From the explosion of Osama Bin Laden into our consciousness on that terrible day in 2001, all the way to his death, feels like a frame of existence, a distinct period of our history and fate as an American community. There have been many deadly wars since then that America has participated in or supported. As an American Jew and a veteran peacebuilder in the Middle East, I also feel like this decade has been a whirlwind of violence, from Iraq to Lebanon to Gaza, and now to Arab countries in which I had worked, especially Syria where I put my heart and soul.
Every war, every massive act of violence, always makes me reflect anew on the origins and nature of human violence, and on its opposites, empathy, compassion, and love. We humans have made so many efforts through the millennia to create one political arrangement after another in …
By Hind Aboud Kabawat (Senior Research Analyst and Expert in Conflict Resolution, CRDC, George Mason University).
May 20, 2011
Can our beloved Syria be saved from the brink of destruction? This is clearly the question on the minds of millions of our fellow countrymen (and countrywomen). And it is truly astonishing how quickly events have transformed the so-called “facts on the ground” in this country. One of the most locked-down societies in the Middle East quite suddenly erupted in rage, anger and frustration after forty years of political repression and economic stagnation. Just think of it: the first demonstration was on March 15, just a mere two months ago. But so much has changed in the minds, hearts and aspirations of the Syrian people that it is impossible to think that we can ever return to the status quo ante—the Syria of March 14th.
What the …
Here are two interviews that I did with Fox News and Russia TV on Tuesday, regarding thousands of Palestinian refugees who attempted to nonviolently cross Israeli borders from the Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian border last weekend, resulting in several deaths and dozens injured.
I am trying to figure out what kind of United States has developed where the toughest Israelis in the world, the top Israeli military brass, want a U.S. ambassador in Syria, and other gestures, whereas the true impediment to that are right wing Republican Senators supported by a militant wing of the American public goaded on by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and of course Charles Krauthamer. Where do these Americans get the arrogance to be even more violent in their politics than the Israeli military? I think it is legitimate to take sides within the Israeli debate, but I do not understand being to the right of the right of the Israeli military. Of course, there is no logic to politics, there is only the logic of vote grabbing, and one gets votes in America today by demonizing any and all foreigners you can get your hands on, …
This expresses some of my feelings since returning from Syria. More poems by Huda can be found here.
by Huda Orfali
Friday, September 15, 2006
Dedicated to His Holiness Pope John Paul II and the Grand mufti of Syria Sheikh Ahmad Hasoun
Collaboration by Peter Paton and Huda Orfali
As the religious divide grows
In the troubled world
They call for dialogue and harmony
In a country where prayers are heard
From two divine neighbors
The church and the mosque
They echo one another
In one call for love
In the world of Islam
He is a shining light
Who teaches tolerance
And unconditional love for all
A spiritual leader
Of great virtue and purity
Who extols and promotes
The Brotherhood of Man
A magnificent orator
Whose words celebrate the truth
Healing all the divisions
That separate faiths and beliefs
A tireless and blessed worker
Folks, many of you may have seen this, but we have friends in the world who cannot directly access the Jerusalem Post piece. So here it is. Lauren is an amazing interviewer. She interviewed me for nine hours, longest interview of my life:
By LAUREN GELFOND FELDINGER
This week, Orthodox American rabbi Marc Gopin saw his coexistence work in Syria bear fruit. What turns a Soloveitchik disciple into an unofficial diplomat to the Arab…Somewhere between the shtetls of Eastern Europe and sites across the Levant, Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin, 52, has found his calling.
Heading the George Mason University Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution in Arlington, Virginia, he is not waiting for a peace treaty to cause change. Gopin gets on a plane and heads for trouble spots wherever he can find openings. He meets with sheikhs, heads of state …
Below are two extraordinary stories. One is an excerpt from an inside look at how and why extremists still filter into Iraq from Syria. It is hardly the tale that neoconservatives gunning for war with Syria want to hear, but it is far closer to the harsh reality and complexity of the situation. The only answer seems to me to be a strengthening of Western-Middle Eastern relations, everyone’s acknowledgment of shared responsibility for Iraq’s situation, better communications, and more cooperation on state strengthening and the rule of law.
The second story is an astonishing tale of reunion between a Syrian soldier and an Israeli soldier who had been on the same battlefield. But where they reunite is shocking, and is s a testimony to our common humanity.
An excerpt from “Merchant of Death”:
It is common sense and supply and demand. When the decision was made that Saddam Hussein had
Here is a short clip from the upcoming video series about Friends Across the Divide. It is a series of stories of pairs o f friends in the Middle East who have worked together for many years to build strong bridges between Jews and Arabs as they struggle together for peace and justice. The power of pairs of friends to change history, to impact deeply rooted conflict, is one of the most important themes of Marc’s new book on citizen diplomacy. See here for a full description of the book and its reviews.
This is wonderful news. Michel is a proud Syrian patriot and a pioneer of nonviolent approaches to change in the Middle East. He deserves all the honors that can be bestowed on him for his courageous stances and his reputation as a man of great integrity and generosity. All he did was have the foresight to describe where Syria is going anyway in the age of Obama. I understand the nervousness of the regime in the age of Cheney and Rumsfeld, but our nonviolent citizens are the greatest assets of every civilization, not a danger. This is the lesson of reform that needs to come to every society in the Middle East, including the so-called democracies.
Syrian writer and pro-democracy campaigner Michel Kilo has been released from prison after serving a three-year sentence…While he was in prison, Syria established diplomatic relations with Lebanon and exchanged ambassadors….He said he was in
Josh Landis outlines well the problems with America’s decision to maintain the Syria sanctions, but also outlines nicely what the Syrian and the Americans have done and not done so far in the relationship. Here is an excerpt:
What has Syria done for Obama?
* Both Hizbullah and Hamas have reached out to the US, claiming to want engagement and expressing willingness to compromise on key issues. Syria has great influence on these groups and has helped with this outreach.
* Syria wants intelligence sharing on al-Qaida and Iraq, but it has not handed over Iraqi Baathists resident in Syria to the US.
What has Syria refused to do for Obama?
* Syria will not agree to concessions on the Arab peace plan, i.e. stating that Syria will give all resident Palestinians citizenship as part of a Palestinian-Israeli deal. (This is symbolic because Syria is the Arab state that has