirit of U.N. resolutions 242 and 194. The colonies recognized as a source of inequity and hatred have to be peacefully evacuated. The majority of settlements will be attached to Israel, exchanged for equivalent surfaces. Why delay any more the birth of a free Palestinian State ?
    Both Palestinians and Israelis share the same tiny piece of land. Both breathe the same air, drink from the same sources... address each other with the same peace salute : Shalom, Salam...
    We, as members of the same human species, mere scientists, researchers, and peaceseeking leaders, urge all inhabitants of the 'Holy Land' to abide by the force of international right and permanently end this conflict from the past.


    Peace Lines, Peace Now, Palestinian Council for Justice and Peace, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, the Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (Bethlehem-Palestine), Peace MidEast Dialog Group, MidEast Web for Coexistence; Democracy & Workers' Rights in Palestine, the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, Library on Wheels for Non-Violence and Peace.

    Signed by 18 Nobel Laureates :

    Peace Laureates 3 : Mairead Maguire, 1976 (Ireland), Desmond Tutu, 1984 (South-Africa), Betty Williams, 1976 (Ireland)

    Literature Laureates 2 : Günter Grass, 1999 (Germany), Wole Soyinka, 1986 (Nigeria)

    Chemistry Laureates 5 : Elias Corey, 1990 (USA), Jerome Karle, 1985 (USA), Sir Harold Kroto, 1996 (G-B), Ilya Prigogine, 1977 (Russia), Jens Skou, 1997 (Denmark)

    Medicine Laureates 5 : Günter Blobel, 1999 (Germany), Arvid Carlsson, 2000 (Sweden), Christian de Duve, 1974 (Belgium), Richard Roberts, 1993 (G-B), Maurice Wilkins, 1962 (G-B)

    Physics Laureates 3 : Leon Lederman, 1988 (USA), Jack Steinberger, 1988 (Germany), Simon van der Meer, 1984 (the Netherlands)

    Members of the European Parliament : Ole Andreasen (Denmark), Marie-Anne Isler-Béguin (France), Piia-Noora Kauppi (Finland), Giuseppe di Lello (Italy), Struan Stevenson (G-B), Margie Sudre (France), Ulrich Stockmann (Germany).









    Signed by 69 Nobel Laureates :

    Peace Nobels 11 : Carlos Belo (East Timor, 1996), the Dalai Lama (Tibet, 1989), Pdt F.W. de Klerk (South-Africa, 1993), Shirin Ebadi (Iran, 2003), Mairead Maguire (Ireland, 1976), Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Argentina, 1980), Joseph Rotblat (Poland, 1995), Desmond Tutu (South-Africa, 1984), Cora Weiss (I.P.B., 1910), Betty Williams (Ireland, 1976), Jody Williams (USA, 1997) 

    Medicine  Nobels 16 : Baruj Benacerraf (USA, 1980), Günter Blobel (Germany, 1999), Stanley Cohen (USA, 1986), Christian de Duve (Belgium, 1974), Jean Dausset (France, 1980), Edmond Fischer (USA, 1992), Roger Guillemin (France, 1977), Louis Ignarro (USA, 1998), François Jacob (France, 1965), Eric Kandel (USA, 2000),Arthur Kornberg (USA, 1959), Edwin Krebs (USA, 1992), Ferid Murad (USA, 1998), Richard Roberts (GB, 1993), Donnall Thomas (USA, 1990), Torsten Wiesel (USA, 1981) 

    Chemistry  Nobels 22 : Peter Agre (USA, 2003), Paul Berg (USA, 1980), Thomas Cech (USA, 1989), Elias Corey (USA, 1990), Robert Curl (USA, 1996), Johann Deisenhofer (Germany, 1988), Manfred Eigen (Germany, 1967), Richard Ernst (Switzerland, 1991), John Fenn (USA, 2002), Herbert Hauptman (USA, 1985), Alan Heeger (USA, 2000), Dudley Herschbach (USA, 1986), Avram Hershko (Israel, 2004), Roald Hoffmann (USA, 1981), Sir Aaron Klug (GB, 1982), Sir Harold Kroto (GB, 1996), Jean-Marie Lehn (France, 1987), William Lipscomb (USA, 1976), Mario Molina (Mexico, 1995), Douglas Osheroff (USA, 1996), Jens Skou (Denmark, 1997), John Walker (GB, 1997) 

    Physics  Nobels 14 : Zhores Alferov (Russia, 2000), Georges Charpak (France, 1992), Jerome Friedman (USA, 1990), Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (France, 1991), Vitaly Ginzburg (Russia, 2003), Donald Glaser (USA, 1960), Sheldon Lee Glashow (US, 1979), Gerardus 't Hooft (the Netherlands, 1999), Klaus von Klitzing (Germany, 1985), Leon Lederman (USA, 1988), Tony Leggett (USA, 2003), Heinrich Rohrer (Switzerland, 1986), Jack Steinberger (Switzerland, 1988), Franck Wilczek (USA, 2004) 

    Economics  Nobels 3 : Daniel Kahneman (Israel, 2002), Robert Mundell (USA, 1999), George Akerlof (USA, 2001) 

    Literature  Nobels : Wole Soyinka (Nigeria, 1986), Günter Grass (Germany, 1999)


    97 Members of European Parliament

    France : Kader Arif, Marie-Hélène Aubert, Roselyne Bachelot, Jean-Luc Bennahmias, Jean-Marie Beaupuy, Bernadette Bourzai, Marie-Arlette Carlotti, Françoise Castex, Jean-Marie Cavada, Paul Marie Couteaux, Adeline Hazan, Marie Anne Isler Beguin, Anne Laperrouze, Bernard Lehideux, Marie-Noëlle Lienemann, Alain Lipietz, Gal Philippe Morillon, Michel Rocard (ex-PM), Martine Roure, Tokia Saïfi, Margie Sudre, Ari Vatanen, Yannick Vaugrenard, Christine de Veyrac

    GB : John Bowis, Sharon Bowles, Bairbre de Brun, Chris Davies, Sajjad Karim, Caroline Lucas, Sarah Ludford, Elizabeth Lynne, Bill Newton Dunn, Phillip Whitehead, Diana Wallis, Terence Wynn

    Belgium : Ivo Belet, Frieda Brepoels, Jean-Luc Dehaene (ex-PM), Véronique de Keyser, Gérard Deprez, Raymond Langendries, Dirk Sterckx, Marc Tarabella, Anne Van Lancker, 

    Germany : Alexander Alvaro, André Brie, Jo Leinen, Cem Ozdemir, Bernd Posselt, Heide Rühle, Gabriele Zimmer   

    Spain : Maria Badia i Cutchet, David Hammerstein Mintz, Bernat Joan i Mari , Elena Valenciano Martinez-Orozco

    Lithuania : Vytautas Landsbergis, Rolandas Pavilionis, Justas Paleckis, Aloyzas Sakalas

    Ireland : Avril Doyle, Liam Aylward, Proinsias de Rossa, Jim Higgins

    The Netherlands : Edith Mastenbroek, Margrietus van den Berg, Elly de Groen-Kouwenhoven

    Portugal : Ana Gomes, Maria da Assunçao Esteves, Miguel Portas

    Latvia : Rihards Piks, Georgs Andrejevs, Tatjana Zdanoka 

    Sweden : Anders Wijkman, Anna Hedh, Hélène Goudin 

    Estonia : Marianne Mikko, Siiri Oviir, Tunne Kelam 

    Czech Republic : Jana Hybaskova, Jaroslav Zverina 

    Slovenia : Romana Jordan Cizelj, Mihael Brejc 

    Cyprus : Ioannis Kasoulides, Adamos Adamou 

    Hungary : Edit Herczog, Csaba Sandor Tabajdi 

    Italy : Luisa Morgantini, Umberto Guidoni 

    Finland : Satu Hassi, Piia-Noora Kauppi 

    Luxembourg : Erna Hennicot-Schoepges 

    Poland : Grazyna Staniszewska 

    Denmark : Margrete Auken 

    Austria : Karin Resetarits 

    Malta : Louis Grech


    Sulaiman Al Hamri (Palestinian Coordinator of Combatants for Peace), Zohar Shapira (Israeli Coordinator of Combatants for Peace), Isabelle Adjani, Hugues Aufray, Maud Fontenoy (Rowing across the Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans), John Mayall, Edgar Mitchell (USA, Astronaut, Moonwalker, Apollo 14), Russell Schweickart (USA, Astronaut, Apollo 9), Jean-François Clervoy (European Astronaut), Umberto Guidoni (European Astronaut), David Huyse (World Team Skydivers 2004-2006), Jean-Bernard Bonnet (world record in skydiving alt. 11,000 m, 1989), Loïc Leferme (world record in No-Limits apnoea at – 171 m), Adam Rice (Chief Operating Officer, Breaking the Ice).

    With the Best Wishes of : Lance Armstrong, Pdt Bill Clinton


    Communiqué calling for the release of Dr Al Shaer


      Co-signed by seven Medicine Nobels (Günter Blobel, Arvid Carlsson, Christian de Duve, Richard Roberts, Roger Guillemin, Edmond Fischer, Craig Mello); seven Chemistry Nobels (Sir Harold Kroto, Yuan T. Lee, Elias Corey, Dudley Herschbach, Douglas Osheroff, John Polanyi, Jens Skou); three Peace Nobels (Desmond Tutu, Betty Williams, Shirin Ebadi); one Physics Nobel (Frank Wilczek); one Literature Nobel (Wole Soyinka)
    and fifteen Members of the European Parliament (Alain Lipietz, Kader Arif, Françoise Castex – France; Anders Wijkman, Eva-Britt Svensson – Sweden; Luisa Morgantini, Umberto Guidoni – Italy; Sajjad Karim, Caroline Lucas – Great-Britain; Frieda Brepoels – Belgium; Kyriacos Triantaphyllides – Cyprus; Piia-Noora Kauppi – Finland; Margrete Auken – Denmark; Justas Paleckis – Lithuania; Jamila Madeira – Portugal ).



    "After the sweep of some thirty elected members of the Palestinian government and legislature in the West Bank by Israeli troops – among them the Minister of Education, Dr Nasreddin Al Shaer – as a « response » to the constant firing of kassams from Gaza, we ask for the immediate release of those detained. Such moves can only make things worse, and fuel the atrociously vain, deadly spiral of aggression and retaliation.

    We also call for an immediate and permanent end to all kassam firing, and to all extra-judicial killings, as they so obviously feed each other with innocent lives of by-standers slain, maimed, and traumatized by countless hundreds.

    'Mankind and human dignity, the personality of the individual, have to be taken as the starting point of any dialogue.' (President Pöttering of the European Parliament, at the Euro-Mediterranean assembly in Tunis, in March 2007)."

    [If you wish to know more about Dr Al Shaer you can find his last interview by typing "Robert Novak & Al Shaer" in Google.]



    On both sides of the border : Sderot (Israel) and Gaza (Palestine) 


    A small Israeli town next to the border of Gaza

    Israel - Palestine     Israel - Palestine 


    Sderot is a small Israeli town of 24,000 inhabitants (roughly one half immigrants from Morocco, the other half from the former Soviet Union), situated less than a mile from the border of the Gaza Strip. It was founded in 1951 on land which belonged to the Palestinian villagers of Najd who were expelled to the Gaza Strip in May 1948. 

    Sderot is a town that has been abandoned by 1 in 5 of its inhabitants, due to their fear of rockets fired from the Beit Hanoun area, across the border. It is reported (by Dr Adriana Katz, of the Sderot Medical Center) that more than three quarters of the people in Sderot suffer of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is either ignored or deemed insignificant by most observers, compared to the intensive damage inflicted to Gaza in retaliation for these rockets, and for many people Sderot has become something of a ghost town that doesn't really exist anymore. Nobody wants to go to Sderot.

    This is precisely when we get involved, as humanitarian volunteers concerned with the understanding and the alleviation of human suffering. Unconcerned with prejudices, unbiased, willing to hear everything the people had to say, one of us in December 2007 finally decided she had to see for herself, and took the bus from Jerusalem to Ashkelon, and then Sderot. She visited as much of the city as she could, from the City Hall to the Candle Factory to the market to private homes. In one street, a local TV team was busy as one more rocket had just hit a house (pictures above). An instant before, the mother and one of her daughters had been in the kitchen, and ended up in the emergency room.


    Israel - Palestine      Israel - Palestine      Israel - Palestine



    Daily life in Sderot : Since the first rocket was fired upon the city, on August 25, 2005, barely three days after Israel had concluded its evacuation of the Gaza Strip, you find shelters scattered everywhere (pictured above). Even bus stations have been transformed into concrete shelters, as well as the new train station, inaugurated on December 24, 2013, which has been armored, conceived to be "rocket-proof". Every time the sirens wail for a "Red Code" alarm, people have 7 to 15 seconds to rush to the shelters. When we are told, in Gaza or elsewhere, that these rockets are unguided and ineffective, do they really not know about the thirteen people who were killed by rockets, and the dozens who have been wounded through the years, to speak only of this one small town, Sderot ? What if a rocket hits a kindergarten, or the market place, as happened in Sarajevo (the Markale massacres) in February 1994 and August 1995 ?

    Israel - Palestine    Israel - Palestine

    April 2011, one evening, we were walking in Sderot, when an eerily familiar sight struck me, carved into the asphalt, taking me back to the days in Bosnia when granata were raining from the sky, and such ominous shapes were everywhere to be found on the streets. The students who were there just shrugged : to them, this was so common that they had become numbed to it somehow. How can we live under such stress and pretend this is "normal" ? The instant a 120 mm mortar shell, or a 115 mm Qassam rocket of 40 kilos, with a warhead of 10 kilos, impacts a place packed with people, both sides are doomed : beyond the appalling condition of the victims and witnesses, not just those who fired it, but the whole human group around them, as could be seen in Bosnia, again, in the final confrontation between Serbs and Bosniaks. In Sderot, the backyard of the police station is filled with dozens of such exploded rockets, dated and stacked on shelves (see above). It is reported that 1,628 Qassam rockets and mortar shells were fired upon Sderot in 8 months (up to 6 a day average), from June 2007 through February 2008.

    Rockets are blind, rockets are counter-productive. From the first drop of blood to the last, only people, on both sides, pay the price for these speculations and strategies of tit for tat. Our conviction is that there has to be an end to this. To quote from the mayor of Sderot in May 2011, David Buskila : "Believe me that I feel bad for my children, for the children who live in Sderot, but I also feel pain for the children who live on the other side of the border, in Gaza... We can create another quality of life, it is so close !"

    "Since war begins in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that defences of peace must be constructed." stated the UNESCO Constitution in 1945. To construct defences of peace, and "create another quality of life", still one thing is missing though, in educational systems : to feed the minds of the children, teenagers, young adults, with the needed nutrients and tools to build up strength, conquer fear, and develop a higher sense of creative solidarity and humanity.


    **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** ****

    On the other side of the border



    Israel - Palestine      Israel - Palestine     Israel - Palestine




    "Gentlemen, stop firing rockets!" pleaded President Peres by the end of 2008, after a growing rain of unguided rockets from the Gaza Strip. To back the plea, Operation Cast Lead was launched, which razed whole areas, and left 1,400 killed in its wake (their names on the Wall, 3rd picture). Mahmoud Mattar had left his home to get some bread from the nearest bakery. A missile exploded before him. His face was badly burned, and he will never see again. 

    As can be seen in the 1st picture taken in April 2011, a number of buildings and houses in Gaza could not be rebuilt, for lack of funding, cement and iron rebar.

    In terms of proportions, the ratio of casualties in 2008-2009 was of 1 Israeli to 100 Palestinians. Compared to 200,000 victims in nearby Syria, as of the end of 2014 according to some sources, these figures in and around Gaza have gradually faded away, as if horror were in numbers only. As if 1 counted for 0, and 1,000 for close to 0.


            Israel - Palestine     Israel - Palestine     Israel - Palestine



    Strange as these pictures may seem from the outside, this is what we have been working on in Gaza - and these quotations from our "little red book", The spirit of Luther King, were posted on the walls of a boys' high school a few kilometers from the border. 


    Israel - Palestine      Israel - Palestine     Israel - Palestine



    The best part, actually, is that this work was done months after I had left Gaza, as our friends there had taken the matter into their own hands, come what may. Admittedly, it has been a bit surreal to start our bilingual programme with Nobel Peace Laureate Martin Luther King, Jr, given the level of separatism and violence the antagonizing communities have reached through the years. Still, we had to start somewhere, and in the words of Dr King, "somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe."

    How exactly you do that in the long term is another story, that remains to be told at this stage, as we are still waiting for another permit to enter Gaza, as of tonight, February 9th, 2014. If a brand new train has been connecting Tel Aviv to Sderot for a few weeks now, there is no train to reach Gaza, from anywhere, nor are there any buses to get you there, or airplanes for that matter. Once you have been granted the providential permit, you need a taxi to drive you to the one and only public access from Israel, provided that you also have permission from the Gaza authorities to get in.

    1,8 million people live in this enclave of only 360 square kilometers (slightly more than twice the size of Washington, D.C.), with 64.4% of the population under the age of 24, and only 2.6% over the age of 65. The median age is 18, and 40% of the young under 24 are unemployed. Likewise, 40% of the people live under the poverty line. The GDP per capita is estimated around $3,000 (2.200 €). Meaning the average Gazan has to live with about 180 € a month.

    Illiteracy among the young is low though (1%). You count 640 schools in Gaza (383 State schools, 221 UNRWA schools, and 36 private ones) for a total of some 440,000 students; 5 universities and 8 new schools under construction (source UNRWA).

    Daily life in Gaza (in between military operations) : Since the beginning of the Gaza siege, which can be set at the end June 2006, when Sergeant Shalit was captured, the Gaza Strip has been exposed to six military operations. Their code-names : Summer Rains (summer of 2006 until the end of November), Autumn Clouds (October-November 2006), Hot Winter (February 2008), Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009), Pillar of Cloud (November 2012), and the ongoing Mighty Cliff (also known as Solid Rock, or Protective Edge), in July-August 2014.

    The total toll of the first five operations is estimated at more than 2,000 for the Palestinians (with a peak of 1,400 in between 2008 and 2009) and 26 for the Israelis.

    By the end of August, it reached 2,192 for the Palestinians (1,523 of them civilians, 519 of them children - 70% of them under the age of 12), 72 for the Israelis (66 of them soldiers and officers). Source : U.N. OCHA. 469 Israeli soldiers and officers and 87 civilians were wounded. Around 11,000 Palestinians were reported wounded by the Ministry of Health in Gaza. In our experience, from hospitals to classrooms, the wounded represent the hardest core of suffering among the children and teenagers, the people at large.

    Not to mention post-traumatic disorder, for which little care is provided, and which affects each and everyone, to various degrees. Not much of a "regular daily life" to really speak of, in between the Summer Rains, Autumn Clouds, Hot Winters, and other assorted forms of military climatology.

    For the first five operations altogether, close to 7,000 persons were wounded in Gaza (almost 6,900), 587 on the Israeli side.

    A fact that too many people ignore : the population in Gaza is composed of 800,000 children under the age of 14, and 400,000 young ones from 15 to 24. Two thirds of the population.


    Our conviction is that the battle for justice, freedom, and dignity (i.e. “peace”) has to be waged right there : among these two thirds of the population, through texts that will empower them, and provide them with the means to break the psychological and intellectual blockades to which they are exposed.



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